Pop-Up Art in Los Angeles

 

There’s a pop-up art show going on near downtown Los Angeles, installed by “The Art Department,” an anonymous art collective working in and around L.A. I went today, but be warned: the show will only be open 2 more days (Saturday and Sunday). A link to the show’s info is here. And if you’re planning to attend and want to be surprised, stop reading this post, dammit!

 

Dandelions: One Dandelion Per Person

 

Actually, I’m not sure if this is an art show or not. I think it may be something altogether different. It may be performance. It may be magic. Or maybe my experience was atypical. It certainly got off on the right foot…

 

I was driving (to the address I’d received in an email) when my phone rang. It was my sweet friend Cate Graves, who’s now living in Nashville. She was just checking in, but talking with Cate is never just anything. She’s a freaking light in the world and I adore her. Our conversation meandered, insights were shared, spiritual guidance was gifted. By the time we said our good-byes, I was in the designated parking lot and ready to get my art on. I’m telling you this bit because I want you to understand my frame of mind at that time. I was in a warm, gooey joy bubble after talking with my friend. And because I speak openly with her, I was a wee bit vulnerable. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just, well, it’s just where I was.

 

Anyhoo – “The Art Department” had provided certain guidelines for their pop-up, so I checked in with the folks tasked with readying visitors and was given a ticket…

 

Dandelions: Magic Ticket

 

Well that was intriguing! After a few minutes, our group was instructed to walk the short distance to the installation. I was still going over thoughts and ideas my friend had sprinkled around me, so I didn’t really talk to anyone in the group. But my head wasn’t down, either. I was terribly moved by a fence of bougainvillea I passed along the way. It was worth slowing down to really see it…

 

Dandelions: On The Walk to The Experience

 

Once we’d arrived at the installation site – a live electrical substation-  some last-minute instructions were given. I listened and walked toward the building. I realized I was tightly gripping the ticket I’d received only a few minutes before.

 

Dandelions: Outside the Electrical Substation Building

 

I knew the word Dandelions was associated with this pop-up. I did not know anything beyond that. So when I climbed the external stairs to enter the building, I had no idea what waited behind the wooden door…

 

Dandelions: Indoor Garden

 

The indoor garden took me by surprise and took me to joy. I started smiling and slowly walking through the living greenery, stopping here and there to study the scene.

 

Dandelions: Indoor Garden - So Many Wishes

 

The space wasn’t pretending to be anything other than itself, but it didn’t need to pretend. It was beautiful. It was engaging. It was alive.

 

Dandelions: Indoor Garden and Electric Substation Beyond

 

By the time I reached the end of the path, I really thought that might have been the whole she-bang. I had no idea how trippy-cool my experience was about to become.

 

I sat down with a uniformed gentleman who looked at me and asked, “Do you have your wish ready?” Y’all – I hadn’t prepared anything! But in that instant, I knew I did have a wish. And I was ready. So I answered in the affirmative and the gentleman drew something and asked if my wish resembled the drawing. I told him the truth, “I’ve never thought about how my wish might appear on paper. I suppose that’s as good an interpretation as any.” He asked if I was certain and I said I was. He then instructed me to go to the next station: The Wish-Tek 2000.

 

Dandelions: Wish-Tek 2000

 

The retro-cool of the moment wasn’t lost on me. The questions, though simple, made me really think about my wish. I continued to smile as I entered answers for each question. I may have laughed a few times, too. Once I’d completed my run-through of the program, I was instructed to go to the next station. There I found another uniformed  person, asking to see my hand stamp and ticket. After the lady processed my entry, I was sent into a room with a large map of L.A. County. There was also a printer there, continuously spitting out lines of prose.

 

Dandelions: It Was the City That Held You

 

The uniformed gentleman in that room handed me a small clipboard and instructed me to write my wish. He told me to then use a pin to attach my wish to the map, anywhere I wanted. I wrote the wish and after a moment of serious consideration, I chose a specific place to pin my wish. I moved on.

