Category Archives: So Cal

[LA Life] Getting Artsy at ARTIC

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“Time goes faster the more hollow it is.
Lives with no meaning go straight past you,
like trains that don’t stop at your station.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

One of my favorite things about photography is the belief that each and every one of us views the world through their own technicolor lens. We all see different shades of beauty in the world, and photography gives a keen insight into the way that each person’s visual interpretations can differ.

To say that I have an obsession with beautifully unique architecture and lavish locations is a bit of an understatement.  My wanderlust propels me to constantly explore, adventure and discover each and every corner of the world, but mostly – my own backyard of Southern California. Boasting a beautiful menagerie of natural settings, from the diamond blue oceans of the Pacific to the snow-capped mountains, fields of flowers and the deserts between, California’s got a little bit of everything for every type of nature lover. So, when I tell you that for the past year I’ve been itching to go take pictures of a Transit station, you might not get it – until you see for yourself. Ever since Instagram introduced their geotagging feature a few years ago, I’ve been building, developing and adding to an epically long list of places I want to frolick around like a little fairy, or at the very least photographically capture them to my heart’s desire. And one of the very first places on that list was ARTIC, otherwise known as the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center.

Located part way between Angel’s Stadium and the Honda Center, ARTIC was unveiled to the public in December of 2014. Depending on who you ask it’s, the venue itself is either $188 Million Dollar drain, or a photographer’s wet dream with great lighting, lots of color, loads of reflections and a whole lot of symmetry. Since I don’t live in Anaheim, I’ll go with the later – but after visiting, I definitely understand the former as well.

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Even though I’d permanent markered ARTIC into a list of epic, must-shoot places, it was purely a beautiful coincidence that I happened across it.  Just the other weekend, I was down in Anaheim with Danny to handle some family business.  We were getting a bit famished and my craving for happy hour oysters had set our hungry kitty sights on Oyster Bar SKC.  As we pulled into our parking spot, the technicolor haze of lights inside ARTIC danced across the sky and I felt like a little kid that just got to the amusement park.  Words spilled out of my mouth as I bubbled over with excitement as we walked between the Palm Trees, underneath ARTIC’s rainbow ceiling, and into a technicolor daydream.

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Come for the pictures, stay for the oysters. Currently, there are plans to build a Pinkberry on the first floor of ARTIC – but until then, the one tried and true food favorite is the Oyster Bar SKC which boasts $1 oysters during happy hour, half-off appetizers and beer as well as some of the most delicious drinks I’ve had in recent months.If you’re a fan of the venue but don’t live nearby, you’re in luck because Oyster Bar SKC is opening a second location down in sunny San Diego, with a third in the works just around the corner from Los Angeles in Pasadena. Though there aren’t very many reasons to visit ARTIC, there are definitely a few – catch a baseball game at Angels’ Stadium or catch a concert at the Honda Center, Chapman University and Disneyland are also just a little jaunt away.

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For more on ARTIC, head to their socials, browse through my favorite photos – or just jump on the local transit lie and take a little trip – I promise you, it’s so worth it.

ARTIC on Instagram

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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First and Last Photos by Daniel Leist Photography

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[LA Life] Get Your Culture On With Summer Happenings at The Broad

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As someone who admittedly understands most other forms of art – the written word, music, architecture, plays, musicals, theater, opera, film and dance – over the sculpted, drawn or painted variety, some of their mystique, culture and history had always escaped me.  But, the good news – I’m definitely not beyond reproach and have maintained both an open mind and heart to see what truly moves me.   Growing up in the Bay Area, we visited Science Museums, Botanical Gardens and open spaces from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, and all areas in between – but visiting a museum and looking at art was never in the cards.

Once I moved to Los Angeles and fully grasped how much culture was oozing out of the concrete jungle of our city, I started to get the itch for new and different types of art.  The LACMA, the Getty and the Getty Villa are all so unique in what they offer.  I’m a little biased because I was at the LACMA for the Tim Burton exhibit, but that was ghoulishly fantastic.  I find myself constantly drooling over the Grecian Architecture and landscaping of the Getty Villa, while the Gardens of the Getty are something entirely special to behold.  But the irony, was that I didn’t fall in love with art in Los Angeles.  I fell in love while I was in the South, in the depths of Arkansas on a work trip.  I’d done some remedial research before the flight and discovered the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art – a beautiful museum tucked deep into the town of Bentonville.  Beyond the stunning architectural design, this was the first time I was truly moved by Norman Rockwell’s canvases and Andy Warhol’s paintings.  Once I planted myself back in Los Angeles, I had a new outlook on the artistic endeavors around the city and as well as a new willingness to explore every niche genre of it.

