Before Abbot Kinney was littered with decadent shops and gourmet cafes, it once belonged to the bohemians, green space, and the eccentrics. The boulevard’s galleries showcased the neighborhood talent, and praised itself for being an artist’s refuge from materialistic L.A.

Lucky for us, the hyper-gentrification didn’t sell all the soul from Abbot-Kinney. In some unexpected nooks and crannies, there is some art lurking in the open. I almost missed The Chaplin Zoetrope, if my lovely friend had not pointed out to me as I was walking into traffic.

 

While I was searching for the name of the person responsible for saving my inattentive heinie, my eyes landed on the stack of informative cards perched under the exhibit. The card’s map specified all the public art in the area, along with a web address of other projects that all art-appreciating Angelenos should be aware of.

 

A map to several pots of gold

 

On the reverse, the numbers explain each installation, with their whereabouts included. Thanks to Robin Murez, who commenced the Venice public art project in 2005,  she hoped to inspire a sense of community amongst all the various citizens dwelling in the Venice area. Along with unifying the residents, Robin wanted bring about a sense of wonderment and delight with each piece.

A list...of visual treasures.

 

They are always open to suggestions, and needing assistance with: locating sites, creating, inviting, organizing, installing, landscaping, CAD drawings, permits, funding, photographing, and media.

While I’m crafting my thank you card, I recommend investigating these visual treasure troves before they’re bulldozed for a new Prada store.

Website: www.venicepublicart.com

Author.

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.22.10 PMIn the middle of my daily drudgery at the office, a text popped in with what I hoped to be my future. Travel Channel created a reality show that needed contestants, and was holding auditions TODAY. The hope was to find the luckiest of all ducks: he/she would be the host of their own travel web series. Upon reading (skimming) the guidelines, I hustled my big blue eyes over to my boss, hoping that that extra swish of mascara would allow my early retreat from work. Without mentioning much, he signed off on my early departure, gave me a spank, and wished me the best of luck.

Rushing off towards the Tastemade Studios, with my newly acquired bruise, I started gathering bits and pieces of odd travel tales. Not really knowing the rules, because I, uh, read it so closely, I closed my eyes to see what I could conjure up.

Hmmm….monkeys? Sure. Anxiety problems? YES. Mild mention of extreme poverty of India, which shows my adventurous side? Well, yeah.

While my half-assed meditation was in motion, I felt a nudge and an almost paper cut on my arm. “Hey, you might want this.” I bypassed lunch, so I was sort of anticipating a pack of fruit snacks. Instead, he handed me a paper with all the rules and guidelines that we should probably know.

After a quick read over, my meditations were fairly useless. “2 minutes to describe where you’re from, why and what made you love travel, and how you like to travel”. Whaaa? Ok. While scrambling my shit together to form cohesive sentences, a camera with a lovely female voice asked me what part of the process I was in. Clearly, I do not audition often (read: at all) so I was fairly dumbfounded when I faced with this question, and in front of a looming camera.

Welp.

Here we go.

Everyone loves illicit drugs and personality disorders, so of course I am going to take that road.

“Well, I made sure to take my Xann-I mean Xanax (leave street slang at home) today, so I am feeling great. (illicit drug reference – good!) I’m not gonna hide like I want to, because I am so anxious right now” (mention of panic disorder – I’m totally in.)

Lucky for me, I did indeed make the highlights of the L.A. auditions – which the above picture is from. Unpleasantly, I did not make the final 15. A blessing in disguise really, because yours truly does not advertise herself well – unless I can wear a sandwich board.

Also…I was sort of not thrilled with the idea of being known as “the lady with monkey problems”.

“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.

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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.

 

 

Located in a tourist-laden part of Santa Monica, the 113 year-old Camera Obscura perches nonchalantly on the cliffs. A short jaunt from the famous pier, the 50s type font on the camera’s housing begs you to take a gander.

You can scope out climbing trees for afterwards.

You can scope out climbing trees for afterwards.

