“Nobody intends to put up a wall!”

Walter Ulbricht, Leader of the GDR, June 15, 1961 – 2 months before the Berlin Wall was erected.

Bring home a piece of oppression.

Bring home a piece of the oppression.

After 26 years of Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall tumbled down. The haunting combination of barbed wire and cement that segregated Berlin, crumbled by force to reunite the communist-controlled East, with their capitalist West neighbors. East Germany’s way of life that was cultivated under Soviet rule tumbled out as well.

Does IKEA have prints of these?

Does IKEA have prints of these?

Fortunately for us history buffs and curious cats, the Wende Museum has fought to collect, and preserve the remnants of the communist-era. Currently located in Culver City, the collection contains artifacts, personal histories and archival documents that record life, expression and politics during the Cold War period from 1945 to 1991. They have amassed a variety of media including: design objects, periodicals, ceramics, paintings, sculptures, posters, furniture, clothing, films and books. A bragging right of the Wende is that they are one of the few institutions in the world to hold an almost complete run of Neues Deutschland, the official newspaper of the central committee of the Socialist Unity Party (SED), the controlling party of the East German state. Not many can proclaim this: due to the emotionally charged end of the Cold war, a lot of articles were destroyed, or defaced.

I think he looks dashing as a pink head.

I think Lenin looks dashing as a pink head.

The Museum commits its acquisition resources largely to those artifacts, artworks or collections that either make an important addition to core strengths or fill significant gaps, and/or are threatened with imminent destruction or dispersal. This includes historically or culturally significant items likely to be sold to a private collection and removed from public access.  The Wende also attempts to acquire artifacts at the request of scholars in need of specific resources unavailable elsewhere. – The Wende Museum

Despite all my rage, I'm just a Lenin in a cage.

Despite all my rage, I’m still just a Lenin in a cage.

A few of the odds and ends that were recently acquired from the surveillance state were the Stasi espionage cameras and recording equipment, outfitted in various briefcases. For the dames, a purse to discretely snap photos of would-be escapees, radicals, or tunnel diggers. Among the photogenic spy items, there were also various wire tapping devices, just to remind you that you never know who was really listening in.

It's how I keep up with the happenings in my neighborhood.

Talk directly into my briefcase, and tell me about your weekend.

Not all of the Wende is Lenin, and Stasi: they also obtained articles from the East German 6th Sports and Gymnastics Festival, held in Leipzig. From jerseys, helmets, medals, to even the athlete’s sneakers, it is a rather complete assortment.

A locker room, without the unpleasant odor.

A locker room, without the unpleasant odor.

If athletic events don’t interest you, the various records and and play bills might light up your intrigue.

Porgy, is that you?

Porgy, is that you?

At the end of the tour, you’ll find yourself surrounded by relics from the checkpoints at the Wall. One can only imagine the fear and anxiety that permeated German citizens as they crossed.

2015-01-23 02.51.13 1

The Wende Museum is currently in the process of relocating to the Armory, in Culver City, as the tiny confines of the current location do not allow for full displays of all the various collections. Once completely moved in, they plan on accessible hours and days for the public to visit. There is no set opening date, they are still looking for investors and donations to fund the new location. As of late, they only allow guided tours on selected days of the week, since most of the pieces are in a warehouse and storage, wrapped up, in boxes, or in cages.

 

The Wende Museum

5741 Buckingham Parkway, Suite E
Culver City, CA. 90230

Phone: (310) 216-1600

Open to the public on Fridays, from 10am to 5pm, except holidays, guided tours to the public are on Fridays at 11:30 AM and 2 PM

Admission is free.

 

 

Most of my excursions to Westwood take place at an indecent hour, due to Diddy Riese’s completely accessible hours. Fortunately for my waistline, this adventure had nothing to do with cheap and delicious ice cream sandwiches.

Small, but a well rounded collection

The Armand Hammer Collection also includes sculpture and drawings.

The Hammer museum, a public arts unit of UCLA, was founded by Armand Hammer, CEO of the Occidental Petroleum Corporation. Originally, his personal collection was going to be housed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. After a disagreement of how it was going to be displayed, he purchased a site to construct his own museum. Armand passed away less than a month after his namesake opened, in November of 1990. Today, the Hammer is not only known for his personal collection, it’s one of the most groundbreaking and contemporary museums in the Los Angeles area. It has hosted a rotating selection of programs throughout the year, from lectures, symposia, and readings to concerts and film screenings. Their mission statement is simple:

The Hammer Museum at UCLA
believes in the promise of art and ideas
to illuminate our lives and
build a more just world.

