Janet Workman’s sunny disposition is reflected in the whimsical pieces of folk art she is constantly crafting in her tiny Frogtown studio. Nothing grim or weighty here. Janet’s work is light, witty and above all, colorful. Color is in fact her passion, often inspired by the flowers she discovers in her own backyard or in the new community garden space she is helping to design. (Her husband Bob is a pretty colorful figure, too). Janet works in all kinds of media–paint, cloth, and very often, stained glass. There is an innocent quality to her work, a purity of thought, a cheerfulness. Thats because not all art need be complex or challenging. Sometimes its best when its just plain fun.
Pat Bylard doesn’t simply move to the beat of a different drummer—-he makes the drums. After 35 years as a manager in the lumber industry, Pat has opened his own shop along Blake Avenue, and is handcrafting some of the finest—-and most unusual—-musical instruments around. In fact, he had to invent a name for them–Cajongos. ”Cajon” (Spanish for box) and “go” (for bongo). When a famous Cuban drummer named Perico Hernandez asked Pat to build him a drum out of wood, he rose to the challenge and soon became hooked. Now, at the end of each day, as Pat puts the finishing touches on another new instrument, the bass notes of a latin percussion group can often be heard drifiting out along the LA River.
Mmy friend Scott Fajack, an architect at LA’s Department of Water and Power, asked if we’d like to take a tour of one of the city’s water storage and processing plants. I could hardly wait. Not that I’m terribly interested in how clean water makes its way from a plant in the Valley to the faucet in my kitchen to the icecube tray in my freezer and finally to the shaker which produces my vodka martini. (Come to think of it, that IS vital information.) Anyway, for me it was another excuse to make some of the pictures I like best–gadgets, gizmos, gauges and closeups of industrial machinery. It will not surprise you to know that given the fact that the DWP is a bureaucracy as layered as the Kremlin , some of the equipment looks like it belongs back in the Cold War days. No matter, the newer stuff continues to filter out good clean H2O for all of us. And to that I say “Cheers!”
When my friend Rick Cortez gave me a tour of the dilapidated industrial compound he had just purchased for his architecture firm’s new headquarters, I knew he would soon transform it into the kind of clean modern workspace he is known for. At that moment, though, the former HI Electronics factory was an empty shell. As we walked through the jumble of buildings, Rick told me of his visits to the site prior to taking possession. The workforce, which manufactured circuit boards and sold odd kinds of equipment, like megaphones, had dwindled to a handful of haplesss employees. Some labored in rooms lit by eerie yellow flourescent bulbs. Others shuffled about in a nearly empty warehouse. I thought that Rick and his team should forever remember the quirky “before” of their new home. And so, on the day before demolition began, I decided to “imagine” the company in its heyday, using some of the items they left behind.