 

Dandelions: Wishes on the L.A. County Map

 

The next stop was really the culmination of the journey: setting my wish upon the air. The uniformed lady in that small space carefully chose a dandelion from a wall that contained about a jillion of the billowy orbs. She gave it to me and pointed to a wall, telling me to choose where my wish best fit…

 

Dandelions: Qualifying One's Wish

 

After blowing the dandelion seeds away and into the universe, I passed a window and looked through to the two-story high space occupying the same building. There were so many dandelion seeds moving through the air, it was magical. All I could think was how beautiful it was to see all those wishes floating about. All those dreams.

 

Dandelions: Wishes in the Air

 

I knew it was time for my experience to come to a close, so I walked toward the Seed Sorting Department…

 

Dandelions: Seed Sorting Department

 

I was astounded by the tremendous piles of seeds, practically filling the whole room. I took a few photos but realized the best pic was the one showing the seed sorter at work…

 

Dandelions: Seed Sorter at Work

 

I walked down a flight of stairs and made my way outside. I wasn’t caught off-guard by my constant smile. In the right frame of mind, I’m a pretty smiley chick. But I was surprised at the way I seemed to cry throughout the experience. I think the first tear fell when I entered the living garden and honestly, I didn’t stop crying until I was back in my car. That’s okay. Tears of joy are a gift. Having an unexpected artful experience is a gift. Living is a gift.

 

If you’re in L.A. and looking for something to do this weekend, consider going to the Dandelions installation. It’s quirky, it’s cool, it’s performance, it’s art. I don’t know how or why I was sent information about this pop-up. But I’m grateful to have seen it. And that wish I made? I’ll never tell…

 

Dandelions: Indoor Garden - One Final Glance

World Press Freedom Day

 

The Old Art Studio - Random Shelf

 

I just watched something on the Beeb News site that caused me to catch my breath and to tear up a bit. It’s here and it’s amazing. It’s a brief video about Zehra Dogan. Two minutes and forty two seconds.

 

To see the lengths a person is willing to go to for her truth, for her art – I am astounded. To see how brave someone can be in the face of oppression and inhumanity is inspiring.

 

Our world is pretty fucked up, friends. I don’t know why. I really don’t. But I do know that seeing others stand up to those who would destroy us is fuel for the decent, for the just. I needed this little boost today. And I am grateful.

“Privileged”

 

The Container Yard Outside Art by Sek

 

Kyle Korver is an NBA player for the Utah Jazz, a white player. He recently wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune, titled “Privileged.” If you’ve not read it, the link is here. And yes – I think you should read it.

 

I could go on and on about the piece, about my thoughts and feelings on the subject matter, but I won’t. Korver’s thoughts and feelings are expressed honestly. The man speaks truth.

 

May we all learn to listen.

You Can’t Make Everyone Happy

 

You're Not a Taco

 

New month. Same me.

 

That’s okay. Today I’m meditating on the fact that I can’t make everyone happy. Sometimes that may mean I can’t quite make me happy. At my best, I can ride out those times until a different day comes along and I am able to cajole myself to joy. Those days truly are the best.

 

For now, for today, I will do my best to simply be. To try to enjoy friends and loved ones. To see art and to let it wash over me. And maybe, just maybe, to have a taco. Tacos really are pretty freaking perfect.

Don’t Change

 

Mikki - Blurred

 

In 1983 or ’84 – I don’t remember which – I was in an elevator, riding to the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago. How I wound up there is basic: family vacation. I was a teenager in high school and family vay-cays were part of the drill. (I may or may not have been wasted. I honestly don’t remember.)

 

But I digress… Those elevators were freaking fast, even then. But I still had time to read the back of the t-shirt of one of my fellow Sears Tower elevator riders. It was from a concert tour: INXS. And there were the full lyrics (or so I assumed), to “Don’t Change.” Despite the lift’s speed, I was able to read all the text on that t-shirt’s back, the complete lyrics to a song I’d never heard by a band I didn’t know.

