Tag Archives: Art

[Traveling Tales] The Surreal Scenery of Salvation Mountain + East Jesus

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Tucked away in a small sleepy corner of California just East of the Salton Sea sits not just one but two of the most beautifully bizarre man-made areas I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.  The stores and fables of Salvation Mountain and East Jesus have intrigued me ever since I moved to Los Angeles almost a decade ago, but it wasn’t until last weekend that I finally witnessed the oozing creativity for myself.  One second, you’re taking a dusty road off the beaten path, in what feels like the proverbial middle of nowhere: you’re off the grid and surrounded by a sweeping desert landscape of BLM land with scattered mountain ranges.  All of a sudden, you see it – and once found you absolutely can’t miss it: a brightly painted surreal scene that felt born of Dali and Dr Seuss.

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First created back in 1984, Salvation Mountain is an otherworldly artistic expression from area local Leonard Knight.  Recognized by the Folk Society of America as a “folk art site worth protection” back in 2000, the mountain itself is ever evolving – with volunteers flocking to the mountain the first Saturday of every month with their buckets of paint, ready to pour themselves into Leonard’s vision.  My personal favorite part?  There’s cats – eight of them, to be exact, and they’re so freaking adorable roaming the yellow brick road. Let your wanderlust carry you to the top of the mountain, and don’t forget to take in the vibrant colors that are dancing around you.  Saunter off to the right of the main hill, and you’ll find multiple nooks and chaotic crannies littered with bible verses, prayers, religious sentiment and offerings. All around the outskirts of the mountain are refurbished cars, embellished with impeccable detail and design.If you couldn’t get enough of Salvation Mountain, just you wait until you get into Slab City and East Jesus.

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The best way I can describe East Jesus: think of it as a retirement center for Burning Man art, and maybe even burners as well.  The area itself is so off the grid that one truly could create a year round community built on the ethos of Burning Man – and indeed, some have: Slab City itself is considered a sparse ‘snowbird’ community –  no running water, no food, no amenities – meaning residents are forced to be radically self reliant within it.  If it’s chaos, then it’s the most controlled version of chaos I’ve ever seen – there are blocks, addresses and streets, basic societal infrastructure…just without the rest of society. It really makes you think about the bare minimum you would need to be content, and how magically creative you could be as you create your own world.  Built on top of a Camp Dunlap, a de facto military base that was dismantled at the end of World War II, Slab City was named for the literal ‘slabs’ that were left over – using them to create their city.

Last, but certainly not least, my favorite part: East Jesus.  I’m pretty sure I could get lost inside their art garden and I’m 1000% alright with that.  The art inside is made completely from repurposed and upcycled materials.  Ever evolving and interactive, there’s treehouses to climb, outdoor bowling, the craziest sculptures built out of seriously who knows what, and so very much more.

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There’s not only something to look at around every corner, but something to make your head spin just a little bit, maybe even enough to spark a conversation with a stranger. Hands down, Slab City, Salvation Mountain and East Jesus are roadtrip destination worthy of being on everyone’s bucket list.

For more photos, head to my album here.

For more, head to their socials – or just plan your next visit!

East Jesus: WebsiteFacebook  | Instagram | Twitter  

Salvation Mountain: Website | Facebook

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[LA Life] Lunchtime Libations at the LACMA

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Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Moving to a new city after college is equal parts exhilarating and exhausting, it’s a fresh start for a mature mind and a time and place when one truly comes into their own.  The sights, sounds, and even smells surrounding you become synonymous with your new life as you breathe in the sunshine and the nightlife day after day.  From live concerts, music festivals, and food trucks to the museums, art galleries and art walks, Los Angeles offers a little bit of everything for the creative spirit. Here we have me, eight years in and a bit stagnant, for lack of a better word.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy what the city has to offer, but live here – or really anywhere – for long enough and you’ll  begin to take the things that initially made your city so grand for granted.  Unique locations like Hollywood and Highland, Venice, and Santa Monica lose their glittering grandeur and you’ll begin to curse the overcrowded freeway system instead of being enthralled by the distance from the snow to the sand, or the multitudes of live music venues and museums scattered around each and every nook of town. The arts offer us emotional relief and right now with everything going on politically it’s more important than ever that we all support our local galleries and museums.

