Signal Hill has long been a communications point on the Southern California landscape. In an earlier era, Native Americans signaled their brethren with fire and smoke, from Santa Catalina Island to the foothills of the Coastal Range bordering what is now L.A.

Today the signals are electronic, connecting us--at the click of a mouse--to vast, new worldwide networks.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Signal Hill Art Scene

"Aggregate" photo by Lisa Connell
The tiny City of Signal Hill has become a mecca for art.  The newest addition to the art scene in the city is Greenly Art Space where the good folks at this non-profit gallery are mounting an exciting new exhibition of two local artists--photographer Lisa Connell and mixed-media artist Kurt Hantzch.

And we are all invited to the opening reception this coming Saturday:

Saturday, May 19th, 7-9 pm

The Greenly Art Space
2698 Junipero Ave., Suite 113
Signal Hill, CA 90755 

"Eclexia" mixed-media by Kurt Hantzch 

Lisa Connel, an award-winning photographer, finds inspiration going back to the 1890s photographic work of her great grandfather.  In today's digital age, she artistically views and interprets her world through the lens and by "Massaging the pixels in a way that could compare to dark room developing."

The mixed-media artist Kurt Hantzch finds inspiration in the work of the renowned--some would say infamous--author and artist Henry Miller, who said "Paint as you like and die happy."

We'll be reporting more on the  Signal Hill art scene in coming posts; there's so much going on in our little town of 11,000 residents, on the outskirts of L.A. 

To whet your appetite, let me give you a brief preview of what's in  the works here:  

   --  Beginning in the early 90s, the City has been steadily installing public art in connection with parks and other public and private spaces.  We want to take a closer look at those installations, perhaps interview a few people who can tell us how this came about, and something more about the artists, themselves.

   --  In addition to the Greenly Art Space mentioned above, there are other organizations in the city devoted to the promotion of art.  We want to get to know these organizations better: how they were organized, what are their missions, what are they accomplishing, who are their leaders, what is their art.  Among them are the Friends of Signal Hill Cultural Arts, led by Denise Damrow and Dramatic Results, led by Board of Directors President, Julie Mendell.

  --  Further, as libraries struggle to remain relevant in this digital age, many are re-defining themselves as "cultural centers."  We heard this during recent discussions to build a new library in Signal Hill.  The Signal Hill Library already promotes many cultural events.  We'd like to learn more.    

  --  Our interests do not stop at the city boundaries, nor are they limited to the visual arts. Not too far from our city limits--in the Los Altos district of Long Beach--can be found a used bookstore that has become a cultural and community center.  We want to get to know more about Gatsby Books, and its proprietors, Sean and Alisha Moor.

  --  And we will continue to share our interest in Active Arts of the Los Angeles Music Center, and in the arts, culture and heritage being promoted at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine.

  --  Finally, we are very interested in all the things we, as individuals, do to express our creativity--the jewelry we wear, the flowers we plant; and the little things we do to brighten up our lives--perhaps the plastic pink flamingo in the front yard, that weekly bouquet of flowers from Trader Joe's, or the wind chime that brings back pleasant memories of a distant summer vacation.

So stay tuned for more.  In the meantime, let's meet up at the Greenly Art Space on Saturday, the 19th.

           --  RCH

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Can Art Change the World? Become Part of a Global Art Project to Create Community Join Me

The anonymous French street artist,"JR," won the 2011 Annual TED prize given to "exceptional individuals" devoted to changing the world.  He has discovered the "power of paper and glue," installing large-scale conceptual art projects worldwide to celebrate--for better or worse--social connectedness, or what has been dubbed "relational art."  In each of his projects the participation of local residents is central--not a means to an end. (See the YouTube video of JR's TED acceptance speech here.)

His images have graced the wall separating Jews and Palestinians, homes of Rio de Janeiro's oldest favela (seen in photo above) and the walls of Paris, New York, L.A. and Long Beach, among others.  They present images of human beings saying "Take notice.  I am here.  I am not a statistic. This is what I stand for."  And behind each image is a story to be revealed or to be imagined.

Now, as the remaining photos show, we can craft our own stories of our own communities.  JR has organized a worldwide art project called "Inside Out" where individuals and groups are encouraged to send in photos of individuals to be reproduced in large, black and white format, for displaying in public spaces.  You can click here to get a general pictorial idea of JR's "Inside Out" global art project, or go directly to his website to see how you can participate.

I am forming a group to participate in Inside Out.  So if you in any way relate to the community of Signal Hill, California and would like to participate, leave me a comment or send me an email expressing your interest.  I'm planning to have something up within the city by the end of February 2012.

I believe art can change our little corner of the world.

If you want to read more about JR and his art, look for the Nov 28 issue of The New Yorker magazine.

Also, here , one year later, is an update to JR's work, his "Inside Out" global project that is changing the world. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Community Art & Gift-Making for the Holidays

Finger Scarves, no knitting
required; yarn will be
available for purchase
or bring your own
The late musicologist Christopher Small (see earlier posts) spent most   of his 84 years trying to understand the meaning and significance of art.  In the process of writing three seminal books on the subject, he said, "All art is action--performance art, if you like--and its meaning lies not in created objects but in the acts of creating, displaying and perceiving."  Objects can be commodified and sold on a hungry and acquisitive market; but the more meaningful and personal processes of  art making cannot.

