Today we celebrated Wendy's birthday by heading for brunch @ Tart, where I had the California Scramble: 3 eggs, Pico de Gallo, Andouille Sausage, Green Chilli, Cheddar cheese, avocado and creme fraiche. Tart is a fabulous eatery situated in a hotel called Farmer's Daughter - just across the road from the Farner's Market. From the busy Fairfax Road, it looks like a 50's style motel which has undergone an extensive urban makeover. Once you inside, however, you can dine in a gorgeous open air courtyard filled with semi-arid succulent plants placed in huge copper planters that seem worlds away from the car-filled, concrete jungle outside.
We struck up a conversation with our neighbours at the table - 2 lovely ladies: Carol and Jan - newly retired nurses who were born and raised in Los Angeles. They've also been to Costa Rica and raved about it. We hit it off so well that Carol even invited us to stay with her brother in Utah when we are on our road trip through the South Western states in August. His place is strategically positioned close to many of the major National parks in the region. It would be great if we could stay there for a couple of days.
Went to Farm Fresh - a fruit and veg stall @ Farmer's Mkt that also makes amazing smoothies for only $4.50 for a pint! What a great business model! Not only do they sell fresh fruit, but they can also make them into smoothies right in front of your very eyes. Best, and cheapest, smoothies that we had in L.A. Most other smoothie places didn't make them in front of you and definitely added sugar and goodness knows what else to the mix!
We took our delicious smoothies and strolled to LACMA - the Los Angeles County Museum of Art - a marvellous collection of buildings housing both historic and contemporary works of art from American and International artists. We entered the complex via the back entrance, and were greeted by an installation on a massively architectural scale - the recently unveiled and controversial "Levitated Mass" by Michael Heizer. Essentially, it's a massive rock which has been transported and wedged into a smooth, concrete-filled gully that looks a bit like a Los Angeles flood control channel. You are able to walk underneath it and marvel at the sheer scale, size and weight of this piece of rock which appears to be floating above.
Inside the Broad Museum of Contemporary Art I walked through sculptures of oversized, everyday objects (such as gigantic piles of plates and an enormous Freudian patient's recliner) by Robert Therrien. Also in the same building and, in my opinion, the jewel in the collection's crown, Chris Burden's "Metropolis ll" installation. As it's name indicates, it is an interpretation of Fritz Lang's 1927 silent era classic, "Metropolis" - complete with miniature toy cars, fly-over roads and bridges. It even has a small replica of the Eiffel Tower and a skyscraper made with refracted mirrors like a disco ball! On weekends, the installation comes to life when the cars whizz around the roads. Eerily, the only thing missing is a human presence in all of this - no models of people - except for the faces of viewers inside the gallery reflected in the glass of the buildings.
In the afternoon, we took a free tour of the permanent collection with docent Susan Gray. The theme was "Costumes in Art - our first stop: Marco Zoppo's fragment from a Cassone panel "Shooting at Father's Corpse". Men started changing their clothing to appear more masculine - slashing clothing to show off the undergarment. The idea was that if you were wealthy enough to have underwear, then you should show them off! I guess fashion has come full circle hundreds of years later - not too different from the fashions today where you see boy's Calvin Klein underwear.
Bernardo Rosselli's "The Triumph of Alexander" depicting the spoils of war. Everyone is wearing current clothes of the Renaissance. Four women in carriages wife, mother and daughters - part of the normal "spoils of war". But Alexander, unlike most conquerors of his time, is offering protection to these women. All people have head covers because it was illegal to go out in public without headcover at this time.
Master of the St Lucy Legend shows Mary in contemporary clothing with grey squirrel-lined dress and curled hair which was fashionable in Northern European countries in the late 1400's. The elaborate embroidery panel in the back has pomegranate patterns and would have been incredibly expensive. Many of the religious works would have been commissioned by wealthy patrons to show off their riches and to give thanks to the church and their patron saints.
