Tag Archives: Downtown Los Angeles

[LA Life] In That Moment, I Was Infinite: A Trip Through Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors at The Broad

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Yayoi Kusama x Infinity Room

My last few years in Los Angeles have elicited a mountain of personal growth and emotional change.  In a grand sense, I’ve finally discovered myself and understand my innate needs and wants – and in the most basic, I’ve fully enjoyed being myself within each and every moment.  Forever a city kitty by nurture, it turns out that I’m actually a little mountain lion by nature but the trick has been learning what keeps my soul level and balanced – a little bit of sunshine and landscapes here, some graffiti, city lights, music and art there.  The most amazing thing about living in Southern California, and especially Los Angeles, is the immediate access to both – sometimes even in the same day.  Just the other weekend, Danny and I took a cruise through the Angeles Crest Forest and grounded ourselves in the scenic beauty and amazing views, and this weekend we balanced it with now my favorite art exhibit I’ve ever been to – Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors at The Broad.

Yayoi Kusama x Infinity Room

Art does a lot of things for me, but above all it provides me a new, askew and different lens to observe the world through.  Whether it’s sculpture, watercolors, immersive art or sculptures – the best art forces me outside of myself to view the world from a birds eye view while diving further inside of myself in personal discovery; and I would absolutely include the Infinity Mirrors in that category.  A playful experience with color and perspective, Yayoi Kusama’s excellent creative eye has created a handful of unique environments that meld your minds and opens your eyes to a vibrant, multidimensional universe.

Yayoi Kusama x Infinity Room

Hailing from Nagano, Japan, Yayoi began playing with color and shapes when she was ten and it’s obvious that her love and creativity have only grown exponentially since.  Considered a forerunner to the Pop Art movement that cultivated  Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, Yayoi calls her unique process “Self Obliteration”.  An artist that’s as multidimensional as her work, Yayoi has foraryed from painting and watercolors to writing novels and poems, dabbling in fashion design and film direction.  Since 1963, she’s been recognized for her hypnotic and mesmerizing Mirror / Infinity Room environments.  Featured at international museums as both a traveling and permanent exhibit,  fans will be excited to know that the Yayoi Kusama has officially opened in Tokyo, Japan – if you’re up for the adventure.

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For now, Yayoi’s current works are being featured in a 50 year retrospective that’s on rotation between several museums across the United States.  Originally at Washington DC’s Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum + Sculpture Garden, the exhibit then traveled to the Seattle Art Museum over the Summer before landing at Los Angeles’s Broad Museum.  In March, Yayoi’s works will travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario and then finally land at the Cleveland Museum of Art in July of 2018.

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For me, this was an experience I absolutely had to document – from room to room, I was moved phenomenally and entranced by my surroundings.  But, I also put my phone down and just was wowed by it all – and I highly suggest both for you, too. Due to a high volume of interest there are no more reserved spots for the Infinity Mirrors – but the Broad Museum does offer standby tickets for those willing to wait.

For more about Yayoi Kusama‘s Infinity Mirrors, the Broad Museum and their contemporary collection of art, head to their site and socials –

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Yayoi Kusama x Infinity Room Untitled

Yayoi Kusama x Infinity Room Yayoi Kusama x Infinity Room

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[LA Life] Lunchtime Relaxation Along Echo Park Lake

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Arguably, one of the best things about Autumn and Winter in Southern California are that they feel like anything but.  Beyond an occasional fresh breath of brisk air around dusk, the sunshine is radiant, flowers are blooming around every corner and the parks around the city are bustling with an effervescent energy.  What I’ve discovered recently, is that no matter what part of Los Angeles you’re in – you’re never more than 10 minutes from a lovely and lush patch of park, if that.  And I would know – recently, I’ve started up (yet another) part time gig and it’s required me to be slightly more mobile than working from my home office, and I’ve found myself getting reacquainted with neighborhoods from Silver Lake to Echo Park, Los Feliz and Highland Park; mostly to do with the fact I’ve gotten lost more times than I’d like to admit.  One of the highlights to these recent roadtrips is roaming open space and breathing in the little treasures our city has to offer.

The great outdoors –  something that more often than not is taken for granted.  Did you know that for basically the entire time you’re working Monday through Friday, the sun is gallivanting through the sky, on a predictable yet beautiful path while it doles out showers of sunlight at every angle – even gracing us with technicolor beginnings and endings when we’re lucky enough to be in the right location?  Yet, for the most part – we’re inside, staring at a computer monitor, behind a desk, wearing a monkey suit and tap-tap-tapping away at our tasks until the sweet sensation of five o’clock rolls around.  Let’s be honest, that’s no way to live – so during lunchtime, do yourself a favor: get out, get moving, lap up some sun and reenergize your day the natural way.

