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12 Days of Giving : Monrovia Association of Fine Arts

December 19, 2014 in Art, Education, Events, Holidays, People, Photography, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Social issues

LogoThis is a group that I have devoted tons of energy and time to over the last 10 years.  Their mission statement sums it all up:
“Enhance the lives of those within our community through interaction with the arts. Increase the opportunities of our children through art education.”

Its something I completely believe in, live and breath it.  I got involved 10 years ago as a way to help promote my art, but after a few meetings I found its something that benefits the entire community in ways I never knew.

My kids were in the MUSD system and I was disappointed to learn that Art Education wasn’t part of the curriculum as a separate class at the elementary level.  Monrovia Association of Fine Arts, MAFA for short, was just getting ready to make its first donation to the schools the year I joined to help fund art educatoin at the elementary level.  Over the course of the next few years our cash donations totalled over $75.000.  But it didn’t stop there. Read the rest of this entry →

Hike To LA’s Abandoned Dawn Mine, aka, Attempted Murder by Squirrels

December 5, 2014 in environment, History, LA, Photography

dawnhike01 dawnsquirrel07There are three ways to hike to the abandoned Dawn Mine above Altadena.

The first is closed, the second is overgrown, but the third, in a metaphorical bear sense, is just right.

dawnhike03John W. Robinson, in his book “Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels,” calls it “the most storied gold prospect in the front range.”

But that’s not saying much.

Because no one has made their fortune from gold in the mountains overlooking the San Gabriel Valley, that doesn’t mean that a bunch of people haven’t tried.

The prospectors started to scratch the surface of Millard Canyon in 1895, and one of those prospectors, Bradford Peck, named the area near the top of the canyon after a friend’s daughter, Dawn Ehrenfeld.

It wasn’t until 1902 that the real mining began. Michael T. Ryan, an Australian, began the first tunneling into the cliffs on one side of the tiny stream, creating the tunnel that we can still enter.

2014oct31-dawnhike08 dawnhike06 dawnsquirre10But he came across one problem. How to carry the tons of ore, that needed to be crushed to extract the gold? Hiking the two and a half miles down boulder strewn Millard Canyon was difficult and time consuming. So he forged a trail up the side of the mountain to the Mt. Lowe Railway. Once there he loaded the ore onto the Mt. Lowe train and it headed down, via the funicular, to extract that beautiful gold.

After Mr. Ryan gave up, realizing that he, like the others, was not going to make his fortune, the mine changed hands many times. In the 1950’s the area became derelict, littered with mining equipment and abandoned shacks.

Over the years they became covered with graffiti and run down. Eventually all were removed except an old engine, which still sits as a marker to the mine entrance.

To hike Dawn Mine, drive up the road called Chaney Trail (which is “closed” sunset to sunrise). Chaney Trail tees off West Alta Loma Drive, between Lincoln Ave and Fair Oaks Ave in Altadena.

A section of the trail leading up Millard Canyon to Dawn Mine.Chaney Trail is a small winding road that leads up into the San Gabriels. At the end of this road is a car park — don’t park here, because this is the entrance to the closed section of the trail. Park instead at the highest point of Chaney Trail. It’s where the fire road leads up into the mountains. Parking is a problem, because there are so few spaces. It is usually full on weekends, so if you can, go on a weekday, or pray to the parking fairies.

dawnhike05Hike around the fire road barrier, past the water tank and then make a left after 0.4 of a mile, according to my phone, which obviously knows everything.

The turn is the sign posted for The Sunset Ridge Trail. This trail leads down into Millard Canyon.

Note: There is a fork on this trail, but keep left, down toward the canyon floor. At 1.05 miles from the car park, the path reaches the gently flowing stream at the bottom of the canyon, which was, in this October 2014 drought, really just a trickle. The mine is near the top of Millard Canyon, so head upstream, north, away from civilization.

Note: Downstream from here the trail is closed, which leads to the car park you are not supposed to park in, as the forestry service is attempting to rehabilitate it after the Station fire in 2009.

My first attempt to find Dawn Mine was a failure, because I went the wrongway. Although on the plus side, I did come across a stunningly beautiful three tiered 40-foot waterfall.