 

Cut to last night. I was watching “120 Minutes” on the MTV and the video for “Don’t Change” came on. (I may or may have been wasted. I honestly don’t care to tell you.) In the video, those baby-faced INXS mates looked as young as I probably did when I stood in that elevator reading the back of that stranger’s shirt, all those years ago. And the lyrics were as fabulous last night as they were then .

 

I think I’m molting, friends. At least that’s the pleasant way I’m choosing to see it. And shedding one’s skin to make way for growth is absolutely wonderful. But don’t kid yourself. There will always be parts of you that remain. And those parts are a gift from all the gods. Maybe it’s watching the end of “Romper Room” and waiting in vain to hear your name called as the sweet lady host looks in her mirror and announces the names of all she can see. Maybe it’s running to secure a seat during your very first concert at a general admission venue (Blondie, by the way), and your best friend losing one of her shoes and you yelling, “Leave it!” while tugging at her hand. Or maybe it’s an elevator ride, and liquid poetry that stays with you for all time, since before you heard its tune. There are parts of us that endure, no matter what.

 

And honestly, would you really want to change those parts of yourself?

 

Me, neither.

 

Mikki in Party Mode

Her Story Began…

 

G is For Girl

 

Once upon a time there was a gal who loved living. She loved the world. She loved seeing what might happen next.

 

She also felt things quite deeply. Sometimes she felt too much. At her best, she was able to process her feelings and all the resulting colors that filled her soul. At her best.

 

Other times, the world was too much for her. And she swayed beneath the weight. During those times, she drew inside her skin and tried to keep the darkness to herself. Whether or not this was a good idea never crossed her mind. The girl simply didn’t want that part of her to be shared.

 

There came a day when the girl realized she needed help. She needed her friends, yes, but she also needed to reach out beyond her circle for guidance. For better or worse (for better, surely), the girl recognized she could no longer muddle through her darkness. Her friends looked her in the eye and were there for her. Her doctor hugged her and said he would help. And she said thank you to each and every one of them.

 

She knew finding her footing would be work. She knew it wouldn’t be easy to get back to fitting in her skin. She knew the road would be long and that she would sometimes be traveling in darkness. She also knew she was strong. She knew she would eventually find the light. She knew her soul was worth saving.

 

And so her story began…

Street Art – Los Angeles

 

The Mural That Started It All 1

 

A couple of weeks ago Mister and I took part in an organized tour of street art in downtown L.A. I thought it would be cool. Turned out it was amaze-balls. (The image shown above is the mural that started it all, as far as large-scale works go in the Arts District. And for the record, Mister took most of these photos.)

 

Tour Guides

 

Our guides – Galo and Shandu – were established, known artists themselves. And they could not have been more lovely.

 

The Container Yard Outside Art 3

 

We saw art in every direction, including beneath our feet…

 

Beneath our Feet

 

And above our heads.

 

Above our Heads

 

The rain was dumping buckets. (Did I mention it was raining during the tour?) And you’d think that would have detracted from the experience, but you’d be wrong.

 

Mikki on The Tour

 

Somehow the rain made the art more alive. There was more grit to it, more beauty, too.

 

Mural by Tristan Eaton

 

This next work is one of my favorites. Had I not been given specific information about the piece, I still would have liked it but maybe not as much as I do. We were told Royyal Dog came over from Asia and got to work. He didn’t grid the building for drawing his design, nor did he use a projector. He just got in a cherry picker and looked at the phone in his hand and took off. The entire piece was done with spray paint and was finished in 3 days. 3 days, y’all! I mean really. Just look at those gorgeous faces…

 

Mural by Royyal Dog

 

We saw piece…

 

Unfuck Yourself Mural

 

after piece…

 

Mural by El Mac_Kofie_Nuke

 

And our minds were blown.

 

Mural by Helena_Paints

 

The next piece I want to tell you about is the metal art attached to the pole (below). This work is by Blake Shane and from what I understand, he’s a homeless artist working with found materials. Surrounded by such large-scale works, it would be easy to miss. I’m so glad I didn’t…

 

Art by Blake Shane

 

Some of the works are easily recognizable, like these by Its a Living

 

Mural by Its a Living

 

 

Mural by Its a Living and More

 

Others, not so much…

 

Mural 4_Phone Photo

 

There were so many artists represented…

 

Mural Detail by Plek_Black Light King_UTI

 

so many styles…

 

Mural by Low Bros

 

Some may have felt overwhelmed by the works.

