Lifeguard Station 56

Lifeguard Station 56: Homage to Monet’s Rouen Cathedral Series

“When anxious, uneasy, and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

On my morning bicycle rides, I head west to the beach, along the Ballona Creek bike path, and then turn south along the shoreline to Lifeguard Station 56. It’s five miles from our house. When I reach Lifeguard Station 56, I stop, open my mobile phone camera, and snap a shot or two of the station with the ocean backdrop.

The view is never the same, and often it’s all about the sky. This is my set turn-back point. It’s a great spot because the atmosphere is always peaceful, and is situated under the busy LAX plane’s takeoff path.

Art history contains several examples of artists painting the same scene multiple times. One of the most famous cases is Claude Monet’s series of paintings of the Rouen Cathedral. Monet was an Impressionist painter who focused on capturing the precise light conditions at a given moment.

His 26 paintings of the same building at various times of the day and in different seasons give each painting its unique flavor. It allowed him to make subtle changes in lighting and color, creating a unique visual experience with each one. It’s a reminder of how powerful repetition can be in honing one’s craft and creating masterpieces.

The photograph series of Lifeguard Station 56 is my humble attempt to investigate Monet’s approach. By capturing the scenery at various times of the day and across several seasons, each photograph has its distinct character.

July 2019