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Ever since word got out last year that a new modern and contemporary art museum would be placed smack dab in the center of Downtown Los Angeles, I was intrigued at what they would have to offer Then, when the architectural design for the venue finally went up – I was absolutely enthralled.  So when I finally had the chance to visit The Broad with Danny this past weekend for their Nonobject(ive) Summer Happenings, I was over the moon excited and absolutely jumped at the chance.

The Broad, Los Angeles’ newest museum, opened just last September to fill some contemporary art chasm that vast amounts of local and street art couldn’t. Founded and funded by the esteemed Eli and Edythe Broad, the 120,000 square foot venue was immaculately designed by the combined brainpower of Renfro, Diller Scofidio and Gensler, and boasts over 2,000 prominent paintings and pieces of art distributed between it’s two floors of gallery space.   But when their Summer Happenings swing into bloom, the outdoor courtyard becomes transfixed into an open air concert venue with stunning acoustics against the textured exterior of the building while the insides are engaged in spoken word and performance art while attendees ebb and flow through the first special exhibition at The Broad, Cindy Sherman’s Imitation of LifeThough some of the performances this past weekend were a tad lacking – Sky Ferria’s DJ Set, I’m looking at you – it was a wonderful reason for my first visit.

Though I did enjoy bits and pieces of the museum, there was a large portion that felt like a multimedia smorgasborg and sensory overload. Swimming through troves of hipsters sipping on the latest fads and latest drinks, it was hard to actually get some breathing room regardless of if you were in the middle of the crowd during one of the many performance pieces or simply observing a piece of art.   As expected, the pop art from Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol colored me moved; but more than that, I also discovered new art and artists that I appreciated.

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I  found the emotive work of Jean-Michel Basquiat to be pulling at my heart strings, and I fell in love with the work of Takashi Murakami – both Of Chinese Lions, Peonies, Skulls, And Fountains as well as the detailed, grand and inspiring In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow (above). Standing 82′ in length, I could’ve spent an entire day analyzing the vibrant colors and intricacies within it. And who doesn’t adore neon, or vibrant, shiny, gigantically fake balloon animals – so, those were cool too, I guess.

The great thing about art, is it’s all subjective – the real question is: are you moved enough to feel – something, anything?  Maybe, just maybe, certain forms of art just aren’t my thing, maybe I need to go back on a day where I can move like molasses between rooms, taking ten, fifteen minutes to digest the art…or maybe I just wasn’t high enough; either, or. Whichever. The good news is that I’ll keep digesting the world around my like I’m at a buffet, and eventually – I’ll have my just desserts.

If you’re interested in getting attending the Nonobject(ive) Summer Happenings, you have two chances left! Tickets for the penultimate event on 8/20 with Rostam and Sparkle Vision are available here.  The final showing lands on September 24th with Sophie and Vessel, tickets go on sale August 15th. Or, if you’d like a more laidback and relaxed visit, visit online and reserve your spot. Admission is free to the general public unless there’s a special event, but that wait list is legendary.

For more about The Broad Museum and their contemporary collection of art, head to their site and socials –

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



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[Oh, Snap] An Adventure Down The Gabba Gallery’s Animal Alley

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Hints of them are creeping around corners, lurking between alleyways while beautifying the backside of buildings, casually creating a sensation while transforming the world.   Some adorn the sides of old train cars or the underside of bridges, and others are more purposely placed, adding character to the communities around them with technicolor trickery and awe inspiring art work.

At this point, I have a pretty long list of my favorite things about Los Angeles  – but the art here is definitely one of them. This city is literally swimming in a sea of immensely talented artists that use a multitude of mediums, from lights to sculpture, mixed media, dance, theater and more but I’ve realized in the last five years that by in large when it comes to the types of art I truly enjoy – I have hearts for eyes for architecture and Graffiti. The creativity within the community bubbles over effervescently, adorning buildings in a similar tone to the hieroglyphs to ancient Egyptians, with a menagerie of talented artists with unique styles, focusing on spirituality, humanism, perspective and mountains of wisdom.

