This past weekend, on Easter Day, I found myself praying to Mother Nature at one of her glorious temples. Here in Southern California, we are blessed with so many gorgeous sights, stretching from the Ocean all the way to the Desert. I trust you know of Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, just north of Pasadena, where visitors can wander through the hundred and fifty acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.
Descanso Gardens, Easter 2016
I bet that if Claude Monet had the chance to see some of the blossoming arrangements there, he would demand to be credited. Sure enough, I had his landscapes in mind when I snapped my photos. And if you want to catch the explosion of blooming lilacs –– an unusual phenomenon in our warm Southern California climate, –– be sure to make your way to Descanso in the next few days. These lilacs bloom only for a brief window of time. Of course, all of the above made me slightly nostalgic of wild lilacs blooming in the parks and forests around St. Petersburg.
Descanso Gardens' Lilacs, Easter 2016
But the moment I stepped into Descanso's Japanese Garden, with its circling ponds and elegantly arranged stones, I began to dream about a trip to Japan –– a must do on my bucket list. I'm sure that many of you are quite familiar with the spectacular but rather formal Botanical Gardens at the Huntington Library. Here at Descanso, the landscapes are less meticulously manicured so Mother Nature gets to show a bit of her wild side.
Descanso Gardens' Japanese Garden, Easter 2016
And talking about wild… at the far end of the Gardens is Sturt Haaga Gallery. The current exhibition there, Farewell Eden, features paintings, sculptures, and photographs by a variety of artists who explore the essence of interactions between humans and nature. A sculpture by Carlee Fernandez, composed of several entangled taxidermy birds, shows a big white swan spreading its wings in victory over its fellow birds, including a peacock. Somehow, it's difficult not to think about this sculpture as a poetic metaphor of never-ending battles among us, human beings.
Carlee Fernandez, "To Xavier, I Love You," 2010
Taxidermy birds, metal stand
"Farewell Eden" exhibition at Descanso Gardens' Sturt Haaga Gallery
On my drive from Descanso Paradise back home, back to reality, I was startled to see Bernie Sanders happily smiling at me from the wall of a small house in Venice. I simply had to pull over and say hello back. Later, I discovered that this portrait was painted by mural artist, Jules Muck. In a recent video that went viral, Bernie laughs at the sight of the little bird that landed on his lectern. But here, in Venice, he smiles at the sight of several large, rusty metal sculptures on the sidewalk in front of him.
Jules Muck, portrait of Bernie Sanders
The sign on the gate tells you that these large-scale metal sculptures of nails, screws, and jacks, are works by local artist, David Tanych. I've lived in the neighborhood for the last twenty years and thought that I knew it quite well, but no, there are still surprises to discover…
David Tanych, metal sculptures
Corner of Westminster and 5th Avenue in Venice, California
All photographs by Edward Goldman