I was flying to Los Angeles for a conference related to work (work!). Wearing black pumps and wool pants gave me better posture but didn’t fool the drifter in me. When I arrived at the airport, a feeling of wanderlust and longing overwhelmed me. As much as I love my home and the people in my Bay Area life, if I’d taken my passport and an extra bottle of contact lens solution, I would have hopped the first flight to far away.
The conference was great (nice going Shawn!) and I had most of the next day to explore downtown Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art was halfway between my hotel and the airport so it was a logical place to spend some time before the flight that wasn’t going to take me to far away places.
Oh wow, LACMA is amazing! It has something, actually a lot of somethings, for everyone — depth and breadth, curated for every age group and interest, places for reflection and places for involvement.
The expansive grounds and architecture are as much a part of the experience as the exhibits inside.
As much as I love museums, I usually leave after a couple of hours because my head starts spinning. But I was at LACMA for almost 6 hours and I would have stayed longer if only my flight had been delayed. The reason I could stay so long at LACMA? It has installations that are intense and compelling, and also many ways to enjoy the art in a more relaxed, playful way so you can recover from the intensity before you go back to it.
Intense and compelling —
The Japan Pavilion had an exhibit of raku tea bowls. You are probably thinking “booooring” but no, we are talking about Japan here with all of its layers of symbolism and precision and love of nature. Raku tea bowls are a part of the elaborate and almost metaphysical Japanese tea ceremony. Artists in Kyoto study for many years to learn the traditional raku ceramic techniques, which have evolved for 500 years and which each artist seeks to personalize.
LACMA also has an exhibit of current Islamic art, which is definitely intense. This is a photo taken at an actual graduation ceremony for women who joined the Tehran police force. They are scaling a wall to demonstrate their skills. The multiple messages are a little mind-boggling.
This photo is part of a video of the artist’s mother in the shower, overlaid with the Arabic text of letters written to her daughter during their separation as Palestinian refugees. The text of the letters is lovingly read in English.
Relaxed and playful — When you need a break from emotional and intellectual intensity, there are galleries where you can find art that is full of joy and light. You can watch delighted children run through noodle mazes or hang out with Calder’s “Hello Girls” in the peaceful sculpture garden or grab a super good lunch at the food trucks across the street.
I hate to announce favorites but LACMA is certainly high on my list of best museums I have ever visited!