Back when I lived over in the Miracle Mile and Fairfax District, I was what I’d consider artistically spoiled: the alleyways behind the sorted shops all along Melrose and the Fame Yard sponsored by SportieLA boasted a bevvy of newly commissioned artwork, and I loved the juxtaposition of high end retail (well, let’s be honest…Melrose is pretty much every type of Retail) against a rich cacophony of freshly painted art.  The art scene was so big over there that you would see paintings that honestly looked like those huge plastered billboards on the wall across from Fairfax High School (/ and the Melrose Trading Post); but once you got up close and incredibly personal with the wall, you’d see the intricate details in their labor of love and realize how much raw talent went into it’s creation.

This past weekend with Daylight Savings Time rearing it’s incredibly stupid head, Danny and I took it upon ourselves to get into the mood by diving into one of my favorite seasonal rituals, Spring Cleaning. We went through each and every nook and crany of our apartment, and ended up donated or throwing away roughly 30% of what was in our closets!  On our way back from a quick jaunt to Koreatown, we realized we were right by The Gabba Gallery, which has been this proverbial, mythical creature of an art gallery to me.

Curated in tandem by gallery owner Jason Ostro and gallery manager Elena Jacobson, The Gabba Gallery plays host to talented local, national and internationally respected contemporary artists, honing in on the modernization of art through photography, sculpture, collage, mixed media, fine art, street art and design. You never know what you’re going to find at The Gabba Gallery, especially when you don’t even know it’s hours.  Right.  As it turns out, the venue opens for showings but doesn’t keep normal “9-5” hours every day of the week. After a bit of research, it looks like the Gallery is open either by appointment or by exhibit opening; so, there’s that.   The good news, is that right around the corner was an awe inspiring amount of art to explore in the freshly painted offshoot of The Gabba Gallery – Animal Alley!

Adorning the alleyways in Echo Park between Beverly, N Vendome and N Dillon St, Animal Alley is a collaborative public art installation that contains upwards of 80 murals by over 50 different artists.   The project has been underway since April of 2015 and finally came to completion this past December, featuring a wide variety of animal inspired artwork around each and every corner.

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For more on The Gabba Gallery, head to their socials:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Yelp | Tumblr

If you’d like to head straight to Animal Alley:

[Oh, Snap] Project Survival’s Cat Haven: Lions, and Tigers, and Cheetahs – Oh, My!

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When I was three years old, I baffled my parents when I started mumbling the phrase ‘fully textured for cats’, when I was in 5th grade I did a report on the history of cats, I used to have grandiose dreams of owning a Bengal Tiger a la Jasmine from Aladdin, and yes, in fact, I have been to a cat show.  If you’ve been privy to this blog for more than a few months, then you most likely have seen the multiple barrages of adorable kitty pictures and know that I’m currently a proud owner of four little fur babies – Stella, Daisy, Loki and Marley.  Cat lady supreme? It’s debatable, but yes – big or small, young or old, fluffy, puffy, plush and everything in between – I definitely have love for all the kitties. So, when my fiance told me there was a large cat sanctuary near where we were vacationing this past weekend, I couldn’t help but squeal like a little school girl.

On Saturday morning – or as I prefer: Caturday morning – we packed our bags and hit the road to the gorgeous and awe inspiring Sequoia National Forest but before we did we made a special pit stop in a sleepy town called Dunlap to prowl around Project Survival’s Cat Haven.  Sitting on 100 acres of sprawling wilderness, the PS Cat Haven has been working diligently towards large cat conservation and education since 1993. Founded by Dale Anderson, the site is host to a wide variety of cats – from Lions, Lynx, Amur Tigers, Cheetahs, Bobcats, Servals, Lions and a stunning White Bengal Tiger

If you feel anything like I do about Seaworld and most Zoos, than you’ll understand that in the beginning it might be hard to see the animals in the size of cages that they’re in. But, please know the cages are held to regulation and there were several decommissioned areas based on the same principal.  Not only that, but the animals receive daily enrichment – a fancy word for boxes, treats and toys – hunks of meat and have an outdoor playpen to roam around in, and for a few of the litters of animals – potentially even a playmate.Now, I wasn’t able to get too close to get a picture (and rightfully so, with the cages and barriers), but these are some of the beauties that I fell whiskers over paws for.

