Saturday, October 22, 2016

Not everyone has been a fan of Echo Park’s Lady of the Lake

Eric Garcetti announced Echo Park Lake reopens June 15 5-9-2013 8-50-22 PM

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fixtureECHO PARK — It has been 80 years since the Lady of the Lake, an Art Deco-style statue created by Ada Mae Sharpless,  made its debut at Echo Park Lake.  The 14-foot-high cast stone figure has been photographed countless times and was restored and returned to its original spot in 2013 at the tip of a peninsula that juts into the lake.  But not everyone has been impressed with the goddess-like figure.

Shortly after the statue was completed in the mid 1930s, Arthur Millier, the L.A. Times art critic at the time, expressed disappointment with the piece, officially known as Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles (Queen of the Angels). Sharpless, who worked on the statue in a studio in Silver Lake, did not take the criticism well. A story on the Lady of the Lake in HistoricEchoPark.org describes the exchange between critic and artist:

Los Angeles Times art critic Arthur Millier reviewed the Lady of the Lake when the statue [most likely a small replica] was the centerpiece of a small exhibit at the Art Salon at the Ebell Club in 1935. Millier wrote, “It is not her happiest work. Simplicity on such a scale demands a compensating subtlety which is absent.”

In response, the Los Angeles Times quoted Sharpless in a letter stating that the Lady of the Lake was “one of the best pieces of work I have done so far…and several people of the most sophisticated artistic taste in the city [agree]. Forget what is being represented—this has nothing to do with whether the sculpture is good or not.”

Despite Millier criticism , the Lady of the Lake has remained a beloved piece of Echo Park history.

Eric Garcetti announced Echo Park Lake reopens June 15 5-9-2013 8-51-03 PM

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  1. Actually the correct translation of Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles is “Our Queen of the Angels.”

  2. What didn’t they like??

    • What didn’t they like? The boobs? Just put a bra on it. Or, because it was not Christian or catholic? Or was it?

  3. It’s nice to have an iconic statue in Echo Park but I’ve never considered it worth much praise. It may be monumental but while the overall appearance may be of strength, with a neck that large (it’s a long as her head is tall) and hands which show no refinement (more like hands in thick winter gloves), the ‘crown’ aside, she looks more like an Amazon.
    I shall have to look for othe works of hers to see if her reputation was deserved (this statue aside) but it’s in Echo Park and no one has to give it anything more than acceptance. Now Maria/Mario the goose….she’s worthy of a proper statue!

  4. I love this statue for its streamlined lines and graceful beauty. It’s a perfect piece of art for this park.

  5. Aldo Thee Apache

    I think she’s iconic of Los Angeles’ art deco age.
    Thank god she’s no longer being used as the swap meet’s clothing horse to hang used underwear on.

  6. Agree with Kat and Aldo, She is our lady, may she stand on the point forever in honor.

  7. How did LA ever get a fourteen foot high Art Deco statue of a pagan goddess erected in 1036 at Echo Park Lake? Officially titled “Nuestra Regina de Los Angeles,” the same name as the old nearby Catholic hospital, Queen of Angels Catholic named in 1924 to honor the Virgin Mary. Unlike any image ever conceived of the Virgin Mary, the nickname “Lady of the Lake” comes from King Arthur’s legendary water deity, the ruler of Avalon. If you look a little closer, it resembles an Egyptian goddess. Aimee Semple McPherson’s Four Square Angelus Temple faces it directly across the street, the Episcopal Church’s St. Paul Center also faces it around the corner. The only knock it apparently ever got was from the LA Times art critic. Guess Depression era people had other concerns besides Church-State separation, satanic symbols, or nipples on a female form.

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