I Said Yes

 

Max and Trust

 

So much has been going on, and nothing at all has been going on. That’s how life rolls sometimes. For me, it seems that’s how it rolls most of the time.

 

All the same, my intentions of sharing things with you have been patiently waiting for me to get my ass in gear. As it’s now officially Summer, I feel the day should be treated with a modicum of reverence. To serve those feelings, I give you a glimpse or two into my world…

 

Vidalias

 

I’m making my way through 20 pounds of Vidalia onions. And I’m enjoying every damned one.

 

Tomatoes

 

We’re also starting to get some tomatoes from our little plants. I call them little, but a couple of the plants are at least 8 feet high and still growing. I don’t understand it any more than you. But I’m not complaining, because all the gods know there’s nothing as good as homegrown tomatoes, y’all.

 

Props Only

 

I worked on a film set for the first time in ages. It was a one-day shoot and I ended up dealing mostly with props. I declared myself to be the day’s Ice Cream Wrangler. Someone had to do it. It reminded me of how much goes on behind the scenes, work that will never be shown or seen. I respect the hell out of the professionals who make cinematic art. Because I got to be a part of this particular shoot, with such lovely people, I enjoyed the day more than I can express.

 

View From LACMA - Deathstar

 

I attended a crazy-cool happening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Throughout the exhibit space of Robert Rauschenberg’s 1/4 Mile, various musicians roamed about, improvising and collaborating to create soundscapes based on the work and the moment. It was trippy and, in some instances, inspired. Once I’d absorbed as much of the evening as I could, I walked outside and spotted work on the adjacent Death Star. It’s not really the Death Star. It’s architect Renzo Piano’s ambitious new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. It’s sure to be astounding, once it’s finished. But I have no doubt it will always be called the Death Star. As it should be.

 

Drinking Cask Ale Makes Me...

 

I also went to the kick-off event for L.A. Beer Week. I was a fish, I was. And I was happy about it, too. (Baker Jen is responsible for the sticker I’m wearing in the above photo. She’s cool like dat.)

 

Baby Hummingbirds

 

Baby hummingbirds got hatched, grew and have already flown away. Little Mama had built the nest and was keeping it warm before we even realized what was going on. Once those babies made their debut, they were in high-gear. They were only there a couple of weeks and then they were gone. Nature. Who knew?

 

Michael Watkins, Director of JPL & Me

 

I got my geek on at JPL‘s open house. When I spotted the dude shown above, I didn’t hesitate to embarrass myself. That’s Dr. Michael Watkins, the director of JPL and a rock star of the science world. Yes – I am that person. I do indeed nerd out for brains.

 

The Liza Minnelli Room at Feinstein's at Vitello's

 

And then there was this week. I was getting some exercise and passed by a place I’ve been many times. It’s a restaurant with an upstairs club. (The restaurant played into Robert Blake’s wife’s infamous murder. Yeah.) I walked past and doubled back. The upstairs club had a new name: Feinstein’s at Vitello’s. As in Michael Feinstein. I wasn’t sure when that had happened, so when I got home I looked on the interwebz and saw that last weekend was the official grand opening of the supper club. I also saw that Michael Feinstein himself had provided the entertainment during the grand opening, with a little help from his friend, Miss Liza Minnelli. Da fuh? I missed that show, which was a shame. But I saw that Melissa Manchester was set to perform during the week, and tickets were still available. I grew up loving that gal. As I sat at my computer, thinking about whether or not I could justify laying out the dough for a ticket, I realized I was singing her songs. I remembered the lyrics, I remembered the tunes. I bit the bullet and bought myself a seat for the show.

 

As I was flying solo that night, I had no idea where I’d be seated or with whom. When I checked in with the hostess, she asked if I was meeting anyone and I told her no. She asked for my name, which I provided, and she said, “Well Mikki – you’re about to make some friends.” Then she led me to a table where 3 men were already seated and engaged in conversation. The hostess said, “Gentlemen – this is Mikki. Mikki – this is Troy, Steven and Max.” She walked away, I sat down, and the 4 of us commenced to talking.

