Since teaching myself digital photography in 2006, I have taken my camera around Van Nuys and vicinity in search of beautiful light.
Here are some selections of images with some commentary.
Van Nuys, CA These serrated steel buildings along Calvert St have always fascinated me.
I don’t know how old they are, but I always imagined them as packing houses for citrus fruits, as they are one block from the old Southern Pacific Railroad tracks.
Van Nuys, CA 91405
Built: 1963 Somewhere along Hazeltine (I think) is this structure supported on one side by a wall and an open air garage. It has that flat roofed, decorative frivolity characteristic of the early 1960s, when crime and rents were low and one could confidently hop into a small unit with your automobile safely tucked underneath.
These stores were up on Van Nuys Boulevard, later vacated, partially torn down, then left in ruins, and today may be completely gone. They have a colorful flatness to them, with their individual signs, murals, and Spanish and English names. They are humble yet fantastic in their culmination of the American Dream.
Along Gilmore St. just west of Van Nuys Bl. is another one of those wasted opportunities, a courtyard of concrete behind jail doors, just waiting for a $5 million dollar investment in grass, trees, fountains and hope.
This characterizes Victory Bl., the buildings that house the new immigrants, complete with shopping baskets, balconies with potted plants, drying rugs, bed sheet curtains, and Frenchified ornaments rendered in milk coffee stucco.
Ugly but thriving is how I would describe this shopping plaza, a place I just visited today to get my knives sharpened. Lido Pizza has been in business for half a century, serving up pizzas and pastas to a widening clientele.
6738 Hazeltine Avenue, Van Nuys, CA 91405 This too is gone, a lovely little stucco house from the 1920s, a survivor from the days when this was just a quaint, walkable country town in the San Fernando Valley.
Van Nuys, CA We have some of the harshest and cruelest surroundings in Los Angeles, merciless in their violent materials: steel, fencing, barbed wires, concrete, dogs, guns, security cameras. But man cannot defeat the gentle sun that sets each evening and wraps everything in a soft pink embrace. (Calvert St.)
This is along Kester Avenue, near Delano, one of many auto repair shops that are destined for extinction when all cars turn electric. For now, they hum along, confident in their usefulness, like typewriter sellers in 1973.
One story shops line ten lane wide Sepulveda Boulevard near the Orange Line. Zoned for this back in the 1950s, they should all be twenty or thirty stories tall and filled with new apartments.
The poorly named Skid Row Housing Trust hired architect Michael Maltzan to design these supportive units of white and colored panels, set back from the street inside landscaped gardens. Opposed by the community, they somehow prevailed and are better looking than anything else for ten square miles. (Sherman Way near Woodman)
Nothing has tempered and delighted the Valley more than liquor. D&K is one of the surviving old style sellers of booze, cigarettes and lottery tickets, items considered as effective as prayer to its users. (Saticoy near Sepulveda).
Nearly ten years ago, this rain soaked parking lot along Sepulveda near Sherman Way was briefly lovely to look at in the reflection of its asphalt.
I don’t know who this vaping teen was, but he looked cool to me in 2012 standing along Sherman Way near VNB.
This 1950s modern house on Kittridge near Noble in Van Nuys was open for viewing in the early 2010s. An outdoor laundry line and plastic chair are humbler reminders that clothes washing will always be an essential aspect of human existence.
The headquarters of the famed architectural metal shop Pashupatina is a jewel of the Kesterville District along Aetna Avenue. Architect Natalie Magarian worked with her husband Ivan Gomez to transform this humble shop into a stunning, light filled shop that turns out custom hardware for the wealthiest Angelenos. (2017)
Van Nuys, CA. In the mid 2010s it was still possible to walk and embrace on the Raymer Avenue Bridge in Van Nuys, even though surroundings were grungy. Today, the bridge is completely covered by garbage and debris, and is the the home of several trash camps who took over a once public right-of-way.
This is another industrial building, recently the backdrop for an extensive homeless encampment, but in the early 2010s it was just an empty structure with a sign.