Saint Monica by Mimi Haddon in Santa Monica, California, USA

I love the idea of this Frida Kahlo-esque persona acting as “Saint Monica.”  So appropriate as California was owned by Mexico up until the Mexican Cession of 1848.  The image of the beach in the background has so much symbolism to me.  The tractor grooming the sand.  I am always so annoyed when I’m enjoying a peaceful moment at the beach and this huge, loud truck comes barrelling down the beach leaving it’s unnatural raking tracks.  A reminder that we are in a city beach.  There is a homeless person lying on the sand under mounds of blankets.  Harry Shear proudly calls Santa Monica “The Home of the Homeless”, on his weekly satirical radio show, “Le Show”, which he broadcasts from KCRW.  The bike path where healthy tanned bodies zoom up and down daily on their roller blades, bicycles and skateboards.  The pier is the ultimate Santa Monica symbol and is beautifully illuminated every night adding lively color to the dark sky.

Name:Mimi Haddon

Place you live: Santa Monica CA

Place your photo was taken: At my studio in Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Pier.

Can you sum up the place you live in a short paragraph? A sophisticated beachfront city that has hills that reach to the sea, a vibrant downtown,  an amusement park on it’s 100 year old pier, colorful farmer’s markets on three days a week rain or shine (shine mostly), its own government, a world class radio station KCRW and loads of hipsters sporting Tom’s shoes (Tom’s shoes headquarters are located in Santa Monica on Olympic Boulevard and Stewart).

Occupation: Photographer

Preoccupation: Keeping my hands busy with any and every craft I can find.

A perfect day in Santa Monica? Delicious coffee and freshly made croissants from Urth Cafe on Main Street.  Stop by the Sunday Farmer’s market.  Load up on picnic fare while checking out the creepy clown making colorful balloons for wide eyed children.  Head over to Will Rogers State Park at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains.  Hike up to the top and check out a great panorama of Downtown Los Angeles to Catalina to Malibu.  Soak up the sun while watching the Polo set race their horses across the green expanse.  Stroll down the third street promenade and drink in the astounding art books at Hennessey and Ingalls Bookstore.  Enjoy a glass of Champagne and crisp, just the right amount of salted chips at Shutter’s on the Beach while taking in the sunset.  Check out a concert at McCabe’s Guitar shop on Pico, where great talents such as Tom Waits, Allen Ginsberg, P.J. Harvey and Joni Mitchell have graced the stage since 1958.  Grab the best veggie burger you will ever eat at Hillstone on Wilshire and 2nd.  After party at the great dance club Zanzibar on Arizona and 5th Street where DJ’s spin in a stylish lounge with an Indian/African motif.

If someone was visiting, what must they do? Have lunch at Tacos Por Favor at Olympic and 14th.  Great food and authentic vibe.  After you eat, you can check out the walking meditators from the Insight LA meditation headquarters, then take in the sights of skaters rolling through cement curves at the Santa Monica Skate park across the street.

A perfect meal? That is a stroll to neighboring Venice.  Abbot Kinney has  loads of lovely restaurants, but the one that is sublime is Gjelina.  Perfect locally grown vegetables are roasted and served along side unusual sauces.  My menu: Crisp Chardonnay, Gruyere and Arugula stone fired pizza, salted caramel pot de creme.

What is the best thing about your spot? It is a smallish city with a very strong identity within the massive metropolitan expanse that is Los Angeles.

What is the worst? The worst part of where I live is that I drive way too much.

A little known fact about Santa Monica?  There are a number of hidden staircases hidden in Santa Monica Canyon.  They are a great way to get your heart pumping while soaking up the camelia trees and lush hillsides that surround them.

Where is your favorite place in the world? If I could combine the Redwood Coast with Paris, France, I’d be in HEAVEN