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Thursday, November 8, 2012

LA's Botanical Icon

This Roy Rogers Oldenkamp illustration of joint palm trees was done with acrylic paint on paper in 2004. True to his local aesthetic, this work is a depiction of LA’s most iconic plant. Palm trees are indisputable trademarks of Los Angeles. The quintessential Hollywood star system film often features a driving sequence with a luxurious car and scores of these famous plants. However, nowadays in the community of Hollywood, palm trees are indicators of a small neighborhood pocket. This is a recent phenomenon that is becoming much more recognizable because palm trees are being cut down on main streets like Vine St. and some parts of Santa Monica Blvd. I live on small street in Hollywood called McCadden, behind the cross streets of Highland and Fountain. The area within the perimeter of Highland, Santa Monica Blvd, Cherokee, and Sunset is a very eclectic neighborhood pocket. This pocket, like most others in Hollywood, is geographically defined by the presence of palm trees. Many empirical urban studies focus on the presence of these community pockets, their residents and cultures, and how they are impacted by the surrounding, bustling cities. Could palm trees be a focal point in these studies…? My gut says no. However, this once again identifies the reason I enjoy Roy’s artwork. He provokes thought about issues and symbols that concern (or should concern) local Angelinos.

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