Sunday, March 31, 2019

LACMA Inside and Out

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or simply LACMA has been located on Wilshire Boulevard since 1965.  Architecturally, it has gone through a number of changes and expansions over the years but, its position in Los Angeles has remained the same.  When I get a chance to visit, I enjoy walking between the two buildings and admiring the colorful design of the modern art wing.

The series of stairs, escalators and platforms make think of a huge carnival ride.  The top is a great place to look out over the Hollywood Hills and.....

....maybe get a glimpse of that famous Hollywood sign!

When I was there last summer, I specifically wanted to see the David Hockney exhibit called "82 Portraits and 1 Still Life" that I wrote about last year.  Once I had taken in all those colorful portraits, I moved on to some other exhibits like this one called "50 Kitchens" by Mark Grotjahn.  Being in the two rooms with the 50 dynamic colored-pencil, geometric drawings can make one feel a bit dizzy if you move around them too fast.  Each one was made with two different colors for the background and lines.  They quickly became a magnet for selfie photos.  Imagine someone standing in front of this painting and letting those lines radiate out from behind.

Not being much of a "selfie" taker myself, I left that to the younger set.

I also visited Richard Serra's wonderful sculpture called "Bond" once again.  Serra spent most of his career examining humanity's metaphysical bond with physical space.  I'm not sure about the metaphysical part, but I love the smooth lines and the sheer size of this monumental piece of steel.  I love walking around it and inside it.

When I cross that center walkway between the two buildings, I can't pass up another opportunity to snap photos of Chris Burden's "Urban Light" assemblage.  It's located right on Wilshire Boulevard so you don't even need to enter the museum to enjoy this brilliant piece.

Inside the Ahmanson Building, there was another interesting exhibit called "To Rome and Back".  I sat for a while on that bench and studied "Stair and Fountain in the Park of a Roman Villa " by Hubert Robert.  It's based on the real Villa d'Este.

You can't tell from this photo that this is a micro mosaic and not a painting.  In fact, I had to get very close to it to see the tiny chips of marble.  No artist was given for this amazing piece.

I'll end this series with this photo from a few years ago on a visit when I had dinner at the museum and so got to see "Urban Lights" all lit up.  The museum might be closed but, this piece is still drawing crowds.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Helicopter to Sedona

A few years ago, I took a helicopter ride from Wickenburg Arizona to Sedona for lunch at the Sedona airport.  Two friends joined me for the trip so that we could view that wonderful red-rock scenery from the air.

After lifting off from the Wickenburg air field, we started to pass over rolling hills of the Wickenburg Mountains and we could see bits of the Hassayampa River.

It wasn't long before we were seeing the mountains ahead of starting to turn that rusty color that the Sedona area is known for.

As we got closer, the red color was becoming stronger.

When we turn over the hills, we start to see the crags and canyons.

We made a wide turn over the city of Sedona and looked down over the houses, businesses and roads of the town.

Finally, we made our approach over the beautiful red mesas to land at the Sedona airport.  

We had a lovely lunch at the restaurant at the airport and then we flew back to Wickenburg, this time getting an even closer view of the Hassayampa River.  It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences.  I've enjoyed the beauty of Sedona on many occasions but viewing it from the air was something special.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Monsoon on the Southern Border

A few years ago, I took a road trip down to our southern border with Mexico during the monsoon month of July.  One of the places I stopped was a small town called Sonoita which happens to be the gateway to the southern Arizona wine country.  Heading into the town, I stopped to admire the cowboy on the hill.  This sculpture is called "Gathering Strays" and it was created by sculptor and Sonoita resident Deborah Copenhaver Fellows.

The summer months bring the desert monsoon season and while that results in a few storms where I live in Phoenix, the southern Arizona area sees a lot more storm activity.  While I was there in July, every afternoon brought dark clouds and rain.

The vistas in this part of the state are breathtaking with rolling hills dotted with a cattle ranches and windmills.  The dramatic monsoon skies only enhance the scenes.

You know you are close to the border with Mexico when you see huge parking facilities for border patrol vehicles.  Since I had already passed at least six of them on the highway coming into town, I was surprised to see this many parked at the Sonoita Border Patrol Station.

I was headed a mile or so southeast of the city to visit a few of the vineyards when I saw another Statue on the opposite edge of town.  This one is a tribute to Sonoita ranchers and it was created by the same artist I mentioned above.

The road passed many vineyards and several tasting rooms.  I was there on a week day so some of the tasting rooms I passed were not open.  I soon learned that this area gets most of it's traffic on the weekends so many of the wineries only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

I was on the lookout for Sonoita Vineyards, one that I knew would be open, when I found the entrance leading up a very long driveway.  The look of snake-like drive topped by a two story building and three trees had me pulling over the take a few photos.

And, as I got to the top of the hill, I saw a horse-drawn cart taking quite a few people for a ride over the hills and to the edge of the vineyard.  They appeared to having a good time in spite of the occasional sprinkles of rain.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

It's Alive!

When I was in New York last fall, I visited the Morgan Library to see the incredible display of rare books housed in the collector's home.  I wrote about it here.  The library is also a museum and while I was there, the special exhibit was called "It's Alive".

The exhibit was in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein.  It featured information about Mary Shelley and how she conceived of the monster along with comic books, film posters and other movie memorabilia spawned from her masterpiece of horror.

These first two photos are a sculpture of the torso of Robert De Niro's make-up for the 1994 movie.

Above is a movie poster from the 1931 film starring Boris Karloff.

And, to the left is another poster of Mr. T. P. Cooke of the Theatre Royal Covent Garden in his stage portrayal,

This last photo is of the portrait of Mary Shelley painted by Richard Rothwell.  It held a special place of honor in this expansive exhibit.

The Morgan Library is so much more than just a museum to house the amazing collection of Pierpont Morgan.  It's exhibitions are outstanding and tend to be related to literature in all forms.  Check their website to see more about all of their exhibits and programs.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Speaking of "Cloisters"

While I'm on the subject of cloisters (see my last two posts), I thought I'd bring you a post about another cloister found in a very active church in the heart of Chicago.  The Fourth Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest buildings on Michigan Avenue and is located at the north end of what is known as the Miracle Mile.

This church building dates back to 1912 and was designed in the Gothic Revival style.  However the church history goes back a bit further.  Two other Presbyterian congregations combined to form the Fourth Presbyterian Church and they dedicated the original church building on October 8, 1871.  That happens to be the very same day the Great Chicago Fire started.  Needless to say, the new church's building was destroyed.

However, the congregation survived and they soon rebuilt their church and eventually made plans to build the even bigger one that we see today.

The parish house and cloister were added after the church was completed and were designed to fit in perfectly with the Gothic Revival style.

If you are walking down the very busy Michigan Avenue and you slip through the arch that leads to the cloister, you will find yourself in a completely different world.  The noise of traffic disappears and you are surrounded by beauty and quiet.

It's a peaceful spot to escape from the hectic life on the outside.  I guess if you think about it, that's what a "cloister" is all about; Peace and quiet.