I found myself in the mid-Wilshire area at lunchtime yesterday. The stars aligned and I scored a metered parking spot without any trouble (though I might’ve made a questionable U-turn to get to it). My first destination was the Rethink / LA exhibit at the Architecture and Design Museum. This show offers “perspectives on a future city”, imagining Los Angeles 50 years from now. There is a series of 18 collages, each made by an artist, designer or architect, showing his / her / their vision of what a portion of the city could be. Most of them are rich, creative and optimistic takes on the potential of our urban environment and the technologies that will get us there. There are some interesting audio and video installations as well. My favorite is a virtual skate part made only of walls lined with fluorescent light tubes that flash on and off synchronized with audio of skateboard wheels and sounds that move around you as you stand in the room. It’s a simultaneously peaceful and exciting experience (sunglasses recommended!). The exhibit is there only until September 4, so this week is your chance to check it out.
Next stop: lunch. The lure of the food trucks that stretch along Wilshire at lunchtime in this neighborhood was too strong to resist. I had a delicious tofu / lemongrass bahn mi sandwich from the Phamish truck.
After that brief intermission, I crossed the street to walk among the forest of street lamps designed by legendary artist Chris Burden (also visible in the lower left corners of the photos above). Urban Light is one of my favorite public art installations in the city (especially since Barbara Kruger’s flag at MOCA is gone). Instead of explaining why, I’ll save a couple of thousand words by posting pictures. It’s easy to find other fantastic photos of this piece on line, taken by more talented photographers, including lit up at night.
Just a bit deeper into the LACMA complex, in front of the newish Resnick Pavillion, is Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals / Chinese Zodiac (on display until February 12 next year). This article from The Economist gives a bit of context for their tour of the U.S. Some are fierce-looking, some are cute. They are all impressive in their Los Angeles setting against an installation of palm trees (by Robert Irwin) and a very blue sky with some high wispy clouds. To me they evoke some sort of odd cross between a council circle of deities straight out of a fantasy story and a display of trophies collected by some sadistic hunter or murderer. They are worth seeing in person, but here’s a complete set in photos:
I would love to see these installed in different environments. I think it would be an entirely different experience each time. At LACMA they form a closed circle, but in other installations they’ve been placed in a semi-circle arrangement instead. After Los Angeles, they are going to Houston, TX, then Washington, D.C. and afterward to Pittsburgh, PA.