Where is went wrong was not making a right turn, although it is probably worth it just to see the waterfalls.bIf you do want to see Dawn Mine make a right 1.25 miles from the parking lot. Or to put it another way, make a right 0.2 miles after reaching the tream; Once making this turn, follow the river another 1.6 miles upstream, or 2.85 miles from the parking lot to the mine itself.Note: Downstream from here the trail is closed, which leads to the car park you are not supposed to park in, as the forestry service is attempting to rehabilitate it after the Station fire in 2009.

My first attempt to find Dawn Mine was a failure, because I went the wrong way. Although on the plus side, I did come across a stunningly beautiful three tired
40-foot waterfall. Where is went wrong was not making a right turn, although it is probably worthnit just to see the waterfalls.

If you do want to see Dawn Mine make a right 1.25 miles from the parking lot. Or to put it another way, make a right 0.2 miles after reaching the stream. Once making this turn, follow the river another 1.6 miles upstream, or 2.85 miles from the parking lot to the mine itself.nAlmost all of this 1.6 miles is hopping over rocks, clambering over boulders, or ducking under fallen trees.

Note: While doing all this hopping, clambering, and ducking, pause for a momentnand enjoy the peaceful miles-away-from-the-city burbling stream, squirrel and bird sounds.

From here on out it is practically impossible to get lost, just follow the stream.nThere are spray-painted arrows along the way, but they are not really necessary; just follow the stream.

Because this is not a well traveled path a number of the stones are loose so be careful of twisting an ankle, but that is not the only danger. When the cliffs were towering on one side of the valley, there was a huge cracking noise 50 feet ahead. A stone the size of my head had fallen from the cliff face and I just saw it bounce and settle with the other stones in the stream bed. Sitting on a tree limb, near where the stone fell, were two squirrels staring at me.

Because I can speak to the animals, here is a translation of what one of them was saying: “Damn it Bob, you pushed it too early, I told you to wait, I get to push it next time, then we get to have hiker for dinner.”

Because of all the clambering the trail seems longer than it is, but keep going, and then eventually there is an abandoned piece of machinery up to your left. It’s an old engine, with a flywheel attached to each side. The entrance to the mine is hidden just the other side of the engine. On hands and knees, the first view into the mine is what everyone expects when looking into a mine, the classic wooden posts holding up a crosspiece. Althoughnlater, thinking about it, I think this is part of a door to keep people out, and just thenjamb is left. But I could be wrong.

Barring entrance to the cave is a small body of water, people had helpfully thrown in pieces of wood and tree branches to create a slippery unstable walking surface. But I was told by another hiker I met that day, when he had visited the mine the
previous year and had decided to not enter as the water was too deep. I don’t know if this was because of the drought, but like those signs at amusement park water rides, You Might Get Wet.

Thirty feet into the tunnel, just past the pond, is a dry area splitting off into two tunnels, with a huge open gallery above. The light grey rock is splattered with yellow, which reflects in the second pond. There are holes drilled for dynamite still visible in the rock.nYou will need a flashlight, as the mine is pitch black even so short a distance inside. I didn’t go any further than this, as mines and underground scare the hell out of me, but just this short distance inside it was cool and peaceful, in a I-might-die-from-a-cave-in, sort of way.

But remember kids, abandoned mines are dangerous, and while I went alone, anfriend knew where I was going, and was waiting for my back-to-civilization text.

Now the facts: Starting elevation: 2000 ft. Ending elevation: 3135 ft. The total time of my hike, from car to car was three and a half hours, with a total of 5.7 miles,
all according to my phone. When hiking up Millard Canyon to Dawn Mine, it feels like sprawling Los Angeles is hundreds of miles away, with the silent trees and the burbling stream and the imposing canyon walls and the murderous chattering squirrels it’s a moment of quiet in a noisy city.

P.S. I mentioned that there were three ways to reach Dawn Mine, and just for balance sake, I will mention the abandoned trail, although I don’t recommend it, unless you like long hikes in the sun and wielding a machete. It is the trail that the Australian forged from the mine up to the Mt. Lowe Railway. Start at the same place, but follow the tarmacked fire road up the ridge of the mountain for three miles. Unlike down in the shaded valley, it is in the harsh sun all the way, but the road is smooth underfoot,neven if it is steep uphill most of the way. After the three miles there is a historical marker pointing out that this was a stop of the Mt. Lowe Railway and passengers used to disembark and hike down to Dawn Mine.

I attempted hiking down the trail, but after 50 feet it was almost completely overgrown and difficult to discern, so I left it for someone else, with an adventurous spirit, and a machete.

