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

 

 

 

 

 

Stitch and Bitch.

My attempts to keep up with the guerrilla crafting community has been futile. I find myself discovering new trends on the page of Yahoo! news, which pretty much tells me it’s over. Imagine how excited I was when I tripped into a yarn bombed light post while exploring downtown LA.

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Tree hugging made more comfortable.

Without the help of VICE, or Yahoo! news, my rusty street art senses were tingling. I was in the presence of a thoughtfully placed, and intellectually planned art installation. I snapped a few photos, admired the needle-work, and went on my way to the Inherent Vice exhibition at the Ace Hotel. When I returned home, I dug out my laptop, and began my research.

Itsy bitsy, teenie weenie bikini

This tree is stuck in the 70s.

Yarn bombers are a community of knitters that create fiber-based art to engage thousands online, worldwide, and locally in the city of Angels. Yarn bombing Los Angeles dabbles in all genres: be it public, fiber, street, craft, social awareness, and high art. One social awareness I came across online was, “#BlackLivesMatter”, all done in yarn.

 YBLA’s mission is to create a form of community-generated, site-specific public art that is tactile and accessible, while at the same time initiating dialogue about cross-generation connections and craft history. (yarnbombinglosangeles.com)

 

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If your interests sway to the crafty and conscientious, be sure to check out the link below for all yarn bombed sights in the Los Angeles area, and beyond.

http://www.yarnbombinglosangeles.com/

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.

 

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Just the bare essentials.

 

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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.

 

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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

 
 

 

 

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.

2015-02-23 02.00.13 1

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.

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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:

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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

 

Los Angeles. L.A. City of Angels. La-La Land.

There are a lot of strong opinions (and nicknames) about my adopted home town of almost ten years, but the word that has always stuck with me is “Culture-less”. Honestly, I rode that bandwagon proudly at first. Frustrated about what I thought to be the lack of culture, I would bemoan endlessly to my friends and family back home that southern California was a waste land.

I was partly correct.

But mostly, I wasn’t.

What held me back was the fact I came from a culturally rich city, that embraced the arts, and intellectuals. People read books, not just magazines and tabloid sites. You can have actual conversations about world issues, politics, and not just what celebrity shenanigan was posted on social media.

I was wrong, Los Angeles.

I’m sorry.

You too, are filled with art, culture, intellects, eccentrics, raconteurs, and places that fill my mind with appreciation, love, and apology.

I want to make it up to you. I am going to prove to the rest of the world that they are wrong. And when they find out, you will be receiving more apologies.