A Weekend of Art & Eating in Los Angeles

I spent last weekend visiting a cousin in Los Angeles.  It was a short escape to warm weather spent doing my usual traveling routine of opera and eating, this time with some art museums thrown in.

Los Angeles Palm Tree Christmas Lights
Christmas, Los Angeles style.

Throughout the weekend, the city lived up to many of its famous reputations :: the weather was warm and beautiful, as always; the traffic was consistently horrible, per usual; we encountered several camera crews filming various projects (and were even ask to be in one!), as you’d expect in Hollywood; and the arts of all kinds were spectacular, of course.

Urban Light Chris Burden Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art
The Urban Light exhibit by Chris Burden at the LACMA.

My cousin Julie and I visited the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art (known as the “LACMA”), specifically to see the Robert Mapplethorpe photography exhibit and exhibition of Caravaggio paintings.  The American photographer is known for provoking strong reactions; not surprising based on the XYZ photography exhibit on display which consists of homosexual imagery (X), floral still lifes (Y) and nude portraits of African American men (Z).  On the other side of the artistic spectrum was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s Bodies & Shadows exhibit, showing the Italian painter’s (and those inspired by him) passionately beautiful paintings using epic portrayals of light.

Julie’s dad is named on the Go for Broke Monument for his service in WWII.

Taking a break from art, we visited the Go for Broke monument and the Japanese American National Museum in L.A.’s Little Tokyo district.  While small, the Japanese American National Museum is home to a moving display of artifacts and stories from the internment camps and the United States’ discrimination toward the Japanese leading up to World War II.  I previously wrote an entire post on the Go for Broke Monument, which honors the Japanese Americans who fought in World War II.  While touring the monument, a camera crew asked us to participate in a documentary film.  I finally made my acting debut! :)

J. Paul Getty Museum
The view from the Getty Museum.


Then we made our way to the J. Paul Getty Museum, an amazing campus of Western art perched at the top of the hills.  A tram transports visitors from the parking garage through the mountain to the beautiful buildings of the museum.  We barely saw even a glimpse of all the Getty exhibits, instead focusing on the photography of R. Kay Metzker and another Mapplethorpe exhibition during our short time there.  It’s definitely on my Los Angeles to do list for the next time I visit.

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, home of the L.A. Opera, all decorated for Christmas.

And the highlight of my weekend (although I’m not sure I can vouch for cousin Julie) was the Los Angeles Opera.  We saw Madame Butterfly, Puccini’s famous opera about an American Naval Officer who marries a Japanese geisha in Japan, only to leave her for an American woman years later.  Devastated, she convinces the couple to take her son with them to the United States and kills herself.  The performance was outstanding, from the set design to the singers.  A wonderful, wonderful evening.

Los Angeles City Hall glowing in the distance from Dorothy Chandler.

Like many great things, my weekend in Los Angeles came to an end much too soon.  But not before we ate some incredible meals :: an artistically exquisite meal at Patina, a marvelous meat-filled evening at Bouchon, and a delicious bowl of ramen in Little Tokyo.  (Stay tuned for details!)

Thank you, Julie, for such an amazing weekend.  It was inspirational and enjoyable on so many levels!  I can’t wait to come back. 
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