Rustam’s Los Angeles

Chris BeecherEthnography, New Voices, Previous Editions

People view Los Angeles in different ways. Some people see it as a playground, a music stage, or a movie set. My Los Angeles is a giant exhibition of art by various artists. This huge exhibition is made out of architecture, museums, sculptures, and street art. It is also made up of different cultures and nationalities. This unique city unites everybody under the roof of art.

Every where I go in Los Angeles, I see art. Once I step out of my house this city unfolds into different pieces. Each piece is a form of art. The first thing I see is architecture. Since Los Angeles is located in a very dangerous earthquake zone, all the buildings are built to handle mother nature. Most forms of architecture are made for comfort and safety. It is difficult to find residential structures that are built out of stone, glass or concrete because once the earthquake strikes, those buildings are most likely to be destroyed. Since Los Angeles is not an ancient city, a lot of architecture is pretty modern. Many houses and apartment buildings are made out of plywood with a stuccoed finish, which are painted in different colors like olive, peach, or lemon. It is really hard to impress somebody foreign with this kind of beauty. But I find this kind of architecture very unusual and beautiful at the same time.

Los Angeles has a specific style of homes. If we look back into Los Angeles history we can see that many Hispanic people used to live here. The influence is still here today. The style of homes can be described as Spanish. This style consists of patios with gardens or fountains, sloping tile roofs, and arched corridors. Many homes build in this style featuring the common elements listed above.  I also find a couple of churches with bell shaped towers, which is also a common element of Spanish architecture. One church is called Church of the Good Shepherd. This is a good example of a Spanish style church. It is located on the corner of North Santa Monica Boulevard and North Bedford Drive. On the other hand, I was surprised while looking at expensive neighborhoods in Los Angeles because I found houses and churches in styles such as Baroque, Rococo, Swiss Chalet, and Victorian Gothic. I thought those styles are very different from the styles I see every day. Los Angeles features a large number of different architectural styles, but it is not easy to find all of them. Exploring Los Angeles made me realize that it is more than just a plywood jungle painted in cheerful colors.

Another piece of Los Angeles art is street art. I see street art as a part of Los Angeles because it contributes to the whole city. Street art in my city consists of graffiti, stickers, stencils, wheat paste posters, and murals, though the most common form of street art is graffiti. I can find it almost everywhere. Alleyways of apartment buildings and small stores is a good place to find graffiti. I do not think it is the most beautiful style of art, but some graffiti looks nice, featuring unique designs with lots of colors. For example take a look at all the small stores on Melrose Avenue and Fairfax Avenue. Many have some kind of graffiti as their signboard, a unique way to display the store’s name. It is usually illegal to do graffiti in Los Angeles, because many gang members use it as tags to mark their territory, but I still can find beauty in this type of art.

Looking at the streets of Los Angeles I can also see many wheat paste posters and stencil paintings. I really like this form of art because it is very unusual. The most common place to find stencils and wheat paste posters are electric boxes, blue mailboxes, blank walls, and billboards. I have never seen anything like that in Russia, where I used to live. Some stencils and wheat paste posters have a deeper meaning. Many street artists use irony and sarcasm to express their ideas to the public. For example, a stencil painting by the artist named Banksy is located on 908 South Broadway, Los Angeles. Above a big parking lot full of cars, on the side wall of a building, there are huge red letters spelling out “PARKING,” but the last three letters of the word are lightly covered in white paint, so that people will only focus on the word ‘PARK’. Under the letter ‘A’ in the word parking, there is a stencil painting of a girl on swings. I think it is ironic that we mostly focus on building skyscrapers and parking structures. I believe Los Angeles would be much better if we build more parks and playgrounds. Banksy’s artwork makes me think that Los Angeles is too crowded with cars, houses, and office buildings instead of parks.

Los Angeles features a large number of public museums such as, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Hollywood Wax Museum, and The Grammy Museum. I have been to the Getty Museum, and it is a fantastic place that consists of sculptures, paintings, photographs, and astonishing architecture. Many tourists and people who live in Los Angeles visit this museum. This museum unites different cultures and nationalities. I see different kind of people look together at art featured in this museum. There are special museum guides where people get in groups and explore the artworks. Tourists from Spain, Germany, Russia, China, and other countries stay together and discuss everything in the Getty Museum. The Getty can also act as a traveling time machine. Many people who live in Los Angeles are busy working to support their families. The Getty museum gives a little opportunity to feel like you are traveling around the world. Since there are many tourists who speak various languages, once you stay by the group that speaks a different language you get a feeling that you are in another country. There are a couple of ancient rooms which are covered with gold trim. Chairs, beds, lamps, fireplaces, and tables are painted in gold color. Whenever I walk in those rooms I feel like I am in the seventeenth century, somewhere in Europe.

At the Getty Museum we can find many paintings and sculptures which are from sixteenth century to present day. This museum is a great place to discover paintings from famous artists like Claude Monet, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh, Eduard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Peter Paul Rubens. I have a lot of favorite paintings in this museum, but there is one which I like the most. It is a beautiful painting called Irises by Dutch post- impressionist artist, Vincent van Gogh. It is one of the most popular paintings at the Getty. Every time I look at the painting, there is a big crowd around it.

People stand and stare at the painting for several minutes without moving. This is one of my favorite paintings, because it is a masterpiece. It is very unusual to see a painting of flowers, because other paintings from nineteenth century which are displayed at the Getty are mostly portraits and landscapes. Since I am part European, I thought it is very cool that a painting from Europe is displayed in Los Angeles. I think everyone can connect themselves to a particular art object at the Getty museum.

Los Angeles is a city made up of many different art objects. It can be a building with fantastic architecture or graffiti marking someone’s territory. I find beauty in all forms of art in Los Angeles. Looking at all the museums in Los Angeles I get a feeling that people do care about
art. Having many museums in Los Angeles is a great opportunity for many people because many
people do not have time or funds to travel around the world and look at different artwork. Getty
museum gives this opportunity to all of the people who live in Los Angeles. Lots of local people
and foreigners become united by one thing, art.



Works Cited

Banksy. Parking. 12 April 2010.

Vincent van Gogh. Irises. 1889. Oil on canvas. The Getty Center.