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Month: June 2011

Adventures of the (fake) young liberal elite

Adventures of the (fake) young liberal elite

On Friday night Sam and I went to the (expectedly) disappointing Green Lantern film.  After we got home Sam had a craving.  A craving for what?  Well, see below.

I don’t even remember what these are called, but they’re good. Prosciutto (this photo was taken in the middle of adding it) topping off lumps of fresh mozzarella cheese over basil leaves and tomato slices with olive oil and black pepper.

So good that Sam decided to make them again (and take the photo below) for a snack the next day before we headed to the Saturdays off the  405 event at the Getty Center.  Earlier in the day we’d tried out California Monster Salads in Santa Monica (which was really good and I highly recommend if you’re in the 3rd street area) so we we needed something “light” to get us through the rest of the day.

The atmosphere at the Getty was cool.  In the shot below you can see the northwest view just after a sunset through clouds and low hanging fog.

It was a nice sight, but we weren’t into the band (dengue fever) that was playing.  I’m okay with their music on their albums, but they had a really high pitched trumpet mic’d up way too loud in the mix.  Sam was not a fan of the singing style (traditional Cambodian 60s pop)

The fog was going to make it impossible to get any good night shots of the city (another reason I’d wanted to go), so we headed home to watch a movie.

Sunday we were supposed to spend painting – but we spent so much time getting our brunch at a horribly overcrowded dim-sum restaurant that it backed up the entire day.  We ended up watching a few movies, walking around Balboa Lake and going to the St. Joseph’s catholic church carnival.  Sam hadn’t been to an American carnival before.  It was very small, and the food had many different ethnic choices (which is unlike the carnivals that I grew up with).  We tried Filipino food (Sam had never had Adobo before, so I wanted her to try it).

gallery hopping in Venice

gallery hopping in Venice

Last night Sam and I decided to try and see both the C.A.V.E. show and the new Gallery 1988 show in the span of 45 minutes.  I’d never driven down Abbot Kinney Blvd before and it was surprisingly trendy.  How trendy?

Well, there was a white Ferrari Enzo parked on the street. Supposedly only 70 Enzos were even sold in US, and this is the first one I’ve seen that wasn’t red.

The art at the gallery was okay, but nothing to post up here. Van Saro had a few well-made pieces, but half of them were left overs from his featured month at the Hive.  However, my opinion may have been different about the rest of the art if I had been able to actually get a good look at any of it.  The gallery was so packed it was hard to move.

Next we tried the Gallery 1988 Wet Hot American Summer 10 year anniversary show.  The show was supposed to be hosted by David Wain.  However, at 9:45 I didn’t see David anywhere.  Perhaps he wasn’t wearing glasses, or grew facial hair… who knows.  I actually have to admit I never even watched WHAS, I just assumed it wasn’t good (like most of the Stella movie, which, unfortunately, I did watch).  However, since all these artists got something out of it, maybe I should check it out.

When we entered there was a guy in a gray coat with art under his arm ahead of us.  This gallery was packed too – so the stuff under his arm kept poking Sam.  I’m pretty sure after seeing him turn around and talk to some of the artists that this fellow was Michael Showalter.  This blogger makes it seem possible. So, even though Wain disappeared, I got to see a former cast member of The State anyway.

The art was pretty good (Gallery 1988 has a stable of regular artists for these themed shows that are consistently good), but I wish I knew what it meant.  I felt like Sam must have when we went to the John Hughes tribute show (Ferris Beuhler was not shown on Thailand’s version of TBS when she was young apparently).

I would post some of the art, but surprisingly, the art doesn’t seem to be up on the 1988 website.  I’m sure the art reviews will pop up on Monday – until then – this site has a very short (and not necessarily the pieces I would have picked) preview.

UPDATE: That was fast!  Gallery 1988 already has their own blog post about last night with a photo of Wain (yeah, wasn’t there when we were – pretty sure I would have recognized him).  More importantly, they have a link to the Huffington Post article on the show (also fast) – which mentions that several members of The State were in attendance – including Ken Marino.  This is important because yesterday I was sure that Ken Marino was the guy in the coat in front of us – but I didn’t read anything about him being in attendance – but Showalter was written about… so I changed “Ken Marino” in my original post to Michael Showalter.  However, if you look at one of the later photos on the Huffington article – isn’t that Ken in the window?  No?  I don’t know…

The guy in the window in the gray coat was the guy in front of us (I think)… that’s Ken, right?  Or is it an artist?  It isn’t Showalter… He sounded like Ken Marino when he talked…  He looks like he’s signing a print…which would make sense for Ken Marino (who was in the movie) to do… who knows….  I didn’t hear him talking about dipping his balls in anything….so maybe it wasn’t him.