 

Mural by Nychos

 

I felt awe.

 

Mural

 

After our walking tour ended, we headed to The Container Yard for a lesson in spray-painting.

 

Art Lesson Mikki

 

Now, a lot of us may have zero-point-zero experience making wall art with spray paint, but a lot of us have at least used the stuff for various tasks and projects. But I have to tell you – there were a few folks in our group who seemed to have never even held a can of paint. For reals. Watching them applying color to the paper set before us was so joyful, I was a grinning fool. It was as if those adults were getting in touch with their inner children and playing. I kind of loved it.

 

Montana Shop at The Container Yard

 

Not only that, but Shandu, who is a fabulous stencil artist…

 

Art by Shandu One

 

demonstrated some of his own stencil work in action…

 

Art Lesson_Stencil Tutorial by Shandu One

 

And he was gracious enough to talk to me about the stencils themselves. I don’t know why, but it had never occurred to me that one might need two stencils for a single project, representing the positive and the negative space of the work. That may mean nothing to you, but to me it was revelatory.

 

Art Lesson_Stencil Tutorial by Shandu One_Mikki_Negative and Positive Space

 

And then we got an impromptu tour of The Container Yard itself…

 

The Container Yard Tour_Art 2

 

While there, I talked with a working street artist whose likeness is obscured…

 

The Container Yard Tour_Mikki and Street Artist in Event Space 2

 

I asked him about this and he said he’s still one of the cats out there working in darkness, usually without permission. Nice kid. Talented, too.

 

The Container Yard Tour_Art

 

We took in as much art as we could…

 

The Container Yard Tour_Art 5

 

And then our day was over.

 

The Container Yard Tour_Art by Vyal One

 

If you find yourself in Los Angeles and you’re looking for something fun to do for a few hours, I highly recommend a tour with L.A. Art Tours.  These folks are legit and they offer multiple options for experiencing and learning about street art and graffiti in the Arts District. Personally, I can hardly wait to go back and do the Craft Beer and Urban Art/Graffiti Tour. In fact, had it not been smack-dab in the middle of Dry-uary, a beer (or two) would have paired quite nicely with taking in the art. Damn.

 

The Container Yard Outside Art by Binho Ribeiro

 

And if you’re still unconvinced, please remember that my rag-tag group walked around together in the rain…

 

Yeni and Mural Detail by Trixter

 

Rain! And we loved it so freaking much.

 

Undiscovered America

 

I am still in awe.

 

Mural by Adam Dare

Sorry We’re So Sorry

 

Historic Chinese Theatre - View From the Owners Box

 

Sorry to hit you with this on a Friday. I’m sorry to hit you with it any time, really. It’s that pitiful. It is also that important.

 

The other night I attended a documentary screening. (It was powerful, lovely, and it’s called “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” and I’ll be thinking about it for some time.) Before the feature documentary was shown, a documentary short appeared on the screen. It was all of seven minutes and it left a full theatre silently stunned.

 

A Night at the Garden” is terrifying, heartbreaking, ominous. Unfortunately, it is also real. And I think it should be seen. That’s why I’ve given you the link to its site, where the short can be viewed in its entirety. It is only seven minutes – promise.

 

Like I said, I’m sorry to hit you with this. I’m also sorry we’re so sorry. We are, you know. And I’m afraid that owning it is the only way we’re likely to become better. Dear god – may my hope not be in vain.

On the Basis of Awesomeness

 

The other day, my friend Baker Jen and I went to see “On the Basis of Sex.” The movie was awesome and I loved it dearly. My affection for our lord and savior RBG continues to grow.

 

When Baker Jen and I were making our way to our cars, we spotted this sandwich board…

 

Always Believe in Yourself

 

Relevance and inspiration abound. As does my gratitude.

