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Monday, November 1, 2010

Theme Day: Public Transportation

 
 
photo courtesy of Pasadena Adjacent

If you live in Pasadena you've seen this artfully decorated bus. Take a look at all the Pasadena icons: starting at left, you see the Thinker (one of Rodin's at the Norton Simon Museum), then the Colorado Street Bridge and the LA River. Next, City Hall in a bed of roses (we're the Rose City), the bell tower at St. Andrew, Pacific Asia Museum, a bunch of brands and...a bull.

Okay.

We are blessed at Pasadena Daily Photo today because, thanks to Pasadena Adjacent, we have scans of the original artwork that led to this design. How did she get hold of this work, you ask? Easy. Pasadena Adjacent, aka PA, created the art on this bus. Cool, huh? She was kind enough to take me through a little bit of the process.

Here's a scan of an early proposed design:

Left to right: PA started with the tile from the Royal Laundry on South Raymond. Next, parakeets. I didn't know this, but PA says there used to be parakeets (wholly different from our famous parrots) in the Arroyo Seco near where Busch Gardens used to be. (PA should know, she grew up here.) Then you have the bridge and the river.

The portrait of the two women refers to one of the more interesting stories from the Colorado Street Bridge's dark side, aka "Suicide Bridge." "...a despondent mother threw her baby girl over the railing on May 1, 1937. She then followed her into the depths of the canyon. Though the mother died, her child miraculously survived."

I was going to say "one of the more tragic stories," but they're all tragic.

Then we have the brands and the...bull.

You may be aware that some folks in Pasadena don't like calling our bridge "Suicide Bridge." The idea of commemorating a suicide attempt on the side of a bus didn't sit well with the bus art people. But they liked PA's work so they sent her back to the (literal) drawing board. I don't know why the tile and the parakeets were dropped--not iconic enough?

PA returned with this:
Now we're getting there! You see our Thinker on the left, and the bridge, City Hall in its bed of roses, St. Andrew's Tower and the Pacific Asia Museum. On the right we have a cut-out of a Rose Bowl Queen. Totally iconic Pasadena.

PA's idea was to include under the queen's crown a picture of Dr. Kate Hutton, aka "the earthquake lady." See the seismograph running along the length of the San Gabriel Mountains in the background? Dr. Hutton, a Caltech seismologist, is a local fixture on the news whenever there's earthquake activity. Queen Kate's scepter is a parking meter. PA says parking meters were new in town (it was 1994) and folks weren't too happy about them. I guess before then you could park pretty much anywhere in Pasadena for free.

The bus art people didn't want earthquakes or suicide or parking meter jokes.

Fine. PA threw the bull back in.

What's up with the brands and the bull?

PA had done her research. The brands are not about the bull, as I had assumed. They're the brands of of the different California missions. The bull represents the Indiana Colony, the first Anglos to settle Pasadena, some of whom were cattle ranchers.

And PA did manage to inject a bit of humor into the design: the Thinker is soaking his toes in the Los Angeles River.

This has been a fun post to put together, thanks to Pasadena Adjacent. Let's give her a big hand! She's an immensely talented artist and Pasadena is lucky to have her. Thank you, PA!

Update: I'm now at liberty to tell you that Pasadena Adjacent's name is Elizabeth Garrison. She and her partner Victor Henderson have created numerous works of public art around southern California. Tash did a great post about their work at Fire Station #5 in Westchester.

City Daily Photo is now 1299 blogs strong! Blogs all over the world are participating in today's theme day. Check them out.

39 comments:

Bergson said...

wonderfull bus

Dina said...

How exciting to know an artist who painted a BUS! Thanks for sharing this record of PA's creative process. I love the bits that were vetoed, too.
I wish Jerusalem had a bus like this, but there would never ever be agreement on what to include in the painting.
Great post, Petrea!

Jilly said...

Love the bus and the creativity of the friend who created it. You couldn't be miserable seeing this on a rainy day, could you?

Shell Sherree said...

Thanks, Petrea and PA! It's so great to see the finished product as well as some of the process, including the various yays and nays. Beautiful work!

dive said...

What a fabulous concept, Petrea, and so well executed. Great stuff!

Hilda said...

That is so fun! And your ellipses about the bull got me laughing. Glad to hear there is a perfectly valid reason behind its inclusion. ;)

Jean Spitzer said...

Yay, PA! And you, for posting this wonderful story.

Art by committee: take out the most interesting bits. Pasadena is beautiful because of the beautiful and the ugly, the safe and the scary.

Mister Earl said...

Very cool! Great post! Thanks to Pasadena Adjacent!

Looks like a

MAGIC BUS!

Anonymous said...

gina b

The next iteration will include Petrea's face, right?

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Love the bus and the creative story behind it! Great post for the theme day, Petrea.

Petrea said...

Great comments! I hope PA is happy with them. I had known she designed the art on the bus. I asked her to tell me about it and she took me through the story. She has a droll sense of humor and you know, "droll" and "municipal" don't always mix. But we have ourselves a beautiful bus thanks to her.

Irina Netchaev said...

This is fascinating Petrea. I love all the history and I always loved the painted buses. They are truly representative of Pasadena. Job well done to PA!

altadenahiker said...

Loved this -- home run. And the fact that bus murals have a whole story to tell. (You can't bury Suicide Bridge. But is it true some people don't like the name Suicide Bridge? Who gets annoyed when we call it Suicide Bridge? If it bothers someone, perhaps I shouldn't say Suicide Bridge so often. suicide bridge. Oops, that was an accident.)

