Posted in Life, Personal Challenge, Southern California, Tourism, Travel

A Force of Nature at The LA Arboretum: Personal Challenge, Day 76 (12.1.12)

On November 30, 2011, Pasadena and the surrounding area endured one of the worst storms to hit the area in decades.  With hurricane force winds ripping through the San Gabriel Valley, trees toppled, houses were damaged and power was lost to thousands of homes. 

For me, it was my very first night living in my new rental home in Altadena.  My California sister likes to blame the storm on me, “It’s all nice and calm and then you move into the neighborhood and we have a storm like any other.  I have lived here for forty years and this never happened. You live here one day and look what happens.”

So here we are, a year later, and we are still talking about the storm.  The LA County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Arcadia decided to do more than just talk about the storm on the one year anniversary, they are having an Art Exhibit in its honor.

“Forces of Nature” is an exhibition of art created from the trees that fell during the 2011 windstorm.  With over one hundred artists participating, the Arboretum is using this exhibit to raise funds for their tree fund and the opportunity to replant what was lost in the storm.  There is a silent auction and hundreds of art pieces for sale.  The exhibit is being held today and tomorrow in the Hall.

Personally, I haven’t been here in months.  I used to come here every weekend with my GCC classes.  But after the storm, it was sad to see all the damage.  But today, I was amazed by all the improvements that they have been. 

When you first enter the gardens, just off to the right, they have a whole new area with garden ideas for your own backyard as well as their vegetable garden and different new gardening projects.  This was my first time seeing the completed area and it is beautiful.  I would usually just go off toward the lake, the rose gardens and the waterfall but I am very glad that I decided to explore new areas.  I can’t wait to see what else they have in store with the funds that they raise from the Forces of Nature exhibit.

Posted in Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Southern California, Tourism, Travel

First Free Friday at the Pasadena Museum of California Art: Personal Challenge, Day 47 (11.2.12)

With it being the first Friday of the month, I pulled out my handy-dandy free museum days calendar and noticed that the Pasadena Museum of California Art had free admission on the first Friday of every month.  I had my mission for the day.

I was excited about the possible exhibits I would see at PMCA the minute I drove into their garage.  The garage itself was like a street art exhibit.  The colors, characters, and space theme all peaked my interested.  Then when you walk up the stairs to the lobby, you run into a very interesting art piece entitled “Layer” that extends from the lobby through the window and across the front of the building.  To me, it looked like a metaphor for the window being an eye–the piece, to me, was shaped like an eye with really long eyelashes.  Of course art is subjective so I’m not sure what it really meant.

Off to the left is another gallery room with woven rugs hanging on the wall.  I listened to a couple talk about the intricate patterns, textures and what not.  They all looked kinda the same to me so I simply walked in and then out of that particular gallery room, which I later learned was called the “The Project Room Gallery.”

Unfortunately there was a notice on the door that no photography was allowed so I couldn’t take any pictures of the current displays but in some ways, it was OK because there wasn’t anything that I really wanted to photograph besides a wood press.

I timed myself.  It took me a whole sixteen minutes to go through the PMCA main exhibits and the bookstore.  Yep, this time included browsing through the bookstore.  The exhibits just didn’t interest me.  The main exhibit was on Greta Magnusson Grossman, a Swedish-American architect and designer.  The furniture was nice but it kinda felt like I was walking through the IKEA showrooms.  This is an exhibit that would be more fitting for an observer interested in furniture, design, and architecture.  I am more a fan of paintings and photographs so I moved on to the side gallery.

In the side gallery was an exhibit entitled “White on Black: The Modernist Prints of Paul Landacre.”  Now this I found interesting and I wished that there was more on this particular artist created these detailed wood engravings, some of which were used for printmaking.  These were amazing.  I would describe Landacre as the Ansel Adams of wood engravings.

Then it was on to the back gallery.  I was excited when I realized it was a photography exhibit but disappointed when I realized they were simply botanist style photographs printed on a large-scale.  This is an agricultural exhibit not really a photographic one, in my opinion.  The pictures were shot straight on with no creativity in the composition.

Yep, sixteen minutes including a walk through the bookstore.  All I have to say is that I am very glad it was a free admission Friday because I can’t imagine paying $7 for just sixteen minutes of my time.  I can think of many more enjoyable things that could be done with $7.

Posted in Diet, Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Southern California, Tourism, Travel, Universe, Writing

Pasadena Art Weekend: The Art of Food: Personal Challenge, Day 27 (10.13.12)

After the debacle with Friday night’s introduction to Pasadena Art Night, I was a bit nervous about trying out Saturday’s activities.  But again, being a Libra, I had to push forward, stay optimistic and hope that the next event would be better.  Besides, this particular event involved food so how could it be bad?

