Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 3 (Part 2) - DTLA and The Last Bookstore

January 25, 2016 (continued): The next place I wanted to check out was The Last Bookstore which was in walking distance from Grand Central Market.


On my way there, I spotted another cool electrical box with the Egyptian God Anubis, painted in a way that reminds me of Sanna Annukka’s scandinavian style animals.


I passed through the Historic Core of DTLA with many beautiful buildings having an architectural style dating back to the early 1900s.


Upon entering the store, I could see why this was a highly recommended place to visit as it was part art installation/gallery, part bookstore. There were sculptural pieces made of books everywhere in the main room, including the checkout bar station.


When coming from the front the room to the left is the art/design books section, so of course it had to be filled with little bits of artistic expression. On the walls were these beautiful, largely detailed pencil(?) drawing murals. The back of the room had a large gallery of paintings in different styles, from thrift store chic to modern, contemporary works.


Even the stairway area had little bits of art thrown in, albeit a bit creepy, even more so when I was editing this image and noticed reflected in the security mirror, that there was a person standing in the stairwell.


Hanging above the stairs was a gothic-esque sculpture.


Further up was an art installation reminiscent of something out of Harry Potter, where the books come alive appear to be “flying” out of the bookcase.


Part of the upstairs has a few mini shops selling cool vintage trinkets, to paintings, to stationery bits and bobs.


Once you reach the end of the loop of mini shops, there is an entrance to the upstairs part of the bookstore. Here, are even more sculptural book wonders, from little windows, to a lit up cave.


Also sprinkled throughout are more artsy influenced installations including 3D murals, color categorized bookshelves and various vintage sculptures.


Their inventory of books is a mixture of new, and secondhand with a few hard to find thrown in. I would recommend visiting whether you’re a bibliophile or quirky art connoisseur!


On the way back to my car, I spotted a few more representations of DTLA’s eclectic mix of artistic inspiration like this pretty black and white building.


To the *ahem* creepy.


To the amusing.

Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 3 (Part 1) - Eggslut, Grand Central Market, and the Bradbury Building

January 25, 2016 (continued): Day 3 of my trip in LA, consisted of tackling the Downtown area. For breakfast, I definitely wanted to try the much lauded, Eggslut - I’d seen it mentioned by a couple YouTubers and the food looked delicious. Their first and only location at the time was in Grand Central Market, a hub of many different food vendors that you could eat cuisines from around the world and never have left that place.


Since this was their only location at the time, and as many hyped places tend to have, the line stretched around the block. Usually I just skip it if there’s a line, because most of the time the line wait vs the food in the end is almost never worth it. But I was determined and the line moved fairly quickly so it wasn’t too bad. The menu is pretty simple with only a few selections, so I ordered the Fairfax Sandwich (soft scrambled eggs, chives, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, sriracha mayo, in a brioche bun), it’s namesake the Slut (coddled egg on top of a puree poached in a glass jar, topped with gray salt, chives and served with a baguette), and fresh orange juice.


Now living in LA I have tried a few of Eggslut’s different items and I feel like most are just ok, tend to be quite rich, and the seasoning is hit or miss, except for the Slut. That is almost worth waiting in line for on its own to me, as when you receive the Slut, you quickly stir the coddled egg into the potato puree and then dip your baguette in. The warm, creaminess of the mixture coats your mouth in deliciousness and the crunch of the bread adds a nice, needed counterbalance to the smooth texture.


After my big breakfast, I needed some java to get me going for the rest of the day. I stopped by G&B Coffee, still in Grand Central Market and ordered a Mocha and what I thought was a sweet potato pie, but it turns out it was a coffee flavor, so I was double fisting it on to my next locale. While stopping to figure out how to carry all my equipment and 2 coffees, I had a direct view of the famous Angels Flight, which was featured in the movie La La Land.


While researching the area, I saw that the Bradbury building was nearby and a neat place to visit if you’re into interiors/architecture. It is still a functioning office building, so you’re only able to go in the lobby area unless you have an appointment. Originally built in 1893, it has been featured in several films including Blade Runner and 500 Days of Summer.


When you walk in, you immediately are transported back in time with all the architectural details of the past. The entire ceiling is a glass skylight, to let the natural light shine through.


The gorgeous, ornate ironwork staircases are divine, I mean I have an entire board on Pinterest dedicated to stairs, so you know I’m a little obsessed with these.


To top it off they still have a set of working birdcage elevators. I would definitely recommend stopping by if you’re in the area.


Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 2 (Part 4) - Sunset Blvd Street Art

January 25, 2016 (continued): I decided to finish off my day with a walk around Sunset Blvd. I thought things would be open at night but only a few restaurants were still going. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to be wandering around at night alone, but I enjoyed the walk and came across some interesting street art along the way.

An amusing switcheroo.


Love this message, and I do believe in signs. This was most definitely one of them since after this trip, I decided to move to LA.


Was this a tribute to Zombie Boy?


I passed by the famous celeb hub, Chateau Marmont.


I had also spotted this eerie scene of a stuffed animal hanging upside down from a telephone wire. Later googling reveals conflicting theories, either it’s by a girl gang or artist Manny Castro and Hearts Revolution are behind it.


Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 2 (Part 3) - Santa Monica Pier

January 25, 2016 (continued): After briefly visiting Venice Beach, I headed down the road to my other destination on my checklist, Santa Monica. Tip if you’re ever visiting, I mistakenly parked on the pier and paid for parking, but later I found out when I moved to LA that there are several free 90 minute parking lots around Santa Monica. Not only that but navigating, down the pier in your car with the heavy traffic of people walking up and down the ramp is no easy feat.

Once out of the parking lot, I was immediately greeted by a huge color wonderland, the mini amusement park on the pier. A roller coaster, and a few other small rides for the kids, along with the iconic ferris wheel. I don’t know why I have such an affinity for ferris wheels (yet I’ve never rode on one, it’s a heights thing), maybe it’s the feeling it evokes and the atmosphere when you’re around one.  


On either side of the pier, is the great view of the vast stretch of Santa Monica beach dotted with people along the coast.


Further along the pier are many buskers and hustlers, from people belting out the latest song, to palm readings, to name drawing. It is almost an overwhelming sensation especially when the crowd is packed shoulder to shoulder shuffling down the pier as one large mass.

I like how this couple inadvertantly posed for this picture.


I finished my time there at Pier Burger with a cheeseburger, fries and a custard shake.


Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 2 (Part 2) - Venice Beach & Pier

January 25, 2016 (continued): Since I was in the nearby Venice Canals, I thought I’d pay a visit to the famous Venice Beach. Little did I realize, that this beach spans a vast width along the coast with the pier and boardwalk looking closer together on the map, it was definitely not in walking distance. Having now visited the boardwalk and Muscle Beach a couple times, the two areas could not be more different. My moments on the pier were calm and serene with only a few people scattered across the beach. Plus it was probably because at this time it was winter and the winds were brisker than usual.

I do like how the lack of people in the area, gives the photos sort of a dreamy, chill vibe to it.


Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 2 (Part 1) - Venice Canals

January 25, 2016 (continued): After many of the heavy, sleep-inducing, carb-laden meals I’ve had throughout the trip I was craving something lighter and cleaner for breakfast. My plan was to explore the Venice/Santa Monica area so I googled juice places near there. I chose Juice Served Here as they had a few food options as well. There were only a couple of parking spaces out front, the building itself looked like a converted garage with a cool, glass roller door. The interiors were clean, modern with a slight industrial feel.

For breakfast, I chose the juice flight which was a selection of their juices in shot sized glasses that were supposed to be a re-invigoration for the day. There was an order to which one you drank first, including starting with Green Easy (Cucumber, Red Apple, Kale, Spinach, Lemon, Romaine, Green Pepper), to things like Charcoal Lemonade (Filtered Water, Sugar Cane Juice, Lemon, Montmorillonite Clay, Activated Charcoal), to finishing it off with the “dessert”, Cream Party (Coconut Water, Coconut Cream). As someone who regularly made their own smoothies and tried similar juices before, I didn’t mind the veggies in my juice thing as I know some people get weirded out and think it’s gross, but honestly the fruit flavors usually balance out any “green” tastes. I thought each juice had their own unique flavor profile, and the flight was a good way to test out which juices you might prefer over others.


I also ordered the vegan grilled cheese to round out my meal. Usually, I’m pretty wary of vegan imitation products as it’s never quite the same but thought I’d give it a go. As a connoisseur of grilled cheese and lover of dairy (but trying to cut back on it), this was one of the best grilled cheese I’ve had in my life. It was packed with flavor, with some red peppery bits in it, and a nice amount of creaminess to it. The melty, stringy cheese part was a little lacking because, well it’s not cheese but I didn’t really miss it. Since I am so late to writing this post, I don’t think they have it on their menu anymore unfortunately!