Intersections

 

Bathing Beauties

 

Mister and I recently watched “Marwencol” and it left me, well, fucked up.

 

For those who don’t know, this 2010 documentary is about Mark Hogancamp and the world he has created. He was just an ordinary dude until some assholes beat the crap out of him. After that, Hogancamp found he had lost his memory. It’s far more detrimental and detailed than I’m telling (so please go to the link above and read for yourself), but the documentary is quite lovely in explaining the story. It also gives the viewer an eye into the art Hogancamp is now known for making. There’s a new drama out currently (“Welcome to Marwen“), based on Hogancamp’s story, but I’ve not seen it. I got lucky. I was at a different fabulous documentary screening last month (“Kusama: Infinity“) and the director advised attendees to see “Marwencol” before seeing the dramatization. Boy was she right.

 

But back to the fucked-up part. “Marwencol” is amazing. The intersection of art, real life and fantasy shown in the film overwhelmed me. I want to say it was a good thing, but I’m not sure. I mean – it really rattled my brain, y’all. It led me to see that I don’t have much of a clue about the intersections of my own life. That even though I try to stay on my path, I am lost more often than I care to admit. That my path doesn’t come with a map. “Marwencol” hit me pretty hard. I’m working through the triggered feelings, but I think this might stay with me for a while.

 

In trying to ease my mind and soul along, I thought maybe I should take in some art, live and in-person. So I went to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. I freaking love this place. It’s quite accessible and a gal can get through the displayed collection in one outing. I’ve been there a few times recently, and my affection for the place continues to grow.

 

"Tiptoe Down to Art" by Hassel Smith - 1950

 

On this day, my soul fell into a painting and I needed to sit for a while. Hassel Smith’s “Tiptoe Down to Art” grabbed hold and I was done for. The colors seemed to hold me, warmly. The texture stroked my spirit. I spent a good twenty minutes studying this piece and I’m quite certain I still missed obvious aspects. I wish I could tell you why it moved me so, but I have no idea. It simply did. I smiled some, cried some. And when I stood to go, I looked over my shoulder, one last time. I may have to visit it again.

 

"Coronation of the Virgin Altarpiece" by Guariento di Arpo - 1344

 

I was listening to music while walking around the museum, and when I got to Guariento di Arpo’s “Coronation of the Virgin Altarpiece,” I again found I needed to sit. This time it was Laura Cantrell’s fault. Her song – “Bees” – came through my ear buds and it zapped me. Though the song/album is dedicated to John Peel, I found it astounding how well-suited the lyrics were to the various panels of di Arpo’s work. My eyes moved over the piece, settling on a new aspect with each line of the song. At some point, I actually imagined Jesus missing bees. I’m not kidding. With the song’s final words, “My time is short now, I feel it coming, I’ll see you darling on the other side,” I looked up and saw Jesus on a cross and was awed by the meshing. I was in that shit and it was powerful. When the song ended, I took it as my cue to mosey.

 

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, just wandering around. I also wasn’t listening for anything in particular. The playlist keeping me company holds close to 200 songs and was set to random play. It wasn’t odd or even interesting that a Dido song came up in the rotation. Except that it was. For just as the song began, I rounded a corner and saw this…

 

The Legend of Dido

 

The exhibit was lovely. It had nothing to do with the music in my ears, but it made me smile. The gods enjoy a little humor from time to time. This time it was relatively banal, but it was appreciated just the same.

 

After a while, I walked out to the garden. I figured it was my last chance to get some clarity. I searched, but found none.

 

"Reclining Figure" by Henry Moore - 1956-60

 

“Marwencol” really did a number on me. Good art is like that. Sometimes we are centered enough to understand its effects. Sometimes not. I’m feeling a mixture of both right now and may be dealing with the resonance for some time. There’s a lot of life swirling in my mind and in my soul. That’s just who I am. How I am. It’s true I don’t have a map. I often don’t have a clue. But I keep going. That’s also who I am, how I am. I can’t imagine being any other way.