Mae Babitz - Artist

Artist’s Statement

This Artist’s Statement was written by Mae Babitz in 1969.  In her own words….

My desire to draw began in 1941 when I discovered the museums and exhibitions in Los Angeles. Then I began to work on finding a way to capture the lines of the things I loved here, the buildings, Victorian houses and small bungalows, of this town I called my “ciudad bella” Even though I am called self-taught, I must say that, actually, my teachers were Giotto, Van Vogh, Matisse and all those Sienese masters I found in the museums. It was during those first learning years that I sat in the County Museum in Exposition Park and copied, in oil, a fine Utrillo, I do believe that I had the masters for teachers.

The City seemed so beautiful then! I wanted to make the finest most delicate and sinuous lines to capture its quality–and to do it RIGHT THERE, while sitting on the street surrounded by curious people. I’ve never wanted to draw from memory or from other people’s pictures. I suppose that I must be the only Los Angelino who has continuously drawn this lovely, vanishing city over a span of decades.

It was just enchanting to me: the palm-laned streets, hillside mansions hidden in mimosa, lavender avenues of Jacaranda and the silent scenes of Beverly Hills. In downtown we enjoyed the Plaza nights with mariachis, sugar cane, peluquerias and the Pico House. Ample cement “sofas” lined the Plaza, then affectionately called “La Placita,” by the people who gathered at the Mission Church across the street. I admired Christine Sterling and her work of foiling every piece of legislation that would have converted little Olvera Street (La Cuna de Los Angeles, it was then called) into another parking lot. I may have caught the save-a-beautiful monument fever from her. (I am a charter member of the Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers,)

In the fifties, the Cleveland Wrecking Company suddenly seemed to be just one step behind me as I worked in the streets. With their smashing, swinging crane-ball, they demolished the dreams of early Los Angeles, The history and the dreams fell and Kafka land arose: glass curtain walls, tangled freeways and buildings that only the architects can tell apart. Today, I have a petition which affirms that we should demolish a Tishman Building on Wilshire Boulevard and build in its place, a lovely small Victorian house, suitable to launch a flight of angels.

Beautiful Angels Flight, with all its charm and color, has been torn down and lost forever. Constantly vanishing Los Angeles is my hometown and Hollywood is the part I live in. They are my Tierra Bonita.