My first sightseeing stop of the day was at the Venice Canals. I’d wanted to visit as it was the scene to several movies, plus a few YouTubers I watched had also been there, the location looked interesting and artistic so it was definitely on my list. Since I had started my day off early the place was almost empty apart from the residents, so I had it all to myself. The interwoven walk amongst the canals was one of the most peaceful, serene, and picturesque places I’ve ever been. I can see why one resident had to post a sign saying that they’d never sell so stop asking!


I loved crossing the bridges and stopping to take in the scenery of the canals, each one was slightly different and unique. Funny story, there was a young man who went on one of the bridges and sat down with his puppet and started talking to himself, at first you’d think quite odd but then this is LA so I figured he was rehearsing for some project. Not sure why he had to sit on a bridge to do it but whatever helps the process I guess!


Each house was decorated in their own unique way, which for my curious/detail oriented mind was like heaven just stopping at each home to see what they had done. The architecture was also unique in itself with some resembling quaint cottages, to clean and modern, to artsy/hippie decor, to some that looked like what I’d imagine was out of a Hansel and Gretel storybook.


There were also several animal spottings like the ducks gliding down the canals, or in someone’s backyard, to doggo’s chilling on the porch, to crows and squirrels getting their feed on.


In conclusion, this was one of my favorite places I had visited, as it touched on a number of my top things, arts, architecture, animals, nature, water, the peace and tranquility (especially for my introverted self). It was such an expansive place that I couldn’t see everything thoroughly but I knew if I was ever back I’d have to visit again.

Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 1 (Part 2) - Griffith Observatory

January 24, 2016 (continued): After my visit to LACMA and the La Brea Tar Pits, I decided what a nice idea it would be to watch the sunset from the Griffith Observatory. Turns out, I was not the only one with that bright idea since it was a Sunday, the traffic snaked around the mountain to the top a few miles back. People were already parking on the side of the road that far back so I was slowly losing hope that I was going to be able to live out my plan. As I reached the top I was surprised to see that there were a few parking spots open and I guess everyone just assumed it would be taken since they saw other people parking further back, I lucked out and got a front row spot.

At the top of the hill, there are 360 views of LA, where you can spot the iconic Hollywood sign landmark off in the distance, the rolling hills, and the contrasting grid-like structure of the city.


That day, the sun was radiating, casting this golden glow and making me fall more and more in love with this town. After taking a bazillion pictures of the view, I headed towards the observatory building. What makes this place even better is it’s free, apart from maybe a few shows they have which I think is worth it.


The way to the observatory is lined with the orbital paths of the planets which I thought was a nice touch. I have the sense of humor of a 12-year old so 1000 guesses as to why I chose this planet to take a picture of?


There is also the Astronomers Monument Figures that feature the main founding fathers of astronomy, Hipparchus, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and Herschel. Apparently Einstein was also considered but it was thought to be strange to include someone who was living (at the time). At the top of the monument is an armillary sphere, which was the device mainly used to track the celestial positions before the telescope was invented.


The building itself is in the Art Deco style, which if you have been reading this blog know that this is one of my favorite art movements due to its graphic, geometric style.


Once you enter the building - immediately in the center of the foyer is a Foucault Pendulum to show the rotation of the Earth.


Above, is the ceiling with murals painted by Hugo Ballin. The murals were inspired by the myths based on what people saw in the sky in ancient times.


Just below the ceiling are 8 panels of murals also by Hugo Ballin, based on the advancement of science throughout time.


There were many mini exhibits including a Tesla Coil, as well as a Periodic Table of Elements with the actual elements within each box.


I eventually made my way outside on the upper deck of the building and staked out my spot to watch the sunset. It was a good thing I got there early because by the time the sun was setting, you could barely find an opening around the perimeter. During this time it was still winter, so the winds were brisk and harsh against my skin but it was all worth it to watch the sun go down over the city. The sky changed many colors from bright golden yellow, to the dusky hues of pink and purple after it set. This was a perfect end to my sightseeing tour for the day.


For dinner, I grabbed my first ever In & Out Burger. I had heard it was THE thing to get in California so I just got a regular cheeseburger and “animal style” fries where they smother it in their special sauce, caramelized onions and cheese.


Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 1 (Part 1) - LACMA and the La Brea Tar Pits

January 24, 2016 (continued): My first day in Los Angeles, I left my AirBnB in West Hollywood and began with breakfast at Fratelli Cafe. Being in California, I decided to take advantage of all the Mexican food I could get my hands on so I ordered the huevos rancheros and a mocha. The huevos rancheros was 2 eggs over-medium served on fried corn tortillas, topped with cheddar cheese, black beans, avocado, and house-made pico de gallo, it also came with a side of potatoes. Every part of the meal was well seasoned and a perfect amalgamation of textures and flavors. The service was friendly and the coffee strong so I give this place two thumbs up!