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Art and I have slowly but surely been coming to terms with each other. A self professed audiophile and lover of the arts, some specific fine arts like painting, portraiture, sculpting and drawing have been slow but sure to tickle my fancy in recent years.  The more I see that the art world isn’t just full of lackluster landscapes and stuffy old people in silly clothing, but enamored scenes, surreal sculptures and peculiar pieces – the more I’ve come around.  It’s taken a while to figure out which museums I should visit and which I might want to avoid, but the LACMA has a bit of everything for all, and amazing architecture to boot.

Initially part of the menagerie of museums at Exposition Park that were established in 1910, the LACMA broke off from the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art in 1961 to give proper focus to the fine arts at a separate location and they opened their doors to the public back in 1965.  Now celebrating over fifty years of the arts, the LACMA currently sits on twenty sprawling acres of land in the Miracle Mile area and has been a staple of artistic culture in Los Angeles ever since. Boasting a collection of over 130,000 works ranging from ancient art and antiquity to the contemporary art of now, the LACMA stands proudly as the West Coast’s largest art museum.

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Located on a conjoined lot with the Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits, the LACMA complex consists of eight separate buildings and a sprawling green lawn, perfect for picnics.  The Ahmanson Building houses the Art of the Pacific, the Rifkind Gallery for German Expressionists,  Islamic, Asian and European Art, and Art of the Ancient World which is also hosted in the Hammer Building along with Korean and Chinese Art.  The Pavilion for Japanese Art and Art of the Americas buildings need no further introduction while the Broad Contemporary Art Museum boasts paid exhibits, such as the Piacsso and Rivera Exhibition ‘Conversations Through Time’, an oddly immersive exhibit on the first floor and several areas devoted to contemporary collections.

 

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

For the multitudes of art that I find myself enamored by inside the LACMA, there are an equal number of awe inspiring architectural marvels and sculptures scattered around the grounds.  One of the most popular is the ‘Levitated Mass’on the Fairfax side of the park, and the La Brea Tar Pits make for a fun history lesson, irregardless of your age.  Not to mention, the Pavilion for Japanese Art oozes with incredible design that winds and weaves up and into the sky.

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

 

Open during the week from 11 to 5pm and weekends from 10 to 7, the LACMA has some fantastic food options. For lunch, there are always a bevvy of food trucks right across the way from the LACMA as well as some wonderful options within walking distance, including The Grove, and the Beverly + Fairfax Area.  For a grab-and-go lunch on site, head to the LACMA Cafe,  But if you’re down to lounge lavishly on the patio and people watch in comfort, then head on down to Roy’s and the Stark Bar. Yes, it’s a bit on the pricy side – but why not just pop in for a tasty beverage and a few sharable plates?  My recommendation is an Urban Light drink with their Yellowtail Crudo, and then thank me later.

For more on the LACMA, head to their socials – or take a leisurely stroll into Los Angeles’ magical Miracle Mile area and see the museum for yourself.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

Lounge Lavishly at the LACMA

[The Audiofiles] Enter The Intersection of Music and Art with’Life is Beautiful’ Visual Artists Charlotte Dutoit and Felipe Pantone

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For centuries, the idea of festival has conjured up ideas of celebration and admiration, overflowing happiness and dexterity among the arts; a literal feast for all of the senses. As the fine arts circle and intertwine with each other, there’s been an innate, inexplicable tie between music and the arts. Both works of passion, music paints our auditory experience in much the same way that a painter, sculptor or designer creates in the physical world. This year at Las Vegas’ fabled Life is Beautiful Festival, witness firsthand how music and art intersect on a higher plane.