 

I’m a friendly gal and I’m generally a pretty good gauge of people’s decency. But I don’t rush into getting to know people and I don’t give out my digits all willy-nilly. I’m a fairly private person and I’m okay with that. So it was rather surprising to find myself having a mature, honest and soulful conversation with those 3 guys. And it wasn’t just me. They seemed to recognize that something unique was happening as well. The 4 of us were engaging in the manner of old friends. It was lovely. It was refreshing. It was crazy.

 

And the show? I don’t know what to tell you. Melissa Manchester took the stage, began her first song of the evening, and I started crying. (Gentle, happy tears, mind you.) And I smiled and cried right through to the end of the show. Her voice is as resonant and sonorous as ever. She is a beautiful performer. She kind of blew my mind.

 

Miss Liza Minnelli

 

It turned out that Michael Feinstein was also in the audience. So was Miss Liza Minnelli. That’s her in the hat, barely visible in the center of the above photo. Though you can’t tell from this pic, she was as cute as a fucking button. For reals.

 

Melissa Manchester and Troy

 

After the show, my new pals and I stayed for a meet and greet. That’s Troy with Melissa Manchester.

 

Melissa Manchester and Me

 

And that’s me with her. When you meet an idol, your glee just about cracks your face.

 

So many things that pop up in life require an answer. A lot of the time I say No. And let’s be honest – No is often the correct answer. But not always. Sometimes life invites me to say Yes. And sometimes I do. When I decided to go to that Melissa Manchester show, I didn’t know what the night might hold. I only knew that the kid in me really wanted to see one of my vocal heroes. I didn’t know she would be amazing. I didn’t know I was going to experience a sincere connection with 3 strangers. I didn’t know the 4 of us would be texting one another and trying to plan a get-together in a few months time. I didn’t know I would come away from the night as a better version of myself. Someone whose skin fit a little more than it did the day before.

 

The Stalkers

 

But that’s exactly what I got. Magic. All because I said Yes.

Satan’s Butthole

 

 

It’s gonna be warm today. And that means a couple of things.

 

1. My ass is gonna be in that pool.

 

2. Mister will surely say something about the heat being as hot as satan’s butthole. (I tend to compare the heat to that found around satan’s ball sack, but hey – that’s just me.)

 

So when I spotted the detail of the artwork shown above while touring the Guillermo del Toro exhibit at LACMA, I knew I had to snap a pic for Mister. When I showed it to him, I think he was quite pleased.

 

The things we do for love…

“Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters” at LACMA

 

 

Last weekend Mister and I attended a preview of a new exhibit at L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA): “Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters.”

 

 

Before I get into it, let me tell you that Mister thought this blog post needed only 2 words of text: Mind. Blown. He was right, but, as per usual, he’s not the boss of me.

 

 

Anyhoo – this was the busiest preview I’ve attended at LACMA, and we we had to wait in a couple of lines to get in. That caught me off-guard, and threw me a bit. So when we finally entered the exhibit, it took me a while to get into it (and out of my head). But then I did get into it. I got so very into it that I became giddy and excited to venture around every corner.

 

 

Curated by del Toro, it is a fabulous exhibit holding his personal collection from his L.A. home, Bleak House. The title is perfect, as it expresses how del Toro lives with his collection, as you can see from the photo of his home…

 

 

I’m not someone who seeks out the macabre or gore.

 

 

And yet I am familiar with del Toro’s works and I’m a fan. (If you’ve not seen “Pan’s Labyrinth” – you have no idea how truly amazing del Toro’s imagination can be.) His genuine affection for monsters and darkness is lovely. Really.

 

 

Some of the oddities on display seemed so comfortable to me. I can’t explain it. I felt at home with his pieces. More than once, I simply felt awe.

 

 

And then I came around a corner, looked up and did a little happy dance. In a low whisper, I began chanting, “One of us! One of us!”…

 

 

The life-size sculptures inspired by the 1932 film “Freaks” were so joyous and beautiful, I could hardly contain myself.

 

 

I’m sure many in attendance were familiar with “Freaks.” But I did notice a few folks laughing at me, just the same, upon hearing my excited chanting and seeing me very nearly bouncing up and down. Their laughs didn’t bother me one bit. I was elated.