Plants use sunlight do undergo photosynthesis, creating the oxygen that we breathe.  As humans, we don’t necessarily go through the same exact process – but sunlight clearly has it’s own set of health benefits.  Just a few minutes of sunlight has proven to improve mood by boosting levels of serotonin (have you ever visited Oregon in the Winter…?), and stimulating the body to produce Vitamin D, boosting health and the immune system. Plus, getting some exercise in the middle of your day is always a good call – a brisk walk might not be a run, but it’s not sitting on your ass at home, either.

Slowly but surely, I’ve been compiling a list of my favorite public spaces to plop into – and after several visits in the last few months, Echo Park Lake is slowly topping my list. First and foremost, there’s that spectacular view of the downtown skyline – it looks fantastic, especially with some clouds dotting the sky.  Then, there are loads of space on the luscious green grass skirting around the lake, while geese and duck gleefully flock around the park.  If you’re feeling adventurous, or a tad romantic – rent out a paddleboat for a spin on the lake!  Two points for you if you happened to paddle out to the floating library installation earlier this year, you’re the real MVP.  Though there’s no designated parking for Echo Park Lake, the outer rim of the lake offers a plethora of street parking – as do the surrounding neighborhoods.  The park has also accepted that we’re living in the 21st century and has it’s own WiFi for anyone trying to get some work done, or maybe just stream their music a little bit easier.

 

For more on Echo Park Lake, head to their social media channels – or just pay the park a leisurely visit.

Website | Facebook | Yelp 

[LA Life] Enjoy an Intellectual Double Date with the Natural History Museum and California Science Center

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Living in Los Angeles for the past eight years, you could say that I’m a bit spoiled from a cultural perspective – but to be honest, I really wouldn’t have it any other way.  This city eats, sleeps, breathes and oozes keen artistic history and introspection, with interest piqued around each and every corner.  No matter your age, or the last time you went, museums have the innate ability to inspire a sense of childlike wonder and amazement to come out and play.  From Contemporary Art to Modern Art, archaeology and cultural history – museums provide a birds eye view into the beauty of the past and an intelligent projection of the future. Plainly put – a day wasted at the museum is simply never a waste.  

Most museums in the area are essentially one stop shops – The Broad sits downtown and houses contemporary art, the Getty and Getty Villa are vast and stunning anthologies of history – but sit alone and secluded; but then there’s Museum Row in West Hollywood and the library of museums at Exposition Park, each home to several stunning venues of nuanced interest.  Museum Row plays host to the LACMA, the Tar Pits and it’s museum as well as the Craft Art Museum and Peterson Automotive Museum while Exposition Park houses the Natural History Museum, California Science Center, USC Fisher Museum of Art and the California African American Museum. Since I used to live near the Tar Pits, I’m a bit biased – and some could argue spoiled – so an adventure West didn’t really strike my fancy; but a double date with the Natural History Museum and the California Science Center? Sign this kitten up for a dichotomous day-adventure, stat!

Exposition Park sits in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, and is surrounded by the University of Southern California.  My friends and I know the area best for the incredible music concerts, Massives and raves held at LA Memorial Colosseum over the last decade like Electric Daisy Carnival, Camp Flog Gnaw, How Sweet It Is, Nocturnal Wonderland and so many more.  I don’t know whats more grown up than getting your knowledge on in the same place you got your PLUR on, so two points for us – at least. Spanning 160 acres, Exposition Park evolved from privately owned fairgrounds and a racetrack into a cultural center for young Los Angeles at the turn of the last century.

First things first, let’s talk some pro tips. The directions might tell you to enter the parking lot at Expo Park via Exposition, save yourself a headache and come in on Vermont with some cash, parking is $12 and they don’t accept credit cards. When visiting the Natural History Museum – save yourself some time by purchasing the tickets online; you can even do it while you’re waiting to get in.

World’s Largest Ammonite

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not much for artistic museums, less the Getty Villa and some incredible architecture; but historical fossils and technological progress always find a way to pull at my heart strings. Hands down, my favorite part of the NHM is the Gem and Mineral Hall. Each corner of the room sparkles with a technicolor glow with vibrant greens and blues which don’t make sense as minerals, iridescent shimmers and even some stones from outer space.  Indoors you can wander and wonder through the Dinosaur Hall, American Mammal Hall, African Mammal Hall, Marsh environment and Insect and Bird exhibits.  If you take the adventure into the great outdoors, you’ll get a prime view of Expo Park’s esteemed Rose Garden (more on that later!), the edible garden and a pollinators garden; easily one of the most tranquil areas on the grounds.  In about three hours, we managed to meander through the entire breadth of the Natural History Museum, leaving no stone unturned (pun, slightly intended) – and with the perfect amount of time to visit our second stop!