Purchase Tickets for Life is Beautiful

Landing on the strip this weekend from September 23rd through the 25th, Life is Beautiful is back for their fourth consecutive year. In addition to an internationally respected group of musical acts across the breadth of the spectrum from Bassnectar, Flume, Major Lazer, Bob Moses, Chromeo, Zhu, Crystal Castles and so many more- the festival plays host to equally talented visual artists.   Curated and commissioned by the esteemed mind of Charlotte Dutoit, founder of the JUSTKIDS organization, Life is Beautiful has blossomed into a mecca for world renowned visual artists, featuring murals and installations from all over the globe as well. This weekend’s event will be highlighted by art tycoons including US grown Shepard Fairey of “Obey Giant” fame and Tristan Eaton, while corners of the globe from France, Japan, Spain, Norway, Poland and Argentina are represented with works from Fafi, Mark Drew, Dulk, Bezt from Etam Cru, Martin Whatson and Felipe Pantone respectively.

We were lucky enough to catch up with visionary mastermind Charlotte Dutoit and the kinetic contemporary magnate Felipe Pantone on their craft and influences, the creative process, music, art and all things in betwixt.

The head honcho on the art scene for Life is Beautiful, Charlotte Dutoit has perfected the art of curation. Charlotte has been with Life is Beautiful since its inception four years ago, applying her taste-making abilities to both the murals and installations programs. As founder of the JustKids organization, Charlotte has now even curated people – bringing together an exceptional network of otherworldly creatives, artists, designers and art consultants to collaborate on gallery shows and spaces for high profile clients.  Charlotte has created and designed spaces at first class US festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas and Coachella, internationally acclaimed events in Mexico, Puerto Rico and Berlin’s Urban Nation, not to mention – producing proper gallery shows in Puerto Rico, London, and Berlin.

What goes into curating a large scale event like Life is Beautiful?

Life Is beautiful takes almost a year of preparation. My job ranges from artistic visioning to hands on delivery. It includes the conception of the lineup, the team recruiting and supervision, the locations choice, the equipment and material logistic, the planning, the designing, the marketing, merchandising etc. Of course I am not alone, Life Is Beautiful is a perfect example of a spectacular team work. It’s a collaboration between very specific and specialized talents, and we learn a lot from each other every year.

If we took a walk into your home right now, whose art will we find?

Mostly new Contemporary Artist such as Borondo, Roa, Dates Farmers, Patrick Martinez, Daniel Arsham, Bicicleta Sem Freio, Alexis Diaz, Ana Maria, Saner, Cyrcle… And some Modern Artist like Carlos Cruz-Diaz.

What type of art do you find the most inspiring?

Art with a meaning, that provokes questions and challenges modern society and conventions. Art that brings new discussion toward the art.

Tell me a bit about the Justkids Organization, what drove you to create it and how does it inspire you?

Justkids is a creative house of artists, curators, art events creators and brand marketers. Together we produce, curate and manage art projects for institutions, cities, brands and private clientele. It’s a constant emulation between us and it’s allowed me to collaborate and work with the people I admire. That’s my fuel!

The Life is Beautiful Festival poses the perfect cohabitation of Live Art and Live Music; how does music inspire your work?

I am passionate about music since I was a kid. Actually, my first job in Paris was in the music production. So it’s of course it’s a pleasure to collaborate on a festival where the attendees are real music enthusiasts and culture lovers! Music is a source of inspiration and an infinite niche of references that I appreciate when I recognize them in art, could be in the aesthetic, in the message or in the attitude.

What’s your favorite genre of music?

Hip- Hop, Punk Rock, Electro, Folk…

Who’s in your headphones / stereo at the moment?

Kurt Vile

What’s the best live music show you’ve been to and how did that inspire you creatively?

Beastie Boys, Check Your Head Tour! It’s a piece of my childhood, the music I grew up on and I continue to listen. They brought so much coolness, new style and new energy that it’s a constant inspiration for me.

