Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Retta Scott

Painting in the Arroyo
I bought a small but interesting cache of watercolors out of an estate in the Bay Area this week. The artist is named Retta Scott (1916-1990) and she had a long and illustrious career. She has somehow largely escaped notice in the booming California Watercolor / California regional style market. She is not listed in Gordon McLelland's book California Watercolors 1850-1970 but she had an illustrious career that I believe deserves both acclaim and recognition.

Problems at the dock
Scott was a Disney artist and has the distinction of being the first woman to crack the celluloid barrier and receive animation screen credit at Disney. She was hired by Disney in 1938. Only one of my watercolors is dated, the chinatown piece is from 1933 and I have no way of knowing when the other works were completed.

From Wiki:

Scott was born in Omak, Washington.[1] She graduated from Seattle's Roosevelt High School in 1934. She received an academic scholarship from the Chouinard Art Institute, so she moved to Los Angeles, California. She spent much of her free time sketching wildlife at the nearby Griffith Park zoo. Her ambition was to mold a career in Fine art.[2]

As she readied to complete her Institute training, the Institute's director encouraged Scott to apply at Disney Studios. She was hired in 1938 and assigned to the Story Department, where the ambitious Bambi project was being developed. Her stunning sketches caught the eye of Disney himself,[3] so when the film went into production she was assigned[4] to animate scenes of hunting dogs chasing Faline. This was a significant coup for the young woman, since at the 1930s-era Disney studio, women were considered only for routine tasks: "Ink and paint art was a laborious part of the animation process, and was solely the domain of women . ." [5] She worked under the film's supervising director, David D. Hand,[6] and was tutored by Disney animator Eric Larson.[7]
Scott worked on a host of Disney features besides Bambi, including Fantasia and Dumbo as well as some Donald Duck cartoons.


 I missed out on a wonderful beach scene but am very happy with the pieces I did manage to acquire.

Santa Anita Stop

I do have a question. Any Angelenos around that can tell me where this grand deco building is or was located?

Some of these pieces are double sided and a few lack signatures. Will be tough to decide what to frame. Hope that you enjoy her work as much as I do.


Olvera Street
Postscript: Boy, you guys are good. One day. Top honors go to Tom Meriwether with honorable mention to Barb Finwall who sent this letter:
Voila !  (maybe)
The Park Plaza Hotel
You would see this from Mac arthur Park, which is where the bridge is.

Barbara gets extra credit for the Chouinard patio but since she was a student there one would expect it…
she also sent this picture of said patio. 

Thanks to all you Blue Heron sleuths out there!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sha la la la la

I called my brother in Toronto this morning. "Hey Buzz," I say. There was a long and pregnant pause on the phone. "Buzz?" Finally a few moments later I heard his voice, dripping with the usual sarcasm. "You haven't eaten one freaking sandwich this week you can write about?"

Buzz is a lawyer turned chef/ restauranteur who is dealing with some unfortunate health issues at present and now gets to eat around courtesy of his older brother, somewhat cathartically as you may guess.

I have, of course, been ensconced in the sprawling metropolis to the north all week and the blog has been pretty much out of commission. My buddy Steve and I did the Los Angeles Art Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center for the second year in a row.

I did reasonably well, haven't matched last year's number but the figure was fairly respectable, for these times anyway and come to think of it, a lot of last year's totals came weeks after the show with call backs. Perhaps the fat contralto has not yet sung?

We stayed at the old Hotel Figueroa, a moorish affair quite popular with the young, hip and freshly scrubbed. Old belter styled wooden divans decorated with paisley and peacocks, crude faux arabic gilt patterns stenciled on the walls and trim. We are repeats there, it allowed us to walk to the show and we stayed out of our cars and on our feet whenever possible.

The rooms are small but functional. Steve and I had an identical complaint; the pillows were too full, we like a big pillow to be accompanied by a smaller pillow that you can scrunch for under the neck. You have too fold a corner of one of the big beastly pillows over and slide it under your neck and it almost does the trick.

I had the overpriced and pedestrian buffet one morning and amused myself watching the similarly checked young couple across from me ignore each other over their coffee.

I like the Figueroa, hope the upcoming grand remodel doesn't screw up the overall funkiness of the place.

I don't know if I should talk about food or art so I will try to mix the two up a bit.

It was a two day setup. A gruff teamster barked at me from the top of the ramp and there was a whole barrage of passes we had to obtain and license plate numbers they had to jot down.

I twiddled my thumbs in an uncomfortable chair for what seemed like a mini eternity before the lady from the Palm Beach group deigned to take my check and give me a badge. A large check, I might add, this baby is expensive to do.

We went minimal so setup was a breeze. Had the same fantastic booth as last year, right by the entrance.

The show really looked different. Our historic section had really contracted this year, perhaps some politics involved, all I know is that a lot of the normal dealers were missing, Goss, Karges, Trotter, David, etc. Nary a single impressionist painting to be found anywhere, very little early California, with very few exceptions. The worm has turned and where it's going, god knows?

