Friday, January 30, 2009

Feeling Creative...

Finally feeling a little bit creative - and sick - maybe there is a correlation? I tried creating some surrealistic images by blending some of my North American city/landscapes (Santa Fe, NYC, Laguna Beach, Philly, Toronto, Toledo, San Francisco, Chicago) with images of classical sculpture...I call it my "Colossus" series:

Proposed Cover:


Some of the images:




Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hollywood / L.A. 1/19/2009

My plan to visit schools today to drop off materials was foiled due to the M.L.K holiday - I hadn't considered that when I made my travel arrangements last month. I took advantage of the beautiful day and drove up to L.A. and Hollywood where I toured Universal Studios (and saw the "Psycho" set!!!), saw the sunset at the Griffith Observatory (which is prominently featured in one of my favorite non-Hitchcock classic films, James Dean's film "Rebel Without a Cause") and saw a photography exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I started my day with another beautiful sunrise over Laguna Beach...


The L.A. skyline from the highway...


Universal Studios Hollywood...


The Universal Studio's Studio Tour is a mixture of real studio sets and set up "experiences" on the studio backlot...some highlights: Susan's (Terri Hatcher) house on Wisteria Lane (Desperate Housewives). The street known as "Wisteria Lane" has been used in multiple productions throughout the studio's history including Mockingbird Lane in the Munsters...


The plane crash from Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds"...


E.T.'s Phone...


Dino from Jurassic Park...


From one of the studio's Western sets...


Jaws...


The set of Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960)...Motel and House...





Mitch's (Rod Taylor) pecked blazer from Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" (1963)


Hitchcock's personal bungalow where he stayed while filming on the lot...


The Hollywood sign from the Griffith Observatory...



The Griffith Observatory...



James Dean Memorial at the the Griffith Observatory where a
pivotal scene in "Rebel Without a Cause" was filmed...


The Griffith Observatory with the L.A. skyline in the background...

Monday, January 19, 2009


(Sunrise)

Laguna Beach, 1/18/2009

There is not much to say about Laguna Beach - the sunsets speak for themselves. The NPD was not well attended over all and all of the mid-western schools were very slow. When you live in this paradise, why would you want to move anywhere else - especially the frozen north? But beauty only goes so far - the culture in the area seems pretty limited. I wouldn't want to live here but it sure has been nice to visit...


Interesting vertical cloud formations...








My hotel, The Inn @ Laguna Beach





Saturday, January 17, 2009


SAN FRANCISCO, 1/15-1/17, 2009

I was lucky enough to escape the deep freeze that hit the Mid-west this week, jumping on a plane to California just as temperatures sunk down to about -10 degrees in Grand Rapids. This trip incorporates two west coast National Portfolio Days - the first in San Francisco, and the second, further south in Laguna Beach.

The San Francisco NPD was hosted by the Academy of Art University which claims to be the "nation's largest art school". I believe this is true since it seemed there was an Academy of Art sign everywhere I looked as I drove throughout the city. I wouldn't have known that they were the nation's largest art school, however when I saw the arrangement of the review tables - all of them crammed into one small area of a large building, causing the long lines for the big name art schools to block some of us small guys. Not very good spatial planning - I hope the Academy doesn't have an Interior Design program...

Beside the NPD, I also delivered pre-NPD information packets to some of the bay area high schools including the San Francisco School of the Arts. I was happy to see multiple SotA students arrive at my table with outstanding portfolios, as expected. I also had some time to explore many of the filming locations of Alfred Hitchcock's bay area movies. (A blog devoted to my "Hitchcock Tour" is 2 posts below.)





Mable wears her "Golden Gate Red" pants to the bridge...


A vertigo inducing staircase at Fort Point, the fort at the
southern base of the Golden Gate Bridge...



The famous San Francisco trolly cars. Kinda makes you crave some Rice-a-Roni...



Homelessness is on the rise in San Francisco...

BODEGA BAY, 1/16/2009

I ended my Alfred Hitchcock Tour (see my prior post for more details) in Bodega Bay - the scene of the infamous avian attack in Hitch's 1963 classic "The Birds". The film's schoolhouse (see prior post) is the only original building from the movie that remains in the area, 7 miles east of Bodega Bay in the town of Bodega. Although most of the original buildings seen in the movie have been torn down or were constructed only temporarily for the film, The Tides restaurant where Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) took refuge still has a presence on the bay (in a new building), and offers fresh seafood dinners and fantastic sunset views...




My meal - beer, bread and a big bowl of seafood chowder - all extremely good...



A passing sea lion...



Sure - he may look friendly, but he and his three friends
on the posts behind him are up to no good...







The tide on its way back in...


The silent, choppy zoom into the face of the dead farmer, his eye sockets pecked clean by "The Birds" is one of my earliest movie memories. I must have been only 3 or 4, but I can vividly remember the scene, watched on our console television, on the ABC Sunday Night Movie in the early 80's. Since that night I have been, even if I didn't know it at the time, a fan of Alfred Hitchcock.

When I was 10 I received my first Hitchcock VHS - "Psycho" - for Christmas. From there, my collection grew and has slowly switched over to DVDs and digital downloads, and will probably transition into BluRay Discs when my desire for additional bonus features gets the best of me.

I experienced the ultimate "bonus feature" this week when I went on a scavenger hunt of Hitch's filming locations in the bay area for the movies "Vertigo", "The Birds" and "Shadow of a Doubt". I was even able to stay in the hotel where a pivotal scene in "Vertigo" was filmed. Formerly called The Empire Hotel, it is currently being renovated and is now aptly named Hotel Vertigo. Below are a few photos of my hotel room, followed by photos that I took of the movie locations compared to scenes in each of Hitchcock's three films...I find it especially interesting comparing plant/tree growth in the images - it is cool to see how high a tree can grow in 40 years (click on images to enlarge)







THE BIRDS - 1963

The "Bodega Bay School" (The Potter School)









SHADOW OF A DOUBT
- 1943



"The Newton Home" Santa Rosa, California


The Santa Rosa Train Depot, where ominous black smoke signaled "Uncle Charlie's" arrival.




VERTIGO
- 1958




The Empire Hotel, currently being renovated as Hotel Vertigo...
Judy (Kim Novak) lived on the 3rd floor, I stayed on the 6th...


Scotty's (Jimmy Stewart) Apartment on Lombard St. near Coit Tower...


Midge's (Barbara Bel Geddes of Dallas fame) Apartment...


Another view near Midge's apartment...


Madelyn's (Kim Novak) apartment...


The Palace of Fine Arts...


I also visited the Argonaut Bookshop, on which the Argosy Bookshop was based. The store has been relocated, but it is still owned by the son of the original owner. I was able to speak with him and he told me that Hitchcock would visit the store when he was in the city and got to be friends with his father. He also signed his photo in the book "Footsteps in the Fog" which outlines Hitchcock's northern California filming locations. I should have bought this book sooner -- it would have come in handy!