 

 

The exhibit is enormous, to be sure. And reading the descriptive placards placed near each piece was not only helpful but fascinating as well.

 

 

If a sculpture’s subject wasn’t recognizable, the info provided shined a light. And the caliber of work is just fantastic.

 

 

When I saw del Toro’s notebook on display, it fit in perfectly and showed his relevance in the collection, not only as its curator, but also as an artist…

 

 

Some pieces were head-scratchers…

 

 

Others, like the painting below, were simply phenomenal works of art…

 

 

Once Mister and I had spent a fair amount of time touring the exhibit, we took our leave. I did buy the accompanying book of this exhibit, as it’s gorgeous and I want to be able to visit del Toro’s monsters once in a while.

 

 

Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters” will be on display at LACMA through 27 November of this year. If you are in the Los Angeles area (or plan to be), I urge you to see it. It is inspiring and unique and lovely. Words fail me. I truly adored it.

 

 

And while I have never, ever wanted to own a life-size sculpture of anyone, I admit to being terribly smitten with “Schlitzie” by Thomas Kuebler, and the idea of having her in a corner of the New Pad causes my soul to bubble. Just thinking about her makes me smile with abandon…

 

Mind. Blown. Mister was right.

Rain Room at LACMA

 

 

Recently Mister and I went to the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA) for a special exhibit: Rain Room. This timed-ticket event was something we decided to do without knowing what we were in for. Honestly, I didn’t bother to read much about it and only knew the basics as presented in a confirmation email I received a few days before our scheduled visit. Here’s what happened…

 

 

Upon arrival at LACMA, we were told the exhibit (Rain Room) was running a little late and that we could probably arrive at the entrance 10 minutes after our stated ticket time. So Mister and I decided to see the Mapplethorpe exhibit beforehand. (I had seen the photos already, but Mister had not. By the way, this exhibit is only on display through 31 July, so shake a tail feather and get yourself to Museum Row to see it!) Once we cruised through that, we made our way to the Rain Room entrance. We were only about 2 minutes behind our scheduled entry, but were told we were late! (Apparently, they had made up lost time since our arrival at the museum.) No worries, however, as we would be allowed entry with the next group in about 10 minutes. As we stood at the front of the queue, we started talking about how we had no idea what to expect. Rather suddenly, I found myself getting excited. The docent then began giving us instructions and pointers. We were told to move very slowly through the exhibit, as slow movement would interrupt the “rain” falling from the ceiling. We could expect to get a little wet, but not drenched. There would be a “dry” area all around the perimeter of the room. We were encouraged to take photos. And then we entered a long, dark hallway, where we were met by another docent. We could see a shaft of light coming from the main room and we could hear the sounds of falling water. And that was it. Once the second docent assessed the main room as being empty (of previous visitors), she allowed us entry.

 

 

The room was stark, lit by a single spotlight. The rain was pleasantly loud and cool. One by one, we all ventured into the downfall and experienced the magic of Rain Room.

 

 

 

This is my uneducated assessment, so please don’t judge. I’m thinking there were motion sensors placed throughout the room, and when triggered, they stopped the flow of water in the area of movement. This allowed visitors to walk through the “rain” without getting wet. One could stand in a single spot and turn slowly to see rain falling all around. It was magical and fun and cool. It was also beautiful.

 

 

 

But we did get wet. Think of it like this: when you turn off your shower, water still drips from the head. That’s sort of what happened in Rain Room. The flow of water stopped above a moving person, but the remaining water that clung to the ceiling couldn’t help but be affected by gravity. And so of course it fell. But it was a hot day and that water was super cool, so I didn’t mind. Plus, we rarely experience real rain in Los Angeles, so this was kind of a psychic treat. And I loved it. After a while, Mister and I decided we were rained out and we took our leave.

 

 

Rain Room will be at LACMA for a few months more and requires advanced ticketing. I encourage you to give it a whirl, if only for the kid inside you who remembers what it’s like to play in sprinklers in summer. It is lovely and it is calming. I’m so glad we went.

Thursday Memories

 

 

A couple of days ago I mentioned I’d be seeing my dear friend, Kate Graves. And I did. The photo shown above is from the summer I first met Kate, along with her sister, Sarah Sample. It was – gulp – a whole decade ago.