So I took the Metro Gold Line over to Lake (where I realized I had to buy a transfer ticket to ride the Pasadena Arts bus) and hopped on the Arts bus down to the South Lake Farmers’ Market area to partake in the Art of Food event.  There were no mishaps with the buses this time so things were working out.  The Art of Food just might redeem Art Weekend.

So when I arrived at the event, a young woman approached me, asking me how I had learned of today’s event.  I told them “Pasadena Weekly.”  They then sent me over to their booth where I could fill out a quick survey and get a free reusable grocery bag.  (YAY for free stuff).

There were food booths galore, a demo area (there was a bartender teaching the art of cocktail making–awesome), a live band performance and a beer and wine garden.  Each booth represented a local business in the South Lake area.  I decided I would avoid the chain restaurants and check out the local Mom & Pop style establishments.

Most booths were giving out sample platters for $1 to $4, depending on what you wanted to try.  There were also free samples, stickers, raffle prizes, and menus.  Some booths had really long lines–like the fondue place.

I decided I would check out a place that I had just read about in this week’s Pasadena Weekly, The Real Food Daily (Organic Vegan Cuisine).  Since my friends and I really enjoyed Green Earth Vegan Cuisine the other night, I thought it would be nice to compare and contrast.  At the Green Earth Vegan Cuisine booth, they had samples of a Caesar Salad and Wrap sandwich for $2.00.  To be honest, it wasn’t bad.  It tasted like there was meat in there–chciken and bacon, I believe–even though it was completely vegan.  But when you compare it to Green Earth, Green Earth is more of a fancy, sit-down restaurant where as Real Food Daily reminds me of diner of deli food–kind of like the vegan version of Togos (which was at the event as well).  I would definitely check out their restaurant and other items on their menu.

I continued to walk around and check out the different booths, picking up free samples along the way.  But it was Float Pasadena that got my attention and caused me to stop.  There were selling “Dad’s” root beer, root beer floats and boxed water.  I was curious about the boxed water so I had to inquire about something I had never seen or heard of before.  It literally was a box of water, kind of like the box that you would purchase milk it.  They said it was better for the environment.  I just thought it was really cool and I was stopped by many people, asking about mybox of water.  They also had samples of their caramel popcorn (in a recycled bag) and their sandwiches.  I tried the “Hungry Vegetarian” sandwich sample and it was amazing–a flavorful treat for my taste buds.  I took their menu–and they gave me a sticker (yes, I am a big kid).  This is definitely a place I want to check out.

Now I would like to clarify that I am not in-fact a vegetarian.  I am a Midwestern born and bred girl from Detroit who loves meat.  I have many friends who are vegetarians or who have food allergies so it is also a good idea to find places where everyone can enjoy the food.

Posted in Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Photography, Southern California, Tourism, Travel, Universe, Writing

Kicking Off Pasadena Art Weekend with ArtNight: Personal Challenge, Day 26 (10.12.12)

Friday night started Pasadena’s Art Weekend with ArtNight, a night where the local museums are open to the public with free admission.  There are free shuttles to take patrons to and from the participating museums.  Food trucks and live performances would also be available to the ArtNight participants at specific locations.  I read all about Art Weekend in the Pasadena Weekly and I was excited to check out some of the exhibits–specifically the Pages exhibit at the Art Center College of Design’s Williamson Gallery.

Pasadena City Hall

According to the ArtNight website, Pasadena City Hall would be the transportation hub where patrons could catch the free shuttles that would transport them to any gallery of their choosing.  There would also be live entertainment and food at the City Hall hub.  So I decided that I would begin my night there.  I took the Metro Gold Line to the Memorial Park station, located near City Hall.  Pasadena City Hall is a work of architectural art.  It is a stunning sight to see, especially at night.  Once I arrived, I was greeted by an ArtNight volunteer who gave me a map of the museums and shuttle routes.  I was also given the official Art Night sticker, proof of my participation in the nightly event.

I looked at the ArtNight brochure and noticed that I needed the North shuttle to reach my destination, Art Center College of Design.  So I sat on the steps of City Hall, enjoying the live music as I waited for my bus to arrive.  Many shuttles showed up and many shuttles left.  I saw the East shuttles, West shuttles and Central shuttles go past me, many times.  I didn’t see a single North shuttle.  I kept looking at the brochure but it was too dark to really see the map of the routes–I couldn’t make out one route from the other.  I saw several others waiting around, waiting for the North shuttle as well.  There were ArtNight volunteers roaming around but they didn’t seem to notice all the people standing around looking confused.  No one seemed to understand which shuttle went where or how to locate the North shuttle.  Finally, a woman (perhaps one of the event organizers) stepped forward to assist with the buses.  Several people asked her when the North bus would arrive.  Her reply. “The North bus doesn’t come here.  It leaves from the Pasadena Museum of History.  That is the only place where you can catch the North shuttle.”  Seriously?  I had wasted all this time waiting for a shuttle that was never going to arrive.

