Miniature in the Mail #54: "The Road Taken"

"The Road Taken," 5x5in., oil on masonite

You'd expect laneways in L.A. to be more Hollywood's portrayal of the alley, with fistfights, cat fights, and winos sleeping under boxes, but they're as charming and dignified as anywhere else I've seen them, especially during the day when the sun's out and casting all kinds of intriguing shadow geometries.

I once had a student, a woman, tell me it was fine for me to be traipsing through laneways in search of material but I didn't have security as a concern. I took her point and have been haunted by the observation ever since.

At the same time, I wonder if the ordinary throughfare with its cars and advertising and zombies locked to screens is any better. In busy cities these days, I'm always surprised how people keep laneways active in wholesome ways: kids playing ball, pedestrians and cyclists taking shortcuts, photobloggers snapping shots...

This laneway I found in the Jefferson Park neighbourhood of L.A. Wiki said it started as a wealthy area for whites but then saw an influx of Creoles (hence dubbed "Little New Orleans"), Japanese-Americans, and Latinos.

For this mini painting and others like it, check out