Walking back to my car I spotted the first of many artistically decorated electrical boxes.


This trip could’ve been nicknamed the West Coast Museum Tour since my next destination was the largest art museum in the west, LACMA. I’d seen all the posts from other creators of some of the famous installations located outside the museum so this was on a must visit for me.

Emerging from the parking lot elevator, you’re immediately greeted by the first piece of outdoor art, Sam Durant’s “Like man, I’m tired (of waiting)” from his electric signs series.


On the right of the elevator is one of the most iconic installations at LACMA, the Urban Light sculpture by Chris Burden. I can see why thousands flock to this site for their selfie backdrop of the day - it is really stunning in person and the fact that they are real, re-purposed working street lamps makes it all the more dynamic and fun.


Entering the first floor of the Ahmanson Building, the Smoke sculpture by Tony Smith overwhelms the space, taking over the main foyer.


I was captivated by these textile patterns by Joan Miró and Fernand Léger as I love quirky, interesting prints for fashion because you can show off little parts of your personality without it being too obvious at first glance.


The colors on this George Braques painting, Boats on the Beach is so fun and playful that it really does evoke feelings of summer time by the sea.


Head of a Woman bronze cast sculpture by Pablo Picasso.


This Georges Braques painting, Still Life with Violin brought me back to my high school art class days when we were learning about the Cubism movement.


See my own beginnings of learning how to create in the Cubist aesthetic, where we had to draw a violin at different angles within the same piece to show its dimensional shape within a flat surface. (Side note: Can’t believe I still have this from high school!)


I love the colors of The Disks painting by Fernand Leger.


Woman with Blue Veil by Pablo Picasso. I love the freeform, softer technique in this painting.


Jeanette I bronze sculpture heads by Henri Matisse.


Tea by Henri Matisse has a beautiful color palette along with an ideal setting of having tea in a garden with friends and a doggeh.


Portrait of Sebastia Juñer Vidal by Pablo Picasso from his famous Blue Period. The way just the use of one color tonally can evoke an emotion is fascinating to me. Here, the blue palette adds to the story of the sombre tone in his work during this period.


Composition in White, Red, and Yellow by Piet Mondrian. To see one of his most famous pieces up close with the cracks in the white paint after many years is something to behold. I know most people don’t understand why this type of art is a thing in the “I could do that attitude”, but after many years of art movements with ornate flourishes and detail, Mondrian was one of the first to strip it back to representing what he saw in its most minimalist form.


Detail from a surrealist painting (can’t remember who this is by!).


Weeping Woman with Handkerchief by Pablo Picasso has an almost contemporary modern feel to it in its style and colors.


Animated Forms by Joan Miró.


Suicide at Dawn by Victor Brauner. This painting was a little disturbing but it still made me stop, look and think so isn’t that what art is supposed to do?


The Treachery of Images (This is Not a Pipe) (La trahison des images [Ceci n'est pas une pipe]) by René Magritte is one of my favorite pieces of art, as it mixes my favorite things in one - art, psychology and philosophy.


Number 15 by Jackson Pollock. Seeing a Pollock up close in real life, you can see the layers of paint and amount of movement andwork that went into it as opposed to when you see a picture of it.


This sculpture is not creeping me out at all.


Speaking of layers of paint, this piece created its own texture.


Life Begins (in more ways then one!) by Lorser Feitelson.


I found the textures and patterns created by the paint interesting on this piece.


One of the iconic Campbell’s Soup Can prints by Andy Warhol.


Had to capture this SPAM homage in Edward Ruscha’s Actual Size painting for my Hawaii roots.


Giant Pool Balls by Claes Oldenburg was another favorite I saw at LACMA as I enjoy novelty size items giant or miniature. I had first heard of Claes Oldenburg, ironically while watching Clueless when Cher is giving a tour of her house to Christian and he spots a Claes Oldenburg sculpture. Who says entertainment can’t be informative?


I would need this big of a comb to deal with my unruly hair. (Untitled) Comb by Vija Celmins.

La Gerbe by Henri Matisse.


Another view of Smoke by Tony Smith.


Miracle Mile by Robert Irwin consists of 66 fluorescent tubes stretching the span of 36 feet.


Metropolis II by Chris Burden is a bustling model of a  miniature city but ironically also quite a large, significant piece at the same time. I love when pieces have so much detail that every time you look at it you see something new.