But I’m pretty sure it was…


Update #2: Gallery 1988 has two new photos up their blog – one of which showing  Joe Lo Truglio, David Wain and Ken Marino.

Yes, the man in front of us – now confirmed as the guy signing the print in the photo from the first update WAS Ken Marino all along.  100% sure of it now.


Update #3: This article from LA Weekly confirms yet again the presence of Ken Marino.

Downtown Art Walk June 2011

Downtown Art Walk June 2011

Traffic was worse than normal for this month’s Art Walk.  This made parking worse – and delayed our start of the walk by at least an hour.  The only possible explanation I can come up with is the E3 convention going on not too far away at the convention center.

As usual – the actual amount of art on the walk shrank a little again from last month.  The epicenter of the walk seems to be moving west along spring, as many galleries on the other end are closed, and the “art park” was this month moved to the parking lot across from The Hive.

As usual there were plenty of buskers and “other events” happening.

We came across a strange amateur art parking lot exhibit and something in conjunction with Sobe.

Sobe was giving out a lot of free drinks and had a customized truck.

There was a line of people that almost extended out of the parking lot waiting for… something.  We never figured out what they were waiting on; certainly not the drinks, which I wandered up and took three of without consequence.

Across the street was a gallery with a live sax player and artwork by Yarek Godfrey.

There are a few things I don’t like about Yarek’s work – but a lot I do.  His work is always with the figure, most frequently the female (and who doesn’t like that?).  I often wonder what my work would be like if I operated more loosely and removed all the sci-fi/fantasy elements.  Perhaps more like this:

Down the street at the Spring Art’s “complex” (I always just refer to it as the “upstairs gallery”) as soon as we ascended the stairs we smelled something really weird.  Turns out it was a giant sheet that people were encouraged to paint on because “everyone is an artist” (or something) – take a look for yourself to judge whether everyone is an artist:

The “real” art in the gallery wasn’t much better…

Yes, that is an ambulance light on the floor – and yes, that is a plastic frame hanging in front of the art.  These accessories were in front of most of this woman’s work, and were taped off so you couldn’t get too close.  Clearly these were meant to be some kind of infantile (“oh, how brilliant!”) commentary on how we “frame” our views of the world and/or her work, etc. etc.  Sorry, it still looks like something from a 5th grade art class… I don’t care what you hang in front of it.  At the front of the gallery the artist was confidently preparing for an impending videotaped interview.  I would have loved to stick around and hear what hackneyed tripe she’d spout off for “inspiration.”

Downstairs in the space that is sometimes filled with the best art (BlueCanvas) and sometimes empty, there now appeared a bookstore called The Last Bookstore.  I appreciate the effort, but if Borders couldn’t sell enough of Sarah Palin’s ghostwritten books to a country that Rush Limbaugh claims is “60% . . . very conservative or somewhat conservative” to stay in business I’m not sure how a “rare” bookstore is going to pay the rent in downtown Los Angeles.

Old Timey Country 3-piece band outside of the bookstore:

Further on down Spring we looked inside The Temple of Visions to find the same art that was there last month, and possibly the month before.

Next door at (not really next door – there was a gallery full of crap – the same one that was too “high class to even let Art Walkers into their private party last time – in between the Temple and) The Hive there was still a lot of activity.  People again donned clown costumes, though not nearly as many as at last weekend’s opening.

Out side Diasuke Okamoto was doing one of his really intricate pen drawings of Godzilla.

Next to a sad clown giving tarot readings

Inside there were interesting pieces.  One of the featured artists this month was Ken Dougherty, who usually has pieces up in the back room (literally, the farthest point from the front door in the entire building).  Usually his work consists of headshot paintings with very detailed hair, eyes and costumes.  This month was no different, but every painting had a clown theme.

In the second “room” or area was a large Cig Neutron sculpture accompanied by lots of smaller ones.

I recognize the work as that of Cig, but it was all labelled as Bizarro Au Go-Go, so I’m guessing this is a collaboration between Cig and a photographer, as many of the sculptures were clearly made to be photoshopped into the images that were framed above them.