One of three left in California, Robert F. Jones constructed the camera in 1898, and gave it to the city in 1907. For 50 years, the camera delighted beach goers and peeping toms on Santa Monica beach. By 1955, it was relocated to the nearby Senior Recreation Center.

A-ha!!!

A-ha!!!

The Camera obscura dates back to the ancient Greek era, as it was one of the earliest optical inventions. Scholars believe that these types of “cameras” were utilized by Renaissance painters like Leonardo Da Vinci to project live images onto the canvases to assist them in painting. By the Victorian and Edwardian times, it had become a popular attraction in the US, and across the pond.

Peeping Lauren.

Peeping Lauren.

I was rather pleased to see a diverse blend of persons queuing up for their opportunity to view the beach through a Renaissance lens. We have come so far when photography is involved, yet we sometimes forget what novel inventions we have left behind. The camera obscura is free, and all you have to do is wait your turn once you sign in. Once you’re in, they give you the key, and you can spend a large chunk of time spinning the wheel, exploring the beach of Santa Monica, or the car culture on the other side. A fun side adventure for all ages. Bring grandpa along, so he can prattle off tales of how this was the only camera he had as a boy, while his great-grandchildren struggle for a grainy snapshot with their iPhone 6’s.

Ahoy, thar be peeping toms ahead!!

Ahoy, thar be lookie loos ahead!!

 

Camera Obscura

Senior Recreation Center

1450 Ocean Blvd.

Santa Monica, CA 90401

Hours: Mon-Fri 9am – 2pm Sat 11am – 4pm

Phone: (310) 458-8644

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

 

 

 

 

 

We’re all familiar with seeing men dressed in golden robes, ones we generally associate with Buddhists. The large difference is, besides religion, is the shaved head with a ponytail. You seem them on the Venice boardwalk, beating their drums, singing, looking almost cult-like.

For all we knew, they were.

Most people hate being proven incorrect, I am not one of them.

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I was intrigued by this religious sect for most of my life, namely due to scant information. (My fault: laziness) Were they related to Hindus, or were they more Buddhist? The religion is from India, so I had a few possibilities floating in my mind. To set my ruminations to rest, I set out to explore the Hare Krishna community this past weekend.

Initially, I was intimidated by the temple. So many followers, and curious folks like myself meandered up to the stairs. We were greeted by dozens of footwear, and their owners’ chanting. I hastily slid off my shimmery high top Vans and put them on a shelf. I also mumbled a prayer to keep them safe, since I recently purchased them, and was feeling some buyer’s remorse. A sign that read, “Do not let your children play near shelf. There is danger everywhere.” made me actually consider lugging them with.

2015-02-23 01.58.22 1

I enter the temple. There, a cherubic teenager lightly motioned to grab a mat. I thought she wanted me to purchase some treats that were propped up on the table across from her.

Nope.

Just a nod, light smile, and a mat to take in the sermon. Hearing the gospel of Krishna, via the Bhagavad Gita was actually fascinating. I wedged myself between a few devoted, and a couple artsy folks. I scanned the room, distracted by the statues that sat above the commoners. I did my very best to absorb the inspiring words, and made many attempts not to be distracted. By anything.

The man, the myth... Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

The man, the myth… Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

An hour passed by, and there were some visitors that had multiple confusing questions. An older woman asked why is Krishna making her suffer, again in this life. She couldn’t understand why the Lord reincarnated her again to experience pain and suffering. I was curious how she knew she was a part of another crappy life. I left not understanding her situation, but I didn’t leave empty-handed. I silently scooted out the door, after I dropped off my mat. Nodding my thanks, the cherub murmured something I thought was about me buying something. I mouthed my best, “I’m sorry, but no thanks”, then scrambled out the door. She continued to follow me, and guide me towards the book tables. Sighing, I was prepping my “thanks, but no thanks”, routine.  After conversing with yet another Krishna fanatic, I now had in my possession the Bhagavad Gita as it is, and another book about enlightenment. No charge. He graciously gestured towards the free food if I was interested.

Instead, I gathered my high tops, and new literature, then wandered contentedly into the evening.

