Beast Coast to Best Coast: Its art art everywhere…

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When I worked in DC, I used to walk out the front door of my office building and across the street to the National Portrait Gallery, to think.  I’d stroll and think. It was the perfect place to do so; with free admission you can simply pop in for 15 minutes and roam the halls, rubbing elbows with America’s earliest painters or modern photography exhibits, just long enough to get your mind working in a different direction again.

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Now when I walk out the front door of my office building, I quickly find myself at Michael Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  It’s a block east of CNN’s LA bureau on Sunset and Cahuenga. A news ticker streams the headlines across the street to Amoeba Music, one of those old dinosaurs–a real live record store.  If you were wondering where to find the best pizza in all of Hollywood, let me just tell you, this place is like walking into and out of Brooklyn just crossing the threshold.  If you tweet Joe’s Pizza @joespizzait they will give you 15% off your order.  They’re on Hollywood Blvd. and Wilcox.dc3

Note to self: Don’t get derailed by the costume shops and bewildered tourists muddling over the pink and black, flecked terrazzo streets. Hollywood Blvd. can seem like a strange place, but the buttoned up hipster kids are really just programmers and the cats with the full sleeve tattoos are the graphic designers. Trailer Park, the entertainment marketing agency that puts out the slickest movie trailers for blockbuster films and designs campaigns for the latest video games, is just up the boulevard.

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Walk down Wilcox to Selma and you’ll see one of the most precious gems of all. The empty building directly on the corner gets buffed over almost every day because almost every night street artists put up new wheat pastes.  If you catch it at the right time, you can find some pretty epic work.

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Art that is born from a determined, rebellious spirit and put into action, long after the rest have resigned to the morning. Art that knows no boundaries, for better or worse, in the search for a voice.  The same way that a good and gritty ground game in a campaign can achieve an eloquent brilliance. Or epic disaster. But somehow still give everyone a good laugh.

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During the election, it was awesome.

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I started snapping them with my iphone whenever I was quickly passing by, then posting the photos to Instagram.  Different artists have found the posts and its connected me to new friends and collaborators. The pieces I’ve spotted have been so unique and special to me, for their content but also for their ephemeral timeliness, like pop culture hitting you on the head with a hammer. Then disappearing the next night. A real live street art twitter.

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That’s the fortunate thing about doing what I do, in the place I do it.  We consistently embark on new creative endeavors.  Surrounded by corporate news headquarters and small powerhouse production shops, 15 minutes to the local government of Downtown LA, and never too far from a coffee shop for those long and caffeine-fueled brainstorming sessions. We strike a chord between fine art and street art.  Guerrilla film-making and presidential advance.  Nestled in the craziest little neighborhood, but ready to travel anywhere, in the name of inspiration.

Can a $1.50 one way ticket get LA walking? Why the LA Metro area is now Metro Accessible

Its an easy breezy afternoon in Downtown Los Angeles and I suddenly find its high time I hoof it to the Westside–sans wheels. You heard me, right.  Hold my breath and actually take a walk in Downtown LA to the Pershing Square stop on the Red Line and take it to 7th Street to hop on the new Expo Line that just opened last week and connects DTLA with the Westside by light metro rail. You can get all the way to Culver City, at Venice and National.

For Native Angelinos, this is–like–totally a BFD.

The Expo Line is surprisingly quick and efficient.  And although its rather new, everything looks and feels like it was built and assembled in the early 1970s.  This stylistic choice is a major metropolitan public transportation requirement. Its written somewhere important.  Other than accidentally walking through a commercial shoot in DTLA (“Just cheat your shoulder toward the camera so we can see the bus behind you”) maybe I could have been in DC or any other major city in the US. The stations each have ample parking and the trains really did arrive right after one another. Minimal wait time!

So, for a $1.50 one way ride from the quiet suits and cardboard box houses of Downtown to the In-N-Out in Culver City across from Carbon, its a good deal.

If LA keeps talking about how no one walks, then no one is actually stopping the talk and starting to walk.

Go out and see the world on foot, cats and kittens!

–Aimee

Why you should be coming to DC’s SW Waterfront, like, now.

this post is dedicated to Ashley and Flora ❤As a young professional transplanting to DC, I was overwhelmed with all the little nooks and crannies that took on their own characteristic neighborhood vibe.  Columbia Heights tasted like a $2 can of Pabst and pupusas. Georgetown smelled like brunch and breeze, with expensive perfume wafting in the air. And the Hill was strong coffee and late whiskey nights, for sure.

But as a California girl with a particular fondness for seeing the ocean every day, I needed a place with access to water and an undone attitude that belied the career driven ambition of the District.  Enter: the SW Waterfront. DC’s smallest quadrant. Now don’t get me wrong, the Waterfront is notorious for being somewhat… vacant.  But it makes up for what it lacks in general diversity, with its anonymity.  In a city where you can and will run into everyone from exes to employers on a jumbling and boisterous Friday night metro ride, its a fantastic thing to feel incognito. Under the radar, as you stroll along the Riverwalk, past the hauntingly serene Titanic Memorial.Or come down to Nationals stadium (technically SE but by a stones throw) and watch the hometown heroes of no one’s home town–The Nationals–play some good old fashioned baseball. I always try to go to the games they play against the Dodgers so I can see my boys in blue and annoy the Washington fans.After the game you can always swing by the new restaurant Station 4 if you’re feeling like something a bit more upscale after sitting in the bleachers all day.  I must admit, despite their close proximity to the SW Waterfront metro stop, I have never actually eaten here.  But they do have Peroni in this beautiful, curvaceous Italian-sex-kitten tap.Last summer we saw Thievery Corporation perform at the pop-up tennis court Kastles Stadium at The Wharf. It was an amazing show and its always nice to hear live music by water.

The late, great Chuck Brown came out and joined them for a song. I’m so happy I got to see this DC legend in-person before he passed. Mad love to you, man.But the real star of SW is, of course, the rowdy and rockin’ Cantina Marina.  For us So Cal types, it feels a bit like the grungy beachy vibe of VeniceThe palm trees may be plastic and the view may be of the Anacostia River, but my goodness!  With a drink in your hand and Bob Marley or the Chili Peppers blaring over the flirtatious chatter of the patrons, you might as well be anywhere you want to be.  So maybe the water is always  bluer just over the horizon. But for now DC’s sunny evenings and impending summer days have me heading to the SW Waterfront.

See you there cats and kittens!

-Aimee

Blind love for SONG 1: Mixed media outdoor exhibition at the Hirshhorn museum

hirshhorn3For nearly two months the Hirshhorn museum, with its circular shape and unique design, has served as the canvas for an experiential artistic exhibition.  California born and based artist Doug Aitken has transformed the iconic building into a living, 360-degree film reel, projecting his original short film SONG 1 on the entirety of the building every night until May 20th.  The short is set to the tune of the hypnotic “I Only Have Eyes for You” which bellows on repeat from speakers surrounding the museum out onto the National Mall and through the busy streets.

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Beginning at sunset and concluding at midnight, the artist’s vision of “liquid architecture” blurs the lines between reality and fantasy.  He fashions a multimedia outdoor experience that makes the audience feel like they are both watching and a part of the exhibition.

hirshhorn2The song which provides the soundtrack for the exhibition, originally written in 1934 but best remembered for the 1959 recording by The Flamingos, opens with a proclamation of blind love. The kind of jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching tunnel vision that leaves you dangerously enamored and unaware of everything else. The kind of love blindness that would get you run over by a car if you weren’t careful.
2012-04-05_21-22-16_286The characters in the film, who each seem alone in the midst of the same intensely personal journey, traverse the rounded exterior walls of the Hirshhorn in varying ways so that the film cannot be viewed entirely from one vantage point. The singers helplessly pose questions into the night, unsure about their own surroundings, unable to make the simplest conclusions about reality.  In the fog of passion.  Sitting in the sculpture garden, staring up into the projection–or walking around the building for a new perspective, the singers beg us to answer, “Are the stars out tonight?”  We can’t help but look up into the real darkened sky hovering above our heads. They are. And Venus is low. We go off into a tangent conversation about her as we gaze upward, still humming the song to ourselves.

2012-04-05_21-24-56_20In that song I’ve heard a million times but will never hear the same way again, a dizzily delirious lover laments that he’s unsure if he’s in a garden or a crowded avenue.  And as the characters in the film swirl in and out of different urban scenes, the audience too feels the confusion.  At times they are standing in parking lots upon which the actual trees around the Hirshhorn cast perfect shadows, seamlessly bending reality into art. At other times, blaring sirens screech down Independence Avenue disrupting the focus and yet, somehow mimicking the disorienting effects of this blind love by breaking down and building up the substance and content of the piece, itself.

hirshhorn1Like real blind love, the exhibition swirls around its viewer in vibrant colors and perfect harmonies, familiar images cloaked in compellingly provocative newness.  Even loneliness. Its unsteady and surreal.  Sounds from the city seamlessly harmonize with the sobering but sweet vocals.  Crowds may go by, but the art carries on. The images are evolving, twisting, turning, pulling at your heart in a landscape, cinematic spell.

The installation is entering its final week so be sure to swing by the Hisrhhorn so you don’t miss this amazing experience. With its music, imagery and incredibly powerful moments, its never the same thing twice.  A visual and emotional spectacle as delirious, exciting and confusing as love. A kind of blind love.

But who doesn’t appreciate a well-timed “shoo-bop-shoo-bop.”

