Chris G’s Best Yelp Reviews: Barnsdall Park – 3/5 and 2/5 Stars (Updated Review)

Barnsdall Art Park
4800 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

I got to see the grand re-opening of the Hollyhock House, aka Aline Barnsdall’s Egyptian-style mausoleum. Her morbid fortress is much adieu about something! It is constructed with the modernist wand of Frank Lloyd Wright and is actually a lot more spectacular on the INSIDE than the house looks on the outside

I came here because I actually was passing by Barnsdall Park at one in the morning on my bike. I saw all of the cars coming inside and I recall reading that the Hollyhock House was renovated, the mayor came and cut the rope and there was a free ‘self-guided tour’ of the house all night. I knew I would never ever pay for a guided tour in the future, so I thought this was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Barnsdall’s big open casket looked like how a flapper with money would want to languish in the afterlife – probably not with all the gawking people. I wanted to take photos but my phone died as I waited in line for over two hours, between 1 am and 3:30 am, to go inside and see it. It was a non-stop all-night viewing. In fact, I believe other people are currently waiting in line to see it as I write this.

The one word that comes to mind when I viewed the Hollyhock House was ‘horizontal’. Even though the building was up high, everything inside emphasized being straight on one plane. It really brought my eye to see the cool angular furniture and then the panoramic views of the flickering lights of nighttime Los Angeles from below. Since everything that I saw was level, you are sort of met with the windows to the sky and the electricity below. I wonder whether Barnsdall had the same kind of view here 80 or 90 years ago, whether the lights emitted from early 20th-century electricity were the same kind of brightness and look. The house looks Egyptian with its architecture and golden tones from the wood floors, so being elevated on one plane seemed otherworldly and afterlife-ish.

Barnsdall Park, I still hate you. I think the car-centric navigation to and from the park has a lot left to be desired. But I’m kind of realizing that the one-directional ‘grand driveway’ helps perpetuate the foreboding fortress-like architecture of the Frank Lloyd Wright building looking down on the little people of East Hollywood below.

Useful:Funny:Cool: 4


Previous Review

I don’t think I could dislike a park more than I do Barnsdall Park. I truly hate Barnsdall Park. It’s awful.

Can we bulldoze the Frank Lloyd Wright fortress, parking lot, and fences and add trees and have a large hippie hill for people to camp, dance, drink and lay on? The fortress-like architecture and the fortress-like structure (psycho-geography) of the park make hanging out at Barnsdall park feel like lunch at Macy’s Plaza.

I’ve been to a few events besides the Farmer’s Market here on Wednesdays (from noon to 6 pm) and I live close to the park. Most of the events require me to walk up the stairwell to the buildings. When I go to an event and hang out here, the event is never very good and usually pretty confusing. People are either crowding the door to an event that is encompassed inside of a boxy midcentury institutional-style building with no windows. Others are lingering in the periphery of the institution along with the pillared foyer to nowhere.

The areas that most of these events are housed at feel like they are a moat to the Hollyhock House, which is a sour relic of Frank Lloyd Wright. The actual Hollyhock House looks like a boxy Egyptian-styled mausoleum. It looks like a morbid fortress. At first glance, it looks like one of the more dreary examples of Frank Lloyd Wright’s catalogue raisonné. At second glance, it looks like the kind of place that old flappers with money go to die – see Lady Barnsdall’s big casket for $7!

Barnsdall Park is like a dystopian Parc Guell in Barcelona. Most of Barnsdall Park, like Parc Guell, is for walking up that hill, although, unlike Parc Guell, it’s not really made to walk into or out of, it’s made to walk WITHIN it. The first thing one has to encounter when trying to enter is the huge foreboding poles along Hollywood Blvd. that serve as fences and block walking people from entering except on two opposite sides that open exclusively for a parking lot that it wraps around. If you want to enter, walk through the parking lot. The only time that parking lot is ever really useful to everyone is when there is that farmer’s market on the bottom of it. If you try to enter or exit from the stairs at the non-Hollywood entrance, the Hospital alleyway, good luck because that area is littered with no trespassing signs.

Useful:Funny:Cool: 3