While surfing is 100% a Hawaiian sport, it was California that exported it around the world. Whether it was Gidget, the Beach Boys, or Frankie Avalon who grifted the idea of surf culture away from Duke Kahanamoku or someone else, they did a great job of seeding said culture in the beach towns of Southern California. So now, surfers are thought of as blonde haired bros prone to using the word “dude” in places like Huntington Beach.
Huntington has embraced the image.
If you walk into the International Surfing Museum with a 10 year old child like I did, be prepared for the friendly woman behind the counter to do her best to convince the child to abandon any hopes of adult responsibility in pursuit of great waves- and to use the coupon on the back of your ticket stub for ice cream across the street. Her pitch almost worked on me but my child was unimpressed.
The place is small yet informative, with a good mix of information and artifact. There is a sculpture of the Silver Surfer, vintage Hawaiian planks, and a number of rash guards and trophies once worn or won by Eddie Aikau. Which is pretty much all you need for a top notch museum.
But Huntington’s offering is topped off by one large claim to fame, and by large, I mean Guinness Book of World Records large.
I normally ignore oversized objects mounted on poles outside stores, or museums, as props, but the giant surfboard mounted outside this museum once caught a wave and carried 66 people to shore. This seems about right.
To invest so heavily in an activity that is purely recreational for purely promotional purposes, is so very California. And I’m okay with that.
The grandstands for the Tournament of Roses Parade are set up on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena, CA right in front of a building with the name Norton Simon on the wall. That unremarkable building is full of remarkable art.
VanGogh, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt, old, new (ish), Europe, Asia, and American.
But mostly they have Degas.
I’ve seen the Little Dancer Aged 14 many times in several places, but I hadn’t previously seen her with all of her class, instructors, the corps de ballet and a bunch of ladies in bathtubs. The Norton Simon Museum has three rooms of Degas and ballet.
I didn’t know they had these there.
I often joke that I spend the majority of my life driving and the majority of that driving is to ballet classes. I don’t dance, but I have a little dancer not yet aged 14, and even when I left her home, I cannot escape.
So to balance out the lady dancey dance I ventured out on a personal quest to find artistic depictions of true manliness.
The European artists had quite the offering in every period and across several genre but when it comes to athletic fopishness and swagger, the Asian artists were the clear winners.
The French did not take the loss well.
But in my search for artistic manliness, meaning a little bit of stylish swagger expertly and intentionally executed in oil marble or ink, I found a little extra bit of manliness that wasn’t so pretty.
Like how the painting below done in the 1500s features two older men plotting the “seduction” (word on the placard) of a younger woman and after failing, accuse her of adultery for which she is condemned to death, only to be saved at the last moment.
Then, in another room, where I see Adam and Eve portrayed as the original man and women together, I turn around and see the natural next step where the man is sexually assaulting a woman.
There were additional depictions of assault that I have chosen not to post.
I will add that the Asian artists scupltures while much more explicit also appeared much more consenting.
But most of this art was old- from the past, and art museums aren’t just about what is on the walls.
Most museums are categorized or divided by type: art, history, geography, industry etc, and knowing this I expected the Petersen Automotive Museum to simply be a building full of car varieties. Ford, Chevy, Honda, Lamborghini, and so on and so forth. I expected old through new and broad representation. I went to the car museum the same way I go to the symphony- rarely, and expecting to appreciate but not necessarily enjoy it.
But I loved it.
It was all the types of museum mixed into one. It was history, it was an educational explanation of an industry, it was a celebration of of a culture, and what I loved the most, was art.
Bugatti is art. When I look at a Picasso the little placard could read something like “Portrait of Woman, cubist genre in the medium of oil.” A Bugatti could read, “Rolling Wave, art deco era, in the medium of car”.
Ferrari, a name I first learned from Magnum P.I., is the perfect marriage between art and function. No, that’s not quite right. Ferrari is art and adventure, style and unreasonable speed. Ferrari is as if the Italian sprinters showed up at the Olympic starting line wearing suits and ball gowns then promptly won every race.
I guess today’s children would appreciate seeing Lightning McQueen (he’s in the museum) the child in me appreciated seeing Herbie the Love Bug, Magnum P.I.’s Ferrari, Marty McFly’s Delorean, and the Batmobile all in a row. I suspect Kit from Nightrider is kept in the basement in order to prevent visitors like me from having a heart attack. That being said, I do consider it an oversight to not include Cameron’s father’s wrecked Ferrari from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in the Ferrari room.
To get to the Getty you take a tram from the parking lot. No, that isn’t completely true. I took a tram, you can walk up the hill, but it was hot outside and it is UP the hill. Don’t worry the line moves fast.
While walking into the modernistic rotunda looking for our tour guide, I wondered aloud why this place was so busy. “I don’t think I’ve seen an art museum this crowded since the Louvre.” My wife gave me the side eye and asked, “When is the last time you saw a Rembrandt and Van Gogh for free?”
They also had Gauguin. And they had, I mean have, Monet, Manet, Goya, and my favorite- tourists taking pictures.
As a painter, I have always appreciated other’s work in that same medium, but as an appreciator of history, I have learned to love sculptures.
For example, while the tour guide was talking about the technique used to craft marble or get stone to look like silk, I was learning that long before plumbing, before electricity, even before we understood the human circulatory system, men were taking the time to groom super cool mustaches (their opinion not mine) and dress with a little swagger. There is art in the subject not just the medium.
Or maybe there was this woman, Mary Seacole, a Jamaican who treated wounded soldiers in the Crimean War- which I should note was before America’s Civil War- who taught me not only about an artist’s skill with chisel, but that the look a black woman gives when someone says “confederate statues are history” rather than a celebratory memorial to racism, has been the same for more than 100 years.