Which other artists on the lineup are you excited for?

Janes Addiction!

In the 21st century, it feels like everything is interconnected these days. How does social media enhance the artist experience and connect you to your fans (and peers)?

It’s a perfect to show a project from scratch to completion or to show the insight of our Art event. It’s also a good way to tell people where we are so the Art enthusiasts that live around can pass by to see it live. It’s a fantastic tool and we all took advantage of it to share on a global scene and it’s really worked for the Art.

As a writer, every once in a while I get writer’s block, and it comes with a pretty specific feeling attached. What does “curators block” feel like and how do you get over it?

It happens all the time and I have learned to deal with them now. It’s annoying when you have a dead-line but I don’t see block as a frozen state, they are entirely part of the creative process and the necessary space and breath to deliver the idea that will satisfy your goal and creativity.

 

Inspired to pick up a spray can at the ripe age of 12, Felipe Pantone firmly found his footing within the graffiti circuit and hasn’t looked back since.Currently a full time artist, Felipe crafts nearly 200 to 250 pieces a year between various mediums from graffiti and canvases to murals. Thematically, his work circles around modern methods of communication and the fast paced world we inhabit. Though you won’t be able to catch him personally at the festival, you’ll be able to marinate in the perspective shifting precision of his work. After Las Vegas he’ll be heading to Detroit, Tahiti, Mexico, Miami and finally back to Europe

 

What’s your preferred artistic medium and what other mediums do you dabble in. Will you be employing any new methods this event?

I always use spray paint. I studied fine arts so I learnt most of the common techniques and I figured that the best for me was the one that I started using as a kid to paint on walls. It’s the most versatile one. With the same tool I can paint from tiny little canvases to huge 10 stories walls. I’m trying something special for LIB, a sort of integration of my sculptural work with my mural.

When art is psychedelic and thought provoking, it deserves music that parallels – how does music influence your work?

I listen to music all the time when I’m working. From songwriters to indie when I’m at the studio, and electronic music mostly when I’m painting outside.

What influences the subject matter of your work?

I reflect on the present and the kind of life that I have. This feeling that a lot of people of my generation are experimenting nowadays. The fact that everything changes really quickly, that you can spend 12 hours on a plane and be on the other side of the planet, and still have a Skype meeting with you from. I try to live and understand the present through my work.

Would you say that your work fits into a particular art movement?

I’m part of the street-art scene since I come from painting on the streets. But street- art, if a movement, is a very loose one. There isn’t an ideology behind it. I wrote the “ULTRADYNAMIC MANIFESTO”, a new art movement, ha, ha. It was more like an exercise, trying to put on paper what I wanted to do. Of course I don’t follow it, I think these are times of dissolving tradition and staying away from collective thinking.

Have you ever done stage design, album, LP, EP or promo artwork for a musical artist? How does that collaboration process work?

I owned a records label for a little while. So I created art works and music videos for the artists. It was really cool since I had full control and they trusted me. I really enjoy these kind of collaborations when the musical artist control the music, and the visual artist control the visuals 🙂

What’s the last record your purchased?

Hmm, honestly it’s been a while. I have a Spotify subscription and I stream everything from there or Soundcloud. Probably the last album I bought is Tom Waits “Bad as Me”.

Who’s in your headphones / stereo at the moment?

El Último Vecino.

What’s the best live music show you’ve been to and how did that inspire you creatively?

I really enjoyed that Etienne de Crécy show where he played inside these big cubes and the projections were just amazing. I remember that being very inspiring.

As a writer, every once in a while I get writer’s block, and it comes with a pretty specific feeling attached. What does “artists block” feel like and how do you get over it?

I think that the more you do, the more creative you are, the more ideas you have, so I feel really good these days that I produce so much work. Always – something that you paint today inspires you for the next piece. When I get blocked, visiting museums and watching some of the masters’ works is really refreshing.

