Lost in LACMA’s Details – Los Angeles, CA

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is one of the most visually interesting museums I have visited. I only realize this now, despite having visited once before.

As I photograph its exterior for the nth time, I know that the camera-snapping must stop soon. The sun is starting its descent and Ali has been patiently waiting for what feels like ten minutes. Realistically, it’s probably been closer to an hour.

Ever since Ali gave me a Nikon DSLR as a gift, I have been guilty of tacking extra time on to any of our outings and excursions. Suddenly, every detail seems interesting and worthy of a capture – all angles must be photographed, every landmark requires my attention, I cannot leave any stone unturned. It’s a case of – have camera, will travel. Or, is it the other way around?

I take a few more shots of the museum’s exterior – there seems to be a never ending supply of architecture scapes to document. A pop of red against a stark white exterior, here; a cool industrial detail, over there; immaculate gardens punctuated with tall palms abound.

As is the usual scenario these days, whilst I snap, Ali busies himself elsewhere. This time however, he is sitting in my line of sight, at one of the many steel chairs scattered around Chris Burden’s famed sculpture of 202 restored cat iron antique street lamps named Urban Light, engrossed in what seems to be the museum catalogue. I wonder if he’s really reading something that interesting; I bet he’d rather be doing anything but. This is what marriage is all about, I console myself, I am sure the vows alluded to a dedication in equal parts to one another’s hobbies, til death do us part. Ali and his music, me and my photography.

I remember the last trip we’d made to the museum, around two years ago. Back then, I was likely suffering from tunnel-vision, more distracted with the action of ticking LACMA off of my list of pre-NYC-relocation LA-must-see’s as opposed to taking photographs of it. Prior to our trip back to the East Coast, I didn’t pay nearly as much attention to the details as I do now.

I must have already seen the museum’s 4-year-old Broad Contemporary building, though I can’t really be sure as I am sketchy on the details. Today however, I can’t get enough of it. Its architectural design intrigues me – the red fire escape style staircase that zigzags from top to bottom of one of its sides inspires a series of clicks. The red-on-white is reminiscent of pop-art, and brings to mind Warhol. Incidentally, his 1964 oil painting of the Campbell’s Soup Can on canvas, hangs within.

What I am certain of is that I had not seen the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion on the previous visit. Opened in 2010, this is an open plan museum with rotating exhibits, currently showing an enviably curated California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way. Right now, I cannot keep my camera lens away from the building’s exterior. Luckily, it stands opposite the Broad building, which brings me closer to where Ali – still nose-deep in literature – is sitting.

Feeling it too soon to be heading inside – the late afternoon light makes everything look so photogenic – I suggest to Ali that we enjoy a drink prior to viewing the art. We have the time; the museum is open late on Fridays. I had noticed the Modernist-inspired Ray’s restaurant and Stark Bar during my rounds of the exterior, newly constructed and recently opened. We sit in its retro-styled outdoor area and order a round of drinks – a glass of red for me, an artisan-prepared cocktail – tequila muddled with fresh orange peel – for Ali.

As so happens with those who are food-obsessed, drinks lead to a light dinner – we order hamachi, sausage pizza, sea bream in broth. Besides, this place is so chic and pleasant; it puts most other art institution eateries to shame. I insist that every dish is photographed – they beg for my camera’s attention.

Looking at the Renzo Piano designed indoor dining space from the corner of my eye, I suddenly recall a photo I’d seen of a similar construction taken by the late Julius Shulman. Inspired, I excuse myself from the table for a moment – it is a model subject, I need to take a photo of its lines while there is still a good natural light.

As I get up, Ali looks at me, mid-bite in his pizza slice, and muffles, “Just please don’t leave me sitting here for too long.” No, of course not.

50 thoughts on “Lost in LACMA’s Details – Los Angeles, CA

  1. Nice shots. I especially like the b/w one of the lights. I’ve been to the museum several times but have never looked at it in such a way that you do, with the angles, patterns, etc…

    • Hi Karen! So glad you took a look, and commented. The space really is wonderful though the museum visit then requires an extra hour or so of exterior exploration 🙂 The building is an artwork, and the restaurant is definitely a stop if you can make a day of it. Thanks!

    • Thanks Ms Sydney Life! I am glad as this isn’t my usual way of writing but it’s something I was working on for one of my classes. When you say ‘details’, tell me more? I could use that feedback. happy that there’s no rain – finally!

      • Hey Marina – Sydney is putting on a fab’ day today. A real ‘happy to be alive’ day that she does so well.

