The Hollywood and Vine station of the Red Line subway was produced in 1999 by pioneering Chicano artist Gilbert “Magu” Lujan. He spent some of his later years in Pomona. My 2004 interview with him is in my book “Pomona A to Z.” I’m a fan of his subway station, which I’ve seen dozens of times. I took photos on a couple of recent visits.
The piece is titled “Hooray for Hollywood” and pays tribute to the fantasy of the movies in various ways. Above, the tiles form a pattern that is probably meant to evoke the Yellow Brick Road from “The Wizard of Oz.” At top, a couple of vintage movie cameras stand near pillars resembling palm trees.
Dozens of hand-painted tiles on the walls meld movie and Chicano imagery, especially cruising cars, a particular interest of Lujan’s.
Note the film strip-like molding around doors.
The ceiling is made up of film reels. The effect is kind of hypnotic, isn’t it? On the platform, walls seem to have film sprockets and stars (see below). That touch had never occurred to me until I was looking closely. Ditto with the music notes that are part of the decoration on the stair railings.
In an appreciation after Lujan’s 2011 death, L.A. Times arts writer Christopher Knight concluded: “Luján’s unexpected vision of cinema as mass transit yielded one of the most engaging stations on the Metro Red Line.”
If you’ve taken Metrolink’s San Bernardino Line, you may have noticed the neat silhouettes of lions and tigers atop the platform shelters at the El Monte Station. I knew they were a nod to the old Gay’s Lion Farm attraction.
A few weeks ago I drove to El Monte and checked out the station in person (10925 Railroad St., north of Valley Boulevard) rather than for a few seconds out the window of my train as it stopped.
Each of the four shelters has a slightly different piece of art.
Some mix in a movie camera, a microphone on a stand or a director’s chair with megaphone. Animals from the farm were loaned out to Hollywood, including Numa, a performing lion who was in Charlie Chaplin’s “The Circus.”
A well-worn bench has the years of operation and a ballyhoo quote about the attraction, obviously long gone. In yet another fun touch, paw prints are laid into the concrete.
Artists Victor Henderson and Elizabeth Garrison created the station art in 1996, according to a very readable history of the farm by KCET in 2015, “El Monte’s Wild Past.”
Five fountains were installed by Pomona in 1962 as part of the 2nd Street makeover for a pedestrian mall, and four have survived. (The fifth, at Thomas and 2nd, was removed circa 1999 to make way for the Thomas Street Plaza.) All have art by prominent local artists thanks to Millard Sheets, the artist, teacher and designer who laid out the pedestrian mall and wanted to add beauty to people’s lives.
Here’s one of the fountains, produced by mosaic artists Jean and Arthur Ames and featuring the Goddess Pomona. It’s at 409 W. 2nd St., north side of the street.
City Hall is requesting proposals to clean and repair missing or broken elements of the four fountains at a cost of up to $230,000 total, as my colleague Liset Marquez recently reported. It’ll be nice to see them get some TLC.
This post has been updated to reflect the fifth fountain.
I’ve admired the tile mural at Pomona’s Mosaic Apartments (1680 S. Garey Ave.) while eating next door at DeAnda Taqueria. It’s a panoramic aerial view, complete with birds, and includes the fairgrounds, the Fox Theater and more. The mural is so long it’s impossible to capture in one photo. So here are three views, shot one night after dinner, and a rather dim view of the pleasant exterior of the three-story complex, which has 46 units classified as affordable.
Update: Cultural Arts Commissioner Joshua Swodeck reports: “Such a great mural. Designed by local artist Jason LaMotte and the mosaic production work was led by Alba Cisneros. It’s a beautiful public mural in District 3 right on Garey Avenue put up in 2017.” I didn’t know who had produced the mural, so I’m pleased to be able to give credit.
Swodeck also provides the handy guide to the scene, below. I’ll have to open this blog post on my phone at the mural some time and follow along.