 

 

Kate lives in Santa Barbara now, and she took the train down for an art outing this week. We went to Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to see the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit. When I told Mister where Kate and I were going, he asked if we’d see a photo with a whip coming out of a butt. And yes – we did. But we saw so much more. Mapplethorpe’s work is so gorgeous, I found myself crying a couple of times. I was overcome with what he managed to capture in his subjects. Their honesty and beauty was on full display. So were a lot of body parts, and I guess that’s what people tend to think of most when Mapplethorpe comes to mind. But my god! The man was a tremendous talent and I strongly encourage anyone near L.A. to visit this exhibit before it closes on July 31st.

 

 

After we’d absorbed the Mapplethorpe works, we walked outside to see Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass. We were still discussing the Mapplethorpe works, but we were also laughing about life and earthquakes. Honestly – if you can’t laugh, what can you do?

 

 

After a too-short day together, during which I about talked her ear off, I drove Kate to the train station and bid her farewell. Our art outing had been lovely. Our time together had been dear. It’s funny how life can lead two paths to cross. Lucky for me, my path crossed that of Kate Graves. I am all the better for knowing her.

 

D-Squared T-Squared – Week 13

 

 

Okay. So sometimes a gal signs up for something and it ends up being so flippin’ awesome, she can hardly stand it…

 

It all started back in November of last year. Mister and I went to LACMA to see the Calder exhibit. It was too cool for school and we got a little hyped-up about learning to make our own Calder-esque mobiles. After some digging on the interweb, we found a place that offered a class for that very goal. We signed up for an intro class and filed away any further thoughts. No need to focus on it until it popped up on the calendar, right? Well, friends, it popped.

 

This past weekend Mister and I attended an intro to welding class. And it was amazing! Not only did we get to work a little with a MIG and TIG welders, we also got to work with a band saw, an oxy acetylene torch and a plasma cutter. For reals! I thought we’d get a broad brushstroke sort of experience and that would be it. But no! We also got to make something while learning: a cowbell!

 

The class was small (only 5 students), and the teacher – Matt – was great. Molten Metal Works is his shop and it’s primo. I couldn’t believe how much fun I had. For reals. And though I was very, very, very concerned about safety – duh – the night was smooth and without incident. (There was an earthquake, but I didn’t feel it so there you go.) When all was said and done, Mister and I agreed we would like to take another class there. Time and money. It always comes down to that. We’ll just have to wait and see.

 

In the meantime, we each have our own handcrafted cowbells to enjoy. I am terribly biased, I know, but I sure do love mine…

 

If you live in L.A. and are even a little bit curious about welding, I highly recommend checking out this place. If you end up going, let me know how your cowbell turns out!

Awesome Exhibit at LACMA

 

 

Sometimes when I see art, I’m moved. (Sometimes not, but that’s another story.) I often feel emotion, brought on by whatever I’m viewing or experiencing. And that’s great. I relish those moments and the art that inspires them. But a few days ago I saw a new exhibit at LA County Museum of Art (LACMA): Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic, and I had a rather surprising reaction. I giggled.

 

Mister and I had free tickets, and though I knew next to nothing about Alexander Calder or his work, I rarely turn down free, y’all. So off to the museum we went. My expectations weren’t too lofty, as I did know I’d be seeing mobiles. The things made of wire and stuff? All balance-y and move-y and such? And we did see mobiles. And they were indeed balance-y and move-y and such. But they were so much more. The simplicity was lovely and the structural brilliance was smile-inducing. Honestly, before I knew what was happening, I was grinning from ear to ear and reveling in girlish laughter. There was just something about Calder’s beautiful, mesmerizing work that I found to be powerfully uplifting.

 

Most of the pieces on exhibit were made in the 1930′s and ’40′s. There are a few later works, and those are pretty impressive sculptures, “stabiles” I believe they were called. While there, I learned that Marcel Duchamp was the originator of calling Calder’s works “mobiles.” I love factoids like that!

 

This show runs through July 27, 2014. So if you’re in or around L.A. (or find yourself here for a visit), do try to pop over to LACMA. A little positive spirit goes a long, long way.

