I didn’t go to UCLA. But on a recent Sunday, I went there. By car, that is.

A self-guided tour of a portion of the campus is in the book “Walking L.A.,” which I’ve been using for picturesque sightseeing around the city.

“UCLA is one of the most well-known campuses in the state’s famed University of California system,” writes author Erin Mahoney Harris. Her route, she says, takes in “innovative artwork, classically beautiful architecture and a lovely botanical garden that has evolved over several decades.”

What’s not to like — unless you’re a USC alumnus? (USC, incidentally, is a separate tour.) As a Midwesterner by birth, I attended the University of Illinois, so in this local rivalry I am a dispassionate observer.

Setting off from my house in Claremont for this trip, I had gone only one block when I pulled over with an alarming thought. What if the campus is closed? A quick Google search showed that it is.

Still, the walking route does not take in the entirety of the campus. One stop, the Franklin Murphy Sculpture Garden, was recently toured by an arts writer and praised. And this was a Sunday, a day that might draw the least number of people and scrutiny. I decided to trust to fate and forge ahead.

Los Angeles — news flash — is a big place, and even as a frequent visitor, there are large swaths I haven’t seen. UCLA was among them. I parked in a residential neighborhood a block from the starting point, the northeast end of the campus, and started walking.

The sculpture garden was the first point of interest. It’s a broad lawn with buildings on three sides, sculptures dotting the scene. They’re set in the grass, around the edges of the garden and along the walkways, some 70 altogether, said to be the largest outdoor sculpture garden on the West Coast.

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I had a sense of anticipation, because I like art, and my last visit to an art museum was in January. This open-air permanent exhibit was going to be a treat. Once I rounded the bend past a burbling fountain, a sense of relief hit me.

That’s because the garden was populated by 20 or 30 people — none of them security.

“Pensive” by Deborah Butterfield is among the striking pieces in the open-air Franklin Murphy Sculpture Garden at UCLA. (Photo by David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

Feeling relaxed, I made my way around the perimeter, starting with two columns topped by small female dancers — tiny dancers? — by Robert Graham and a series of wooden branches in the outline of a grazing horse by Deborah Butterfield. A reclining voluptuous nude with the head of a squid was by Henri Laurens, although suggestive of H.P. Lovecraft.

Alexander Calder, best known for his whimsical mobiles, was represented by “Button Flower,” a stationary piece.

A sculpture that did move was not by Calder but by George Rickey. A slender, Y-shaped metal pole stood alone, each arm of the Y holding a second metal pole …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News


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