The Route to Golden Dragon

January 30, 2009

In celebration of the Lunar New Year, this year’s 110th Golden Dragon Parade will be this Saturday, January 31, starting at 2 pm in Chinatown. Of all the parades in Los Angeles (Rose, Hollywood Christmas, Doo-Dah, etc.) the Golden Dragon Parade is my particular favorite to attend.

If crowds aren’t to your liking, then this parade (and logically all others) should best be avoided and watched on TV. But if you don’t mind the smell of a little sweat and shoving combined with amazing dragons in formation and smoky fireworks, this parade is for you. After you get your fill of pageant floats, confetti, and snacks from nearby vendors, shops and art galleries are all within walking distance.

One of the highlights of my trek to Chinatown is taking the LA Metro. Depending on where you’re coming from, getting off at Union Station or the Chinatown stop on the Gold line is best to reach the parade. Plus, you can look at all the public art while waiting. My local stop is at Hollywood and Vine, where I can admire some of the work designed by Gilbert “Maju” Luján.

Luján, whose work was featured recently in LACMA’s Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of L.A. over the summer, has made an underground stop come alive with bright palm trees and low-rider benches. These, along with a ceiling of film reels, represent a fitting reflection of its title “Hooray for Hollywood.”

With the economy’s current condition and the passing of Measure R, time will only tell when we will have our “Subway to the Sea.” But for now, public events are still accessible via public transportation and despite the subterranean location, art still flourishes below.

Devi Noor

Snapshot: Who’s at LACMA

January 29, 2009


Why did you come to the museum today?
We are here in town for my brother’s wedding. I used to work for Jeff Koons, and Broad is a big collector so I came to see what he has. I think some of it might be what we worked on when I worked in the studio. My father is a contemporary artist, Duane Hanson.

Have you ever been inspired by art to do something that you normally wouldn’t?
My father was an artist and I grew up around art, so I feel like it’s shaped my whole life.

If you were a piece of artwork, which one would you be and why?
I have been immortalized; I’ve modeled for my dad three times. So that’s kind of the obvious answer!

What are you reading right now?
If I have time, the National Enquirer. [laughs]

What other job or profession would you love to have?
Plastic surgeon.



Have you ever been inspired by art to do something that you normally wouldn’t?
Yes, but if you’re going to ask me for specifics that would be a tougher question to answer; but yes, works of art have led me to change my life.

If you were a piece of artwork, which one would you be and why?
I think I’d want to be a building because it’s interactive with people, you walk into it, things happen inside of you, it’s a more complete experience. A piece of music wouldn’t be bad to be…

What other job or profession would you love to have?
I’d love to be a really successful gardener.

Rachel Mullennix and Michael Storc

Peter Shire at Elysian Park

January 28, 2009

Last month I went to Elysian Park and stumbled across Peter Shire’s installation in honor of its protectors Frank Glass and Grace E. Simons. Shire, a local Echo Park resident who also designed LACMA’s American art reading area and information kiosk, has unmistakably recognizable work, with its stark industrial forms and whimsical shapes and colors.

Based on the photos I took at Angels Point (above) and his works in LACMA’s collection (below), you can easily see how this work is adverse to its environment of approximately 600 green acres—the oldest park in the city.


I was wondering how this installation could connect with its surroundings in a large verdant park until I saw this picture of the installation from Metromix’s website:

Photo by Sophia Kercher

Taken from the viewpoint on the path leading toward the installation, the shapes of the columns bear a striking resemblance to the streamlined landscape in the background. The installation encapsulates a palm tree as one of its columns; to me it’s a work that defines Los Angeles as a metropolis built among its natural geography. Atop Angels Point, the hills, valleys, and man-made constructions are all within sight. The chairs Shire designed underneath the installation command panoramic views of Dodger Stadium, the downtown skyline, and the Hollywood Hills in the distance-a well-commemorated spot for taking in L.A.’s urban and natural vistas.

Devi Noor

The View from Up Here

January 27, 2009

91, 92, 93… No, I’m not counting early Renaissance paintings or even the number of lampposts that make Chris Burden’s Urban Light. I’m counting stairs; doing what I call my daily BCAM Climb. In an attempt to add some exercise to my day I’ve taken to walking up and down BCAM’s red staircase—”the spider,” as architect Renzo Piano calls it. Sometimes I’m surpassed by another stair runner. Only she is dressed in spandex, which reveals clearly that she is not escaping her LACMA cubicle like I am; she actually came to the museum to exercise.

At dawn Boot Camp uses the museum’s grounds as a gym, and SAG employees, on their lunch break, speed-walk through the campus. Even dogs come to LACMA to exercise as part of their daily routine—their leash holders cutting through the BP Grand Entrance. Is LACMA not just a purveyor of art and culture, but the newest mid-city gym? Maybe town square is a better description than gym because people are here for all kinds of reasons. You can hear bagpipes mid-day (the first time I heard the pipes I thought Molly Malone’s was promoting a lunch special, but actually this daily occurrence is a woman just practicing her passion), and on Sundays, on the periphery of families making art at family day, there is the singles’ group that meets for coffee and bagels on the plaza. If you make it to the top of BCAM, there are 100 steps, and an incredible view. From there you can see it all.

Karen Satzman, Manager of Art Classes and Family Programs

Cars of Two Germanys

January 26, 2009

I drive through Beverly Hills on the way to work and, as a car fanatic, am dazzled by what I encounter—multiple Phantoms a day (not my style but still…), Ferraris left and right, and a seemingly endless, silver stream of Mercedes and BMWs. But what you don’t often see, even in this great car capital, are the little gems pictured above. (And they are little—the BMW measures 55 x 54 x 95 in.) Curator Stephanie Barron has installed them in the BP Grand Entrance for a limited, two week run, to introduce East and West German material culture to visitors before they enter Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures, which opened yesterday.


The 1969 VW Beetle (called a Käfer in Germany) and the 1956 BMW Isetta were borrowed from our neighbors at the Petersen Automotive Museum. The East German Trabant was much harder to come by though, even in its time—the East Germans coveted the car and it had a very long waiting list. After doing a bit of research, we found one made in 1972 belonging to artist Richard Jackson, who kindly loaned it to LACMA. Take an especially close look at the Trabant when you’re here; it’s spattered with black paint as a result of being stored in Jackson’s studio.

Allison Agsten

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