85.5 metres below sea level

The lowest point in North America is here.

Where the water that flows from the mountains of central Nevada, hundreds of miles away, into the porous limestone bed-rock and trough an aquifer, emerges at Badwater along the faultline at the mountain’s base and forms a pool. Salts dissolve from old deposits and flow to the surface, making the spring water ”bad” – a word which here means ”salty”.

We found the pool almost dry, the saltwater flats all the more spectacular.

Badwater Basin, Death Valley, CA

April 21st, 2019

Zabriskie Point

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day I would see this stunning landscape in real life. But here I was, with scenes from Antonioni’s 1970 film passing before my eyes, breathing the dry desert air, feeling humbled by its enormity. And slightly disappointed to learn that it was named after Christian Brevoort Zabriskie, vice-president and general manager of the Pacific Coast Borax Company, and not Zabriskie Point, the film.

Death Valley, CA

April 21st, 2019

Amargosa Opera House & Hotel

About five miles past the border line, in the middle of nowhere and well underway to the Death Valley, a building complex housing a hotel, a café, an exhibition space and an opera house. Marfa, for all its artistic weirdness, does not even come close – not by a long shot.

Here we are, at the Death Valley Junction, looking in amazement at the Mexican Colonial adobe building, constructed in 1924 to house the Pacific Coast Borax Company’s offices and labourers’ quarters, and a twenty-three-room hotel welcoming the mining town’s many visitors. Next to it, Corkill Hall – an entertainment centre with a built-in stage where the dances, weddings, movies, church services and other community events took place. 

We learn that in 1967, a flat tyre brought Marta Becket – a New York City born artist – and her husband, to this very garage you see in the first picture for repairs. While her husband was taking care of the car, Marta walked around the building, realised it was an abandoned theatre and decided there and then that it was waiting for her to bring it back to life.

Marta wrote in her memoir: “As I peered through the tiny hole, I had the distinct feeling that I was looking at the other half of myself. The building seemed to be saying, ‘Take me… Do something with me… I offer you life.’” [source: The Mojave Project]

Amargosa Opera House was born and it became Marta’s stage, home and life. She only stopped performing in 2012, at the age of eighty-eight. I was not fortunate enough to catch one of her performances – I hadn’t even heard of Marta Becket or the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel, before our trip in 2019!

I didn’t even realise then – not before I started reading more about it, that the hotel would probably be better known to many as the ‘Lost Highway Hotel’ from David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997). But at the time, I was too busy peeking through windows, staring at Marta’s costumes and photographs….

April 21st, 2019

The Getty Department of Photographs is the Mecca of Photography

The J. Paul Getty Museum’s collection of over one hundred thousand images is among the most comprehensive holdings of rare and important photographs in the world. It ranges from daguerreotypes to work by contemporary photographers.

For conservation purposes and, may I add, due to their sheer number, photographs cannot be kept on permanent display, but go on view during rotating exhibitions. The images below are from ”Now Then: Chris Killip and the Making of In Flagrante” , ‘‘the most important photobook to document the devastating impact of deindustrialization on working-class communities in northern England in the 1970s and 1980s”.

Paired here with an image from the Cactus Garden and a detail from one of the exterior walls showcasing just a few of the 1.2 million square feet of travertine stone used to cover many surfaces of the Getty Center.

2/
Bever Skinningrove (1987) by Chris Killip
Gelatin silver print

The Getty Center

July 18th, 2017

Blue Note

1/
Carrington (Portrait of a Girl in a Blue Jersey), 1912 by Mark Gertler (1891-1939)
Oil and tempera on canvas

Though begun in tempera, this portrait was finished in oils, a more forgiving medium. The switch may have been made from necessity: Gertler often admonished his sitter, fellow art student and object of his unrequited love, Dora Carrington, for her habit of rarely sitting still.

2/
Bathers (Bath Houses), 1950 by George Tooker (1920-2011)
Egg tempera on gessoed board

Tooker used egg tempera, a medium popular among Renaissance painters which underwent a revival in the 1930s and 1940s, to capture exacting details.

3/
The Long Leg, ca. 1930 by Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Oil on canvas

The Long Leg depicts a sailboat near the Long Point Light at Provincetown, Massachusetts, at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The boat sails in a zigzag series of short )and long tacks, or legs. Although the painting portrays a scene of leisure, no people are  visible on the boat or the landscape. Despite (or, perhaps, because of) this absence, this is my all time favourite of all of Hopper’s brilliant works.

The Huntington

July 16th, 2017

The [k]night is dark

The Animated Series (1992) opening storyboards, drawn by Bruce Timm and coloured by Eric Radomski.

For me, The Animated Series (1992-1995) is the definitive Batman. And the opening title sequence encapsulates the essence of Batman in way that has yet to be surpassed.

*Watch*

#current_mood
#two_days_to_Halloween
#my_batman
#it’s_my_birthday_and_I’ll_try_if_I_want_to

Warner Bros Studio Tour

July 14th, 2017