Monday, July 30, 2012

LA - Vintage Rampage and A Folk Art Fantasy Come True

If you're gonna do brunch, don't mess around. Shana took me to Canele, a spot voted as the best brunch spot by LA Weekly, bon appetit, and countless foodies. Lucky for us, it was in Shana's hood and we got there early enough to snag a seat. We were joined again by Chelsea and sat down to one of the most decadently delicious spreads I've ever enjoyed. We decided to split several dishes off their brunch menu: a braised leeks/bacon/fried egg sandwich, a creamy burrata salad, a shrimp 'n' grits special, and a baked pancake with meyer lemon custard. Portions were generous, rich in flavor, and produced a chorus of mmmmmm's with every bite. Towards the end of the feast, we were joined by Shana's old roommate Robbie and there was still plenty of food to go around. I think I'm still full from this meal!
Shana and Chelsea at Canele
Shana and Robbie
Our next stop was a dream come true for me. Ever since I've discovered outsider and folk art, I've obsessed over the Watts Towers. I've spent hours poring over photographs of the other worldly structure in my favorite coffee table books and even took a mosaic class inspired by Simon Rodia's creation. I almost jumped out of my skin as we approached the visitor's center and the pointed tops came into view over the horizon. We took a half hour guided tour and I frantically took as many pictures as I could of every nook and cranny. My only wish was that I could have walked around the structure longer, but I understand why they limit accessibility to this delicate treasure. What meant the world to me was that I could share this experience with my sis. This will have me smiling from ear to ear for a long time. Click here to see a slideshow of my Watts Towers trip.
Watts Towers
sis bliss
We followed the Watts wonderment with a trip to the Melrose Trading Post, a weekly Sunday vintage market on the grounds of the Fairfax High School. We split up and pointed our radars in different directions. Shana was again looking for unique finds for her Etsy shop and I was on the hunt for vintage dresses.

the huntress
Melrose Trading Post
It's yesterday once more.
I was happy to see tons of clothing vendors there but one stood out from the get go. Mariana De Sousa of We Kill for Fashion had a giant tent filled to brim with pattern, texture, and color galore. I headed straight for the short 1960's dresses and had a ton to choose from. In the end I found a happy floral number in cotton. Once I tried it on, I decided to ditch my other outfit in a bag and wear this for the rest of the day. It just so happened that my Bakelite earrings matched perfectly so I felt comfy and coordinated from head to toe. Visit Mariana online or at her next show and I guarantee you will find something fab.
Mariana De Sousa
We Kill for Fashion
come on get happy
Right before the closing of the market, I came across another vintage clothing vendor. As I quickly thumbed through the racks, I hit the brakes on when I saw a label that always makes me excited: The Vested Gentress. I own two other quirky dresses from this 1960's brand that is know for their whimsical hand screen printed patterns. And wouldn't ya know it, it was in my size too! How could I say no to a pristine lemon dress with ruffly pocket? Dan Sanovick of Possession Vintage was very reasonable and as I got talking to him we realized that we've both spent time in Vaxjo Sweden - Dan with his band Hammered Satin, and me as an exchange student. Dan not only sells at the Melrose Trading Post, but he also has a storefront. Visit his website to see a great sampling of what he has to offer or visit him on Sundays at Melrose.
Dan of Possession Vintage
lemony fresh
A filling home cooked meal and memories of an incredible day sent me to bed with visions of towers and dresses dancing in my head. I can't believe tomorrow is my last day in LA!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