One thing I’ve found in life is the best things are usually shared; how do you feel about collaborating on your craft and how is the creative process enhanced when you’re surrounded by a collection of equally talented peers?

I have a couple of assistants and that makes things way easier. Somebody to share your concerns with, ask for second opinions… And of course also helps productivity wise and fun wise.

Make sure you give each area of the festival some proper attention, be prepared to be inspired and open your soul with every experience possible while at Life is Beautiful. For more on Charlotte, the JUSTKIDS Organization, Felipe Pantone and Life is Beautiful – head to their social media channels.

Charlotte Dutoit: Website  | Twitter | Instagram

JUSTKIDS: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Felipe PantoneWebsite | Facebook | Vimeo| Instagram

Life is Beautiful: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

 

 

 

[Tech Talk] Painting and Photography Collide with Prisma

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Have you ever wanted to marinate inside of a moment? Venture into mind melding visions of alternate realities while mediating comfortably in place? If you’re my kind of human, then you’re answer is undeniably, unequivocally – yes.  In my opinion, we’re all several shades of guilty – from real dreaming to daydreaming, and everything in between, as humans our escape fantasies eagerly, effortlessly and egregiously effuse from our souls like pheromones in search of a higher purpose, catalyzing creativity and breaking us free of old molds and mindsets.  To me, it’s part of the reason we create, coddle and crave the arts: through music, literature, art and theater – we discover new, previously hidden parts of our personalities while filling our soul with passion like a warm meal on a cold night.

Photography is an out of body experience where distortions of reality, mind melding visions of what’s possible and bends in time and space, painting – double so.  But unfortunately some of us (waves hand), weren’t blessed with a drawing gene or with a paintbrush in their hand  My stick figures are relatively lackluster and the cat face I’ve been trying to draw for the last 31 years hasn’t gotten much better. Suffice it to say, I’m in awe of true artistry when it comes to painting, drawing and all things in between and will try ad nauseam. So, when I caught wind of a photo app that alters your images with filters of popular artists – I was immediately sold; hook, line and sinker.

It’s happened before, and my heart swoons as it happens over, and over again: every once in a blue moon, a smart phone photography fad stops me dead in my tracks and requires hours of endless exploration.  Now that we’re 7 solid months into this year, I can safely proclaim that Prisma has been that app. Just a quick upload of a square sized photo (thank you, Instagram), and you’ll be on your way to fantastical results.  Once inside the app, Prisma applies an intricate and advanced learning algorithm to your photos that combines artificial intelligence with neural networks.  Basically, it’s like Deep Dream, Photoshop and Instagram had a psychedelic love child and it doesn’t matter if that last sentence made sense to you or not – because any way that cookie crumbles, the results are simply stunning.

Try on the tantalizing stylings of esteemed artists ranging from contemporary pop art legends Roy Litchenstein and Andy Warhol to classic stylings of Van Gaugh and Picasso, with detailed renderings that from a repository that looks like the lovechild of Android Jones art, fractals and street art.  There are also nods to artists such as Miyazaki, Kadinsky, Mucha, Chagall, Hokusai and Kadinsky – as well as eras of artistic prowess like Impressionism, Gothic Art, Manga, and more. Once your new work of art manifests in front of your eyes, you’ll have the option of taking the photo at 100 proof, or adjusting the edits down to a smaller scale.  If you just tap into your settings you can remove the watermark from the app, and last but certainly not least – it’s free! The only slight downfall of the application is the need to be connected to the Internet to query the algorithms to work – as the app gains popularity, the servers are also noticing a surge and have rendered themselves as over capacity; quick solution – just try, as try again – you’ll get through eventually!


From top, Left to Right: Tears, Urban, Tokyo, #GettUrban, Illegal Beauty, Dreams, Mononoke, Gothic, Curly Hair

My current favorite filters include Tokyo, Urban, and the Natalie Ratkovski-inspired Illegal Beauty – and I think I’ve even found a favorite way of manipulating the photos a second time using Instagram’s Layout app and creating a photo stack from the same image.  The results? All sorts of magical.