Happy dogs need not apply.

Henri Jr.?

With this in mind, I headed over to see the newest exhibit that is on display is one by the Mexican artist, Pedro Reyes. His project, pUN: the People’s United Nations, is a combined event and exhibition that places the diplomatic and global problem-solving missions that the United Nations face, onto non-political participants from all over the globe.  The representatives are instructed to use social psychology, theater, and art to solve the world’s most unyielding problems: from the current violence in his home country of Mexico, to food shortages, pay equality for women, and even the downward spiral of bees.

Dove Drone

Drone Dove wants peace and unity. And possibly your Cheetos in your back pocket.

One of the sculptures in particular, Disarm/Clock, is comprised of weapons that the Mexican police collected, then broke down and melted. Reyes then took these instruments of hate, and re-constructed them into actual instruments. He thought that they could help provide life and music, rather than take it away. For “Disarm,” Reyes, with his team assisting, used programs like Ableton Live, MIDI, and Max MSP to transform guns into pianola-esque musical instruments. For the “Clock” portion, every half hour or quarter of the hour, the mechanical clock utters a sound.

Gun Day

Up-cycling the best way you can.

Another exhibit I stumbled on, rather literally, was choreographer Maria Hassabi’s, Plastic. Her live installation includes sloth-like performers, that slither throughout the museum. The enlisted dancers consistently enact a form of live installation in the gallery and the museum’s outdoor spaces.

Slow motion dancing.

Mind the tap.

If you’re full on performance art, but running low on caloric intake, there’s a cafe in the courtyard that caters to your metabolism. There, you can let each exhibit mull in your mind, as you sip a cold pressed juice, and realize you mistakenly ordered a gluten-free muffin.

This is how I will spend all my Sundays.

This is how I will spend all my Sundays.

Once you’ve tossed your juice bottle in the recycling bin, collect your belongings, and go upstairs to the top floor. There’s a ping-pong table that is also part of a project. The sound of visitors attempting to “Forrest Gump” it up is the exhibit. The two paddles, and cluster of bouncy balls invite any curious folk to lob a few over, as they attempt a fancy back-handed serve. I left my Roger Federer impersonation at home, so I ended up doing fairly decent.

She thinks you should visit more often.

She thinks you should visit more often.

The Hammer Museum is free, and always will be, so you don’t need to run down to a Coinstar to cover your admission costs. The gift shop is worth a gander, as I thought it was one of the best museum shops I’ve encountered. I almost added “dancer/performance artist” to my resume, as I was blinded by the bounty, and had a very close encounter with the artists of Plastic. The first item that nabbed my heart, was a shaggy reproduction of Touc, by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, on a slab of carpet.

Need I say more?

The Hammer Museum

Monday: Closed

Tuesday – Friday: 11AM—8PM

Saturday – Sunday: 11AM—5PM

10899 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Phone: (310) 443-7000

 

 

 

 

 

Your gentleman suitor has duped you into another LAX pickup. At 6pm. On a Friday.

Do you:

A. Get your best sweatpants and plane pillow ready for a comfortable 2 hours in park on the 405?

B. Download as many new apps, music, and podcasts as your phone allows?

C. Plan ahead by checking out the area around the airport, so you can drive down a few hours before hand and do some much-needed exploring?

Instead of downloading Tinder, google “El Segundo museum of art”.

Yeah, that’s right. It’s not all volleyball, beer pong, and surfers in the South Bay. There’s a thriving art scene that’s been wondering why you haven’t visited.

The El Segundo Museum of Art is the creation of Eva and Brian Sweeney. They were looking for more space to house their expansive art collection, and it was suggested to them by the Mayor that they build a community gallery. The flip-flopped denizens of the beach cities have profited from their generosity. Not only is it free admission, the gallery also plays host to an ongoing artist in residence program. The intent of the museum is to encourage exchanges of culture and art dialogue within the community. The hope is, if we keep our hearts open to art, we can embrace change positively.

 

Your mom isn't here, you can draw all you want.

Your mom isn’t here, you can draw all you want.

 

During my first adventure here, the exhibition on view was “Home”. The exhibit features the rooms of a house, each with various items. From abstract paintings, to a well loved motorcycle. The installation explores how we perceive comfort in our dwellings. Whether we design our homes to be aligned with what is currently on the pages of Dwell, or, if our tastes dictate dominatrix dungeon, it is our sanctuary.