A Heart For Art

 

 

I haven’t been to LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) since seeing the James Turrell Retrospective. And my heart is feeling the distance.

 

Art is definitely a part of my daily life. But there’s no such thing as too much. And when I go to LACMA, I never know what I’ll see. Which is awesome! Just walking around the outdoor space is a treat.

 

I guess just walking around period is a treat. Maybe that’s what I’m lacking today. Strolling. No time like the present to remedy that…

James Turrell at LACMA

 

 

Last weekend I experienced one of the coolest outings of recent memory. Mister and I went to the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA) for their newest exhibit: James Turrell – A Retrospective. Turrell is an artist who works primarily with light and space. He’s been at this for a few decades, and he’s very good at what he does.

 

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Light? Come on,” then you’re not alone. I, too, was skeptical when I signed up to see this exhibit. And when I entered the museum space dedicated to Mr. Turrell’s work, I still had my suspicions. The first art encountered in the exhibit consists of drawings and photos. I wasn’t blown away, I admit. But then I moved into the next room, and I was drawn in. Each subsequent work affected me more and more. By the time I had gone through most of the retrospective, I was a fan. And then something wonderful happened.

 

Mister and I had signed up for Turrell’s “Perceptual Cell” experience. At an appointed time, we reported to the lab-coat clad operators and signed a waiver. After the formalities, the fun began. I stepped up on a raised platform, removed my shoes and lay down on the sphere’s bed. Instructions were given: if I needed to stop the experience (for any reason), I only had to press an emergency button and the machine would be shut down. Headphones were put into place and the operator slid the bed into the sphere and closed the opening so that the interior became a seamless shell. It felt as if I were floating in the middle of a giant orb. And then the program began.

 

Lights flashed before my eyes, while coordinated sounds streamed through the headphones. I didn’t know what to think, or how to feel. I just went with it, and my mind did the same. After a very short amount of time, geometric shapes began to appear around me. The lights continued to flash and the colors changed periodically. The sound was perfectly aligned with the lights. Personally, I not only saw shapes, I also saw scenes of distant lands. I recognized Greece and Egypt. But I can’t name anything else I saw. I reached my hand out, high above my face. The lights and the shapes continued around and over my hand. I relaxed. There were moments when I felt as if I was absorbing the light. And then the feeling switched and it felt as I was being absorbed by the light. I wish I could describe it better, but I simply can’t. When I thought about 4 minutes must have passed, the lights stopped flashing and the headphone’s sounds ceased as well. I felt the sphere’s bed begin to move and realized the operator had opened the machine’s door and was slowly rolling the bed out into the room. I had been in the sphere for a full 10 minutes.

 

A few weeks ago I watched a documentary about the world’s ancient cave paintings. No matter where these paintings were discovered – across all continents and some as old as 40,000 years – they often have something in common: geometric patterns. And though science long wondered how and why this common feature existed, the current theory is that the creators of these ancient paintings all entered their brains’ alpha states, triggering the shared experience of geometric visions, which they then painted. The documentary covered a lot more ground and it was fascinating. I couldn’t relate to that alpha state, but I still thought it was pretty danged cool.

 

Jump to my “Perceptual Cell” experience at LACMA. When I sat up after being rolled out of the sphere, the machine’s operator asked me a few questions. Did I feel alone? Yes, but I didn’t feel lonely. Did I see geometric shapes and patterns? Yes. To which she responded: The shapes and patterns weren’t projected by the machine. Apparently, everyone who goes on this ride has that same visual experience, as our brains are led into the alpha state.

 

I realize I’m giving a rudimentary rendering of this experience (at best), and I apologize for that. But please don’t let my base-level explanation keep you from this awesome exhibit. If you live in or near L.A., plan to go to LACMA for James Turrell – A Retrospective. And if you’re planning to visit Los Angeles, do the same. But be warned: “Perceptual Cell” is already booked solid through September of this year! The exhibit runs until April 6, 2014.

 

As for me, I’m glad Mister and I signed up for this experience. We had no idea what we were in for. And isn’t that true of life, generally? Yes. Yes it is.