Moving further into the gallery the Chiodo Brothers‘ great drawings occupied an entire high wall

Fans (like me) of the 80s cult favorite Killer Klowns from Outer Space will recognize many of these as character studies from/for the film.  FYI, I don’t know how long this will last, but you can watch the full movie on Hulu here.  It’s surprisingly entertaining because of the clearly overacted parts (this was clearly an intentional choice by the directors like most of the Troma pictures) and alien clowns which are equal parts bizarre, humorous and terrifying.  However, if you have a legitimate fear of clowns – do not ever watch this film.

This last piece was clearly a production sketch for the film (note the date).  This is one of the last scenes in the film – and if my memory is correct that giant clown is actually at least three times as big as it is depicted here in the actual scene.

Other art that I enjoyed:

Christopher Ulrich

This piece by Jinx was life size:

Stephen Williams, who, if not for the nametage, would have been instantly recognized as Chris Ryniak instead. (which I hope Stephen takes as a compliment)

Here is a Ryniak piece for comparison:

There was also a cool piece by Larkin in which he painted a portrait in his signature style of Nathan, the gallery owner/curator as a circus ringmaster.  However, I didn’t take a photo and now can’t find the piece on the Hive’s list of pieces.

When I ran into the ringmaster himself he informed me that my piece did sell.  In a way I’m kind of sad, because I rather liked this piece.  The irony of being a physical artist (not a filmmaker or musician) is that when you sell something you worked hard on – you never see it again.  It’s like giving birth to children that never want to speak to you again…over and over again…   “yes, but you have photos” – yes, but photos never take the place of a real painting.  In this case that is true especially.  This piece was done on a piece of thin wood without gesso – so the wood grain can be seen in the final piece, and much of the paint was slowly absorbed into the wood, making the background have a very soft ehterial quality appropriate for a dirty circus tent.  The lights shine down as if hazy through a fog.  Anyway – here is the piece:

Walking back through I noticed the music was being “performed” by a guy using a Nintendo DS.

Our last stop was the art park, which was now in a much more convenient location on Spring across from the Hive.

We stopped and chatted with Branch of Life, who, again, as usual, had some amazing succulent arrangements on display.

Our car had been safely guarded from vandalism the entire night because Vargas had been working (collaborating?) on this mural the entire time.  This photo was taken standing in front of my hood.




Culver City Art Walk

Culver City Art Walk

On Saturday afternoon Sam and I headed to Culver City to check out the Art Walk.  Sam liked this one better than the downtown Art Walk.  I reluctantly have to agree, it was easier to navigate, had better art and wasn’t on a week day.

Culver City is becoming a very trendy area, no doubt in part because of the boom in art galleries catering to the New Brow movement.  The area is also a hotbed of young architecture, home furnishings, antiques and other “young educated liberal elitist” trappings.  (only a hint of sarcasm there, as I’d actually love to be one of those liberal elitists that could afford a home worth decorating with the supplies found in those stores)

One home (siding?) store had these curious moss balls sitting in a big basin.

A gallery had this triptych featuring… Ohio State fans?

One gallery had huge amounts of wall space with very little art on the walls, and a back room that had this:

The videos were accompanied by audio that started off (when we walked in) with: “I want to look at my vagina… I mean… I can’t just bend over and look… I need some kind of tool, y’know… I -” and we walked out.

Walking further down the street we approached the epicenter of the Culver City arts scene, the one-two punch of Thinkspace and Lebasse Projects:

Upon walking into the Kopeikin Gallery’s back room we were greeted with this odd sculpture:

We thought we were in for more modern art nonsence, but after examining the prints on the walls we were pleasantly surprised.  Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick have created some very impressive photoshopped photocollages.  These are parts Dali, parts Beksinski and parts Geddes (the astronaut fixation).

Below are a few of my favorites (that I would buy if I was a wealthy man)

Later, we walked into Blum and Poe to find nothing but a sign on the wall with an artist’s name, exhibit title and dates.  We kept walking, joking “is this the show?  empty walls?  How ground-breaking…”  However, a few more turns and our jaws dropped when we found these massive brick sculptures by Zhang Huan:

This little (big) piggy went to the garden.

So Sam could pet it.

Walking into another gallery we could see a lot of people, but no art in the window.  We decided to take the plunge and walk in.  As we walked into the main room we could hear the beating of drums and cymbals, like a kabuki theater.  It turns out it was a home-made marionette kabuki in which the marionettes fought to the death.  Unfortunately we came as the characters were almost finished.

The gallery was filled with strange sculptures made from every day materials.  The one below reminds me of something that Tim Burton might make for a stop-motion film.

A bit further along we came to a private club that had every wall covered in succulents.

Our last stops were thinkspace and Lebasse.

