Friday, 2 September 2016

From sunrise on Sunset to nightfall on Fairfax.

As promised I woke up to a view of the Hollywood sign and, as an added bonus, Gladys the cat had decided to perch on my tummy. A very therapeutic start to the day indeed.



As luck would have it Owen and Annasivia live just off Sunset Boulevard, near the junction with Santa Monica Boulevard. Owen and I took the bus down Sunset, through the largely Latin Echo Park district, near the Dodgers stadium, and got off downtown.

Owen went to work at the Broad (below, more later) and, with his free pass (saving me another $12), I went to MOCA  (Museum of Contemporary Art). There were a whole new set of skyscrapers to admire on the way.




The patio outside is impressive enough with a relaxing water feature in pleasing juxtaposition with Nancy Robin's sculpture of twisted, jarring metal aircraft components. Inside you can contemplate the serene warmth of the Mark Rothko room. This tiny representation of his Black on Dark Sienna on Purple does him scant justice.



I'm not always certain about Dan Flavin and his strip light minimalism but I was very pleased with how Monument for V.Tatlin came out on my phone camera.

Gedi Siboney was a new name to me and I found both his use of metal as a canvas, and his sun dappled abstraction, to be an aesthetic delight.



As in San Francisco Jackson Pollock was greeted as an old friend. No.1, 1969 not atypical of his finest work. Joan Miro's Personnages Dan La Nuit showing the Catalan curvemeister at his canniest.



Old and new names mixed merrily and to the benefit of both parties. In the former camp Robert Rauschenberg's Interview demonstrated his masterful handling of mixed media. In the latter John McLoughlin's Untitled stood shoulder to shoulder with both Rauschenberg and Miro with its joyful geometry.

Other old favourites appeared:- Brassai, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Ad Reinhardt, Agnes Martin, Joseph Cornell, Lee Krasner, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Ellsworth Kelly, Gordon Matta-Clark, Ana Mendieta, Robert Smithson, Wolfgang Tillmans, Thomas Struth, Wangechi Mutu, and Matthew Barney.


The recently deceased Chris Burden had, in the past, had himself shot and nailed to a car. All in the name of art. So, though tame in comparison, his Hell's Gate Bridge was a timely tribute.



The UK was represented by Chris Ofili and his Monkey Magic - Sex, Money & Drugs. Neither the work nor the elephant dung it was mounted on stunk.

An Untitled work by Jean-Michel Basquiat was a welcome East Coast addition to the collection. There'd be more of his at my next stop in the Broad. It's Owen's place of work and although it's free anyway his card helped me jump a couple of lines and get into the temporary Cindy Sherman retrospective for nothing.



The building is an attraction in its own right. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro it's white, sleek, and modern on the exterior and porous and grotto like once inside. Robert Thierren's big pile of plates giving you a welcoming smile.



There's a lot of familiar names inside. Chuck Close's John and Ed Ruscha's Noam's, La Cienaga on fire, both examples of artists on top of their game.


The aforementioned Sherman retrospective was a humdinger too. It gave me a much better understanding of what she's all about and I couldn't decide if the clowns or the gimp mask and prosthetic vagina was the most startling.




Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room - The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away was a joy too. Warned not to fall in the water I was given 45 seconds and that was just enough for the couple of pics below that I'm rather proud of.




Returning to the main galleries I was greeted by Jeff Koons' huge Tulips and Kara Walkers African'T. I'd seen Kara's work in London's Camden Arts Centre and was equally impressed here with the way in which she addresses historical issues concerning race relations.


The gallery also holds works by Takeshi Murakami, Richard Diebenkorn, Damien Hirst, Andreas Gursky, Roy Lichtenstein, Malcolm Morley, and Joseph Beuys.

In the New York graffiti section there's works by Basquiat and Keith Haring's Red Room. With both artists dying young we can only wonder what they'd be doing now.


Leaving the galleries behind for the day and headed to the Grand Central Market. On the surprisingly grungy Broadway I happened across a man with a papier mache model of Donald Trump. He also had a big plastic baseball bat and was offering passers by a swing at the effigy of the presidential candidate. One woman knocked his left leg clean off.




The market itself was also great. I perused it as if it were a museum. You can eat pasta, ramen, bombo rolls, currywurst, pizza, pupusas, chop suey, or even buy groceries to take home and make your own.


I fancied Mexican (again) but as the taco fillings included guts, brains, head, and snout I opted for a simple quesadilla from Tacos Tumbras a Tomos. It was washed down with a cool horchata which tasted just as refreshing as I'd recalled from a trip to Valencia a few years back.

Dessert came from McConnell's. An ice cream stand headquartered in Santa Barbara. I had mint chip and strawberry in a waffle cone and it was bloody good.


I'd been recommended taking in the view from City Hall. Outside the gates there was a small, permanent looking, Black Lives Matter protest. I sympathise entirely. It seems really hard to square the undoubtedly true reports of institutionalised racist murders of black people across America with the welcoming and friendly country I'm experiencing.




Difficult too to imagine what goes through the head of the amiable black police official who welcomed me in to the building when he considers the same. It's not a problem that Trump's rhetoric looks anywhere close to addressing and it'll surely be Obama's greatest regret that, through no fault of his own, he was unable to introduce tighter regulation on fire arms.




As a visitor I'm wary of wading too deep into politics I don't truly understand but I can't write a blog about what I see and not mention this.

It's free to go up to the top of City Hall though you do have to go through airport style security. You take an ornate old lift to 22, another (less ornate) lift to 26, and then walk up the stairs to 28. Or take another lift. Should lifts REALLY be your thing!

I was the only person on the entire viewing platform most of the time I was there (until 2 delegates from a Korean business convention joined me) and the views to Hollywood, and the San Gabriel mountains beyond, were as spectacular as you'd expect.

You look out at miles and miles of LA's post-urban sprawl. As you no doubt know LA is a beach city but, to give you some idea of the size of it, even from this vantage point you can't see as far as the sea.

When Owen moved here he told me that if LA was transplanted to England it would stretch all the way from Brighton to Northampton. I'm beginning to, slowly, get my head around this vastness.







I had a quick look in the Bradbury Building, which fans of Bladerunner may appreciate, and retired to Beelman's on Spring Street for a couple of glasses of Dale's Pale Ale. Anna joined me and we picked up Owen after work and she drove us up to Canter's Jewish deli on Fairfax.











It had been a great first day in Los Angeles and as we passed Frank Gehry's Disney auditorium, current office of Gustavo Dudamel, and its gorgeous sinuous metal one last time my only concern was if I'd like the food.

The wiseguy serving us suggested veggies would be better off down the street but truth be told my veg reuben was a taste sensation. The place is open 24hrs and serves breakfast, even cereal in little party packs, for 24hrs too.

It's linked with Guns'n'Roses as they used to eat here often. That's their favourite table below. You can even pick up merchandise for the band. Instead we went to Von's supermarket and bought bogroll. Living the dream.


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