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George Christy Talks About David Hockney and more!

Artist David Hockney, whose art attracts collectors who pay mega-millions for his work is the spec you see in this photograph with David painting the Tropicana Pool at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The artwork, at upper right, is now internationally acclaimed as a cultural treasure.

Posted Thursday, August 29, 2019 - 5:58 pm

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The longer we live, the more we find that people who are the instigators of ideas do not receive their proper credit.

Checking the online research about the Tropicana swimming pool at the historic Hotel Roosevelt in the heart of Hollywood, we were disappointed.  That the visionary who invited David Hockney to paint it’s Tropicana Pool, which became an iconic work of art that had its ups and downs with the city fathers, has been ignored.

A mover and shaker in our local art community, Nadia Ghaleb is the visionary who asked David to create this unusual art treasure. 

David’s enthusiasm was obvious when he arrived with his bucket of blue paint to create for us what we call a Living Art.

Nadia, of course, traveled with the art crowd.  Ed Ruscha, Billy Al Bangstown, and Andy Warhol, who first exhibited his 32 Campbell Soup paintings at the then Ferus Gallery on La Cienega Boulevard.

Nadia was there when Los Angeles was growing as a center for art with the building of our Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

“I was among the many who loved David’s work and became a groupie.  As for the pool, what better than to have David be part of our local scene with artwork that is now internationally acclaimed.”  Nadia was the PR director at the Hollywood Roosevelt and was given the authority to go forward.

We watched David paint his parentheses (or curves if you will). 

Soon afterward, we toasted him during the hotel’s reception to celebrate their art treasure.

No sooner could you clap hands did those drums of controversary begin to roll.  The state did not permit paintings on pools, and the artwork was ordered to be destroyed.

Politicos were called into action.  Assemblyman Mike Roos would not let it go until a bill passed that exempted David’s work from the State rule, and protected the community’s multimillion dollar asset.  Only recently, a painting by David fetched $90.3 at auction.

As years pass, die-hard conservationists raised big bucks for the restoration of David’s work on the Tropicana Pool.

Built in 1926, and named after President Theodore Roosevelt, the hotel was financed by MGM’s Louis B. Mayer, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Sid Grauman of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. 

The hotel’s past remains legendary.  The first Academy Awards ceremony, in 1929, was held inside the Blossom Ballroom with admission being $5.  That was the era when silent films were being replaced by the “talkies.”  Only silent films were allowed to be nominated. 

Considered one of Los Angeles’ glamorous sites, at the time, the hotel became a bedrock for gossipists reporting on the scandalous extramarital affairs thereabouts. 

Marilyn Monroe called the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel “home” for two years.  Occupying a second floor room with a balcony overlooking the Tropicana Pool. She was photographed for her first paid advertisement in a bathing suit at the pool.

“If you really think about hotels around the world, and actual works of art being a part of the experience, there really isn’t any parallel to this,” says Don Jacinto, the hotel’s general manager. “It’s not something that’s hanging on the wall — you can actually experience the pool.

“To our knowledge, it’s the only commercial pool that David Hockney has ever painted.  It’s something that we can share with our guests for years to come.”

The word from David Hockney:

“What an artist is trying to do for people is bring them closer to something.  Art is about sharing. You wouldn’t be an artist unless you wanted to share an experience,a thought, a vision.”

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