LA - Markets, Museum, Music

My sister is such a trooper. After several hectic days and nights, she still managed to muster up the energy to get up early for a swap meet. Before shopping, we walked across street from her bungalow to the most charming little shop I've ever seen called Broome St. General Store. Though we were just going for coffee and a light snack, I was instantly drawn to all the housewares, clothes, skin care lines, and unique gifts cleverly tucked away on their colorful shelves. And the food...oh the food! They feature local artisan breads, sandwiches, soups, snacks, and the cutest old fashioned candy counter. We noshed on a warm from the oven bacon and fig scone. Owners Sophie Esteban and Peter Graham are just as sweet as their shop. I wish I could pack up it up and take it with me back to east coast!
Peter and Sophie of Broome St. General Store
good goods
how sweet it is
We headed off to the LACC Swap Meet for some treasure hunting. The market offered a wide variety of used clothes, electronics, toys, housewares, and you-name-it. Shana found a few choice pieces for her Etsy shop and I scored a nice vintage bangle.
wheelin' it
fresh grapes
not so fresh grapes
diggin' for treasures
Afterwards, we headed to the Silver Lake Farmers' Market to meet up with some of Shana's pals. This market had fresh produce, vintage wares, handmade goods, and a nice variety of lunch stands. We fueled up on some savory veggie and chicken crepes from the Yummy Crepe Stand and lunched with her friends Ronda, Bryan, and Adreanne on outdoor benches. 
Silver Lake Farmers' Market
After eating, I bee lined it towards the vintage clothing vendors. All morning, my thrift store dress I had been wearing had been unbuttoning because the button holes were too big. It was the perfect excuse to treat myself to a new vintage dress. I found an easy, breezy, and Brady-chic flowered 1960's dress from Sears. It came from a wonderful vendor named Francesca Roth of My Grandma's Closet.  Francesca sells online, on the road, and at pop up shops around LA. I adored her fun prints and colorful racks of choice dresses. She was very sweet and you should definitely swing by and say hi to her next time you're at the market. Shana, her friends, and I walked over to Cliffs Edge for a quick drink and then headed our separate ways.
Francesco of My Grandma's Closet
once, twice, three times a Brady
Ronda, Bryan, and Adreanne at Cliff's Edge
The Getty Museum was one of places on the top of my list to visit because the last time I went, I felt like I didn't have nearly enough time to walk the gorgeous grounds and check out the exhibits the last time I was there. Saturday was the perfect night to go because Nick Waterhouse and the Tarots were playing a free evening concert at the Getty. Shana's close friend Shannon happens to be Nick's main squeeze, so our plan was to meet her and her friends at the concert as well. Once we arrived on the tram, we headed straight for the Herb Ritts exhibit. Shana and I loved revisiting his iconic 1990's imagery through photographs, commercials, print ads, and music videos.
The Getty
puttin' on the Ritts
As soon as we left the exhibit, we headed toward the outdoor stage to meet up with Shana's friends. It was a beautiful night out and the area was packed with people to check out the show. Nick and the Tarot's performance was the perfect blend of 1950's R & B with his own savvy style. Nick's guitar playing was so tight and his band really got the crowd moving. After a great night of music, we headed over to the Klimt exhibit to see a comprehensive collection of his line drawings. The elegance, simplicity and yet complexity of his figure drawings were breath taking. It was great to see how his subtle lines conveyed such emotion and meaning in each study.
Leila, Shannon's friend, Shannon, and Shana
Nick Waterhouse and the Tarots
sis bliss

The evening ended with a tram ride that overlooked nighttime LA, fish tacos close to home, and hittin' the pillows hard. Let's see if Sunday can top this one.

LA - A Double MOCA with a Side of Ramen and a Twist

Day 3 in LA provided an international flare, art, and a few surprises. Shana took off early in the morn to wrap up the final day of shooting the infomercial. I caught the bus downtown to check out The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I arrived just as it opened and people were inflating giant white balloons in preparation for a free evening concert. On display at the MOCA was Ends of the Earth; Land Art of 1974 and Cai Guo-Qaing's Sky Ladder. I was blown away by the scale of Cai Gui-Qaing's pieces and the process it took to create his explosion projects.
After the museum, I walked across the way to Little Tokyo. I stopped off at the Little Tokyo Koban and Visitor Center on 1st street. The folks there pointed me in a few good directions and were super duper helpful. I fueled up with a delicious and filling yet inexpensive bowl of chicken, bamboo, and seaweed ramen at Mr. Ramen and chased it with the most delicate citrus and red bead moshi from Fugetsudo-Do. The ladies at the sweet shop spent a lot of time explaining the fillings and flavors to me. I would go back there in a heartbeat!

I browsed through the little shops in the plazas and was most impressed by the variety of false eyelashes in all the beauty supply shops. Several wishing trees stood outside of the Japanese Village Plaza and I spent a few minutes reading the colorful strips. I breezed by a few temples hoping to go in but they were all gated for the day. I decided to move on to the MOCA on Grand Avenue.

