Not So Famous Views & Drink L.A.

Nov 3, 2014

Barbara A ThomasonPasadena’s Prospect Park Books invites the public—libation enthusiasts and L.A. County advocates will be particularly interested—to a reception on November 8th, to celebrate two new releases, 100 Not So Famous Views of L.A. by Barbara A. Thomason and Drink Los Angeles.

Created by the folks behind the very successful Eat: Los Angeles guidebook, Drink: Los Angeles is the essential flexibound pocket guide to the best pubs, cocktail bars, coffeehouses, wine bars, dive bars, tea houses, juice cafes, boba spots, karaoke bars, and neighborhood watering holes across LA. (Prospect Park Books)




Barbara A. Thomason, author of 100 Not So Famous Views of L.A., is a Southern California native who received her Masters Degree in printmaking at Cal State Long Beach. She’s been a master printer in lithography and her paintings may be found in public and private collections. Presently, she teaches printmaking, sculpture, and painting at Cal Poly Pomona.

For four years, artist Barbara Thomason roamed her beloved Los Angeles, seeking the vistas, nooks, bridges, signs, streets, and landmarks that most captivated her. Inspired by Hiroshige’s acclaimed print series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, this grand project resulted in the 100 paintings reproduced in this gorgeous hardcover book. Intimate, often recognizable, and sometimes unexpected, Thomason’s paintings capture the vibrant L.A., the quirky L.A., the beautiful L.A.—the essential L.A. (Prospect Park Books)


Elysian Valley, no. 96

Elysian Valley, no. 96


We find Thomason’s paintings lovely, haunting, quirky, romantic, and still. The skies are awash in layers, the locations devoid of humans, and the palette earthy in an urban setting. Thomason’s commentary is informative with historical tidbits that are detailed and idiosyncratic. She writes plainly, but her style has a distinctive voice and personality.

Thomason’s scenes are filled with architectural details and repeated elements: railings, streetlamps old and new, winding freeways, overpasses and underpasses, onramps and offramps, telephone poles and wires. Birds are frequent elements in Thomason’s scenes. Herons swoop over the Great Heron Gates at the entrance of Rattlesnake Park and the L.A. River, hawks scope for fare over the 2 Freeway, spotted doves rest on telephone wires in front of the Terminal Auxiliary Post Office, pigeons peck for tidbits at the wholesale produce market, turkey vultures circle the grounds of Forest Lawn, and mallards fly through the artist’s view of Hyperion Bridge. Thomason paints Art deco, Beaux Arts, French Zigzag Modern, Spanish Colonial, and Gothic Revival bridges and buildings. She shares the view from her art studio and from her dentist’s office—actually from the chair itself, looking down on Park La Brea.

Park La Brea is “a 160-acre, visually uninteresting complex…where New Yorkers move so they can feel at home yet still complain that there are no seasons and no good bagels….” (View from My Dentist’s Office, no. 20)


Farmers Market, no. 85

Farmers Market, no. 85


Thomason doesn’t shy from commentary about the state of society and the world in which we now find ourselves. She returned several times to 255 East Temple Street downtown to photograph Jonathan Borofsky’s Molecule Man, “a representation of four athletes congratulating each other.”

One day I was a target of a Homeland Security zealot who questioned me about my motive for photographing the sculpture and couldn’t understand why anyone other than a terrorist would possibly want to photograph artwork. It would have been funny except he was deadly serious, and for a while I thought my camera was going to be confiscated. The ridiculous part is that anyone driving by could take the same picture from their car or simply bring it up on Google Maps.

Thomason also indicates where she finds bad taste (The Darkroom, no. 25), bemoans a “Frank Gehry concoction” that is the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro (Cabrillo Beach, no. 34), speaks of the “epic assault on the environment” by the Army Corps of Engineers (L.A. River, Los Feliz Beach, no. 49), and she hopes that the city will reconsider it’s penchant for high-density housing developments that “have created stultifying traffic jams.”

I hope that going forward, the city and its developers make a greater effort to take L.A.’s natural limitations and its residents’ needs into account when planning new projects. (East 10 Freeway toward Downtown, no. 47)

In the text accompanying The Triforium, no. 53, Thomason asserts: “This light-and-sound sculpture by Joseph Young…is six stories high, weighs 60 tons, boasts 1,494 hand-blown glass prisms….I think it is perhaps the ugliest, most annoying piece of public art ever executed.”


Western Exterminator

Western Exterminator, no. 1


Elysian Reservoir is fenced off, she writes. “I didn’t even know it existed until I stumbled across it. It’s a wonderful surprise in a curious no-man’s-land right in the city.The painting (Elysian Reservoir, no. 32) ended up being pretty, which I did not intend.” To us, the painting is more than pretty, it’s soft and gentle, stark and utilitarian—urban concrete surrounded by thriving and dying vegetation on a misty day. The image is moody, dramatic, and hopeful yet foreboding.

Thomason’s “100” are scenes from a Los Angeles we know and don’t know. Her mixture of explanation, historical detail, observation, judgment, criticism, and recommendation along with her formidable body of paintings make for a surprisingly engaging book. We’re on her journey, seeing the city and county through her eyes, hearing her narrative and commentary. We’re re-introduced to a place within which we live but no longer truly see, allowing us to re-connect with familiar landmarks or roadways or subjects she’s chosen, as well as introducing us to areas with which we are not familiar—an L.A. we could choose to explore ourselves. 100 Not So Famous Views of L.A. is an opportunity, an adventure. Our curiosity is re-kindled. We’re enchanted once again.


On November 8th, a reception is open to the public at Future Studio Gallery in Highland Park. Custom cocktails and wine will be provided by The Greyhound, coffee from G&B Coffee, and guests may enjoy beer thanks to Angel City Brewery.

Drink and See L.A.
Saturday, Nov. 8th, 7-9 p.m.
Future Studio Gallery, home of Chicken Boy
5558 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park
Free event
For more info, visit Future Studio Gallery


Chicken Boy and the Pyrocumulus Cloud

Chicken Boy and the Pyrocumulus Cloud, no. 56


Riverside Drive Under the 2 Freeway Overpass, no. 13

Riverside Drive Under the 2 Freeway Overpass, no. 13



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