Once in a while, we step off our soapbox, unclench our fists, and lay down our megaphone so that we can publish an arts roundup. We’ll never let commercial-scale pirates off the hook, but we’re most formidable when remembering our passion for culture and creativity. It’s what motivates us to shout about copyright’s importance so stridently the rest of the time.
In previous roundups, we’ve covered classic arts like architecture and theater. We’ve reviewed new media like video games and TikTok. We’ve asked staff members about favorite photographs. Continually, we’ve dangled the possibility of investigating decorative pillow-making, the delectable prospect that keeps readers coming back.
We’re not ready to give up that lure – but we do have something new in store. Today, we’re sharing our first roundup centered on a city instead of a category of art. Of course, the featured city is CreativeFuture’s home – LA.
We’re leaving aside some amazing museums (LACMA, the Getty) and concert venues (Walt Disney Concert Hall, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Hollywood Bowl). We love them, too, but we wanted to help you build an itinerary that includes some unexpected creative experiences.
LA is well known for cars, a euphemism for traffic. At the Petersen Automotive Museum, you don’t need to contend with that urban annoyance while admiring classic, modern, and futuristic cars. Here, the vehicle can emerge as an objet d’art – once you’ve arrived and parked, that is.
In early 2022, you can let your road rage melt away at exhibits on supercars or their astonishing cousins, hypercars. You can learn about how electric vehicles may help to secure a greener future. You can even gawk at cars from James Bond movies.
We have our eyes on the 1964 Aston Martin DB5, which first appeared in Thunderball (1965), resurfaced in GoldenEye (1995), and most recently featured in No Time to Die (2021). You see, we need a car to use when paying house calls to digital pirates. The iconic Bond car would be perfect – at least until the next auction of War Rigs from Mad Max: Fury Road.
Periodically, the non-profit CicLAvia closes streets, transforming them into public parks for bicyclists, dancers, hula-hoopers, and other revelers. The idea comes from another great city, Bogotá, which has been celebrating La Ciclovía on Sundays since 1974.
Generally, LA isn’t known as a walking city. CicLAvia gives people a much-appreciated opportunity to stroll or bike around LA’s distinctive neighborhoods, savoring their unique character.
The Los Feliz neighborhood is a great example. According to Compass, its residents are “a mix of hip, creative types and professionals.” We have it on good authority that they love architect Clifford A. Balch’s Los Feliz 3 Theatre, which was completed in 1935 and remains an attractive venue today.
Besides new releases, you can watch classic films any day of the week at events hosted by American Cinemathique. Their mission is to “build a diverse and engaged film community through immersive film curation, conversation, and presentation.” They also host screenings at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica and the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.
Back in the old days, people used to sit for long periods of time with rectangular stacks of reprocessed plant matter. They were fastened together along one edge, and each rectangle displayed words, much like a frozen tablet screen. When viewing them in succession, people could hear a story in their heads, as though they were watching a TikTok. They called them books.
You can still find these antiques at The Last Bookstore, located in downtown Los Angeles. Its 22,000 square feet include “a record store, comic book store, 5 art studios, an epic yarn shop, a famous book tunnel, a mammoth head, and unexpected nooks of funkiness.” The website adds, “we are in a hundred-year-old bank building, so we have vaults and ghosts.”
Perhaps the ghosts belong to some of the venerable sages who made these books? Regardless, The Last Bookstore is the perfect spot for history buffs – or young hipsters who like to make ancient formats cool again.
Every Sunday, the grounds of Fairfax High School transform into the Melrose Trading Post. For just $5 admission, you can enjoy the bazaar of local artists, craftspeople, food trucks, and live music. There’s no better place to find hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind items, like Andrew’s book clocks or Lisa Raphael’s repurposed musical instrument lamps.
Founded by Greenway Arts Alliance in 1997, the Melrose Trading Post supports small businesses as well as Fairfax High School. In fact, some students get their “first real-world job experience” by working at the market. They can also apply for openings at Greenway Court Theatre and Greenway’s Institute for the Arts, run by the same non-profit.
If we haven’t already convinced you to spend a Sunday at Melrose Trading Post, then we have one argument held in reserve. You can find it by checking out #DogsofMTP on social media. Who can resist these always happy and sometimes costumed canines? Pre-order tickets here.
While you’re planning ahead, schedule a tour of the Virginia Robinson Gardens, located at one of the earliest Beverly Hills mansions. Dating to 1911, the estate boasts not one, not two, but no less than six separate gardens, maintained according to the spirit if not always the letter of their original themes.
For marvelous landscaping, stand in The Front Meadow or behold the Great Lawn and Dry Border. For majestic blooms, visit the Display Rose Garden or the orchid house at the Kitchen Garden. For enchanting ambience, visit the King Palm Forest or Italian Terrace Garden.
If you’re lucky, you might also get to attend one of the teas, lectures, concerts, classes, or other events that are occasionally hosted at the magnificent and historic Robinson estate.
If you take the 10 east from the city, you’ll find your way to Pomona. Depending on where and when you start, it could take an hour or more, but you’ll still be in LA County. There, on the idyllic campus of Pomona College, you can visit the Benton Museum of Art.
For the unbeatable price of free, visitors gain access to truly amazing treasures. The museum’s holdings include first-edition etchings by Francisco Goya y Lucientes, a mural by Rico Lebrun, various works by Mirella Bentivoglio, and artifacts from over 100 indigenous North American groups.
After the museum, definitely stop by Frary Hall, where the Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco painted a mural while living on campus for two months during 1930. Likewise, you should linger in Pomona because you won’t want to miss the final item on our list…
James Turrell Skyspace, titled Dividing the Light
Twice a day, around sunrise and sunset, a light show takes place at Pomona College’s very own Turrell Skyspace, the only publicly accessible one in southern California. You could come to Pomona early, but we know our audience. Creatives tend to be more active at night.
As the artist’s website explains, “A Turrell Skyspace is a specifically proportioned chamber with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky.” Shifting lights continually reframe what is visible, giving visitors a unique and different perspective from wherever they are within the space.
We’ve previously discussed Turrell’s work in our architecture roundup, where we featured Roden Crater. We’re still eagerly awaiting its completion, but in the meantime, the Pomona installation has further whetted our appetite. Just watch how it morphs throughout the day!
That’s our arts roundup for LA! There are many, many other places that deserve mention, but we’ll have to let you find them on your own.
We’ll feature other cities in future roundups. We’re eager to travel because lockdown remains such an, um, vivid memory.
Until next time, find some creativity wherever you can, stay safe, and be well. #StandCreative