Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Our Lady of the Angels

I wanted to see the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles mostly for the late Robert Graham's bronze statue of the Virgin Mary and for his monumental bronze doors.  I have admired the bronze figures of this sculptor ever since I "discovered" him when I lived in San Francisco decades ago.

For a Catholic cathedral, it is very modern and a bit odd.  It was completed in 2002 and was the first catholic cathedral to be built in the western U.S. for 30 years.  It was designed by Spanish architect Jose Rafael Moneo and is meant as a tribute to the diversity of the people living within the Los Angeles archdiocese.  Graham's bronze door continue this theme of diversity, and it is what makes this artwork so interesting.  You could spend hours studying the images and symbols and their meanings.  (And I have a hunch many art history majors are doing just that!)
There are 40 different ancient symbols in the doors that represent pre-Christian images from Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.  The Virgin Mary is depicted in many familiar historical art forms like the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Virgin of Pomata and the Pieta.  The 8-ft. statue above the doors is also a blending of ethnicities.  You can't tell if she is Asian, Native American or European.  Her arms are bare and held out, welcoming all peoples of the world.  Me, included.

If you like art and architecture, add this to your urban walk when in Los Angeles.  It isn't far from the Walt Disney Concert Hall at Temple and Grand.


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