Different places dictate my daily palette. Before I left Miami, everything felt pretty gray – sometimes beige. I was never more struck by this than when I turned the corner from ours to a more major street on my last trip and watched the several blocks of off-white-beige concrete barrier walls stretching out before us. I can see more colors now that I’ve left (when I go back, there are newer areas and pockets of color), but it’s still never as vivid as LA is for (and to) me.
When I walk out my door here, colors are everywhere. In the trees, on the buildings, splashed across the studio and around the water tower. The people of Culver are painted brightly too. I’m not just talking about how people physically look – what they’re wearing, who they’re with, how they’re speaking, where they may be coming from or going to all give them dynamic color. I can’t explain why I feel so strongly about the colors in my corner of LA (and, really, about a lot of LA), but I love them.
At work, the physical campus has always been where I find my peace. Red and pink pompom plants (I’m sure this is not their scientific name), purple orchids, fleeting glimpses of multi-hued hummingbirds, red brick buildings, yellow and blue t-shirts and hoodies, light blue and white streaked skies, green walking paths, and (a favorite) the bronze bear. On tough days, I escape to the center of campus just to walk or sit and admire. The colors return me to my happy.
My other artist’s utopia is the cemetery where Jon is buried (see Jon’s Story). I know. How – why? Art? Colors? Yes – countless shades of green and white. They soothe me. Green in the trees, the grass, the hedge-lined water features. White, cream, ecru and every variation in between on the headstones, the mausoleums, the marble benches. White flowers also flank a significant part of the cemetery nearest to its chapel. Browns and beiges (not the tired beige mentioned before) and pops of color dot the landscape too; this is where timeless trees that touch the sky meet with temporary tributes (flowers) to those who have passed on.
To try to accurately describe the colors of all of LA (at least, where I typically find myself exploring) would be almost impossible – but I’ll try because they’re worth sharing. Admittedly, there are gray areas here too. Hollywood, in particular, is gray to me. For all of its mini-Times Square hustle and bustle, a lot of people are living hard lives there. Westwood, Brentwood, Santa Monica, and Venice are always rainbow flurries of activity. Studio City shines – gold, silver, black and white. To me, it’s a mirror for the “real” Hollywood happening there. The Valley is staggered with natural color: peaks of white and wood grain and amazing lime green vistas that open up for miles. The beach communities, perhaps cliché, are blue and green and yellow. Almost every one of them is dappled with the same colors, but they vary in their crispness. Manhattan Beach is blaring and sun-drenched. El Segundo is more muted in pastels. Newport and Laguna are somehow (this may be an unwitting comment on class) more refined – sapphire blue, glittering gold, emerald-green – with a touch of orange and red as the coastline looms in and out of view along the PCH.
Perhaps more than any other place, my apartment defines how my LA experience has painted me – from the gray, green and blue ikat print in my pillows, metallics in the furniture, and turquoises in the mermaid-inspired kitchen to the endless shades of color painted, drawn and captured in multiple pieces of art on almost every wall. This is my daily palette, and the one that inspires me to live and thrive in my perfectly colored LA story.