I enjoyed the interior aesthetics of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum building at LACMA. The colored window panels allowed tinted reflections when the light shone through, while the giant glass elevator gave me Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator vibes.


The Sympathetic Imagination exhibit by Diana Thater was one of my favorites with large scale projections of planets, moons, animals and architecture.


On top of the BCAM building you can see a straight shot view of the Hollywood sign.

I finished off my tour of LACMA at one of the other famous art installations there, the Levitated Mass by Michael Heizer.


Conveniently located next to LACMA was the La Brea Tar Pits - I did not go into the museum but part of the outdoor area is free to the public so that was a bonus! As you approach the many tar pits around the park, you can definitely smell the oil seeping from as well as see that iridescent sheen on the surface. There were a few pits that were still actively bubbling as well. I also learned that La Brea means “the tar” in Spanish so this place is basically called “The Tar, Tar Pits”.


*Dug from UP voice* - “SQUIRREL!”


Overall, I had a great time seeing iconic pieces of art in person that I’d only seen in print previously. LACMA has a vast range of collections, as I only managed to see maybe ¾ of it and that was rushing through a few exhibitions. Definitely worth the ticket price!


Weekly Update: LA - Craft and Folk Art Museum

Been busy, busy - it’s the 2nd week in on my weekly update and already late and didn’t document much of it. Oops!

October 15: I did manage to go to the Craft and Folk Art Museum on Sunday and it was a pay what you can day as opposed to the normal $7 admission. I guess the whole museum consists of one main exhibition that changes every so often, this time it was art regarding The U.S.-Mexico Border: Place, Imagination, and Possibility.

The museum had some interesting and thought-provoking pieces, one of my favorites being Cartonlandia by Ana Serrano which was a sculptural collage created from recycled materials including postcards and cereal boxes to illustrate the slums scattered around Latin America.

This is a very small museum with only a couple floors and while I think supporting art is important, I’d probably recommend going on a Sunday where you pay what you can - as there are a few other free museums with the same amount of pieces available. But you can decide for yourself as you can see below some of my favorite pieces that I saw there.

After the museum I went for a walk around the neighborhood and captured some shapes and street art that caught my eye as I went by.

Travel Diary: San Francisco Day 5 - Mission District & Clarion Alley Murals Super Post

January 23, 2016 (continued): My mission (no pun intended) was to make it out to the artsy Mission District for my last day in San Francisco. In the morning, I caught the BART and headed over there. Emerging from the station, I definitely felt the shift in the type of environment than where I spent most of my time in SF. I wanted to try breakfast in that area since I’ve heard of a lot of good, new, restaurants that opened up. Walking around, I immediately saw that it wasn’t going to be an easy feat getting in for a quick bite anywhere, I couldn’t even fit the whole line in the picture!


I was going to post a huge long rant about my less than stellar experience at Mission Beach Cafe for breakfast, but I’d rather not tarnish this post while there is the awesomeness of the murals coming up. Lets just say that while researching their site for this post, a disclaimer on Yelp popped up that said that this restaurant is in the bottom 5% sanitation wise. That pretty much encapsulated my time there, and it looks like they haven't really improved since I was there a year ago!


Following my breakfast it left a pretty bad taste literally and figuratively, but it was washed away when I stopped by the Clarion Alley Murals. It was an explosion of color, intricately painted murals, political messages, and a few <ahem> interesting sculptures. The following super post were all taken on my iPhone, I didn't want to lug around my big camera so apologies for the quality.

Also found in the alley, it looked like a musician wasn’t too happy with his latest songwriting attempts perhaps?

After spending the majority of my time in the alley, I explored more of the district and visited a few shops I had heard about including The Pirate Store. It is what the name suggests, selling pirate / fantasy themed items, but it also had a lot of cool, interactive elements like a mini museum where you pull the rope and something comes down or you can look in the drawers for different specimens etc.

There were many more murals dotted around the district, a green lady, plus those multi-colored Victorian houses that’s so iconic to San Francisco that I love so much. I loved that even their tree grate had a Dia De Los Muertos theme.

Visiting the Mission District was definitely an experience, and was a fusion of new and old coming together in an eclectic mix. If you’re artistically inclined, I do recommend stopping by, as there is a lot to absorb creatively in many forms.

I headed back to downtown to grab my things and ventured to the airport to my final leg of the tour, LA. At the SFO airport was a stunning sunset that emerged after the rain and it was the perfect bittersweet goodbye to one of my new favorite cities.