 

Did I pique your photography curiosity? i surely hope so, this is one of the most fun photography apps I’ve played with in a while – and admittedly, I play with a LOT!  The proof is in the blogged pudding, head here to check it out

Download for iOS | Download for Android

For fantastic edits and more information on Prisma, head to their website or social channels:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

[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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[LA Life] An Immersive + Artistic Dining Experience This Summer at Monkey Town

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Source: Monkey Town Website

This June marks my eighth year in Los Angeles, in eight years I’ve been here – I’ve become ‘more or less‘ well rounded – or so I’d like to believe.  Sure, I’ve finally visited another continent, and I’ve developed some new hobbies and honed in on a few skill sets; I’ve volunteered with animal shelters and around my neighborhood – but when it comes to entertainment, I can’t say that much has changed.  I still rock half the music I listened to back then, because have you listened to Boys Noize, Tiesto, Spor, Bassnectar, NERO or Ferry Corsten pre-2010; it’s utterly fantastic, right?! Needless to say – I landed in Los Angeles as I was falling in love with a music scene and eight years later, I’m up to my neck in it – listening with my robot ears as I take bits of bytes, eating, breathing and even sleeping music.

Working in the entertainment industry for the last five years, I’ve always had my ear to the ground, itching to learn about fringe events, off the grid happenings and underground souls.  For years, I’ve told my friends that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result, so here I am – ready to step out of my personally prescribed insanity and into something completely new. Thank goodness for serendipitous moments.  This morning, a post floated through my feed about a pop up experience in Downtown LA called Monkey Town, and I had to stop and take a gander.  A one of a kind intimate affair featuring immersive art, live entertainment and dining experience – Monkey Town is just what the doctor ordered, and it couldn’t come soon enough.

Photo: MonkeyTown NYC from Daniel Lober/Favoreat

Curated by Montgomery Knott in tandem with Lex Brown, Robert Crouch, Michael Smoller and Ricky Jonsson Jr and Kristen Brinshot og Ghosting.tv, Monkey Town has become a standing symbol of New York’s arts scene, spending a solid decade stimulating senses in the Big Apple before parting ways for Denver, Barcelona, and finally Austin earlier this year.   This Summer, the reverie is stopping by The Reef in Downtown Los Angles for the seventh, and final, edition of Monkey Town. From June 1st to October 1st, revelers will dine and dream with a two hour multi channel video program featuring over a dozen artists, live entertainment that changes weekly, a four or five star meal from a internationally renowned chef – from inside a massive 27 foot, white cube with the images projected on every side.  Oh yes, I said dinner and a show, with a delicious meal prepared by none other than Nick Montgomery, head chef at LA’s Osso  with stints at New York’s Momufuku and Chicago’s Blackbird.

Monkey Town LA — Summer 2016
By Montgomery Knott on Vimeo.

I’m not one to sleep on an awesome experience, and I’d rather be one of those people that gets to experience it while it’s novel instead of waiting to read the reviews and scrounging for tickets last minute (cough*The Broad*cough*) – so, Danny and I are going to a showing on Sunday, 6/5 at 6:30; it promises to be an excellent evening, I dare you to put on your big kid pants and come play.  Even better, for those that go in the first few weeks of June – you can save $20 a ticket, which at 45-65 a seat depending on the day is an absolute steal!  Simply use the code EARLY20 to save, the offer is valid until Thursday, 5/12 at Midnight.  If you’re in the mood for something new and on the prowl for something novel, jump the gun and by some tickets for the first two weeks; I mean, come on – have I ever steered you wrong?  Not to pull your chain, but – Monkey Town is actually closing after this run – that’s right, Monkey Town will be no more.  So don’t be a Monkey’s Uncle, do it right – and come be part of one of the best things to happen to the creative sphere.

Purchase Tickets Here

For more on Monkey Town and their three month pop up dining experience in Los Angeles, head to their website and socials.

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[Write On] Adventures in Literature: My 2015 Reading Challenge

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Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
[Mark Twain]

First things first, let me just drop this knowledge on you – Reading is Sexy; and don’t let a person tell you anything differently!  I don’t mean reading articles from HuffPo, Lost at E Minor, Mother Jones or Science Daily on your smart phone or tablet. I’m talking tangible, hold’em in your hand and smell the page; wafting in wanderlust and adventure, syllable after syllable; ending up in a world you couldn’t have imagined in your wildest dreams while you’ve stayed static, stuck on the couch with your head in the clouds. When I was younger, my appetite for literature was almost insufferable for my family – every meal, every car ride, every turn – there I was, ears billowing out hushed musical tones while my mind wandered feverishly through the chapters. 

As I grew older, I realized that my penchant for reading was only matched by my aptitude for math.  Over the course of several family reunions in Washington I was taught how to use long division and counted by powers of two to fall asleep. Nature and nurture seemed to have a field day when it came to determining my true passion in life – on one hand, I could eat, sleep and breathe data, numbers and patterns – there’s something so simple, so logical, so straightforward about the output of data. In a similar but opposite context, I love extrapolating on the English Language, enamoring my work with poetic justice and jubilant prose while challenging the definition of sentence structure and simile.  And let’s not forget, the joys of reading – of traveling infinitely inwards, shooting through the future and somersaulting through the past while staying firmly, yet delicately, in place.

It only makes sense through both nature and nurture.  As the granddaughter of one of the creators of the ENIAC and great granddaughter of one of the only female writer of the Harlem Renaissance, it makes all too much sense that I’d find a unique penchant for both and be able to put it to work. But that’s not to say that I don’t find myself getting writer’s block every now and again. In my last few years as music journalist for The DJ List, I’ve had the wonderfully unique opportunity to ask music professionals how they get over an uncreative slump –  they all tell me that fully immersing themselves in art has always worked the trick – and by in large, I absolutely agree. Both literature and music have a therapeutic, cathartic way of affecting my daily outlook, and my daily output.   Fully immersing myself in another persons passionate creative endeavor more than fuels my fire to foster new ideas, or simply push through and finish what I’ve started.  As far as my writing, personal, music blogging, gonzo journalism and the like are concerned – reading is by far the best way to expand my horizons on what I’m capable of, and the literature that already exists within the world.  Through proper perusal of passionate creations, I see ways that I can make my own more harmonic, melodic, whimsical and descriptive.

Last year, my best friend challenged me to find my Top Ten Works of Literary NonFiction and that was a wonderful blast from the past but truth be told, my reading has waned in the last decade. Since College has ended, I’ve been on a perpetual mission to educate myself – in any way possible, and books have done just that for me. To out myself now – Book Clubs don’t do much for me, except potentially give me a room of disappointed faces when I announce that I’ve read three different books that definitely were not assigned while I’ve definitely avoided what we were all told to read. I get reading inspiration from across the board and I have to admit that for the last few years, with the influx of all sorts of social media, my reading offline had fallen by the wayside – but I’ve taken a bold stand to that and say no more.

Amazon has a wonderful book buy-back (well, technically – it’s an “anything” buy-back program, but whatever) where you can get books for as little as 1¢ (plus Shipping, so 5 bucks total – which is still awesome!) that I’ve been (ab)using since college.  Like rare wildflowers, there’ve been an influx of lending libraries popping up around Los Angeles, as well as Corvallis where my family lives – and there’s a corner of my heart that’s infinitely happier for that. Beautiful bookstores, though few and far between, are havens of literature and apparently, actual Libraries still exist – and now you can rent CDs, DVDs, Blu Rays, Video Games and so much more than just books! On the flip side, if you’re looking to catalog your library or expand your literary horizons – I’m a huge fan of GoodReads, it’s basically the Facebook of reading; you can find your friends, explore authors and use your cell phone to barcode scan your bookshelves.  It’s a book nerds dream – and if you go on it, you should definitely add me!

