June 25, 2005

Light Relief

"The thing that really makes me want to puke is these [US] artists who feel like they have to go to the South of France because the light is so beautiful. I find that bogus. The light in California is hotter than the light in France." -- Ed Ruscha in an NYT Magazine interview a few weeks ago.

Hotter, maybe (if only in the sense that "hot" used to have for an old Beat like Ed), but more varied, more nuanced, more changeable -- definitely. The quality of light in the Bay Area and California at large -- the late afternoon and evening warm gold rubbing up against the Berkeley and Oakland hills, the hard salt light on the Dumbarton flats, the soft ocean light around the Marin headlands (or the Malibu hills), the intense blues, pinks, and yellows of the Mojave, the smog-browned haze over downtown LA and the Valley, the pastels clinging to the sides of old factories and warehouses in Santa Monica or San Francisco, the snow-blind glare 10,000' up the east face of the Sierra, the weirdly stringent washed-out High Country light around Bridgeport or Fort Jones -- this quality, this changeabilty, this range, is part of what attracted me to California in the first place. It's never been as congenial to me anywhere else as here -- not even Sydney's light, a sort of cross between San Francisco and LA, evokes so much in me or provokes so much seeing in me as the light 'round here. And, of course, London doesn't really have light at all, just varied shades of darkness.

(Part of California).


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