Mental.

It’s been exactly (ok, over) 4 years since I began to medicate with pharmaceuticals. My mental state prior was comparable to a shelf of my grandmother’s fine china, on the San Andreas fault. Trembling and unable to compose myself enough to do what needed to be done, I quietly sulked at home, avoiding reality at any cost.

You’re probably curious at this point; why is a blog about mental illness on a LA culture blog? Especially when it hasn’t been updated in a minute.

To most, I appear as in control woman who travels constantly  (while not blogging) without issue as I post photo after photo of bucket list destinations (not on my blog). When others mention their anxiety of planes and air travel, I commiserate along beside them. Three side eyes and an eye roll later, my story is being demanded by my grounded company.

Being a high functioning (read: heavily medicated) anxious person makes others naysay your affliction. I confess, I had an EXCELLENT therapist who was a total hardass that made me take responsibility for my emotions, and taught me to be more introspective when I’m in the trenches. I gotta say, it makes all the difference. That, and being on a low dose of Lexapro with a dash of Xanax improved my standard of living. Instead of rattling dishes, I could finally relate to my spirit animal: a goat.

Seriously?

A goat doesn’t give a single fuck about anything except eating. And scratching it’s itchy spots. And spawning. But mostly eating.

I visualize that when I’m feeling like the fault line is going to crack, and send all the saucers and tea cups to their fiery death. Or, I yell at myself in the toliet closet to “snap out of it” while dancing and singing like a goat would do if she could.

Sometimes I think I should have went with Cheetah, but they’re just as anxious as me.

The mind is a powerful, pissed off demon at times. I refuse to let it hold me back from doing the things I love the most.

So, if the idea of being a goat can get me outta the house so I can investigate another L.A. hidden gem, I think I’ll take it.

With a side of Xanax, of course.

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

The Gentle Barn

Sundays are often reserved for sleeping through all of your meager time away from the office. Yawning, you consider an indulgent beach day, so you could even out that driver’s tan. But on second thought, slathering on SPF 1000 has inspired a change of plan. There’s a place above in the canyons that is home to abused/neglected farm animals that are rehabilitated, is open for pettings to the public only on Sundays.

Sassy prefers a massage while she sunbathes.

Sassy prefers a massage while she sunbathes.

The Gentle Barn was started by Ellie Laks, in 1999, in Tarzana, CA. It was a dream of hers since the tender age of 7. Animals were a constant source of comfort to her throughout her childhood. Jay Weiner, who felt similarly, decided to volunteer, then joined forces with Ellie. Together, they relocated the Gentle Barn from a half-acre property, to a sprawling six acres, in Santa Clarita, CA. Their ultimate dream is to open Gentle Barns across the nation, to provide healing and safety to all animals and children. The animals are often paired up with children who’s stories mirrors theirs: abuse, neglect, ect. The children find in the animals a source of hope, a future of healing, and a new friend.

Snuggle Claire as she gobbles sweetly in your ear.

Snuggle Claire as she gobbles sweetly in your ear.

Luckily, the Gentle Barn is opened on Sundays to the public, so you can cuddle Claire, scratch Sassy the Goat, or even get a hug from a cow.

Hug, brush, or snuggle, will bring an approving nuzzle.

Hug, brush, or snuggle, will bring an approving nuzzle.

If you want to begin to frequent this barnyard snuggle fest, you can buy a season pass for $50.00. It will buy you admission, a popcorn, and a bottle of water. You can walk right in after you sign in. No waiting in line, so you don’t have to arrive to a bunch of cranky carrot craving horses. What I also enjoy is that they offer vegan hot dogs, and other nice nibbles for purchase. There is also an option of bringing your own picnic lunch, but please note: they request that you do not bring meat or dairy onto the premises in respect of the animals. Parking is also free, and it is on a gravel lot, so leave your Sunday’s finest at home.

 

 

The Gentle Barn

15825 Sierra Highway

Santa Clarita, CA 91390

Open on Sundays to the Public: 10am – 2pm

Admission: $10.00

Phone: 661-252-2440

 

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.

 

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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