Live music at Pasadena City Hall

I quickly hopped on the first shuttle that would take me to the Pasadena Museum of History.  I managed to catch the West bus, a bus that actually traveled very close to Art Center (when it stopped at KidSpace) but backtracked to the Museum of History.  I end up chatting with a family that was just as frustrated as I was.  But they had actually started the evening right at 6pm–I waited until 7pm).  They managed to stop at the Pacific Asia Museum first.  So we all arrived at the Museum of History and had to wait in line for the North shuttle.  Thankfully this area was well-organized.  They had signs for each bus so you knew where to wait to catch the appropriate bus (they should have done that at City Hall).  After three shuttle loads, we were finally on the North shuttle headed up to the Art Center gallery.  (This was not a short shuttle ride).

I was so excited when I finally arrived at the Art Center’s Williamson Gallery.  I made my way past the student work and into the new Pages exhibit (this was the opening night for the exhibit).  At first, I was in heaven with an exhibit focused on books.  There were some beautiful photographs of books and a floor to ceiling sculpture of stacked books (I wasn’t allowed to take photos of the artwork).

As you made your way toward the center of the exhibit, you had the opportunity to view books and book pages on loan from the Huntington Library, USC Special Library, and Caltech.  For me, this is where I started to feel like the Universe was playing a cruel joke on me.  Many of the books on exhibit were books I had seen before, when I went to the Huntington Library.  It was January of 2011 and I was at the Huntington Library on a date with Big.  However it was the manuscript poem, entitled “Beer” by Charles Bukowski, on loan from the USC Special Library Collection that led to my “Mr. Big” freak out.  When Big and I went to the Huntington, we were going for the Charles Bukowski exhibit.  Big and I are both book lovers, the book exhibit was our agreed favorite part of the Huntington (I hadn’t yet explored the gardens when I went with him).  Big and I met when we were at USC so the whole Charles Bukowski (and Beer, another story I won’t mention), Huntington and USC connection was more than I could handle.  It was too weird of a coincidence–the Universe is trying to tell me something, in my opinion.  Plus, as a lover of books, I don’t like to see books being destroyed, especially in the name of art.  Cutting up books or whiting out the majority of the words just feels like a crime to me.  So I was done.

Drawing of a typewriter at Pasadena City Hall

I made my way back to the shuttles.  One was leaving and the other still had space.  I boarded the shuttle, watched as it filled up and watched as we all just sat there.  The shuttle driver was on break.  It was 9:25 pm when the shuttle driver finally decided to return and begin our journey back to the Museum of History.  Once we arrived at the Museum, then we had to catch another shuttle back to downtown Pasadena, were the majority of the museums live.  The event ended at 10 pm so there wasn’t any point in trying to make it to another museum when the shuttle I was on had just departed the Pasadena Museum of History at 9:40 pm.

Pasadena City Hall

I arrived back at Pasadena City Hall at 9:59 pm.  I wasted the ArtNight experience on the Art Center–and shuttle experience.  (And the whole Big connection didn’t help matters).  Once again, the Pasadena “bus” service did not work in my favor.  At least now I know that next year, I should arrive at 6 pm and stick to the Museums closest to downtown.  Or as my California sister advised, “stick to the food trucks.”

Posted in Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Photography, Southern California, Spirituality, Tourism, Travel

Free Admission Friday: Personal Challenge, Day 19 (10.5.12)

On the first Friday of the month, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena offers free admission during the hours of 6-9 pm.  I haven’t been to the Norton Simon since I took a museum class at USC in 1998.  This was my first experience with the free Friday admission.  Even though this wasn’t my first trip to the museum, it has been so long that it felt like my first trip.  I do remember the Monet gardens and a few of the art pieces (by Renoir, Manet and Degas)but I don’t remember the theater or downstairs area for new exhibits.

So I started the exhibit with my grandfather’s rule for exploring new places–stick to the right.  And to my right resides the Asian Art exhibit.  This was Buddha heaven.  I walked through looking at every piece and reading the story of each.  I made my way downstairs to the main portion of the Asian Art Exhibit.  There was also a new exhibit on Still Life (no photographs allowed in this area).  But I was more interested in the Asian Art and all the Hindu and Buddhist artifacts on display.  I could go back to this exhibit over and over again.  Like I said before, it is Buddha heaven.

Afterwards, I went upstairs and stopped off at the Garden Cafe.  I ordered the Veggie Panini (I was sold when I saw it had Butternut Squash in it).  It was a pricey meal but very tasty.