 

tt

Just the bare essentials.

 

e

No, he isn’t part of the exhibit.

 

This art shack is also in the forefront of museum innovation: instead of placards next to each work, there are number cards. When you discover one that you become fond of, there is an iPad with numbers that correspond to each piece. If you wanted to research certain works intensively, you can even download the museum’s dossier onto your mobile device.

 

Are we playing four corners, or diagonals?

Are we playing four corners, or diagonals?

 

After indulging in art education, you realize there’s at least another hour to burn before you show off your best fist shake. You decide to head down to the beach. The thought of sipping on a warm, caffeinated beverage while sand castle construction seems appropriate. There’s quite a few bean slingers to choose from, but if you don’t mind driving a few more miles, you can stop by “Two Guns Espresso”, in Manhattan Beach. Opened up by New Zealanders Andrew “Stan” Stanisich and Craig Oram, they introduced much of the South Bay to the Flat White. If you’re not familiar, people often mistake it for a cappuccino or a latte. Hard to distinguish the differences, the foam is actually micro instead of dry, and the milk has a velvety, creamier texture that allows the sweetly, bitter espresso to shine. Totally different, right?

 

Clint gets testy when she takes too long.

Clint doesn’t like when they use soy milk by mistake.

 

Kiwis are also notorious for having high standards for their bean juice, don’t be surprised if this cup of joe is not the burnt, bitter brew you’re used to. Merchandise-wise, they sell “Keep Cup” containers, Two Guns T-shirts, and Cafe Vita beans. The “Keep Cup” is a barista standard cup made by an Australian duo. Initially sold only “Down Under”, they’ve been keeping the South Bay in the reusable cup loop.

If you’re feeling peckish, they have a breakfast/lunch menu available until 2pm. My favorite? The Stan-wich, lovingly named after one of the owners, Stan. A fried egg, arugala, pesto, tomato, asiago cheese, on a pretzel bun?

Oh my.

Besides breakfast, they offer salads and sandwiches for lunch, along with baked items that are made in-house.

 

f

Caffeine and vitamin D found here.

 

Your adventure south of the airport has come to an end. Headed to LAX sand-laden, and grinning unabashedly by your cultural find, you don’t even mind that hotel shuttle cutting you off as you try to scoot into the innermost lanes. Instead of shaking your over-caffeinated fist at Terminal 2, you shrug it off, sneaking one more peek at the description of that painting you really liked. When your frustrated companion slides into the passenger seat MacGyver-style, they’ll be unconsciously happy that you didn’t download Tinder.

 

El Segundo Museum Of Art

208 Main Street, El Segundo, CA 90245

(424) 277-102

Hours: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 10 am – 5pm

Monday – Thursday by appointment only

 

 

Two Guns Espresso

350 N Sepulveda Blvd. Ste 7

Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Hours: Monday – Friday, 6am – 5pm, Saturday – Sunday, 7am – 5pm

 
 

 

 

Should Americans understand why the United States is proportioned the way it is? Is there a need for the common citizen to grasp an idea why there’s a 49th parallel, and how it got there?

The Center for Land Use and Interpretation believes, as their mission reads as follows:

Dedicated to the increase and diffusion of information about how the nation’s lands are apportioned, utilized, and perceived.

h

I didn’t realize I needed my passport.

The location in Palms, is one part library, one part interactive gallery, with new exhibits diffusing new information that will make our minds bulge. I also appreciated that they had stools next to the exhibits. Each description was peppered with fascinating morsels, I didn’t want to succumb to laziness, and leave before I was officially satiated.

d

The museum provides stools, so you can really enjoy the interactive screens.

While I was there, I was excited to view the “United Divide: A Linear Portrait of the USA/Canada Border”, which I quite enjoyed. Being from Minnesota, I have crossed that 49th parallel on numerous occasions, it was pleasant to be able to understand the politics. The interactive screens provided my fidgety hands numerous pages to thumb through. I scanned multiple drafts of each border, and the simplistic, yet difficult decisions topographers had when creating the maps. It also opens up debate about how the land is used, is it appropriate, and how it has changed ownership over the years.

Land use is never a concept that slithers through our minds, but when you have that aching question, and it keeps your nights sleepless, come by the CLUI; there’s a stool waiting for you.

d

Scratch your cerebral itch, then scratch his.

Center For Land Use Interpretation 

9331 Venice Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 839-5722

Open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays: Noon to 5pm. Also, by appointment

Closed Christmas Day, and New Years Day.