I trekked over to the MOCA Grand Avenue. On the walk over I met Tyrone at one of the bus stops. Against a wall and on the ground, he was selling a series of hand drawn animals and snacks to help support his family. He shared a little of his story with me and was very gracious when I bought some sweet mama and baby elephant drawings from him. I was thrilled about my first purchase in LA.
Outside the MOCA, an airplane parts sculpture by Nancy Rubins stood in delicate balance. Inside on view was The Painting Factory: Abstraction After Warhol and the permanent collection. Its was hypnotizing the walk back and forth under Pae White's string sculpture on the ceiling. 
I hopped the bus to Sunset Junction to grab a cup o' joe at Intelligentsia Coffee and peruse the boutique shops along the strip. I came upon an incredible vintage shop called Ragg Mopp Vintage. I really enjoyed chatting with Vince Bilbro about his finely curated shop, his love of vintage clothes, and his former life as a bass player on the road. Upon first entering Ragg Mopp Vintage, I couldn't resist looking through nearly every dress, beautifully arranged by color, down the left side of the shop. Gorgeous garb and accessories from the mid-19th century to the 70's abound throughout the space and there was a fine selection of goods for both men and women. If you love vintage clothes and fun spaces as much as I do, definitely swing by Vince's shop the next time you're on Sunset.
Though I was tired from the long day out, I decided walk from Sunset back to Shana's apartment instead of taking the bus. I was so glad I did because I discovered a lot of great sites along the way.
The best find of all happened because of a mistake. When it was time to turn onto Shana's street, I headed in the wrong direction. Just a block up from the intersection, I discovered a curious box on someone's lawn which turned out to be a Little Free Library. I read the directions, opened the box, and grabbed a good read for the weekend. In Senior Class, Mary's senior year is both difficult and exhilarating. So far I've learned that Mary loves looking at animals at the zoo while pondering her friendships (or lack there of). Just think, in a few days the book will be back and YOU can read it too!
Shana wrapped up her styling job that night and we headed out to dinner with her friend Chelsea.  The Lazy Ox had a prix fixe deal for LA Restaurant week. Sake and flavorful tapas followed by decadent desserts left us all full and happy at the end of the day. I can't wait see what tomorrow brings!

Friday, July 27, 2012

LA - The Pits and LACMA

Thursday's assignments:

     Shana: Style a fitness infomercial in the key of telenovela.
     Me: Learn how to navigate the LA Metro to see the La Brea Tar Pits and LACMA.

We both got up at the crack of dawn and headed our separate ways. After a tiny bit of fumbling with the bus schedule, I made it to La Brea Tar Pits. My inner 8 year old squeaked out a high pitched "yay" when saw the mastodon statues in the bubbling pits at the entryway. 
Ain't it just the pits?
La Brea Tar Pits - Page Museum
I enjoyed a free tour of the grounds and the fossil collection in the Page Museum. I learned a lot of great facts but of course the weird ones were the most memorable:
     1) You only need 3 to 5 inches of tar to trap a creature from the size of a beetle all the way up to a mastodon. That's all!
     2) A squirrel got stuck in the pits on its back once. Workers freed it but the experience left it with a hairless back and head. Supposedly the balding rodent freaked out visitors to the center whenever I made an appearance.
     3) Several years ago, a camera man helping to film a BBC documentary got stuck in a shallow pool in his boots. After a bit of a production, they got the man, camera, and his boots out.
wolf skulls - most commonly found fossil at La Brea
Oh, and here's one more fact. They have an animatronic smilodon gnawing on a sloth that's both dramatic and funny. Behold!

After my prehistoric romp through La Brea, I snaked around a beautifully landscaped pathway to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The breathtaking architecture impressed me even before stepping foot in one of the nine campus buildings. I don't even know where to begin when raving about this treasure of a spot. The collection was vast and impressive, the design of the displays in each building was breathtaking, the campus was gorgeous, and the overall experience was unforgettable. I guess it is best to just let the art speak for itself. 

I started off swimming through Jesus Rafael Soto's spaghetti-like sculpture called Penetrabile.

Next I bee lined to to the Boone Children's Gallery because word on the street was they had watercolors set up to paint with. I quickly painted a souvenir for Thom.
I fell in love with the sci fi meets mid century modern meets traditional Pavilion for Japanese Art. You traverse through the space like a car in a spiral parking garage though I wish I could have floated through in a Barbarella costume.
I spent a long time exploring every inch of Chris Burden's Metropolis II but was bummed that it wasn't turned on during the week days. I could only imagine the 1,100 hot wheels and 18 trains zooming around turn. Here's a video link of it in action for your viewing pleasure.
The scale of these stacked plates and bowls by Robert Therrien was unreal. Thank god I don't have to clean them.
There were so many famous and masterful pieces of art in the galleries but my favorite painting had to be a striking landscape by Jean Metzinger. Once outside again, I watched children weave in and out of Chris Burden's Urban Light lamp posts. The camera loved every angle of the lamps. As I left the campus and walked out onto Wilshire, I got one more small surprise on the sidewalk.
the ultimate ride home
Quite simply, if you visit LA, you MUST to go LACMA!

After my long day of site seeing, I bussed it back to Shana's and we got back around the same time. Before we both lost steam, we jetted off for yummy noodles at Ginger Grass followed by scoops of almond fig gelato at Pazzo Gelato
recharging at Ginger Grass
Day 2 packed a lot of punch. Tomorrow Shana is back on set and I am thinking about exploring Little Tokyo and the MOCA. I can't wait to see what day 3 brings!