For 2015, I’ve decided to inspire my creative side with a reading challenge and figured 25 books over the course of the year was doable.  Sure, I have to basically billow through a book biweekly – but with all the absent minded things I tend to do around my house, not to mention the bouts of latent lackadaisical laziness and semi-permanent procrastination due to writer’s block, and I could easily reach my goal; if not surpass it!  We’re just past

The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture, Matt RidleyThe Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture

In my personal opinion, science is one of the most beautiful subjects to write about – taking a process, breaking it down with language and reinforcing connection through poetic prose, symbolic symbolism and delicate diction.  In a sea of science authors, Matt Ridley stands out with other greats of our generation like Richard Dawkins, Oliver Sacks, Simon Singh and Brian Greene.  A personal fangirl of his writing since I was graduating High School in 2003, as a budding young biochemist at one point in my life I was enamored by books like Genome, The Red Queen Theory and The Origins of Virtue.  ‘The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns On Nurture’ is a wonderful encounter with ideals we’ve been familiar with grade school – except instead of pitting them against each other, Matt Ridley makes an excellent argument for how nature and nurture work in tandem to produce the genetic world in which we thrive.

The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness

The Joyous Cosmology, Alan Watts

I’ve been recommended various Alan Watts books over the years, but it took until the past month to finally get through one.  Taking into account how in love I was with Huxley‘s Doors of Perception and Pinchbeck‘s Breaking Open The Head, The Joyous Cosmology was a no-brainer first choice.

A lyrically written journey into the mind, Alan Watts impeccably conveys his journey into human consciousness, the ego and the psyche. A must read for anyone intent on exploring the bounds of the mind. Watts does poetic justice to moments where words typically won’t suffice, on a journey through the internal, mental and emotional manifestdestiny of the human race in the 21st century. And speaking of Watts and Huxley, while doing some research I found a wonderful interview from 1968 of Alan Watts and Laura Huxley, Aldous‘ late wife.

Vibrational Healing Through the Chakras: With Light, Color, Sound, Crystals, and Aromatherapy

Vibrational Healing Through the Chakras Joy Gardner

After experiencing a menagerie of types of healing and transformational moments at festivals along the West Coast, from Lightning in a Bottle to Shambhala Music Festival, I’ve been eager to learn some myself. During my first LIB, I watched as festies relaxed under billowing trees while a plethora of instruments were tuned around them and this past year, I watched as a sonic soundbath featuring tuning forks alleviated stress and relaxed my entire campsite.  In Canada, I had my chakras read and realigned by a happy camper, explaining beforehand that last year he set a personal record by reading the palms of 50 people – last year, he wanted to break 100.

It’s purported through ancient scripture that the universe is held together with vibration and sound, and the more I read into vibrational healing the more I truly understand what this means.

The Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science

The Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe, Michael Schenider 

This is my latest, and it’s a goodie. Mathematics is the language of the universe, and this wonderfully engaging and hands on approach from Michael Schenider is one of the best explanations of how math plays into the world as we currently know it.  From the formation of gems and minerals to hexagonal shape of beehives and formation of historic sculptures and art from sacred geometry, this is a must read for math people, and non-math people, alike.  Every chapter contains a section on how to construct various shapes like the platonic solids, promoting a beautiful discussion while delving into the history of our current numeric system.

My bookshelf is literally toppling over with reads, which makes me incredibly indecisive on what to pick up next.  I’ve been reading The Alchemist outloud with Danny and it’s brings a whole new element to the read, and on my own I’ve been itching to get through some Alan Watts books, as well as an Alex Grey book on The Mission of Art. What are your recommendations for my next read? What’s on your bookshelf that you just can’t wait to dive in to? Let me know in the comments below!