Rose and Samba were a pair of Jaguar sisters, and completely playful and adorable – their only competition was Nacho and Libre, who turned out to be their brothers for a little a few years later! And of course, I loved the White Bengal tiger!

For being a tried and true cat lover, I actually learned a lot – but there were two fun feline facts that stood out to me…

For all us cat lovers that sit there and talk to our cats, did you know: cats that purr can’t roar, and cats that roar can’t purr.  Your felines vocal proclivities are driven by a bone at the back of their throat, the more rigid the bone – the more of a Roar!

Secondly, the Panther is a misnomer – Panthers are melanistic leopards and jaguars. Melanism is a recessive genetic phenotype that occurs in a small variety of animals, and is why we get the elusive black flamingo, black wolves, black snakes and black squirrels and ‘black panthers’.  In most cases, this was an adaptive trait to help the species survive over time.

In large cats, this happens within the ‘Agouti Gene’ and results in various species – like leopards, bobcats, servals, and jaguars – presenting with darker pigment in the normally orange areas.Though they look black from afar, the result is that deliciously chocolate brown coat with even darker markings that “Black Panthers” are known for.   On the flip side, this gene doesn’t present in domestic cats – meaning your elegant black house cat really is black.

For more about Project Survival Cat Haven, head to their website or socials:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Yelp

To Donate to their cause, head here! | Adopt a Cat from PS Cat Haven

[Oh, Snap] Eagle Rockin’ and Eagle Walkin’ v9

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Over the last few days, the air has been vibrant with floral fragrances and the coquettish dancing of birds, bees and butterflies while temperatures have sky rocketed back into the 90s.  No, Summer isn’t quick on our heals and Spring isn’t exactly just around the corner – it’s simply another mid-February heat wave in Los Angeles.  Half my mind is wrapped up in the sheer beauty of nature right now, while the other bemoans the fact we haven’t had a good rain in quite some time.

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The year itself is accelerating at a rapid pace, while a proverbial bullet train of emotions, feelings and thoughts trace geometric patterns in my mind.  I’ve had friendships ebb and flow as trust has been simultaneously instilled in and and removed from those who have one way or another, proven themselves to me.  I refuse to be sad or remorseful over the loss of people in my life – while intentional or not, the lessons that I’ve learned and the mechanisms that have inspired my maturity and growth are tantamount to my self understanding in the same way that the love, support and friendship of others have lifted my spirits.  As with pulsating tidal waves on a brilliant seashore, the push and pull are one in the same and it’s the totality of myself that I’m truly in awe of at this point.  The resilient, bounce back of personality and perseverance of passion – it hasn’t left, instead the flames have been fanned higher.

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[LA Life] Downtown Goes Dapper For A Night On Broadway

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Last weekend as the threat imminent downpour loomed over the quite literal horizon, we decided to throw caution to the wind as we got dolled up and dappered out for a ‘Night on Broadway.‘ A party with a purpose, the second annual event sprawled through the stunning cityscape of Downtown Los Angeles and into the historic Broadway District.

Commencing back in 2008 under the guidance of L.A. City Council member José Huizar, Bringing Back Broadway set its sights on reinvigorating the entire outlying area, from the preservation and display of the old school neon signs to re-opening doors to awe inspiring theaters, bringing back the fabled streetcar and even the relatively new facade lighting brought onto Broadway in 2013.  A chip off of the ‘Bringing Back Broadway’ initiative block, the second annual ‘Night on Broadway‘  is designed to restore a variety old theaters in the fabled Broadway district and reinvigorate local interest in the art, music, culture and community of the area.

