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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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 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!

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Head of a Woman bronze cast sculpture by Pablo Picasso.

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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.

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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!)

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

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

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Jeanette I bronze sculpture heads by Henri Matisse.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Animated Forms by Joan Miró.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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This sculpture is not creeping me out at all.

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

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

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

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

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

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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?

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

La Gerbe by Henri Matisse.

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Another view of Smoke by Tony Smith.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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”.

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*Dug from UP voice* - “SQUIRREL!”

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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!

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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 2 (Part 4) - Legion of Honor

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January 20, 2016 (continued): Taking advantage of my same day, dual admission from the de Young Museum, I caught the bus and headed towards the Legion of Honor - a fine arts museum located near Lands End. I wanted to visit this place because I read that it was one of the locations used in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and I have an affinity for Roman style architecture (even though it is a replica of a French building!).

The exterior of the museum is quite stunning in person, the pictures don’t do it justice. In front, it is flanked by two lion statues and a few sculptures scattered about, including in the parking lot. In the distance next to it, I could see glimpses of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge peeking through the cluster of trees and fog (my first sighting!). The long stretches of the column-lined hallways on the outside created a feeling of elegance.

Below are some of my personal highlights, although it was quite a large museum and it was getting late in the day, so I only caught glimpses of a few exhibitions.

While I would love to have come up with something philosophical when seeing this painting, Samson and the Honeycomb by Guercino - my mind immediately went to those classical art memes. What do you think of my attempt?

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It was cool to see they had a gallery full of Rodin sculptures.

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I toured the restored Salon Doré designed during Louis XVI’s reign for the reception room of the Hôtel de La Trémoille. The grandeur of the gilded panelings and richly upholstered furniture transported you to a time of extravagance and luxury.

I’m no stranger to admiring the constellations and the zodiac, so this antique globe featuring a map of these was another favorite.

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Even though I strongly dislike insects, this study - Peapods and Insects by Jan Van Kessel caught my eye. I was fascinated by the minuscule details of the painting that took me back to art class in school where I would make myself go blind by painting with those one-haired brushes.

The detail in this sculpture is unreal, especially when you see it’s size. I liked how the sculptor managed to capture the emotion and action, that makes you feel like the snake could strike at any second.

A serendipitous moment I happened to snap, while trying to be artsy by framing the Monet painting with the doorways. It amuses me how it looks like the sculpture head is peering over trying to perve on the person nearby.

Ever since I was a kid, I had a love of fantasy and mythical creatures so this painting, Fairies in a Bird’s Nest by John Anster Fitzgerald was definitely a favorite. The darker tone of the fairies in his work gave it an interesting twist to the otherwise glittery portrayal that’s so popular these days.

Taking a moment to observe.

A close-up study of Renoir’s Landscape at Beaulieu. The colors and movement of the strokes give the painting such life!

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Still Life by a young up and comer you might have heard of, Vincent Van Gogh.

Moi, wanting to get up close and personal with Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. There’s nothing like getting near one of the most iconic pieces of art - seeing the ridges of the brushstrokes and smelling the paint. One of my dreams is to visit his home in Giverny, you can still see the garden where he drew inspiration from for his most famous paintings.

I had reached the end of one of the exhibitions and there were locked glass doors leading out to the courtyard, the sun was setting and had lit the sculpture and trees in the most beautiful golden glow.

I was a little obsessed with framing the art in doorways. Couldn’t help but capture this moment as I was making my way out.

I may or may not have been a little excited to see a cast of Rodin’s The Thinker statue in the middle of the courtyard and taken a few ridiculous selfies in front of.

The carving detail under the archway was beautiful and transported me back to Rome.

A couple more sculptures outside the museum.

The sun was setting and I saw a few people heading down a pathway nearby so I thought I’d check it out before I left. I’m glad I did because I got a straight shot of the sunset over the rolling hills of the Land’s End trail. To the right, I spotted the Golden Gate Bridge framed by the tops of the trees, it was a perfect end to my day here.

Catching several buses and walking back to the hotel, I got to see more of the whimsically colored homes and magical little alleyways of San Francisco.

For dinner I went to Super Duper Burgers which I’d heard good things about. I just got a regular cheeseburger, garlic fries, and a chocolate shake. To be honest I was a little disappointed, it was an ok meal and a little soggy. I’d still give them a second chance, maybe it was an off night?


I decided to wash it all down with a delicious horchata boba tea from the Boba Guys to cap off the night (I know, a real party animal).

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Travel Diary: San Francisco Day 2 (Part 3) - de Young Museum

January 20, 2016 (continued): Inspired by the arts and culture I witnessed at Haight-Ashbury, I ventured to Golden Gate Park where I visited the de Young Museum. Tip: They offer same day admission to the nearby Legion of Honor, to which I took full advantage of because I love me a deal.

De Young has a nice mix of classic and modern art with a range of sculptures scattered about their outdoor area and around Golden Gate Park. See below for my main highlights.

Beethoven’s Fur Elise was one of the first pieces I learned during my piano years from ages 8 - 13, so the replica of the original monument (in Central Park) by Henry Baerer caught my eye.

The Spreckels Temple of Music designed by the Reid Brothers was another favorite since it reminded me of the classic architecture I saw when I visited Rome many years ago.

First view of the de Young Museum welcomed to me by the Roman Gladiator statue by Guillaume Geefs.

The Untitled (Three Dancing Figures) sculpture by Keith Haring located in front of the museum was a favorite not only because of it's color and because Haring is an icon, but the figures also looked like they were replicating some Taekwon-Do moves (which I was a black belt in back in the day.)

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Located at the entrance to the Museum was the Drawn Stone by Andy Goldsworthy, an artist I chose to study for sculpture in high school art class. I loved his use of using natural materials and incorporating the surrounding environment as part of the art. This piece was no different as the cracks in the pavement followed the cracks in the stones. 

Fruit Still Life by Flora C. Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick - I always enjoy novelty size things whether miniature or oversize so this piece definitely ticked the box!

I love the colors in this woven piece, juxtaposing new and old world.

It was cool seeing another Chihuly piece after visiting the museum in Seattle.

I enjoyed this trompe l'oeil-esque chair as it kind of reminded me of my other favorite surrealist, De Chirico.

My inner magpie was definitely attracted to this Nick Cave soundsuit, bejeweled in beads and sequins.

David Hockney had a series of his works on display he created with an iPad. These were some of my favorites because I loved that established artists are into exploring new mediums and what they can do with it.

I love the colorways of the next set of pieces.

This room had a nice view of the courtyard out front.

It was great coming across pieces from my old homeland, New Zealand - interpretations of the Maori cloak, Kakahu. This piece was by Te Rongo Kirkwood in collaboration with Judy Robson-Deane.

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A classic Tiffany lamp.

A life imitating art moment of moi in front of Tulip Culture by George Hitchcock.

Hello Dali!

Seeing a Picasso with my own eyes.

Dropping my next mixtape at the Pool of Enchantment.

The sculpture garden with one of my favorites, the Corridor Safety Pin sculpture by Clase Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

LA Guide: Free Art - MOCA PDC

A few weeks ago, I was wanting to get my culture on but didn’t want to blow my budget so I decided to check out MOCA at Pacific Design Center for free. It’s a small museum with a few rotating installations from different artists. It is also next to the Pacific Design Center which is an interesting piece of architecture in itself, while being surrounded by various sculptures planted around the area. If you’re in the West Hollywood vicinity it wouldn’t hurt to stop by and check it out.

All photos taken by me via iPhone 6.