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Where am I now? 33.748995, -84.387982 Atlanta, GA, United States (Directions)

Santa Barbara

June Gloom in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a ninety minute drive north of Los Angeles up US-101. Fog takes on a certain personality along the Californian coast. It creeps in from the ocean, clinging like a wet blanket to the freeway and the neighboring Santa Ynez Mountains. It subsumes all daylight, lending the desert scenery a foreign chill. This feeling is known as June Gloom here, a misnomer if there ever was one. It seems to happen year-round and certainly whenever I’m in town.

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Los Angeles

First Stop: Los Angeles

Edward Hopper didn’t like Los Angeles. He didn’t like the perennial traffic, as much an issue in his day as it is today. Despite the rush hour traffic, I feel a sense of release as I crawl towards Santa Barbara from LAX on the I-405. It’s a sun-drenched Friday evening. I’m driving a rented Chrysler PT Cruiser, my companion for the next twelve weeks as I cross America. My final destination is the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which is showing the largest retrospective of Edward Hopper’s pictures to date.

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Meeting Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper

Route 7

The first time I met an Edward Hopper picture in person was in my early twenties. I had discovered Edward Hopper years before as a teenager, when I read a review of a retrospective of his paintings which came through Washington, D.C. My sophomore year of high school had finished days earlier. The best way to explain my state of mind then was that it rhymed with  Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’, the famous portrayal of urban angst and solitude which was splashed on top of the Washington Post article reviewing the show. That night, I crawled in rush hour traffic to the Borders Books at Tysons Corner as the summer sun set over the smog of Route 7. I found a Taschen book of Edward Hopper’s paintings and flipped through it for an hour.

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