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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Stone Griffins of Montalvo Road

For years I have wanted to stop my car and take pictures of the stone griffins that sit atop the entry posts on Montalvo road at HWY 9 in Saratoga, CA. It's the road you take to Villa Montalvo. OK, technically (since 2005) their name was changed to the Montalvo Arts Center but out of habit I still call it Villa Montalvo. After all, that was their name for 93 years. I also called Candlestick Park, Candlestick Park even when its name was changed to 3Com Park then to Monster Park. Some names just stick in my head that way.

But back to the Griffins, which historically are considered to be noble protectors with the body of a lion, the head of an eagle, and wings. They are believed to have protected priceless treasures and possessions. They definitely look like silent sentries, standing guard atop their perches on HWY 9.

I went at lunchtime which isn't an ideal time for lighting purposes, but was pleased with two of the shots. They are of the same griffin. This one was shooting with the light. The one before it I shot into the light. I like the first one better. I'm still amazed how much I enjoy backlighting subjects ever since learning how to shoot in manual mode.

Mission accomplished. I can cross the griffins off my list of things to photograph in Northern, CA. Though I may go back. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm going to go back. But I'm still crossing them off my list for now :)

The Mediterranean-style villa is celebrating its centennial in 2012.

Located in the Saratoga Foothills, the Montalvo Arts Center's focus is to nurture artists of all types and share with the public an oasis of culture and nature.

I have seen two musical performances here. The first was over a decade ago when a group of Tibeten Monks performed multiphonic chanting in the Carriage House Theater. This is when a single person can simultaneously sing more than three notes at one time creating a perfectly complete chord. Last year, I saw Pete Escovedo and the "E Family" perform in the outdoor amphitheater. It was quite different than the monks but equally enjoyable.

Along with concerts and performing arts there is also an art gallery, an artists in residence program, special events for adults and childredn, and I've attended several wedding industry related events at the villa over the years. In fact the villa and grounds can be rented for weddings and special events. The center is truly a gem and the South Bay is fortunate to have this elegant estate in our own backyard. You can visit the grounds or hike on the trail behind the villa whenever the facility has not been rented out for a private event. If you've never been there I encourage you to visit and explore the grounds.

Montalvo Arts Center
15400 Montalvo Road
Saratoga, CA 95070

CLICK HERE for Visiting hours and Directions

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