M.S. Rau had its normal Rockwell and Corot, didn't look quite as amazing as last year but they still had some pretty heavy firepower and I am sure turned several trillion ducats.

Chris Beetles from London brought some amazing original Beardsley and Rackham drawings. Tom French had a small Bellows oil and a Hopper drawing which I never got a chance to look at. Steve and I focused on mid century abstract, I had early works by Goings and Thiebaud and people were I think, quite impressed although not to the point where they were forking over large wads of cash yet. Steve's Staprans was I think the hit of the show.

The contemporary section dwarfed our own and didn't impress me all that much. Arcadia brought great stuff, but not quite as nice as last year and somewhat more somber. I liked the Frostig collection of small portraits. Some of the work in the section was derivative, designed to shock and occasionally even rather shoddy. But hey, it's a big world and it takes all kinds.

If you lack inspiration you can always sell off chunks of the popular culture.

The crowds were incredible, most people I have ever seen at a show in 20 years. Waves and waves of them. Thousands, injecting themselves into the room in a strange peristalsis.

I tried to engage everyone with my customary incessant patter but it was like the chinese flooding the korean dmz, too many bodies, I finally gave up. Thousands of people swarming, I had to leave the booth several times just to come up for air.


Of course, I was in La-La land and the people watching was fantastic. The woman standing in front of the Picasso in my booth above is Mrs. Beverly Pink from Pink's hotdogs fame. Lovely woman, very friendly, her family has been selling the dogs with the snap for over 75 years.

Los Angeles has a lot of very snappy dressers and I snapped a bunch of pics. Men and women dressed up like peacocks and peahens, the males in the species perhaps even more flamboyantly decked out than the females.

It was a lot of fun meeting the great multitudes of art lovers and engaging them in conversation.

This woman had quite an earful.

We even met the original Gidget, Kathy Kohner Zuckerman.

Frankly, I need a new cell phone. The camera on my HTC sucks and sometimes it is all I have. Here is a terrible picture of two old geezers who walked into my booth. One of the guys was wearing a red cap with a pot leaf. I asked him if he had any stash to share and he said I would have to pony up some cash first. Funny dudes.

We met all sorts of people. Beautiful people, not so beautiful people, kept women, kept men, songwriters, bartenders, actors, thespians, lesbians, thespian lesbians, lots of artists that wanted representation (sorry, I would explain, only handle the dead ones with two exceptions. not emotionally cut out for it…) photographers, bankers, wealthy, poor, tall, short, we saw them all.

Lots of friends stopped by, Jill and Byron, Genser, Linda and Joe, Gary, Bob, Roy, John Morris, of course, Glenn and Lena Bray, Joe and Cindy K, Michael Stutz and his mom, Lance and Donna Jost, Gordon Mclelland, Mark Hilbert, Eric B with George Barris son, Helen and Buzz, Rich Levendoff, who else?  Genser says the blog is a little bit overkill, he knows way more about my life than he needs to!

Found out that my Ed "Big Daddy" Roth drawing was not done by Wes Bennett as I thought. According to his son Dennis, it is an extremely rare piece by one Richard Ash, who went on to work for Stanley Mouse. Asheye. They say it is quite valuable.

And some of the people were indeed wonderful. The two girls from Seattle, and the songwriting chanteuses above, the adorable artist girl from NOLA who was tired of tending bar and waiting tables and is just looking for a fucking break. Really enjoyed the people this week, even though some of them confided that they were actually miserable and lonely. Los Angeles can be a tough city.

We saw great outfits and great sticks (legs.) Lots of checked patterns, which I didn't know were suddenly so popular. This gay designer is like Hello- it's been two years already! Always the last to know… Steve got stopped on the street for his pendleton jacket which I guess are collector's items now. Live long enough, it all comes back.

Oh yeah, food. It's all starting to melt together and I can't vouch for the chronology but here goes. First
night we drove over to Chinatown and ate at Mrs. Ha Ha's Mayflower restaurant. I can't say it was great but it wasn't bad. The salt and pepper shrimp were fantastic. Delicious duck wonton soup, if a little sparse with the duck. Very ordinary pork fried rice.

Talked the parking cop out of giving us a ticket after dinner. Or I should say, Steve did.

Next day lunch we drove to Montrose to meet Robert Bijou at La Cabanita, my favorite mexican restaurant in the world. Instead of my customary chuletas (thin pork chops cooked in a pasilla chili sauce with sour cream) I had a large and flavorful bowl of red posole and a chicharron taco which was crunchy and simply amazing!

Steve had sopas, one chicken, one pork and one picadillo.  Not sure about Robert, ordered what I thought were pedestrian sounding tacos. Not going to lecture him, his lovely wife Irma is Mexican and he certainly knows his way around the cocina.

The next morning we had breakfast at Phillipes. What a place, going back there with my film camera, it is a trip into the distant past. Coffee prices have gone up, now it will set you back 45 cents for a cup of joe.

