2017 is going to be a challenging year for peace-loving folks, so be sure to exercise additional mindfulness, love and patience through strength of resolve to do what is right. I wish you all the best.
It was a complete accident that Geoffrey and I ended up making a pit stop at the gorgeous Brooklyn Botanic Garden as part of a recent trip to visit the Brooklyn Museum. It wasn’t until we were on the train that I noticed (for the first time, ever) that the Eastern Parkway Stop off the 2 and 3 is also the stop for the BBG, so I suggested to Geoffrey that we “See how far away it is from the museum” once we got out of the subway. What we discovered, much to our ecstatic delight, is that the Garden is literally right next to the Museum. It could not possibly have been more conveniently located. Even better, Geoffrey’s work ID card got us in for free, and since we had no strict agenda to follow, we spent over an hour exploring nature as a prelude to some hardcore, art-viewing action. It was an amazing day!
Even though I grew up in Southern California, there are a lot of tourist attractions I never had a chance to see when I lived there. These days, when I go back to visit my family and friends I try to check out some of the places that especially showcase what a naturally beautiful area California is (which of course I never appreciated until I moved to the concrete jungle of NYC).
On my most recent visit at Christmas, I had a fun time with my friend Sue at the Japanese Garden, located in Balboa Park in the city of Van Nuys. If you’re a fan of the fun Tattoo Artist reality competition series Best Ink, then you might recall the Japanese Garden from this season’s episode where the Best Ink contestants visited it to get inspiration and sketch during the “Design an Asian Tattoo” challenge.
While the Japanese Garden is an ideal place to spend some quiet time enjoying nature, it has a constructive purpose as well as being beautiful to look at. The Garden is actually built on the site of the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, which was designed to produce reclaimed water that will meet the requirements of the California Department of Health Services and the County Health Department. The filtration process takes a total of about 11.5 hours, producing reclaimed water can be made available for specific reuse, with any excess being discharged to the Los Angeles River.
These photos were all taken in December, just a few days before Christmas (during the spell of 75 degree, sunny days that Californians refer to as “Winter”), so you can imagine how much more lush and floral this place looks when things start to grow again in the spring.
In the uncropped version of the above photo, you can clearly see the reclamation plant in the background.
The Garden is also an ideal spot to practice your amateur nature photography skills!
This photo was taken from inside the on site Tea House.
The Japanese Garden is Located at 6100 Woodley Ave, Van Nuys, California, 91406. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM, and Sunday from 10:00AM until 4:00PM (the last gate entry each day is at 3:15PM). The Garden is closed to the public on Friday and Saturday, on all LA County Holidays and if it rains within 24 hours of opening time and during open hours. It is suggested that you call (818)756-8166 on the day you wish to visit to make sure the Garden is open. Admission to the Garden is only $3.00 per person, $2.00 for Seniors 62+ and Children under 10. Exact change is appreciated.
The Huntington Library, contrary to what you might deduce from its rather literal name, is a former private estate property located in San Marino, California that now hosts a vast and mind blowing art collection and multiple, unique botanical gardens and sculpture collections, in addition to housing one of the largest and most complete research libraries in the United States. Seriously, the place is amazing. You could spend an entire day there and not get bored.
I spent an afternoon at the Huntington Library this past December and had the best time. Here are some photos I took to give you an idea of what you might see if you decide to visit.
Much of the Library’s collection of paintings centers around 18th-century English portraiture. Pinkie, one of the most famous paintings of its time, hangs directly across the room from Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy. It is really hard to avoid being moved by their beauty and profound emotional pull.
Many of the interior furnishings and fixtures in the main house/gallery remain from the time it was inhabited by its original owners, Henry and Arabella Huntington. You can see from the above light fixture that they had exquisite taste.
Mrs. Huntington was a dedicated collector of fine hand-painted china. There are several large rooms entirely devoted to showcasing her collection.
Because the Huntingtons were ridiculously wealthy, they traveled the world and added pieces to their collection from the countries they visited. This exquisite chest that flaunts an insanely ornate Mother of Pearl inlaid design is from Japan.
The pristinely landscaped grounds leading up to the main house and gallery are flanked by a remarkably gorgeous marble statue garden. Yes, rich people really used to live this way.
I love this large fountain, which bookends the sculpture garden.
It should not surprise anyone that the Library grounds are home to an indoor Rainforest.
They also have a huge Japanese Garden which features a large pond, statues, sculptures, a tea house, bridges and topiary.
Last but not least, there is small collection of Contemporary Art which includes pieces by some of my favorite artists, such as Andy Warhol, bringing the historical art experience full circle.
The Huntington Library Art Collection and Botanical Gardens is located at 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108. Phone (626)405-2100 or visit their Website for hours and admission information.