 

Hare Krishna Cultural Center

3748 Watseka Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 836-2676

 

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.

“Whenever you are, we’re already then.”

The Mar Vista Time Travel Mart, and her sister shop in Echo Park, stocks everything a dimension skipper requires. Yer robot actin’ up? It’s not creating portals like you need him to? Or, maybe he learned some ancient language on that last adventure, and now he cusses you out with it. Get a memory eraser. They have plenty in stock. And if they don’t, just come back yesterday.

If time traveling isn’t your bowl of Primordial soup, then look closer:

fdsfsdfsfsf

Create your own Jurassic Park, or, just eat an Ice age animal.

The Time Travel Mart is home to an innovative, creative writing tutoring center from grade school children, to high school students. the organization that backs it, 826LA, is a non-profit, volunteer-based chapter of the 826National. Creative adults giving time to inspire young storytellers to splash their tales on paper. The center was started to assist overwhelmed teachers with children that required the extra assistance. They could come here after school, for the help they needed. The founders, Dave Eggers and Nínive Calegari initiated the first in San Francisco, on 826 Valencia in the Mission district. There are 826 locations all over the country.

The joy is in the caption.

The joy is in the caption.

What really struck a chord with myself was the fact that all 826 locations published the work of the students that attended. I purchased one of their collection of short stories, since all proceeds went back into the center. I was impressed with the quality, and the fact that these children wrote far more brilliantly than most adults. 826LA is always looking for volunteers to assist with after school writing assignments, college writing essays, and creative writing. They also sponsor field trips from area schools to provide inspiration, and assistance if need be. The Mart also sells McSweeney’s items, books by Dave Eggers, and other published works from former and current tutorees.

Unlike your robot, he's a pacifist.

Unlike your robot, he’s a pacifist.

Stock up on your robot requirements, or just grab some tonics anytime at: http://826la.org/store/

If you’re not stuck in another dimension, bargaining with a giant mantis, I recommend you stop by:

Echo Park Time Travel Mart

1714 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 413-3388

Noon – 6pm, daily

Mar Vista Time Travel Mart

12515 Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 915-0200

Noon – 6pm, daily

Wanna become a time traveler?

Here’s how: http://826la.org/volunteer/how-to-volunteer/

 

“Shop local. Support small businesses. Small business Saturdays.”

All these slogans have become a part of our day, along with our cup of Starbucks sludge. We hear them, see a banner or two in our Facebook feeds, but rarely do we abide. It’s not due to our contempt of small businesses, or our love of brick and mortar. Our money flows to familiarity, and what route is methodically memorized. My heart has many cracks from the constant heartbreak of my favorite indie shop closing due to a bordering book shop.

Don't forget to come up for air.

Don’t forget to come up for air.

Fortunately for my heart, Hennessey + Ingalls has two locations, and shows no signs of being uprooted. Around since 1963, Southern California denizens have counted on the largest independent bookstore for all their creative and gift giving needs. Screen printing, fine art, graphic design, or architecture? Check. FIDM student, or obsessive fashionista? There’s an entire section devoted to  the biographies and designs of Jeremy Scott, Tory Burch, and Karl Lagerfeld.  Hennessey + Ingalls have an incredibly in-depth collection of every visual art in book form. Even the esoteric magazines they carry: from Australia to France, if there is a visual art involved, you can guarantee that it’s living here. The locals that swarm this imagination emporium range from the 6-year-old plopped down in the corner, pouring over a big, glossy nature photography album, to the frazzled boardwalk artist, frantic for inspiration and marketing know-how.

Hennessey + Ingalls

Screen printing is huge among canines.

After a few visits, your reclaimed wood coffee table will be sweating with the warmth of books you never knew you needed.

 

Hennessey + Ingalls 

Hollywood Location: 1520 North Cahuenga Boulevard #8, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Phone: (323) 466.1256

Hours:

Monday thru Friday: 11:00am – 8:00pm

Saturday & Sunday: 10:00am – 8:00pm

Santa Monica Location: 214 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Phone: (310) 458.9074

Hours:

Everyday: 10:00am – 8:00pm