Huntington: Pretty in Pasadena

Huntington Railroad Fortune

One of the enduring pleasures of visiting art museums is to imagine yourself as the owner of the priceless work of art in front of you. The truly democratic aspect of public museums is that every patron becomes an artwork’s owner for one ephemeral moment.

Nowhere is this illusion better preserved than at the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery in San Marino, an affluent Los Angeles suburb just south of Pasadena. Huntington, a superbly wealthy railroad and real estate magnate, owned twelve hundred acres of land here.

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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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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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