The California Science Center is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Natural History Museum – providing a wonderful contrast to the artifacts that you were just musing over. Olus, it’s free to get in and explore – while certain flight simulators and IMAX movies will cost ya between $5 and $12..  There are ample learning centers around the building, but before I get into that: there are also a good amount of food options to choose from! Though the NHMLA does have a quick service deli and sit down restaurant on their bottom floor, their food was no match for the Science Center’s food court.  But, let’s get beyond our stomachs. The Cal Science Center eagerly explores global ecosystems and gets in a fair share of hands on learning.   Stand in the splash zone or explore tide pools, stand in the middle of a hurricane, play with sound waves and wrap your head around the capsules that we sent humans to space in for days at a time (they’re tiny!).All the museums in the area open at 10 in the morning and close at 5pm,  but it’s no reason to leave straight away.  Take a stroll through the historic Expo Park Rose Garden and stay for sunset, you can thank me later.

For more on the Natural History Museum Los Angeles, the California Science Center and the Exposition Park Rose Garden – check out their social channels.

Natural History Museum: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

California Science CenterWebsite | Facebook | Twitter 


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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.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

[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!] Street Art v20: Adventures Through Downtown LA

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When I moved to Eagle Rock almost a year ago, I knew that I’d be leaving behind a few things – some of which I’d miss more than others.  I definitely wasn’t going to miss the general lack of parking in the area or the amount of rush hour traffic you can get stuck in trying to drive three miles; but on the flip side, there was my proximity to West Hollywood, which brought with it a ridiculous amount of shopping and a menagerie of awesome restaurants, the amazing hipster watching at the Melrose Trading Post and last but certainly not least: the fact that my backyard was essentially the Melrose + Fairfax district, a mecca of the underground arts community that’s rarely spoken of. Sure, the area boasts a good amount of shopping – but in this case, aimed at ballers on a budget like myself and full of fresh street fashion, mirroring the often mind blowing and socially conscious graffiti that ebbed and flowed around their walls.

Once I was relieved of my bubble, I realized that though my area was overflowing with culture and art – so was every other area of LA!  Now that I’ve lived here for almost seven years, and in several different parts of the city – I’ve experienced so many unique pockets of creativity that I’ve realized they must be hidden in every nook and cranny here.  Out further West in Venice, Street Art runs rampant and it’s heavily strewn through Silver Lake and Echo Park all the way into the Arts District of downtown.  The following pictures were collected over the last few months while gallivanting through downtown on urban safaris with my partner in crime; enjoy!

[LA Love] The Last Bookstore is the Only Bookstore You Need

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Photo by Daniel Leist Photography

Photo by Daniel Leist Photography

Though we haven’t yet fine tuned the ability to time travel, thanks to the power of the written word it’s possible to walk into a room and simultaneously transport yourself in a thousand different directions spanning the course of several millennium, in irrational, fantastical ways.  Where science boldly says no, literature proudly asks ‘Why Not’ in a thousand shades of possibility.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve proudly ebbed and flowed through my bookshelf with new eyes and an open mind – there’s no topic to small to ponder and no question to big to tackle; but often that leaves me holding seven books, wishing I had six extra sets of eyes so I could read all of them at once.

After seven years in Los Angeles, it’s easy to believe that you’ve seen it all – but let me tell you, in a city of bewilderment, wonder and constant creation – there’s always something hiding just around the corner, waiting to make your day; which is precisely the case with The Last Bookstore.   An exciting hodge podge of new and loved books and records that shop frequenters can buy, sell and trade – the Last Bookstore the largest independent bookstore in the world, and  simply the only bookstore you’ll ever need in your life.  Considering w shops like Borders and Barnes & Nobles falling by the wayside, this very well might be the last bookstore we have left in LA.

Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles’ Financial District, The Last Bookstore is much more than home to thousand upon thousands of stories, dreams, diatribes, poems, whimsical words and resilient reads.  The first story is a beautiful open air bookstore, with loads of literature for every type of reader, and high vaulted ceilings with a view into the shops of the Springs Arts Collective, with their unique creations peaking out for the world to see.  As you walk up the steps into the second floor, you’re whisked away in the same sort of wanderlust I lose myself in while reading.  Instead of noticing things in a sequential order as I ascended into the Labyrinth, they were all thrust upon my brain in simultaneous artistic attack.  Books were suspended in mid-flight, exploding every which direction to the delight of everyone around. Incredible sculptures crafted from books adorned the walls and aisles, while the floor was lined with contemporary galleries and art shops.

Photos by Daniel Leist Photography

Photo by Daniel Leist Photography

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Two of my personal favorites were from David LoveJoy  (above) – a contemporary designer who forges unique, otherworldly designs, gadgets and gizmos – and the FOLD Gallery (below), the niche boutique brainchild of Jena Priebe. The third Thursday of the month marks Downtown LA’s Art Walk, and The Last Bookstore and Labyrinth gallery are definitely a hipster hot spot; but would you expect any less?

Additional Pics: Daniel Leist Photography

For more on The Last Bookstore, David Lovejoy’s art or the FOLD Gallery, head to their socials –

The Last Bookstore: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

David Lovejoy | #LoveJoyArt: Website | Facebook

Jena Priebe | FOLD Gallery: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram