Obscura Society LA: The Colorful World of Historic Judson Studios - Atlas Obscura
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Los Angeles, CA

Obscura Society LA: The Colorful World of Historic Judson Studios

The medieval art of stained glass is alive and well in a forgotten 18th Century Northeast LA neighborhood

There are many hidden corners of LA that are ripe for exploring, and on January 29, the Los Angeles Obscura Society takes you to the little-known, long-forgotten northeast enclave of Garvanza, a once-thriving community along the Arroyo Seco named after the garbanzo bean plants that used to flourish there.

Today, this 18th century neighborhood is best-known as the birthplace of the Arts & Crafts movement – which is largely attributed to the contributions of The Judson Studios, the oldest family-run art glass company in the world. Judson's handiwork from the last century – both their original creations and restoration projects – can be found particularly all over Southern California in sacred and secular locations, as well as commercial and residential. 

Join Field Agent Sandi Hemmerlein as we tour The Judson Studios' historic facility in Garvanza – originally built as the USC College of Fine Arts, and since 1920 a workshop for their stained glass projects, where they are actively drawing and tracing designs, as well as cutting and painting glass. 

Established in 1897 and located in a landmark building with an interesting architectural history (having been completely rebuilt after being destroyed by fire), Judson is now in its fifth generation of family ownership, currently owned by David Judson. Just a handful of artists at Judson employ the same techniques that were used in the Middle Ages for small- and large-scale projects for a variety of clients around the world. Although David and his team bring a 21st century aesthetic to this medieval art, we will witness that the craft of architectural glass making hasn't changed much since the 12th century.

Notes for this adventure:

-This event takes place on a weekday, specifically, a Thursday morning. 

-Plenty of free street parking available. Please arrive early to find a spot, and be courteous of the surrounding residential neighborhood.

-The tour lasts approximately an hour, during which you will be standing, walking, climbing stairs and passing through tight spaces. Wear comfortable shoes and keep handbags, backpacks and other bulky items to a minimum.

-Tour is family-friendly, but please – no touching!

-This is an active art studio that uses lead, paints, enamels, and a variety of tools (including sharp objects for cutting). Please be careful and be aware of wet surfaces and possible odors / fumes.

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