82. Hockney and L.A.

I once went to All Saints church in Pasadena to hear Lawrence Weschler give a talk. We are acquaintances, and we like each other's work. (He is a man of many enthusiasms.) Weschler had recently written about David Hockney and in particular Hockney's blue/gray/green Yorkshire landscapes. Hockney and his partner, John Fitzherbert, came to hear Weschler speak.

I had gotten to the church on Colorado Boulevard by foot, bus, train, and subway (in various combinations). The walk from the Gold Line station wasn't far, but it still would be daunting at the hour when the lecture would be over. I hoped that Weschler might give me a lift back to the station, or that he or someone with enough time to kill might even take me back to Lakewood (about 45 minutes away).

It turned out that John Fitzherbert and David Hockney gave me that ride "? to the Del Mar station of the Gold Line. Weschler had asked Hockney on my behalf.

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It was a little odd to take the ten minute ride to the station with the officially declared "greatest living painter" in England. Our conversation was brief, commonplace "? the unexpected fact that I'm unable to drive and that driving is a defining characteristic of Angeleños (and could I be one, if I don't drive).

A mild, older man, hard of hearing but less so then, reminding me of my uncles. A man with an accented voice, but nothing more than in the treatment of a vowel or the duration of a consonant. Actually, a pleasant voice. We said our goodbyes when they dropped me at the head of the stairs down to the train platform, well lighted but empty at that hour. (Later, another passenger or two joined me, reassuringly.)

Hockney is in England now, in Yorkshire, perhaps for good, apparently because his partner is barred from traveling here. But Hockney's delight in the light there and the seasons (and family connections) hold him to Yorkshire, too.

Hockney is considered a painter of surfaces . . . of the presumed superficiality of Los Angeles. And he is of Los Angeles, and not because of superficiality. He says that California taught him space, that new ways of looking at the space that expands west and east of Los Angeles "? the Pacific and the Mojave "? played a part in breaking down the former constraints of perspective for him. That and Polaroid snapshots and Photoshop. Which seems, to me at least, to have something to do with southern California and within the capacities of this place to make itself anew.

The image on this page was made by Flickr user nutted/nick. It was used under a Creative Commons license.

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