The walls of Pergolina shone extra brightly with neighborhood love throughout October, in an exhibition of 14 oil paintings from local artist Bonnie Lambert called “The Hood … Toluca Lake.” Through vibrant color and expressive brushstrokes, her work celebrates the beauty of the natural world as it coexists with human habitation.
Lambert has exhibited her work in numerous museums and galleries around Southern California, and she paints cityscapes throughout the area — often at the magic hour before sunset, with a frequent focus on telephone lines and power towers. But the 24-year Toluca Woods resident finds particular inspiration from the scenery in and around her own backyard, capturing sights that many of her neighbors are sure to recognize and imbuing them with a new sense of wonder.
“I come from a small Wisconsin town where the pace was slow and there was an aura of community and of being close to nature,” she explains. “When I came to L.A., I experienced a bit of culture shock. Then I moved to Toluca Lake, and after a while the exquisite sunsets and long, late-afternoon shadows over quiet tree-lined streets said to me, ‘Welcome home.’ And that’s how I express Toluca Lake in my oil paintings.”
Like many residents, Lambert loves the community’s small-town feel, green and walkable residential areas, old-California history and “enthusiastic, supportive and friendly neighbors and businesses.” She readily shares a long list of local favorites, including “Pergolina (unusual, one-of-a-kind gifts), Sweetsalt (lavender latte), Forman’s (great happy hour), Lou the French on the Block (the Parisian owner bakes the best croissants) and the Garry Marshall Theatre (I’ve been a subscriber for many seasons).”
Recalling how she first happened upon Toluca Lake during a past Holiday Open House, Lambert offers some parting advice to anyone who hasn’t experienced the area’s special holiday magic: “On Halloween, have dinner in Toluca Lake and then stroll the neighborhood. Amazing decorations and costumes, block after block! And the annual Holiday Open House is the first Friday in December. You’ll fall in love with Toluca Lake.”