From the earliest cave drawings to the anarchy of today's street art, Small observes, "It is an activity--an urge-- in which human beings take part in order that they may come to understand their relationships--with one another and with the great pattern that connects."

The role of art, he explains, is to "Explore, affirm and celebrate the relationships of the living world that bring us together."

Nesting Orgami Boxes, for wrapping or as presents
Will use heavy scrap booking paper
This is made most clear during this approaching holiday season.  It is interesting that at least three of the world's major religions--Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism--celebrate sacred events in the approaching months, and their art during these times reflects a great communion amongst ourselves and with the mysterious.

You have the opportunity to add this kind of meaning to your gift-giving by crafting your personalized holiday gifts for your loved ones.  While your hand-crafted gift may lack great market value, it is priceless in personal and communal value.

Two community arts organizations in Signal Hill are
holding holiday gift making workshops:

---  On December 3, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. the Greenly Art Space will be holding its "Handmade Christmas Gift Workshop," for all ages, at 2698 Junipero Ave, #113 in Signal Hill.  Click here for a flyer on the event, and for more information or to register call Kimberly Hocking 562-533-4020, or email her at  Click here to learn more about The Greenly Art Space.

---  On December 11, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. the Friends of Signal Hill Cultural Arts will host its "Winter Art Workshop," for children ages 4 to 15, at the Discovery Well Park.   For more information you may call 562-989-7330 or go online to the City of Signal Hill Website .

Happy Holiday Creating!

--- RCH

Click on the labels "art" and "arts and culture" below for more posts on those topics.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Falconer on the Hill

Deann was eager to share her passion for raptors with me, when I  passed by her condo on this cool day on the Hilltop, where her family has lived for 28 years.

She was standing near the sidewalk, "manning" her newly captured female American Kestrel Nikita, introducing her to her new captive world--getting her used to being around people, preparing her for the day she will go on the hunt for European Starlings, that prolific non-native invading scourge of birdom, imported to New York from England in 1890.

Deann has been working on this for three years, ever since the day she became enthralled by a pair of nesting Coopers Hawks, outside her office window in Huntington Beach.  "It changed my life," she told me.  You can read her story and see some beautiful photos on her Website .

"One of my reasons for this journey is to educate people about raptors," she says. "Raptors are important to the environment and often are thought of as 'mean' by the uninformed.  This is very far from the truth," she says, "as they help control the population of birds and rodents and rid those species of the weak and sick, helping with the process of natural selection."  She goes on to say "They take life to live, not for fun or sport."

She is now licensed by the State of California and the Federal Government, giving her permission to practice the art of falconry; and is completing her two-year apprenticeship, under the supervision of a master falconer.   She recommends the Website Modern Apprentice for anyone who wants to explore becoming a falconer.

Since trapping Nikita near the Chino Airport, she has been on the arduous journey of training the bird to hunt.  One reason she has chosen starlings as the prey is because of their size--larger than a sparrow, not much smaller than the Kestrel itself, making it unlikely Nikita will be able to fly off with the kill.

Watching raptors in flight is a beautiful thing and, adds Deann, "The interaction of bird and human just absolutely intrigues me."


For more Pleasant Encounters on Signal Hill click on "Pleasant Encounters on Signal Hill" on labels and scroll down, or check out the slide show at the right.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chuck Close Portraits---A Showing @ Blum & Poe in Culver City

An evening gallery hopping in Culver City with Jeff & Elena Endlich. The highlight was a visit with the "star of the show," Chuck Close, Jeff's uncle, who does these amazing portraits in oils and tapestry.

It's the cells and stitches that fascinate. Up close (pardon the pun), they are squiggles and bits of yarn. Back up and compelling character emerges. You'll see Paul Simon, Laurie Anderson and many self portraits of Close himself, among others.

Click here if you want to read a bit more about Chuck Close and his technique.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Christopher Small IV- Musicking 1927 - 2011

Christopher small was a gracious host when we visited him in Sitges,Spain last year.

He changed our understanding of the meaning of music and offered the philosophical ground for the active arts program of the l.a. music center

this from


Christopher Small - Musicking 1927 - 2011

Christopher Small, a New Zealand-born writer and musicologist who argued thatmusic is above all an active ritual involving those who play and listen to it and only secondarily a matter of “black dots,” as he once called written music, died on September 7th in Sitges, Spain. He was 84.  

He coined the term 'musicking' and argued that music is a verb rather than a noun.  He wondered about the most basic questions of music: why we pick up instruments or raise our voices together in the first place and stressed that all people involved in a musical performance — the musicians, audience, roadies, publicists, cleaning crew — are part of its ritual.

Those of you who are familiar with the Dallas School of Music may remember that we call our adult student performances 'musicking' and that our original online music learning site was called - both an homage to Small's work. 

Read the full New York Times article here: