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12:39 pm - Tue 10/29/02
M & J Hit LA (The Climactic Conclusion)

M & J Hit LA (The Climactic Conclusion)

(Welcome to my fourth attempt to write this entry. I've been thwarted by a Diaryland glitch, Lotus freezing up--when I tried to do things offline--and the ever-popular "operator error". I'm getting bored with telling this story, and I haven't told it to anyone yet!)

On Wednesday, Mark and Jane and I went to LACMA (aka the Los Angeles County Museum of Art).

I thought it would open at 10, but it actually didn't open till noon--possibly to accomodate morning school groups--so we wandered around a bit till we were let onto the grounds, then wandered around a bit more till they let us into the museum.

(I enjoyed the sculpture garden, but the LaBrea tar pits didn't do anything for me. Mark, however, was particularly taken with the tableaux of a male elephant stuck in the tar, with his wife and child watching helplessly on the shore. I've seen it countless times from the sidewalk on Wilshire, riding my bike to and from work, so it's lost most of its emotional power for me.)

Since we had plans later in the day--Mark and Jane wanted to see the bookstore, then we were having dinner with Cary and Kay in North Hollywood--we ended up at the museum for only around three hours. Obviously, not enough time to see everything But I felt like we got our money's worth (Actually, I got Mark and Jane's money's worth, since they paid).

We started in the Early American section, where I realized I really like Early American furnishings (I was amusing myself at one point by pretending I was shopping. In particular, there was a beautiful and really comfortable-looking rocking chair I wanted to take home right then!). Then we basically moved forward in time, through Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and Modern Art (The three of us had differing feelings about the various pieces we saw, but were all in agreement that "minimalism", as a whole, sucks).

(While Mark was putting more money in the meter so we could have a light lunch, Jane and I made a quick pass through Ancient Asian Art--Chinese, Japanese, and Korean--which made me want to go back sometime to check it out in more detail.)

I've always tended to think of myself as a "Renaissance Man" in terms of the type of art I respond to most (I was pretty infatuated with DaVinci for a time, and read The Agony and the Ecstacy while still in junior high).

I think my first real response to art was to marvel at how they did it, and it still amazes me that an artist can capture a mood, a place, a person, a life, with just a brush and some paint (Or a chisel and a block of marble).

I've always been very "people-centric" in my appreciation of art (And my periodic efforts to draw have always centered around people). I like to look at people, and think it's amazing that, through art, I can see them looking back at me, hundreds of years through time.

(I've noticed this before with photography, and realized it again at the museum; I can appreciate still lifes or pictures of landscapes, but if there are no people in the pictures, I will quickly get bored.)

I think I've also always been impressed with realism. Again, I think I marvel at how they do that--since I can't do that--and the idea of creating light and shadow and movement and drama, with just some paint and a brush.

But art has to be about something more than craftmanship, more than execution, because otherwise, anyone who could draw or paint a realistic portrait would be a "great artist".

You have to have an idea, a feeling, something that no one else sees quite the way you do.

But I think my visual/emotional/artistic palette has "opened up" quite a bit since I made those assumptions about what art I do and don't "respond to".

Interestingly enough, a number of pieces I responded to were not "realistic", and two didn't have people in them at all (Though I would say there was a great deal of humanity in both of them, which was the appeal).

One--Really (1994 Sean Landers)--was basically a giant page of the artist's journal, expressing his doubts about himself, his art, etc and so forth (I guess if you're reading this, you probably get why that one was so appealing to me! It was kind of like "A thousand words are worth one picture").

Another--Central Meridian, The Garage (I didn't write down the artist's name, for some reason)--was "a highly theatrical simulation of a garage", complete with a car, old tools and assorted junk (That was probabably a big part of the appeal right there. I had the feeling I was on a great set).

The description of the piece made the connection between the garage and an egyptian tomb, which I thought was a very witty connection to make (An archeaologist of the future could certainly see a great deal of what we're about by the contents of our garages).

Another piece--(Back Seat Dodge '38 Edward Kleinholz)--was a mockup of the title vehicle, with a woman reclining in the backseat, beer bottle in hand, as a man--composed mostly of chicken wire--lays on top of her.

The first image that came to mind for both Mark and I was of Last Exit To Brooklyn, and the gang rape of Tralala, the prostitute in the story (Mark had read the book; I had seen the movie). So it was a pretty ugly image, and I wondered whether that was the artists intent, or whether our viewing of the piece was skewed by Last Exit (I'm sure the artist meant for the image to be shocking, at the very least. And apparently when the piece was first displayed, there was a controversy, and it had to be displayed with the car door closed, to be opened by a museum worker only if you were an "adult").

Well, after our light lunch at the museum (An expensive place to eat. Like movie theaters, it seems they make their money on the "concessions"), it was off to the bookstore.

I gave them a cursory tour of the grounds, being pretty sure they had a pretty good sense of what a bookstore looked like (To my mild embarrassment, they commented on the run-down appearance of the place. But everything's relative; Compared to the condition I first saw it in, it's ready for the cover of Beautiful Bookstore Monthly!).

The nicest thing about visiting the bookstore was the very friendly greeting everyone gave me. I was gratified, and it was somehow meaningful for me to have Mark and Jane see that people like me here (Don't know exactly what that's about, but there it is).

I'd been gone less than a week-and-a-half, but there were semi-big changes afoot; Lauren in the cafe had gotten fired for lateness/attendance issues (I was sorry about that), We've started selling comic books (Yay!), the Self-Help section was moved so it's all on the same side and doesn't jump across an aisle (Yay again!), and the DVD section was undergoing a major relocation.

I wanted John O. to be there so I could introduce him to Mark and Jane, but he wasn't working. So I bought a Backstage and then we left.

We had a little down time at my apartment, then walked to the Metro station on Wilshire and Vermont, and took the subway to North Hollywood (I really like the Metro, at least for what I use it for, and I think Mark and Jane enjoyed having that "LA experience" as well).

We met up with Cary in North Hollywood, then He and Kay and the three of us went to the Eclectic Cafe, a nice place Cary and Kay and I have been to a couple times together.

I had worried a little if everyone would like everyone, if the conversation would be strained or not, all that stuff, but there really wasn't a problem; if anything, I kind of felt like "Odd Man Out" since I was the only one everyone already knew.

Anyway, the food was great, everyone seemed to enjoy everyone else's company, and I considered it a great success; Mark and Jane had met "The West Coast Support Team", as I've jokingly referred to Cary and Kay, and they approved.

And with that, it was basically all over but the shouting for Mark and Jane's time here.

The next day, we got up, had a final meal at Dennys (The third during their time here. It's very close to my apartment, you see), then I helped them get their things out to the car, and they left for home, around 11:30.

(They're home now, apparently little the worse for wear. Thanks for coming to visit, guys. It was fun!)


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