Thursday, March 05, 2009

Surprise!

Los Angeles does not suck. I was SO sure it would. The legendary L.A. weather really is amazing. I was in downtown the whole time, where there is, you know, *diversity*? Like multiple ethnicities, sizes, social classes? Yeah, I dig downtowns. I did not go any of the trendy celebrity kind of places. I didn't even see anybody that looked like Stripper Barbie, which I totally expected to. I guess I sort of believed the television image of L.A. Error! Error!

Got in Wednesday night, ate amazing Greek food (downtown takeaway joint), did meetings all day Thursday, ate at California Pizza Kitchen Thursday, then Friday, a morning session.

Friday afternoon: Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Holy freakin' moly, the place is huge. HUUUUUGGGGEEEE. I spent four hours there and saw only European, American, modern & contemporary stuff. Honestly I just sort of trotted through the European galleries. The German show (Art of Two Germanys: Cold War Cultures) was an absolute revelation. I know a lot about contemporary art, but to be honest, Germany since WWII was a bit of a blank spot for me. I mean, okay: Anselm Keifer, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Hannah Hoch, Hans Haacke, sure. But this was two floors in the Broad Museum building of artists from both East and West Germany. I feel like I should get the catalog because there was just so much brand new information, beautifully contextualized, and clearly, they had ACCESS. And MONEY. The loans were from private archives, artist's estates, I mean, they were tracking stuff down in the far corners of Europe. I can't say I loved everything I saw, but I do feel like I have a grasp of 60 years of German art after only spending 2 hours or so in those galleries. It was, I will not deny it, a tad grim. I mean, you know, defeated in the war, Cold War, East Germany, poverty, terrorism, etc. But art, after all, does not have to be happy and pretty. It ended on a positive note (for me anyway) with a completely amazing and enormous Gerhard Richter painting. Ah, Richter, how do I love thee? My wee formalist heart adores you, mon herr, master painter, wizard with brush and oils. He may - it's possible - be gaining on Mark Rothko, who I usually put at the top of my favorite artists list. I see one more painting like that and Mr. Rothko may be demoted to No. 2.

Finally, Friday night, my internet feminist buddy FH took me to a vegan Japanese restaurant in Little Tokyo called Shojin. SO. GOOD. So good. I want to live in a city with vegan & vegetarian restaurants. It's such a joy to sit down, open a menu, and know that every single thing on the menu is something I could order. A menu like that is a glorious sight to behold, and it usually brings me near to tears. Srsly. I usually open a menu to see if there is, maybe, hopefully, ONE thing I can order. It usually involves cheese and starch. Sigh. Anyway, FH is a lovely and adorable goth girl who took me on a scenic tour of Skid Row on our way to Shojin and we had a great time at dinner talking about art, boys, radical feminism, and Los Angeles.

Get this! They let homeless people pitch tents on the sidewalks there! It's kind of humane, if one can say that sort of thing in the context of urban homelessness.

So, I am a convert. Will have to go back because I need a day to go to the Getty. Also need to get out to Pasadena for the Norton-Simon Museum, and should go back to the LACMA. It's an all-day haul to get from here to there (drive 2 hours to Jackson, wait an hour, fly to Houston, change planes, wait some more fly to LA, wait for a shuttle, hour to hotel, adds up to a whole day), but with good weather and the miracle of modern medicine (read: Xanax), it's tolerable.

2 comments:

rootlesscosmo said...

San Francisco's pretty nice, too; get in touch when life brings you to the Bay Area.

Morton Feldman's composition "Rothko Chapel" (inspired by

http://www.rothkochapel.org/

in Houston) is really good. I 'd be happy to burn a copy and snail mail it to you; email me with info if you're interested.

beth said...

So glad you enjoyed los angeles. Being a native, one who now lives in Iowa, I agree that LACMA is an amazing museum. Please do go back, but while visiting the Getty is worth a trip for the architecture and the view, the art collection is a bit on the boring side. Just my 2 cents. Also, if you ever have the time whilst in sunny so cal, you might visit the museum of science and industry--despite the name it really is great.