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A Park A Day: Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood

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July is National Parks & Recreation Month, and all month long LAist will be featuring a hand-selected park a day to showcase just a few of the wonderful recreation spaces--big or small--in the Los Angeles area.

The Barnsdall Art Park sits atop Olive Hill in East Hollywood on 11-acres of scenic, art-infused parkland. Step off Hollywood Boulevard and climb the concrete steps that lead to Barnsdall, and you’ll find massive sculptures, neat lawns and pathways, and local Angelenos lounging, playing guitar, and painting. You’ll also find one of the city’s best local art galleries, ideal vistas of the Hollywood sign and one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s first LA masterpieces.

Park founder, philanthropist and seasoned traveler, Aline Barnsdall, was deeply impassioned by the arts. Aline ventured west in the early 1900s with plans to develop an LA-based theater company after successfully establishing an experimental theater company in Chicago. While in Chicago, Aline befriended architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and she commissioned the legendary architect to orchestrate her vision for, what is now, the Barnsdall Art Park. Aline’s home, the Hollyhock House, is the first Los Angeles project Frank Lloyd Wright completed. In 1927, Aline donated the park and the structure to the city of Los Angeles. Aline’s vision for the park was to create an easily accessible, artistic retreat for LA residents—and a visit to Barnsdall proves that her wishes have been well granted.

LA Municipal Art Gallery
Founded in 1952, The LA Municipal Art Gallery is a 10,000 square foot exhibition space devoted to LA-inspired art. The curatorial aesthetic of the museum favors paintings; photographs; sculptures; architecture; design, sound, video, and electronic installations; and performances. The Gallery is also committed to featuring art from around the world that is of particular importance or inspiration to the people of Los Angeles. At present, the LA Municipal Art Gallery is currently hosting the exhibit, “Open Call LA 2011.” The exhibit is the result of an ‘open call’ for local artists to contribute their LA-inspired artwork. Chosen artists were awarded best in show prizes and scholarships, and you can find their work showcased at the gallery through September 2011.

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Hollyhock House
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House is an architectural wonder and a historical LA landmark. Surrounded by nearly 360 views of Los Angeles and well preserved lawns and gardens, the art deco house captures the essence of Los Angeles and is regionally influenced. The architecture is said to have been greatly inspired by LA nature and the house was named after Aline Barnsdall’s favorite flower. Frank Lloyd Wright incorporated the Hollyhock flower into the design of the house via an abstract pattern found on stained glass windows, planters, and in other places throughout the property. The house features tilted ‘Mayan-like’ walls, a series of split levels, and an interior moat. In 2008, the LA Times named the Hollyhock House one of the top ten LA houses of all time.

Barnsdall Art Center and Junior Art Center
Barnsdall Art Center and Junior Art Center offers art classes for adults and juniors. Adult classes include low cost, college-level instruction in; Creative Writing, Watercolor, Introduction to Basic digital photography, Stained Glass, Printmaking, Jewlery making, Drawing, Ukelele, Loom Weaving, and oil painting, among other things. The Junior Art Center, which serves as both a gallery and learning institution, offers art courses for kids. Programs include Art and Architecture, Fashion, Discovering Art in Nature, Printmaking, Computer Photoshop for Beginners, Piano, Guitar, Hand Sewing, Sculpture, and The Art of Cartooning, among others.

The Barnsdall Gallery Theater
The Barnsdall Gallery Theater serves as a low-cost rental venue for various performances, including spoken word, dance, music, and film productions. The Barnsdall Gallery Theater features 299 seats, a HD digital projector, a box office and amenities for a variety of different performances. The theater hosts several free events, including Silverlake’s Conservatory of Music’s “Music Summer Camps.” It also hosts several cultural festivals, like the annual Thai Festival and Artwallah festival.

Farmer’s Farm
Every Wednesday, the LAMC Farmer's Farm graces the Barnsdall Park parking lot with fresh local veggies, fruits, and baked goods. The farmers' market boasts a variety of cultural food fare, from Salvadorian papusas, Afghani flatbreads, Korean vegan delicacies, and Greek hummus. Whether you're in search of ripe strawberries, wild honey, dinosaur kale, or fresh avocados, Farmer's Farm's a great place to score lunch, fresh veggies, and unique local dishes.

For more information, be sure to check out the Barnsdall Art Park website.