Reliquary Bust by unknown sculptor - shows an exquisitely carved head of an unknown saint. She opens up like a wooden chest or trunk, which means that part of her body was kept inside - maybe a lock of her hair or bone fragment from her skull.
Guido Reni's "Portrait of Cardinal Roberto" shows him dressed in expensive moray watered silk and surrounded in plush velvets. All the red fabrics were made from the cochineal beetle, the purples from the mollusc shell and the lace made by nuns primarily for the service of the church and exceptionally valuable. Yet again, clothing in art is used to symbolise wealth and high status.
A lot of the ancient sculptures were gifts to the museum from William Randolph Hearst. "The Hope Athena" was a 2nd Century AD Roman copy of an Ancient Greek original - showing several layers of fabrics and would have been covered in garishly coloured paints. I noticed and photographed the statues feet which exhibited the "classical Greek feet" where the second toe is longer than the big toe. I have feet exactly like that!
Portrait of Madame de Garlis - shows a woman the teacher dressed in silk, lace and holding a fan with gloved hands. Spanish glows were the most expensive and would have been embroidered and perfumed. In those days, people didn't wash very often so many of the layers of clothes, like scarves and neck covers existed in order to protect the silk overgarments from being soiled.
"Portrait of Sir Wyndham" by Pompeo Batoni shows him in full-length yellow mustard silk suit fitted so perfectly that it would have been his "standing suit" and he would have had other clothing that he could sit in more comfortably. Men even wore calf pads to bulk up their calves so they could look more "classical" and masculine! This portrait would have been a souvenir to remind him of his travels through Europe on his return to UK.
Baron Francois Gerard's "The 10th of August 1792" is an unfinished piece which shows the trial of Louis when he tried to overthrow the Republic. Politics were changing so rapidly that he did not finish it but he kept the painting and, therefore it us valuable today, as we can see the thought processes behind the painting and techniques used. The fashions of the Revolutionaries depict "working people's" clothing with longer trousers. The Revolution change men's fashion forever - the transition from middle class moving up and taking over.
Robert-Jacques Lefevre's "Portrait of a Woman Holding a Pencil and a Drawing Book". Textiles were so expensive before the Revolution, that they were often unpicked and reconstructed. The "Empire" style was rediscovered - this coincided with the archaeological discoveries of Pompei and other antiquities. Even tiaras became popular. Many pins and shawls were brought back from trading in the East. Napoleon's wife Josephine was a supporter of the Empire style and this would have affected the styles and tastes of the patrons of arts and the styles of the time.
After the tour was over, we took a mad dash of the remainder of some of the exhibitions in LACMA. It's so massive, that you really do need a full day to take your time and really appreciate the works on display. The American collection was amazing - it included furniture and fashion from different eras. In addition, they had several major works like Diego Rivera, Georgia O'Keeffe, Matisse and Andy Warhol (amon
Dinner was on Sunset Boulevard at a new place (opened end of May) called Pink Taco. Whilst they don't sing "Happy Birthday", they offered us a complimentary dessert to celebrate Wendy's birthday! I ate a melt-in-your-mouth Pollo Adobado Quesadilla with tangy guacamole, fruity salsa and soft 'n salty beans on the side. Wendy had a sizzling chicken fajita that was, apparently, one of the best she has ever had! Now, those who know me well will know that I can certainly put food away, but this meal was so huge that it could possibly even feature in an episode of "Man vs. Food". Yes people, I only ate half of it (and had the rest for breakfast the next day with Wendy).
The Laugh Factory, owned and started by James Masada, was opened in 1979 by Richard Prior who, apparently, had his first performance there. We'd passed by it the previous day during the tour and thought we should watch a stand-up performance whilst we were in LA. We saw 4 comedians + the MC and 2 were roll-in-the-isles hilarious! We had a great time and on the way back to the Metro, we popped by our favourite muffin bakery for a celebratory dessert. What a great way to end the day - LA just keeps getting better and better - wish we didn't have to leave so soon!