Monday, May 12, 2008

L.A. Without a Car: Day Five

I figured out the Dash bus system, which is separate from the county-wide Metro system. Dash buses operate in city centers (of which there are many in the Los Angeles basin) and run routes through the most congested parts of town. They're for quick trips and the fare for seniors is only ten cents.

Dash B stops near the hotel and took me to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) across from the Disney Music Hall. The present show at MOCA is called "Collecting Collections" which puzzled me a bit until I watched the explanatory video. As seems to be true of all the Los Angeles art museums, the collections are acquired when private collectors donate their collections to the institution. I think this is true to a certain extent for all the major art museums in the country, but other, older museums also have had an active acquisition program; they watch the art markets and go out and buy pieces that fit into their particular collection.

MOCA's collection features work from the mid-20th century to the present, with a special emphasis on Los Angeles artists, but including pieces from all over the world. What I saw represented a wider variety of both artists and media than what I saw at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the work seem somehow more serious or significant. I particularly noticed many more photographs and large works on paper, particularly with graphite (pencil). I realized that in none of the collections I've seen in L.A. are there many prints or drawings; maybe those media are out of fashion. Much contemporary work seems to me to be made for shock value or simply to be "different'. It's interesting or amusing or shocking at first glance, but doesn't pull the viewer back for a second look.

I had lunch at MOCA in spite of having a vague memory of a bad lunch there in the past. My memory was correct. The museum is located on Bunker Hill where there are many newer office buildings that include beautiful outdoor plazas, walkways and mini parks. It is very pleasant to stroll these pedestrian throughways, separated from traffic. I happened on to the California Plaza, a very large, multi-level landscaped area with a water feature. This is at the top of Angel's Flight, the old inclined plane railway that lifted people up and down Bunker Hill. It has been restored but is presently closed for repairs. I took a modern elevator down, instead.

After MOCA, I visited MONA, The Museum of Neon Art. It's in a temporary location and was a small collection of both neon advertising signs and art work that includes neon lighting. They are looking for a permanent home, but rapid development in Los Angeles has driven property prices up. It remains to be seen if the present credit crunch will have an effect. Since I was the only visitor, I had a pleasant conversation with the lady on duty. She told me that most of the central city warehouse spaces, which are the kinds of places they'd need for their exhibits, have been converted to residential "lofts". But these are not the kind of lofts you think of when you think of starving artists. Instead, they're selling for millions of dollars and offer all kinds of luxury and prestige. A very large new development has just begun construction next to the Disney Music Hall and MOCA, and I read about a proposed 30 story tower in Hollywood. L.A. has the reputation for being pro-development. Maybe some of the tycoons will collect art with the millions they make, and enrich the city's museums.

I took a short stroll though part of downtown L.A., stopped at Starbucks for break, then headed back to the hotel. Had supper down the street at a place called Phillipe's which has been there for 100 years. They feature "French dip" sandwiches; there's a choice of several kinds of meat: chicken, pork, turkey, ham, beef. I had beef along with a glass of draft ale, both of which hit the spot. The place was busy, clean and efficiently run since most of the items on the menu (which is extensive) are ready to serve. I saw several people in Amtrak uniforms --- they must have just gotten off work at Union Station down the street. I large Amtrak employee ahead of me in line ordered two bowls of stew, two dishes of strawberry ice cream, and two glasses of lemonade. I assumed he was also ordering for a companion, but he ate it all himself!

Weather was ideal today, and I wore a sunhat.

Oregon pedometer - 8009 steps


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