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Selfie Stick the abomination for the self absorbed

November 30, 2014 in Photography, Rants, Shopping, Social issues

The selfiestick, click to embiggen

They started showing up in recent weeks. A stick you attach your phone to for big picture selfies.

At the Auto Show this week they were all over.  They’re obnoxious. The users are screaming and yelling at folks behind them and in front of them to move. I got whacked on the shoulder with one trying to get a better picture.  Really?  Is this not the most obnoxious invention for the self absorbed yet?

Pic by me and it embiggens with a click

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Just another reason I love L.A

November 26, 2014 in Downtown, Photography, Weather

Staple Center at sunset

Today was Public Days of the L.A. Auto Show. I brought my son and a neighborhood kid I’ve known since he could barely walk.  Its our annual tradition.

We left to grab a bite to eat at L.A. Live, Yard House to be precise, and exited to find this vista.  The sun bouncing off the Marriot/Ritz Carlton illuminating the ultimate L.A. icon, the Palm Tree.  It was otherworldly.

Add in it was 80+ degrees outside in November and it couldn’t be a better reminder of why I love Los Angeles. Click the pic to see it full-size.

Street Seen: L.A. Bus Stops Can Be The Loneliest Places

November 8, 2014 in Art, environment, LA, Mass Transit, Photography, Transportation

busstop

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Call for entries at Los Angeles Center for Digital Art

November 6, 2014 in Art, Downtown, Entertainment, News, Photography, Technology

LACDA “Snap to Grid”- every entry shown

Snap to Grid show from the archives...click to embiggen

Yes, you read that right. Rex Bruce the owner of the LACDA prints and shows every single piece of digital art and digital photography that is submitted for this show. This is like close to its 10th year he is doing this. There is no jury you simply submit your work. There is no limit to subject matter or how many images you show. Just put your best foot forward as LACDA culls future artists for its big shows from these submissions.

I love this show as its a wonderful snap shot of the world as seen by digital artists and photographers at this moment in history.  There is no curation, but as a whole it tells a wonderful story of where we are artistically.

To enter there is a fee, up to $35 per image. Each image must be submitted with a registration form.  Once the registration form is complete and fee is paid you can upload your image HERE

Entry Deadline is December 1, 2014.  The opening of the show will be tied with the Downtown Los Angles Art Walk on December 11,2014.

DEETS:L.A. Center for Digital Art | 104 East Fourth Street | Los Angeles | CA | 90013  MAP HERE

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Act up? No ACT-SO

April 28, 2014 in Art, People, Photography, San Gabriel Valley

ACT-SO?  Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics.  Its a program within the NAACP where young people are mentored by pro’s in a field to help them grow and develop their talents.  Its about grooming the next generation to go forth and do great things.

Saturday was fun, different for me. It all started 10 days ago when Lois Gaston of the Pasadena chapter of the NAACP contacted Lisa Barrios, the Vice President of the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts (MAFA) for help in locating photographers to judge a  coming competition.  Lisa referred her to me and before you know it I had rounded up other photographers to help me with the judging.

In  short order I had the needed photographers in line to do the judging.  First up was Enilde “Ginger” Van Hook, a fine art photographer from Otis College of Arts and Design graduate as well as teacher.  Next up was Joseph R Davis artist, digital artist and photographer.  Rounding out the judges was yours truly. Read the rest of this entry →

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Get your geek on for Earth Day with a #globalselfie

April 21, 2014 in Entertainment, environment, News, Photography, Science

Its a NASA fun event. You know the folks that track a bajillion sattelites in orbit around us taking pictures of us night and day. They have a fun promotion, game if you will for Earth Day today. Take a selfie, post it with the hashtag #GlobalSelfie and they’ll in turn use all of the images into a giant mosaic of earth.

The subject doesn’t matter, mountains, rivers, oceans, forest…just include you with a sign naming your location. The sign can be downloaded in numerous languages HERE. Your snap then can be uploaded to twitter, instagram or google+ with the hashtag and its on it will get captured for the mosaic.

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So Cal News Photographers Fine Art show Saturday

April 18, 2014 in Art, People, Photography, San Gabriel Valley, Shopping

A rather large group of Los Angeles news photographers and a few hand picked others will be showing their fine art photographs of Southern California at a reception they will host Saturday 4/19 starting at 7PM.   There will be light refreshments and wine served at the reception.

Among the photographers there will be Stephen Coleman, a KABC 7 cameraman who has been documenting Los Angeles for years and has many drop dead gorgeous images.