I can hear this statue better than I can see it. I had several seats after viewing it.
I also learned that even before digital media, there were pixels. Poor resolution and revivalist mosaic are pretty much the same thing.
What struck me about the Getty, even more than the sculpture, and crowds, was the space. I am too lazy to investigate the planning process or theory in its creation, but it functions as a location first, and houses art second. There are gardens surrounded by architecture placed on a hilltop overlooking LA.
It is a place. A space. To be in. To be surrounded by and lounged in and enjoyed. It is an environment.
And I like that.
The first thing I saw when I walked in the doors of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was a giant portrait of a guy wearing a kilt. The little plaque at the bottom said the subject shared my last name which obviously required me to like it.
But it wasn’t my favorite.
I gravitate toward American artists, like the Eakins they had there, but at LACMA this was also not my favorite. Nor the Rembrandt. Not even the Picasso exhibition which came complete with a guard who tells you to stop taking pictures, even though the painting were picture worthy- still not my favorite.
I think LACMA had squeakier floors, more construction, and just plain more wear and tear than most of the museums I have been too, definitely more than the Broad or the Barnes, but what made up for it, what became my favorite, was the people.
It wasn’t quite like some other places where you go inside and the only people there are retirees wearing clothing from the gift shop and bus loads full of middle-schoolers on field trips. No. This was more like if all those people who run up the Rocky steps in Philadelphia, then proceeded inside the museum. No one in Philly actually goes inside that place, in LA, they do.
I will not forward that the art is better, or that the patrons appreciate it more, just that there were more of the folks you see out on the streets- inside.
People of all sorts are always my favorite.
But aside from them, what LACMA did best, at least in my Philistine opinion, is what California has always done best.
The Eames duo were not LA natives, but no one is. But those chairs go with those paintings, which work in those normally awful (shall we say severe) buildings, and they then find themselves in LACMA.
Yeah… they have other stuff there too:
What is the coolest possible answer to the question, “What do you do?”
Fighter pilot. Hands down winner. Race care driver and rock star will always be the best answer at a bar, unless someone else chimes in with “fighter pilot”.
I would go on to argue that this is the coolest possible answer NOT because of the movie Top Gun, but rather Top Gun exists as a movie only because fighter pilot was already the coolest possible thing anyone could be.
Now the coolest jet to ever take flight, is the SR-71 Blackbird. Again, no contest.
Not only has this plane flown higher and faster than any other plane ever built, but it looks like something right out of the Dark Knight Batman movies… only scarier.
Make note that I said the coolest jet. I did so because the coolest plane is up for debate. My vote has always gone for the P-38 Lightning.
Something silly was going on over at Lockheed (the company that designed both the SR-71 and the P-38) back in the day and they produced a series of planes that look more at home on the pages of comic books than at an air port.
Which is where I saw them.
March Field Air Museum is the kind of place where the 12 year old me gets very angry at the current me, for never becoming a fighter pilot. I am now much older than 12. The adult me no longer cares for cartoons, doesn’t really get into make believe, but I still very much want to fly in a fighter plane.
Soooo badly want to fly in a fighter plane..
There was this old TV show called Amazing Stories where I watched a tale of a gunner trapped in the a ball turret of bomber whose landing gear was stuck. I loved that show. It aired in 1985 and touching this turret brought it right back like yesterday.
That show was awesome.
I have never been a big fan of death. Wait, maybe death isn’t my real issue but more so killing. Death is inevitable, killing is almost always avoidable and bad. But if looping, spinning, great graphics or design, and even explosions (missiles and bombs, not planes) could all be in play without the actual killing… I’d die for that job.
And also- I touched a MIG.
Eat your heart out Maverick. I touched a MIG.
It is pronounced “the Broed”. Rhymes with road. Or perhaps an active Bro as a past tense verb. “You totally broed it”. But no matter how you say it, you need to see it.
It is free but you need to reserve a ticket in advance. Otherwise you wait outside in a stand by line for as little as 45 minutes. I dropped the Missus off to stand in line while I spent nearly that much time trying to find parking. There is of course a conveniently located lot right across the street but I thought I could win by finding something cheaper.
Just park in the lot across the street. You cannot win.
Save the winning for once you are inside because in there you will find Andy Warhol, Lichtenstein, Basquiat, Jeff Koon’s giant balloon animals, and his ceramic sculpture of Michael Jackson and Bubbles.You should not need to “understand” art to be entertained, or to simply know what you like. That being said, for a museum of modern art, there is more than enough for anyone to like at the Broad. I more than liked it. I loved it.And if Art isn’t really your bag, you can simply sit back and watch the people watching the art. That show is just as good.
It is located in downtown LA, right across the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and just up the hill from the Grand Central Market. You will see a bright white honeycombed building standing next to a chromed out wavy building and you will not find street parking near either. Again. Just park in the lot. The Broad is the honeycombed one with the line of people out front.Keith Haring
I dislike Vegas for its imitative quality. Venice is not in Nevada. With this in mind we skeptically headed to Malibu to visit an Italian villa. Let me state openly now, that the Getty Villa, while patterned after something else, is its own thing. That place is legit.
I will not run down a list of everything in the collection, including a ceremonial shield left in the Alps by Hannibal, you can find more informed lists in plenty of other places, but I will say that by the end of the day the kids said, “Well Dad, its okay and all but I’m just tired of looking at nekkid booties.”
There were naked bodies in marble, clay, and also silver. I had not considered silver. There was a mummy, some frescoes, and gardens. There was also a restaurant, an amphitheater, and a view of the Pacific. It is a place dedicated to beauty in multiple forms.