I headed out with my college-age son Christopher on Tuesday hoping to enjoy a driving tour of public art in Glendale using a nifty map we found on the city’s website. After failing to find the first item on the list, we headed to site number two — where a lovely city employee showed us what she supposed might be the art that landed their location on the list: two small paintings in the cemetary room they use to meet with families planning burials.
But we weren’t dissuaded. Christopher likened it to a “Tintin” moment, and suggested we press ahead. I was starting to feel a bit like one of the series’ bumbling Thompson detectives, but no matter. We were up for a bit of unguided exploration. I headed over to the Caitlin Court area, which is full of charming shops and eateries — and we did our own little walking tour.
Christopher often spots things that fall under my radar, and it’s delightful. Maybe all those nature walks we used to do when he was little, coupled with his own natural curiosity, helped to foster his powers of observation. First he found a lovely bit of wall art on the Shelley’s Specialty Desserts building — then a fire hydrant painted with butterflies and bees (signed by an artist with the last name Garcia).
As we strolled for a spell, we found several spots specializing in antiques and arts & crafts fare. Also Cee Cee’s Cafe, where a family and a trio of grown-up girlfriends were enjoying tea and other treats together. Then the Glendale Civic Center and, finally, a piece of art on our driving tour map — the Glendale Public Safety Memorial.
The driving tour of public art map listed three public libraries and I was determined to explore at least one of them on this trip, but finding the main branch of the Glendale Public Library’s Main Branch takes some doing. We wound through neighborhood streets before spotting the target, then followed parents with strollers and folks walking their dogs as they made their way to the park adjacent to the library.
A trip to the Glendale Public Library Main Branch can be quite an adventure for a curious child. There’s a large xeriscape garden on the library grounds, complete with signs identifying various trees and types of cactus. Also plenty of winding paths and seating areas, including several benches near a bronze work depicting three irrigators. During our trip, a young girl enjoyed climbing all around the sculpture as her mom, grandmother and brother looked on.
The library was bustling with teens using computers in the “Fish Bowl” room, seniors reading near a wall of windows overlooking the xeriscape garden and folks exploring books about travel, small business, car repairs and more. There’s even a “Meeting the Trail” statue by Allan Houser near the check-out area.
Lured by a work of art featuring several metal trees with shiny leaves spied through more giant windows, I decided to exit the library proper through a different door, and soon found myself in another part of the building where some serious surprises unfolded.
First, we found a latte bar/cafe style area where library patrons were ordering coffee, smoothies and such. Then, another wall of windows — with peacocks parading around on the other side. The “Don’t Feed the Animals” signs we’d seen since entering the library grounds finally made sense.
We spent lots of time enjoying the peacocks, plus birds in the parking lots that looked like pheasants — which prompted me to recount tales of childhood holidays in South Dakota, where my father, grandfather and several male cousins would actually shoot the bird my grandmother prepared for our holiday meal. My youngest, Lizabeth, finds the same tale rather disgusting. She’s a city, rather than a farm, girl.
Eventually we headed home for dinner, stumbling on the easiest entrance to the library/park complex — at 59th Ave. and Brown — on our way out. We passed the city’s memorial honoring veterans on the way back, and are already making plans to return and spend some time there.
I may have flunked followed the driving art tour map, but we made own adventure and had a gloriuos time in Glendale. Tintin and Snowy would be proud.
Note: Click here to explore Glendale’s public art online
Coming up: Got chalk?