Sunday, November 29, 2009

More than Turkey

        Chris Burden - Street Lights Installation, LACMA Entrance

So how was your Thanksgiving?  Do you feel rested, or exhausted now?  Did the rush of warm-and-fuzzies from being with family make up for the exhaustion?  Who cooked?  Did you eat too much?  How do you feel about all of that now?

I was cooked for by three mostly blonde women (i.e., definitely not MY family) while I sat on a sofa and read magazines and chatted with the menfolk in a house by the sea.  It was a very unusual Thanksgiving for my hubby and me in some respects and utterly traditional in others (turkey, cranberry sauce, peas, potatoes).  We kind of like not doing the same thing every Thanksgiving so we're always happy to give ourselves the appearance of "orphans" when that time rolls around.  It's sometimes interesting to be a "fly on the wall" at other peoples' holidays and not necessarily central players in family dramas.  When my husband was very busy and we lived on the East Coast, it was also a great time to sneak off to Paris.  No airport panics, sometimes milder weather.  NO FOOTBALL!!!!  (Sorry America.  I tried to do football in college, but it was never for me.  I have family members who more than make up for my lack of interest.  I'm sure you do too.)

Mostly what was interesting about my Thanksgiving was not Thanksgiving Day, but Thanksgiving Week.  It was a week packed with a diversity of experiences, ideas, the unexpected.  Some of it particular to my life, lots not so much.  So I've decided to spend the coming week revisiting my Thanksgiving Week just past.

                                                  m   o  D  E  R  N     A  R  T 

Last Sunday, my husband and I went to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).  Sadly, even though I've spent over a year in L.A.and actually know someone who works there, I haven't known much about LACMA.  My visit was a revelation.  Something you realize when you get to L.A. is how little the rest of the world knows about it.  THE TOWN.  The ubiquity of Hollywood publicity imaging is such that it supplants any alternative conception of Los Angeles.  All other aspects of the city languish in the popular mind as dim abstractions if at all.  (OK I mean unless you're surf crazy and then I guess you know from L.A.)

I'll just say briefly that if you're visiting L.A. and maybe the sun is not shining, you should go to LACMA.  If you live in L.A. and you haven't been, YOU MUST GO TO LACMA!  It will deepen your understanding of the town and it's people.

So............ DESPITE my aversion to the well, tacky, way certain parties make fortunes on the backs of the LESS fortuned and then go dumping little bags of money around town in exchange for getting their names splashed across extravagant structures while playing one craven institution against another, it IS a fact of life and human history, that people of these sorts provide opportunities on a scale otherwise fairly unimaginable (in America) for people of talent to expand and express that talent and for others to experience and appreciate them.  Anyway, on esthetics alone, I was really impressed with the Renzo Piano designed Broad Contemporary Art Museum, just one of the museum's seven separate structures.  To have a space that accommodates two massive Richard Serra steel sculptures with room to spare IS just LUXURIOUS.  (And that's just on one-half of one-of-three floors.)  Ditto for those awful Jeff Koons pieces of a way shiny Michael Jackson and his monkey and Mr. Koons' ex-wife.  To view pieces like that in an enormous space makes them less agressive, less confrontational, less dismaying and allows you to place them in a context.  And contemplate properly how they fit into the long arc of civilisations and the constantly iterating, tangent-prone and increasingly tipsy nature of our own.  I'll say no more and let you discover the early 20th century painting collections at LACMA on your own and it's various other charms.  The museum has excellent web pages and blogs.  Did you know that H. Matisse's "TEA" is HUGE and housed at LACMA?  You can find out more here.

I would only finally add that I LIKE "small" museums.  They are very manageable.  And you do not leave feeling guilty and uneasy that you might have missed something IMPORTANT.  Or plain worn out.  You just leave feeling refreshed. I also love that LACMA is open till 8 p.m. on a Sunday.  I can't think of a nicer way to spend an early Sunday evening.


  1. ...and it's half price after 5. Did you see the photography exhibit of 20th century photographer's self portraits. I LOVED, loved it. I think it's still going on

  2. There are few things better than going to a great museum.