While sitting in the Garden, enjoying my meal, I had the opportunity to people watch.  I’m not sure if it was because of “Free Friday” but I was in shock by the behavior of some of the patrons.  I saw a woman in pajama bottoms and a t-shirt sitting at a table while her young kids ran around the gardens, climbing on the statues and throwing things at the ducks in the pond.  I was actually surprised by how many toddlers were at the museum.  I can understand taking elementary aged children to a museum for an appreciation of art and culture, but infants and toddlers?  If I were a parent, I would not want to take my toddler to a museum filled with priceless artifacts.  And why wasn’t anyone saying anything when these children were climbing on the statues?  I got a phone call from my California sister and was asked to go outside yet some of these children were running, screaming through the museum.  I guess I will have to go back on another day to see if this is just something that happens on “Free Fridays.”

When I finished my meal and people watching session, I returned to the museum and headed off into the art collection areas where works by the old masters reside.  You can see works by Van Gogh, Manet, Renoir, Degas and Picasso.

It is said that art is subjective and the meanings are up for interpretation by the observer.  Well, if the observer is anything like me, you see the “dirty” interpretation of the art work.  I was surprised, at times, to read on the plaque besides the pieces that I was often right.

Another thing that I like to do when walking through looking at art, I like to come up with my own captions.  I’m sure if someone were observing me, seeing me giggle to myself, they would think I was crazy.  I heard people talking about the brush strokes, the lighting, the techniques, etc while I was thinking, “It looks like the angel wants to suckle her breast.”  I am an art teacher and I should be talking about the techniques, lighting, brush strokes, texture, composition, etc.  But I was here alone, on a Friday night.  I wasn’t in teacher mode.  I was being myself–my goofy, dirty-minded self and I was having fun.  And I didn’t say what I was thinking out loud.  I would stand in front of the paintings, think of a funny caption in my mind, smile and move onto the next.  On the outside, I played the part of a thoughtful art observer while in my mind, I was a 12-year-old mentally giggling at all the dirty, provocative art.

Overall, I would go back to the Norton Simon Museum.  The Asian Art exhibit alone might even convince me to get a membership.  But I think I do need to return during regular hours to see how the patrons differ to those who arrive on the Free Fridays.

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Posted in Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Spirituality, Tourism, Travel, Universe

Gallery of Inspiration: Personal Challenge, Day 17 (10.3.12)

Have you ever had one of those days where it becomes so clear that the Universe has plans for your life?  Well, I had one of those days.  I spent some time after work going through Pasadena View’s website and their page, 365 things to do in Pasadena page.  I printed out the listed, crossed off the places I had already visited and started to do some research on some of the events.  Then it just became a chain of events.  Google led me to Pasadena View’s website, the 365 Things to Do page led me to the Old Pasadena website and the Events page led me to a Gallery and Bookstore that I had never heard of before, Flower Pepper Gallery & Bookstore.  The name alone caught my attention.  But the events page mentioned that this particular gallery currently had a group show in exhibition entitled “The Color Blue.”  I clicked on the more info page and the show advertisement caught my eye.  I found the image intriguing and wanted to see more.  The title of the exhibit could mean so many different things (I started to think of Picaso’s Blue period) so the best way to satisfy my curiousity was to head over to Flower Pepper and check it out.

When I arrived in Old Town, I immediately found a paking spot right in front of the gallery (that never happens to me).  The Flower Pepper Gallery & Bookstore is literally right on the corner of Union and N. Arroyo Parkway.  When I first walked in, I was greeted by the extremely nice and courteous staff.  I probably could have stood there talking for hours, but I had only put 45 minutes worth of coins in the meter and of course the gallery would eventually have to close.

The art work in the exhibit, created by several local artists, truly fits the theme of “The Color Blue.”  The image titled “Baby Blue” by Dustin Myers was the first to catch my eye.  If I only had large quantities of money to spend on artwork, this would be the first added to my art collection.  And the image “The Comfort of Apathy” by Ryan Myers would be the perfect gift for my college roommate; this is an image that I think many from my generation would want hanging in their homes, reminding us of our own childhood (and Pee Wee Herman).

Every image in the exhibit had great depth and detail, leaving the true meanings of the work open for multiple interpretations.  The images are displayed on the Flower Pepper Gallery Bookstore website but I highly suggest heading down to Old Town Pasadena (if you are in the LA area) and checking them out in person.  They will be on display until October 19th and a new exhibit opens on the 20th (stop by and meet the artists opening night–contact the Gallery for more details).

This is definitely an art gallery that I would definitely want to check out every time they have a new exhibit.  Like I said, I think the Universe wanted me to go there today.  I made a new friend and hopefully a new partnership that will help me with one of my goals on my bucket list: to make a difference in the lives of others.  So stay tuned.  I think I will be writing more about the Flower Pepper in the future.