        Now, as for details – you said “I remember the last trip we’d made to the museum, around two years ago. Back then, I was likely suffering from tunnel-vision, more distracted with the action of ticking LACMA off of my list of pre-NYC-relocation LA-must-see’s as opposed to taking photographs of it. Prior to our trip back to the East Coast, I didn’t pay nearly as much attention to the details as I do now.” I was referring to this comment. I feel you gave us Marina’s view of the grounds of the LACMA in lovely detail and images, and through your eyes (something I believe you do beautifully. It is one of the reasons I check in on your blog so regularly).

        My uncle always says that when you see someone more often, you get the detailed minutiae of their life, and that this is a special privilege. It’s a bit like you gave us the minutiae of the grounds, and offered a different perspective. It was a great piece.

        I shall stop writing now!

        Cheers from Sydney 🙂

      • That’s so kind of you. Thanks for writing me back to let me know. I like your observation and I’m definitely going to soak it in. yes, go out and enjoy the beauty of Sydney. I really am appreciative of your feedback. Thank you so much 😉

  2. Ha ha…giggled all the way through this….
    Mrs SHPics, (who I really should call Rhianydd as its such a lovely name), always smiles, then settles into (that’s the only way I can describe it) a very particular combination ‘happy/sad/wistful’ sort of expression, (a bit like a mother with the beginnings of a migraine, regarding a very cute toddler who won’t stop banging a plastic drum), whenever I say, “Oh…Look at that!………I’ll only be a second”……
    Thank God I’m the antique equivalent of a VERY cute toddler…

    But..One big difference….If I EVER left the table to take a photo, I’d expect papers in the post…and justifiably so!
    I’ll put my duelling pistols away…I can’t compete with a man that loves you that much!

    On a photographic note..That second shot where you’ve ‘horizontalled the diagonals/diagonalled the verticals’ or whatever……….
    Sublime…. a symphony in line.

    • Stuart, your comment makes me laugh! We are forces to be reckoned with. Glad it made you laugh, glad you can relate, and luckily Ali loves his food too much to contemplate legal action 😉 happy you liked that pic – that’s exactly what I like about LACMA. It’s lines! Thank you!

    • Thanks Gisele! The lamps are so cool, and I do have some night shots – I may post them as an end-note post 🙂 The food is really very good – nothing prepackaged here and beautiful surroundings!

  3. Gorgeous rhythmic architectural photos, Marina. I so relate to your need to look at every angle and obsess on composition! It is good to have a patient self-entertaining partner! 🙂

    Love this building, and you have presented it beautifully.

    • Hi Karen! Thank you so much – I really enjoyed taking photos of this building – the reds, the lines, the palms! Ali is very patient and calm – we balance one another out 😉 I so appreciate your comment!

    • Hey 2 Rivers! Thanks for your comment. That first shot looks kind of futuristic, doesn’t it? yes, that is Ali – don’t worry, he approved the image before I posted it. Vertical images didn’t do those lamps justice 🙂 have you been to the museum before? I didn’t get a chance to photograph alot of it.

    • That’s kind of true – he loves his Archos gadgets but maybe I need to load up more music on there. He’ll be fine listening to tunes all day! The lamps are so cool – alot of angles to be explored! Thanks!

  4. Great post! Love the story engrained within the photography – you’ve got to love the push and pull of marriage – how wonderful to enjoy (and share) each others creative pursuits! xo! 🙂

    • Hi Shira, thanks so much! So happy you liked the post – it was a different type of narrative for me to work around. Marriage is all about the balance, right?! Being able to indulge in creative pursuits has shown me the patient side of me; I’m happy being enveloped in it 🙂

  5. I enjoyed the photos and the story about your Ali! He sounds very understanding of your photographic interests. My hubby is very understanding and patient when I get into the photo-taking mode.

    • I am glad to hear it Fergiemoto!! To be honest, I try to put myself in Ali’s shoes and I don’t think I’d have half his patience. Though, I do indulge in his musical creations on every car trip we take… and from his studio at home. So we balance it all out 🙂 I’m happy you liked the story. Thanks!

  6. This is it, once you have camera, you can’t let it go and start seeing every little thing you haven’t noticed before, suddenly everything looks interesting and with a shot… and then all this time spent to compose a good and interesting shot 😉

    You two sound like a good match and it’ really cool that you do things together and support each others hobbies 🙂

    Great pictures, looks like a fun day out, and that food looks really yum 🙂

    • Exactly – an hour (or two) needs to be added to the trip! The food was really amazing (as was the restaurant) for a museum – other art spaces should look to it as an example. Thanks for taking a read Kristina!

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