Monday, June 25, 2012

Beverly Hills Cow ~ Greystone ~ Hirshhorn- Levitated Mass (aka The Rock)

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. "
~George Washington Carver
LOVE the cow. 
The first two streets on the Internet directions from the Jose` Eber salon in Beverly Hills to The Greystone Mansion and Park - never saw them. But with lots of daylight, a full tank of gas, a little map with a couple street names and a general idea of where West Hollywood and Beverly Hills are in relation to each other -  I got a site seeing tour these people never got. 

Near Rodeo Dr.

Parking for the Greystone is above the Mansion. Wear clothes suitable for a civilized hike- this park is the Hills part of Beverly Hills. Also:be advised- only the grounds are open to the public.  

From the Friends of Greystone's Internet site, where the provenance of the home and garden is listed "Greystone’s exterior is 19th century English revival architecture with a combination of two story turrets faced with Indiana limestone, Welsh slate and leaded glass windows. The interior is 18th century in style and includes fifty-five livable rooms in 46,054 square feet, including the entertainment wing consisting of a theater, bowling alley and billiard room."

The Park Ranger kindly took my picture. Not even the hiking about the terraced grounds in high-healed boots melted the artistry of  Lisanne (colorist) and Shannon (stylist) from the Eber Salon. 

If you have a moment, Naomi Caryl posted lovely shots of the Mansion and grounds when her father "Daddy Joe" Hirshhorn considered the grounds  to house his massive art collection. The three part series links up starting here.

So close to the 4th of July, I feel it is important to quote what Naomi reports of  her father's decision to be the founding patron of the Hirshhorn Museum

"He felt the collection should all stay together and that it belonged in The United States because it was the only country in the world where he could have achieved what he did----having come to this country as a 'poor little immigrant boy', who had truly lived out "The American Dream".....These important men of Beverly Hills were attempting to get him to bring his entire collection to Beverly Hills and they felt they had the perfect spot all picked out where all of the sculpture and the paintings could be housed."
Alas, her father put the collection on the East Coast. When he passed away, he bequeathed the nation with another 6,000 pieces of art.

Maybe someday, someone will have a collection to fit in the dowager estate. As beautiful as the Beverly Hills park is- without art it is like a stone waiting the perfect setting to show off its sublime beauty to best effect.
As my heart is in the garden, let me share a few shots from my afternoon there. 


While there are significant formal areas, much of the park is given to informality. Doesn't this balance match real life? 

The trinity of easy success on baked hillsides are rosemary, bougainvillea and lavender.  

Look closely at the risers. When rain rushed down the hillside- imagine how it will magnify the little bits of blue glass on the risers.

The sprays of red yucca add visual punch to the all-over greenness.  

The Pampas and other grasses along the drainage create a sense of place no where near the city. 

Turtles and koi swim about this pond. Wherever people lean over to look at them, the creatures swim over to look up. Probably looking for a bit of food. The white structures on the hillside mark the walk.

Close up, you can see the succulents taking root on the curved rooftops.

However, it is this secret little spot where a little overhead was built for water run off to trickle over that just may be my favorite spot. We have something similar on our back hill where we exposed part of the drainage system to allow the wildlife a bit of water before sending it back underground. 

There was just enough daylight to make a run to see Michael Hiezer's Levitated Mass before its official unveiling at LACMA. According to press releases the rock displayed in a 456" long cradle "Taken whole, Levitated Mass speaks to the expanse of art history, from ancient traditions of creating artworks from megalithic stone, to modern forms of abstract geometries and cutting-edge feats of engineering."

Now, the engineering and coordination of government entities  involved in getting the boulder from Riverside County to LA is impressive. Yet, I thought maybe there was something special to the graining or more interactive than being able to walk under a very heavy object in earthquake country. When I see it now, I keep hearing Peggy Lee singing the title line to the 1960's classic, "Is that all there is?"

The best thing about the exhibit is that since I live along the route that was endangered by its travel through suburbia- since I went before July 1st- my disappointment was free.


  1. A lovely look at the beautiful Gardens of Greystone, Lydia....And about that Rock?? Miss Peggy Lee, indeed!

    In the interest of accuracy, and in case no one goes over to read those posts of mine, I wanted to say the following: Though it may have been sad that my father, Joseph Hirshhorn, decided to not give his collection to be housed at Greystone, it was for very good sound reasons, in terms of the scope of this original massive donation of 6,000 paintings, drawings and sculptures. The Greystone House truly could never have held the collection and shown it in the way a truly great great Art collection like this, needed to be housed and shown. And, where it ended up, with a wonderful building built on the Mall just for it, in our Nations Capital, as part of The Smithsonian Institution, was the proper and more fitting place, in every way---Especially since another 6,000 pieces were given to the Museum, after my fathers death, in 1981. And The Hirshhorn is considered one of the truly Great Museums of the World. Being where it is has made it so much more accessible than it ever could have been here in Beverly Hills.

  2. Naomi- Thank you for the added commentary. While as a Californian it is bittersweet to not have a major art collection housed in the Greystone, your father was wise to keep his collection intact. To be part of the Smithsonian is truly turning something good into something great.

    I trust that with time, an appropriately sized and valued collection will find its way to the Greystone.

    For now, we are lucky to have the grounds open to the public- with great promise for what is to follow.

  3. Lydia,
    I believe this is your best work so far. How breath taking! The photos you took are amazing.

    I have a question: Did you get to meet Naomi in person? What an amazing story of her father's success in this most wonderful country in the world, America. I vow the next time I am in DC to go see her father's collection.

    Thanks for sharing with us.

    XO Trisha

  4. Lovely home and grounds. Great photo of you! As for the rock, I agree. NBD!

  5. Dear Trisha- I hope to meet this woman I deeply admire in the very near future.

    Sue- Do look over at the link - the time of day I did not get the opportunity to properly photograph the architecture- which OOLH - her archived images are amazing.

  6. Thanks for the tour. The detail of the blue glass on the risers was a beautiful touch.

  7. Your words have brought the tour to life, Lydia. How I wish I could've accompanied you! The grounds look amazing. The square footage demands staff, of course :-)

  8. Hi, Joan! Glad you liked the blue bits of glass. I'm thinking of how to replicate here.

    Nikki- Keep an eye out for when they have a lecture at Greystone. I would go back!

  9. Lydia...just a little more follow up on Greystone....IF you could have seen inside the House itself, I think you would understand better why Greystone was not the right place for my father's collection. And the fact that the "gift" ultimately encomposed 12,000 pieces.....Well, it just would never have worked.
    If and when you go to D.C., do go see The Hirshhorn. And I think you will see quite clearly why Greystone would not have been the best place for it. And why this Museum is considered one of the Great Museums of The World!

    My siblings and I had nor have anything to do with the Museum in any way and we never did. So, it's not nepotism that makes me say this is a Great Museum. It is just a fact. And as I have said in the past, this was the BEST part of my father---His true relationship to Art!

  10. Dear Naomi- You are such a dear to write in again.

    Your father was absolutely right in his decision about his collection.

    Because of his decision- the Greystone will be available to house a collection it is better suited to.

    Like the aeronautical exhibits- the collections with the Smithsonian family are far above what we have in LA. But most days, we still have better weather):-

    I believe I have pictures from a long ago visit to the Hirshhorn.
    I'm hoping I labeled the photos by museum so they aren't mixed up.

    Now that I know of your familial connection- I would love visit the Museum with fresh eyes.

    Our nation is blessed, not only in the great collection he bequeathed us, but through his children. Your generous and artistic spirit- I hope you understand your own influence on the culture. Blessings.


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