The Judson Studios

The other day an architect friend took me to The Judson Studios in the Garvanza (Highland Park) neighborhood of Los Angeles to view a project in progress. I knew a little about the building but had never had the opportunity to meet the artisans or see their stunning stained glass work up close. Everything about this place exudes a deep love of beauty and an attention to detail that makes no compromise. It’s hard to believe this Southern California gem is only a few blocks away from Penny’s Hamburgers and the T-Shirt Warehouse.

William Lees Judson settled on the banks of the Arroyo Seco in 1893 and quickly became a driving force behind the Arroyo Guild of Craftsmen, fueling Southern California’s Arts and Crafts movement. In the late 1890s he founded the Los Angeles College of Fine Arts at this location. In 1901 his art college became USC’s College of Fine Arts and remained in Garvanza until moving to the central campus in 1920.

Judson’s stained glass studio remains in the family to this day, producing profoundly beautiful work in a tradition unchanged by time. Horace Judson told the Highland Park News-Herald in 1940: “Here there is no rush. We work slowly and for perfection as they did six centuries ago.”

As I watched the artisans work I marveled at the way architects manipulate light to create beauty and a sense of well being. When we look away from a painting it is gone, but when the light has been channeled in our living and working spaces, it continually changes our experience whether we are aware of it or not. Stained glass transforms itself with the seasons and the daily cycles of light and dark. The tradition captures icons that surround us with the things we value most.

This beautiful place reminded me of music, which also shifts space around us, creating a dimension of beauty and a sensual aesthetic that goes beyond words. Enjoy these images from The Judson Studios web site.

Shadow Language Electric Guitar Quartet at The Electric Lodge

Shadow Language Electric Guitar Quartet

Ken Rosser’s Shadow Language Electric Guitar Quartet is playing a show at The Electric Lodge in Venice, CA Thursday April 22 at 8 pm. In addition to the repertoire from their premier performance (see my interviews with Ken) they will be performing a piece by Nick Didkovsky and a world premier, Rooms of Marble and Red Grass by composer Stefano Giannotti.

If you are a fan of modern electric guitar music be sure to check this out. SLEGQ is pushing the boundaries of the electric guitar and contemporary chamber music. If you think “it’s all been done” on the electric guitar… think again!

Guitarist Ken Rosser

Support live music in LA…

One of the things I have really enjoyed since moving to Los Angeles a few years ago is the incredible wealth of skilled musicians living here. The boom years of the recording industry attracted and developed a remarkable pool of talent. One could work in music in this town for decades and still not meet half of the great players and writers.

The live instrumental music scene in LA is perplexing. Any night of the week you can hear world class musicians that would be A Big Event anywhere else, particularly outside of the United States, yet the local scene never seems to take off. I would love to do my part to instigate change. One of the best ways to start change in a difficult situation is to figure out what’s already working and do more of that. On that note I have some ideas to start a conversation with local music fans:

  1. CD release parties and special gigs always seem to be well attended by friends who generally spread the word. Even if you don’t get out to see all the shows you would like, keep track of what’s happening each week in the clubs and post upcoming gigs by your favorite artists on Facebook, Twitter, your blog. It only takes a minute.
  2. Email artists you like. Get on their mailing lists. Ask them what they are doing to promote local music and what you can do to help. Are they using social networking and the web to it’s fullest potential? What clubs do they like best and where do they see the most potential growth? Let them know you’re a fan!
  3. Become a fan of local musicians and venues on Facebook, etc. Comment on gigs you like and let the club owners know what’s working.
  4. Blog about local music. Spread videos and recommendations.
  5. If you don’t know where to find great live instrumental music contact me and I’ll share what I know!
Any other ideas?