That’s all for now cats and kittens.

–Aimee

Andy has Landed: Warhol hits the Mall

Washington DC is preparing for the Warholian Rennaissance sweeping the National Mall. Two exhibitions opened Sunday at the Hirshhorn Museum and the National Gallery of Art, both along the National Mall.

The Hirshhorn, a circular building in its design, is the perfect host for Andy Warhol: Shadows. Andy’s 102 silk-screened, handed-painted piece collection of one single repetitive image. Its simply a shadow on the wall in his office. But its been transformed, tweaked, twisted, colored and screened 102 different ways. And it speaks volumes.The exhibit wraps around the circular structure like a film reel. A walk through Andy’s vision.  Its fantastic! And quite a unique glimpse of the artist’s work.The exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, however, is more familiar.  If the Hirshhorn’s exhibit, featuring work created in the last decade of Andy’s life, is high-brow, the exhibit at the National Gallery is good ol’ Warhol.  We see his affinity for pop-culture-trash-talking-tabloid-celebrity-gossip-goodness.  Its entitled Warhol: Headlines and encompasses the mainstreamy ad man art that made the Warhol legend. This exhibit is gossip-y and silly. Tabloidy and terrific. Sensational and satirical.It follows his obsession with news media. Particularly, it opens on his paintings done by projecting front page stories on the wall and diligently tracing over them.  Free-hand lettering, errors and all.  And then–you travel upstairs, taking the extraordinary journey of his progression into different techniques and evolved lettering. Truly epic newsstand masterpieces that stand the length of the room.I love seeing his soup can style, the pop art appeal, in something other than soup cans!My favorite part of the exhibit were the works featuring both Warhol’s headline designs, and Basquiat‘s hand-drawn profound simplicity.  My most beloved piece in the whole exhibit was this divine beauty:I pretty much just love it and could spend an evening and bottle of wine discussing it!  And, from now until next January you CAN get your Warhol fix on a whole assortment of lectures, concerts and screenings.  Check out the schedule here and see my hit list below: the not-to-miss-moments!So go check it out for yourself and we’ll see ya around!  Take a walk on the wild side.

That’s all for now hep-cats.

–Aimee

Martin Luther King Memorial Opens Today

Today the Martin Luther King memorial opened to the public for a sneak peak before the official dedication this Sunday.  Standing at 30 feet, a very serious and intensely focused Dr. King gazes out at the tidal basin.  In his sights stand Thomas Jefferson across the water and behind him sacred American sites honoring Abraham Lincoln and the ever-monumental Washington.  According to NPR’s Eyer Pedalta, “the memorial is the first on the National Mall that honors an African American and the first that honors a person who did not serve as president.”What strikes me most about the monument, aside from his ominous presence–the strange and lovely sight it is to see the carved stone face of a such a remarkable African American man in America–is simply the design of the monument itself.  It’s modern.  Dr. King rises up from stone.  Like one of Michelangelo’s unfinished sculptures, he is not a free standing figure but emerging from Earth.  Suspended in breaking ground.  As if he’s about to speak. Around the statute are marble walls with quotes from the Reverend.  Its inspiring.  Its beautiful.  And still a bit edgy.  A stone’s throw from the Vietnam memorial stand the words, “I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America.  I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example of the world.”President Obama is scheduled the officially dedicate and open the site this Sunday, the 48th anniversarry of Dr. King’s I have a Dream speech of 1963, which happened within site of the new memorial.  If you’re in DC you should check it out, or you can watch it live on CNN.

What do YOU think about it? Like it?

–Aimee

Meet Max, your DC Pedicab Peddler: Hop on and Hang out!

This is Max (eating a peach from the Farmer’s Market in Penn quarter).  He is your local DC pedicab driver.   Being a pedicab driver in DC means you rent the bike from DC Pedicab but the business is all your own, which makes for some excellent diversity.Max grew up in Virginia but has lived in DC, LA and NY.  While his acting career brings him from coast to coast, when he is here in DC this avid cyclist is usually on a bike.   During the week you can find him around the White House, in front of museums or along the National Mall poised to rescue the exhausted tourists hoofing it along.Because each pedicab driver operates independently, the ride is always a unique experience.  Max explains that there’s one guy who is a History teacher during the school year and during the summer peddles his passengers around DC offering a proper text book tour.  Another lady has turned the cab into a pumpkin, dresses up as a princess and gives every little girl her dream fairy tale tour through the city.So, if you need a late-night ride home from a bar, want to cruise the National Mall in style or find yourself stuck at the end of a Nats game, keep an eye out for the pedicabs!  And feel free to email Max at maxwellschneller@gmail.com to plan the perfect date night.  Its way more fun to cruise en plein air anyway!

That’s all for now cats and kittens.

–Aimee