The only thing I liked at Thinkspace was a Fumi Nakamura piece:

John Park was doing live painting outside:

At LeBasse the only things I liked were these Melissa Haslam paintings:

This Matt Haber piece:

and this Edwin Ushiro piece:

Further down the street two old dudes were playing in the alley.

There were a few other pieces I liked at Koplin Del Rio:

Marina Moevs – Fog VI

Robert Schultz – I can’t find an image of the drawing I liked online – but here is something similar, you get the idea – very intricate and delicate pencil work…

For some reason on Saturday my allergies exploded.  My nose was running like a faucet and my head was becoming extremely congested.  I was thinking about skipping my next destination (Sam opted out), the Hive opening.  Glad I didn’t though, as there was a buyer interested in my painting.  When you don’t show up for the opening, the gallery takes an extra 10% of the sale.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t write about the Hive opening, but save it all for the Art Walk post, however, here I’m going post a few shots because there are a few sights that won’t be there for the art walk.

Exterior, hive of activity

Inside, lots of “circus” themed art, people dressed up and a band playing

(that’s my piece, the long vertical one above the fan – I’ll post a full photo after my Downtown Art Walk review later this week)

I keep seeing this guy with an Andy Warhol wig at art openings.   At this opening he was interviewing two of the more bombastically costumed attendees.

One of the featured sections of the Hive had clown drawings from the Chiodo Brothers.  You may not know who they are at first, until you take a closer look at their drawings, mostly characters from their cult classic film: Killer Klowns from Outer Space.  I actually liked the drawings, the line quality was quite good.  One of the brothers was sitting outside the Hive doing live drawings.  I’ll blog with photos of the actual art when I cover the Hive for the art walk later this week.  For now, here is Charles drawing outside the gallery:


NYC Day 6

NYC Day 6

On Wednesday Sam and I had a hearty brunch/lunch of food purchased at Whole Foods the night before and Gelato.  Then we were on our way.  By Wednesday the heat and humidity was so that the two block walk to the subway stop left me sweating like a pig.  We took the subway to Jamaica and the AirTrain to JFK.  The subway ride was terribly cramped even at 2pm on a Wednesday.   Once we were all situated at JFK we discovered that the San Francisco flight out from the same terminal was delayed, so we’d have to wait for them to get their act together before our plane could board.

Our boarding was quick though as everyone just wanted to get back to LA.  We were pulling away from the airlock no more than 15 minutes past our original departure time.  However, an hour later we were still sitting on the tarmac in what the pilot called “rush hour here at JFK.”  Our total runway waiting time would be somewhere near two hours.  I used that time and the flight time to write my first five days of blog posts and select the photos that would end up in them.

I’m still learning about RAW photo formatting.  Just today, after doing all the photos from the trip and then tinkering with these cloud shots, I figured out how to clean up photos with luminance.  To put it in everyday terms – how to get the grain out of a grainy photograph.  This would have been enormously helpful on the editing some of the night photos from J’s roof and times square.

After taking off, Sam grabbed her camera and looked outside.  Normally I pay a lot of attention to the clouds and the view outside, but I was busy doing my photo editing thing.  When I saw what she saw I grabbed my camera as well, the results are the above and below photographs in this post.

Because we were delayed our flight didn’t land till nearly 10pm.  Thus, after getting the bus to the car parking and dropping off Sam it was past 10:30.  (did I mention my car didn’t start at the parking log – yeah, that’s always fun!)

Because it was so late many of the 405 on-ramps in West Los Angeles were closed.  This delayed me even more.  Then, once on, the haphazard lighting and lane closures caused me to have to slam on my brakes twice coming up the hill towards mulholland.  This was only the second time in my life I’ve ever felt the anti-lock brakes kick in (the other was when I was hydroplaning going down De Soto six years ago after a rain storm).  I eventually made it home safe, only to comically trip over myself in the bathroom (I made the smart move of leaving the shower to grab something – making the floor wet) and slam down on the floor.  My real bed time was somewhere after midnight and I spent the next day in a fog at work.  There were a lot of fires to put out, which wasn’t easy for a zombie.


NYC day 5

NYC day 5

M’s apartment looking north in the morning above, and south below:

Day five started off with a visit to the Burger King Whopper Bar just a few blocks north of M’s apartment.  I’d heard about the bar somewhere and wanted to check it out. When we looked at the menu we discovered that if you wanted any ingrediant above what comes on a regular whopper it would cost $1.50 EACH!  These “extra” ingredients were nothing special either (jalapenio peppers, chedder cheese, BBQ sauce, etc.).  We also saw that each “meal” had nearly 1400 calories before adding the “extra” toppings.

We kept on walking… past Bryant Park..

and Rockefeller Center

We decided to look for something healthier and found brunch at Café Jia in Little Brazil.  Café Jia is simply another hole-in-the wall hot and cold salad bar vendor.  This is something that we really liked about Manhattan as these little “whole foods-esque” salad bars were all over the place.  I really wish there were places like this by my office.

Our next stop was hot chocolate at La Maison Du Chocolat.  This had been on Sam’s list for a while.

(and yes, the chocolate was very good)

It turns out that it is right next to the famous “rainbow room” entrance to NBC studios.

On our last full day in NYC we decided to head straight to Pier 88 to see the mysterious ships that we’d been putting off visiting the entire trip.  It likely worked out in our favor to go on the last day as the crowd was probably much smaller on a Tuesday than the previous three “holiday weekend” days.

Our wait to board the USS Iwo Jima was about 45 minutes.

After which we were taken on board by a military man and given up close information by various military members about what they do with various pieces of heavy equipment on board including:




ACVs (here Sam is driving one)

Tanks and their ammunition (Sam couldn’t lift it)

25 caliber (and up) machine guns

M16 assault rifles (yes, real – no, not loaded)

This was all so far inside the cargo area of the ship

We followed the tour to the flight deck to view some flying aircraft.

This included an Osprey (in which the enthusiastic tour guide’s description left out it’s questionable service record of accidental pilot deaths)

BlackOut was there but wouldn’t transform for us.    His nickname is a bit odd considering he wasn’t very funny in his movie cameo. (that was an inside joke for my Thai readers)

Harrier jet

The tour lasted about two hours, so we didn’t get out until almost 3pm.  We went to the Natural History Museum knowing that our time would be limited.

I tried so hard to get a clear version of the below shot -but due to the distance I had to back up and the extremely low lighting I was only able to get a few snaps off before families started pooling into the space.  Sadly – this is the best shot I got:

the Museum had some old wood for us

And some of the coolest looking rocks I’ve ever seen.

The human evolution exhibit (or as Texan republicans call it “nanananan – plugging my ears… I can’t hear you!”) was interesting.

We didn’t spend much time in the Asian exhibits.

We breezed through the less enthralling exhibits in order to see all the dinosaurs.

If you didn’t know already… Turtles (and their relatives) are always cute… even in death.

I wanted to see the big blue whale before we left, but our time was literally running out.  We ended up being the last people allowed in that giant room because it was already cordoned off but the guard told us we had five minutes.

After we were summarily expelled from the museum we hopped on the subway and met M for dinner at Republic, a Vietnamese fusion restaurant in Union Square.

After wading through the peanutty menu Sam and I found some entrées.  Sam had the curry duck and I had the grilled Salmon with raisin rice.  Both were actually really good.  After this experience Sam and I agreed that Manhattan’s approach to food is very anti-tourist.  What we mean by that is that if you know where to go you can get some amazing food.  If you end up at the other 90% of Manhattan restaurants get ready for some overpriced dishes with wilted produce and no flavor.  Never eat in Manhattan without a local as not even Yelp can be trusted.

After dinner we walked a few blocks and took the F Train so M could take us to her favorite gelato place: Il Laboratorio Del Gelato.  Laboratory Gelato is known for their unique flavors such as Basil, Carab and Olive Oil. M and Sam liked it so much that M bought 128 oz to bring home and eat.  The 128oz was made up of Basil, Olive Oil and Malt Chocolate.  I couldn’t complain as I knew that I’d get to eat a little more before we headed to the airport the next day.  Despite how it sounds, Basil and Olive Oil are actually quite delicious as gelato (olive oil more-so).  I also liked the Carab, but I think I was in the minority on that one.  We all tried the pumpkin as well at the shop, but we agreed it tasted too much like ACTUAL pumpkin and not pumpkin pie, ironically making it less palatable.

We then split up and Sam and I bought food for our plane ride at Whole Foods in Union Square.

Epilogue: This NYC experience was much better than my last (2007) as M’s apartment was only six blocks south of Times Square.  The location being so central, and sharing several days with residents much more acquainted with the city (my previous host was only there for a six month internship while completing his MFA). Also, she had air conditioning in her apartment – a necessity in late May.

While early weather reports indicated it would rain three or more days that we would be there, in the end, we didn’t see a single drop of rain until we were sitting on the runway at JFK (during a two hour flight delay).