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Revelers are encouraged join in the shenanigans surrounded by the amazing architecture and interior design of theaters from The Palace to The Los Angeles Theater, The Ace Hotel and The Globe.  Festivites included a brains to brawns chess and boxing match, a wide variety of interactive street art, comedy from Reggie Watts, my personal highlight, Rebel Bingo, and last but most definitely not least live music and entertainment and even some of the local talent, like Skrillex from both the OWSLA and Mad Decent imprints, plus hourly performances from city’s very own electric and eclectic avant garde performance troupe Lucent Dossier Experience (which was a serendipitous treat in itself considering a friend of mine had landed himself DJ duties at the same stage for the night).

Don’t fret if you missed out on all the fun, because one of my favorite things about the city of angels is there’s simply always something stunning to do about town, and half of them are free! But, if you’re feeling the festive FOMO, make a calendar reminder and don’t forget to catch Night on Broadway next year in Downtown Los Angeles when it returns on Saturday, January 28th 2017.  For more about the city’s famed ‘Night on Broadway’ event or Bringing Back Broadway initiative, head to their website or socials –

Night on Broadway: Website

Bringing Back Broadway: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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[Oh, Snap] A Rainy Day Stroll Through Pasadena’s Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden

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On some rainy days, the words I’ve failed to say fall from the sky while nostalgia soaks into the damp city streets. Yet in absolute dichotomy, on others I wake up in a whimsical whirlwind, wrapped in wanderlust and yearning for an adventure.  With a fantastic evening roaming through downtown Los Angeles for their second annual Night on Broadway (more on that later!) under our belts, Sunday Funday was most definitely on the menu and I was hungry for an escapade in nature.

When the Storrier Stearns Garden announced they’d be adding more days for the public, I just couldn’t help myself a bought us some tickets to check it out and yesterday was finally the day.  I went to bed over the moon excited, because truth be told I’d been trying for years, but only being open once a month had severely limited my opportunities. A few years ago, Danny and I adventured to the Arlington Gardens across the street and wistfully wondered what was kept hidden so secret behind the chain link fence and yesterday, we finally had our chance to find out so that morning, when I woke up with blustery weather and grey skies, I vowed to not let it stop the fun.

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Created back in 1935 by the esteemed Kinzuchi Fujii, the historic Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden is a beautiful hidden gem tucked away in the heart of Pasadena.  Built on the estate of Charles and Ellamae Storrier Stearns, the gardens span two acres and includes several ponds connected by crooked bridges with coy fish peacefully swimming to and fro, a formal teahouse, and numerous places to sit back, relax and enjoy the venue.

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After a blustery beginning and some torrential downfall, the sun broke through turbulent layers of high velocity clouds and gave way to a stunning afternoon that was spent in relative solitude. Slowly and gleefully, we roamed around the unique grounds in zenlike observation.

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While talking with one of the curators of the grounds, we learned the reasoning behind crooked bridges in Japanese culture.  As legend has it, evil spirits can only go in straight lines – so if you’re ever being chased by a spirit, head to one of the fabled zig-zag bridges bridge and they’ll  be propelled into the water.

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Revered for being the last remaining minor Japanese Garden created for residential purposes in Southern California before World War II, the Storrier Stearns garden is also the last remaining garden crafted by Fujii, who was responsible for a handful of Japanese landscapes across Southern California in the early 20th century.  After Ellamae Storrier Stearns passed on in 1949, the entire estate was sold at auction to art and antiquities dealer Gamelia Hadadd Poulsen.  Over the next decade, Poulsen sold off most of the estate less the Japanese Garden and by 1975, CalTrans had bought up property surrounding the gardens in hopes of building an extension of the 710 freeway directly through the garden.  After visiting yesterday, I’m so grateful they didn’t!

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The gardens underwent a stunning restoration first in the 80’s when the garden was passed on within the Haddad family and then again under the hands of Dr.Takeo Uesugi from 2007 to 2013, transforming it into the tranquil piece of paradise that it is today. For the last several years, the garden was only available on a once a month basis – which typically had sold out far ahead of time; trust me on this; I’ve had firsthand experience with not getting tickets.  But, just this year the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden has expanded it’s availability with openings every Thursday from 10 to 4pm, as well as the last Sunday of the month like old times. Tickets are available on PayPal through their website for $7.50 a piece, and can be purchased for $10 at the door if you’re feeling lucky.

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For more on the gardens, take a peak on social media –

Website | Facebook |  LinkedIn

 

Location270 Arlington Drive
Pasadena, California 91105