Deets: Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery, 418 S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia CA 91016 626-258-4848  MAP HERE

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Help the Skidrow Photography Club buy some cameras

March 20, 2014 in Downtown, Photography, Social issues

About 8 years ago Dave Bullock and a group of photographers created the Skid Row Photography Club.  It was put together to help the folks document where they are and that corner of the city.  They’ve relied on donated cameras for the members.  Now they are crowd sourcing via crowdwise a fund raiser to buy some cameras, tripods and memory cards.  All to help the folks on Skid Row find the encouragement to move forward and off the row.  You can read more about them on boing boing from a few years back  HERE.

Donate what you can, doesn’t have to be much, any little bit you can spare will help.  Do it HERE.

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Snap to Grid show at L.A. Center for Digital Art deadline today

December 2, 2013 in Art, Downtown, Entertainment, Events, Photography

Yikes, I don’ know how I slept through this one, maybe it was Auto Show Frenzy of the last few weeks.  Regardless. The Snap To Grid show at LACDA has got to be my absolute favorite show.  Why?  Its a take all comers show that gives you a wonderful snapshot of where we are as artists and what we are doing right now with digital photography and digital art.  The stuff is amazing.

If you are interested in showing at this show all you have to do is fill out an registration form (you won’t be rejected) pay your $35 admission and upload your images.  Simple as that.  You register HERE.  You upload HERE.  The deadline is today to do so.

Some important information:

  • Show Dates: December 12, 2013-January 4, 2014
  • Deadline for entries: December 2, 2013
  • Opening Reception: December 12, 7-9pm, 7-9pm

L.A. Center for Digital Art, 104 East Fourth Street  Los Angeles, CA  90013

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Small Business Saturday get out an meet some folks

November 30, 2013 in Art, Books, Entertainment, Events, People, Photography, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping

Authors and Artists, I have them both for you here in the SGV.

First up is a person I feel tickled to know, actor, writer, blogger and photographer Petrea Burchard.  She released her novel, Camelot & Vine this spring.  She’ll be at two, count ‘em two book signings today.  Petrea will be at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena from 11AM-1PM today.  Then she will move to Websters Fine Stationers in Altadena around 2PM for a few hours.

After that I think you would enjoy Old Town Monrovia, especially the area in front of Paint n Play 2 Art Studio and Gallery.  Several artists will be there from 6PM-10PM for an evening art walk.  Among the artists there will be author and photographer Steve McCarthy.  Steve has written a few books that he will have there and sign for you.  First is “Road Trippin'” and the other is his first novel, “Old Farts Spy Club”.

I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping your shopping dollars in the hands of the small businesses in the community.  These small businesses keep their money in the community and help keep us strong and vibrant.  Whether it be my little corner of L.A or yours we all benefit from getting to know them, shop with them and make them strong as they give so much back to our communities.

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Is Comet Ison worth a road trip before the butt crack of dawn?

November 24, 2013 in Entertainment, environment, Photography, Science, Technology, Which Side?

I absolutely think so.  Who’s in with me?

The next three weeks are going to be prime, PRIME viewing of comet Ison.  Its crossed earth orbit and is racing to the sun for its closest approach on Thanksgiving Day.  With proper eye protection it may even be possible to see it as it circles around the sun that day.

Ison is billed as the comet of the century by some.  It may or may not depending on whom you talk to,  survive the trip around the sun on the 28th.

Griffith Park Observatory still says that most spectacular viewing will be Nov 30-December 14 in the pre-dawn hours.  I read earlier today that the best time to view will be about 1/2 hour before dawn. Read the rest of this entry →

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West Covina’s Rotary Field of Valor makes it to Bing’s home page

November 11, 2013 in Entertainment, People, Photography, San Gabriel Valley

I got the tip off it would happen last week that Bing would feature the West Covina’s Rotary Field of Valor on their home page today. Its the work of photographer Bobby L Brett and its really a nice collection of images celebrating Veterans Day.  Even nicer that something and someone local got the front page of a search engine site.

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Really cool time lapse of L.A

November 4, 2013 in Entertainment, Filmmaking/Filmmakers, Photography, Which Side?

This showed up in my mailbox earlier today and its too good not to share.  Nearly 14K worth of images went into the making of this video.

The video is the work of RandyGM and RalphFX and you can follow their work and see more videos on their web site, TimeLAX