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I'm impressed. You did goooood

thank you

Bellis said...

PA's art is truly beautiful. And funny - I like seeing Rodin's feet dipped in the Arroyo Seco. What's the small building under City Hall, slightly to the left? Is it The Old Mill?

Have the ARTS buses really been running since 1994? I've never seen this one, so I hope they didn't paint over it.

Susan C said...

This was so fascinating to see the process.

I never noticed that Rodin's feet were soaking in the river. So happy that humorous touch wasn't edited out.

I love the tile on one of the versions and wish that could have stayed.

d53 said...

Cool bus. Nice presentation of PA's creative vision and subsequent municipal reactions to the ideas. Good to see the process.

ben wideman said...

Woah, now that is a great story! Great work, PA, and excellent job covering it, Petrea.

Petrea said...

I don't know what that building is, Bellis. PA, is it the Hugo Reid Adobe, maybe?

Susan, I particularly agree with you about the tile.

You're welcome, PA. I'm glad you're happy with it.

I'm now at liberty to tell you that Pasadena Adjacent's name is Elizabeth Garrison. She and her partner Victor Henderson have created numerous works of public art around southern California. Watch for them.

Tash did a great post about their work at Fire Station #5 in Westchester.

I'm going to put that in the post, too.

Laurie said...

This is so exquisite, I am almost speechless. LOVE IT!!! Must go properly ooh and ahh over at PA's blog.

Patrizzi Intergalactica said...

Great post!

Janet M Kincaid said...

Very cool! I love Pasadena and it's stuff like this that makes it so lovable.

Shanna said...

Love this!!! Thanks for the great story... and thank you Liz for sharing your process!!! This bus is gorgeous and I'm sooo pleased to know the artist who did it!!!

Petrea said...

The more I read your comments, the happier I am. PA too, I think. It's a joy to know when others are interested in your work. I hope you all checked out the link to Tash's blog. That is a spectacular work of art.

Nathalie said...

Petrea, the photo itself was fun enough but the story behind the bus's design is absolutely fascinating. Thanks for telling it!
I'm off to follow the link to Tash's blog now.

Gina said...

Thanks for the insight...

I always smile when I see one of the artful ARTS buses. The art makes the buses seem more human, more a part of the city (as opposed to the metro buses plastered with advertisements).

Speedway said...

I just love decorated buses, adding a bit of color and whimsy to the cityscape. Interesting too, that the art work is printed onto an adhesive backed, vinyl skin which is then transferred onto the surface of the bus. Though the skills of the sign painter has fallen by the wayside, this technology has given us more colorful, intricate designs that can be easily replaced, as needed. (Watch a NASCAR race to see the designs on the cars change from week to week).

As for Suicide, er, Colorado Street Bridge, a friend e-mailed me earlier this spring that he'd taken his dog for a walk at the Arroyo, but the pathway had been blocked by police because someone had elected to take a "shortcut" from the bridge to the pathway. So, he and his dog returned to the car, went someplace else. Then, a few weeks ago, I saw Suicide Bridge in a scene on "The Closer," as a site where someone had pushed a car over the embankment to kill the driver. "Homicide Bridge?"

Dianne Emley said...

Thanks, Petrea and Pasadena Adjacent. Very fun and informative.

Petrea said...

Nathalie, if you haven't been to Tash's Palos Verdes Daily Photo before, you'll like it.

Gina, I agree. The ARTS buses truly belong to Pasadena.

Speedway, the Colorado Street Bridge is often used in films and TV. The unfortunate truth is that it's often used for suicide as well. Other places would be easier--you have to climb some high barriers to get over the side. But perhaps the bridge over the Arroyo draws people with some meaning only they can know.

You're welcome, Dianne. It's been a pleasure. I had an email from Liz earlier this evening and she has enjoyed the response, too.

Mister Earl said...

I thought the Bull was to honor the City Council.

Susan Campisi said...

I'm sorry I'm so late. I'm a big fan of PA's blog so I was delighted to see this post. It's a fascinating journey into her creative process. I love those beautiful tiles! But the finished bus is fabulous too.

Kudos to PA for her incredible artwork, and to you, Petrea, for such a great tribute. You're both Pasadena treasures.

Latino Heritage said...

Kudos to PA for her wonderful work and to you for synthesizing in a way that was great fun to read.
I don't know what the building might be, but I'm pretty sure it's not the Reid Adobe. That was in another rancho/city.

Kim said...

That is just so super. Thank you for posting the scans and artists' information. It makes it that much more enjoyable and makes us better able to appreciate the thought and process behind the finished bus design. Kudos!
-Kim

Petrea said...

Mister Earl, I think you're referring to a council in somewhere other than Pasadena?

Thanks, everybody. This is the post that keeps on giving!

PA worked hard on these designs and I'm sure we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg here in terms of her efforts. The scans don't show the different media--paint, ink, cut-and-paste, etc. that PA used to put things them together. The "rejected" designs are works of art themselves.

Keith said...

PA never ceases to amaze me. I think this is my new favorite among your posts, Petrea.

Petrea said...

Thank you, Keith.

And from an email from PA: "that structure that people are guessing at is city hall too. I did a little bit of collage work on that CH structure (sticking all the domes into a tight space for compositional reasons)."

Margaret said...

I loved this! I love the bus, and I loved reading about the process. I'm sorry the tile mosaics were eliminated though because that was just lovely. She is so amazingly talented and accomplished.

beckynot said...

She's come out! And her work is pretty.

Petrea Burchard said...

She's one of southern California's treasures, Beckynot. We're lucky to know her.