Where else did we eat? Well we had sushi around the block at the place on Flower that was decent. Went to Langers one morning for a great breakfast. Salami omelet pancake style and rye bread. Steve had lox, eggs and onions.

Jodi, a great wisecracking waitress who gave as good as she got. Langers, the only deli that I know of with a James Beard award.

On the way back we drove down Broadway and marveled at some of the old theaters. I am going back with my photo group to take pictures next month. Most impressive was the Million Dollar Theater, built by Grauman in 1918.  Did a little research and discovered that its wonderful monumentation was sculpted by the famous California southwest artist Jo Mora.

Wild stuff!

We ate at the Pantry the last day. Terrible. Made the mistake of ordering steak and eggs. Poor cow lived a sad life. Beware. And staff with attitude.

Steve and I also ate at El Cholo one day. My mother was raised in a home next door to the original El Cholo on Western
and I wanted to eat a meal in her honor now at the end of her road.

A fantastic meal, we both had burritos filed with lobster, scallops and shrimp in a chipotle cream sauce. Mom would be proud. I am going to find her picture in front of the restaurant and post it soon. Service was fantastic, margarita and food at El Cholo were simple but excellent.

Bopped over to Arcadia one night to see Bill W. and Cam. We ate at an old warhorse near Santa Anita Racetrack called Peppers. I opted for the pear salad, feeling slight pangs of guilt for the week of gluttony. At some point you have to mix in a salad.

I enjoyed the city this time. Need to come up here and shoot. Planning on taking some guys, hope it doesn't screw me up.

That's pretty much my story. If I can think of anything else I will add it and you'll probably never know. Peace. A nice week, learned a lot and met some great folks, ate some decent grub. Sold some stuff and bought some great stuff. Thassit!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Crumb and the hairy ass of Mohammed

I’m not going to make a career out of baiting some fucking religious fanatics, you know, by insulting their prophet. I wouldn’t do that. That seems crazy. But then, after they got killed, I just had to draw that cartoon, you know, showing the Prophet.  The cartoon I drew shows me, myself, holding up a cartoon that I’ve just drawn. A crude drawing of an ass that’s labeled “The Hairy Ass of Muhammed.” 
Robert Crumb

Torsten Silz - Getty Images
Jonathan Hill sent this cool Crumb interview over from the New York Observer.

Jemima Surrender


Age is a strange thing. One day you're the kid and the next thing you know you're getting that senior discount and instructed by the universe, in no uncertain terms, that you are hereby past your due date and any viewpoints, life experience or general conceit that you might have harbored and/or cultivated are officially no longer valid, and furthermore, no one is interested.

Leslie asked me if I wanted a little color in my hair the other day and I shrieked (believe me, in a most masculine shriek) snarled,"Never" most forcefully. Not doing the grecian thing. Hippie kid, I'm going out like an old navajo, wrinkles and all.

My computer is acting up. I hate technology, always have. My Macpro, the one with the intel processor 2 x 2.66 GHZ Dual Core Intel Xeon with all that extra memory is getting long in the tooth, or so I am instructed by my computer gal, Heidi.

Seven years old is like dog years to a mac. It is starting to send me little communiques, gasps for memory and notices of speed malfunctions, tired groans that are getting hard to ignore.

We hooked up two new G drives and they have to be rebuilt every time I reboot the computer because of some pissing match between G and Apple. Finger pointing. So my photo and backup drives ain't working so good.

Things are starting to lag but I like to use things until they are officially dead and past tense, get every last ounce of use of them like the good old provincial farmer that I am. Waste not, want not. It's just starting to sputter and wheeze a bit, just like me.

Anyway, Heidi gently broke the word to me when I called to bitch about the drive situation, Robert, your computer's old, like a veterinarian telling you it's finally time to put down the horse.

I'll, sniff, miss the old gal. Not going to buy one of those expensive donut cylinder macpros, will buy a humble 27" retina 5k imac, that is when I can scratch up the dough.

I have a new significant attraction. I was walking across the street, minding my own business, when I espied out of the corner of my eye an object of singular virtue and beauty. One of the very nice merchants on the block had an old twin lens reflex rollie sitting there in the window, an old flame of mine. The first camera I ever shot, actually, in 1962 or 3, stepfather Don taught us to use it. Think he lost it later, got rolled in Juarez but that is another story. Damn Oso Negro.

Anyway I approached the shop owner and she said it was a prop in the closet when she bought the place and I was welcome to use it if I wanted to. I have been yearning for film and medium format and I think she will do the trick for a while. Bought some 100 Velvia and Ilford at OPT. Have my new scanner in place.

This one is a K4A from around 1951 or 1952. She has the Tessar Opton 3.5 77mm. The MX automat. Ken helped me load it and reorient myself. Seems to be in fine shape, not abused. Might need a little lubrication, nothing major. Aches and pains of getting up there. This is going to be fun. Light meter on the way from Hong Kong as we speak.

Soon I will tell you about Prometheus.

first night back for fois gras - Vincent's, Escondido