"There is no There there." Okay, I've heard some of my more "cultured" friends use this Gertrude Stein line on me to try to dissuade me from my desire to live in Los Angeles. First of all, she was referring to Oakland (about which I know nothing), not L.A. Secondly, there is plenty of "there" in Los Angeles, if you know where "there" is. I will admit, the greater Los Angeles area has its fair share of strip malls, chain restaurants, and uninspired suburban cookie-cutter neighborhoods, but there are a lot of unique, funky and -gasp- cultural places, as well.
I didn't make it to LACMA, through which Steve Martin roller skated as "performance art" in one of my all-time favorite films, "L.A. Story" (though I do have the shoes for it now- see right). I did, however, manage to visit the Getty Center- a huge art museum with a stunning view (click the thumbnails for a larger view and to click through a slideshow- the next and back buttons will appear near the top of the photos along the sides):
Admission to the museum is free once you pay for parking. You take a tram to the top of a hill to get to the museum. I took the guided architecture tour while I was there. It's really fascinating (as you can see from the photos and read about on The Getty Center's architecture page). The entire structure is covered with 30-inch squares of travertine (a sedimentary stone) and aluminum. The grid is based on a line that is approximately eye-height and spans the entire complex. It even lines up with the horizon of the ocean (which, due to the hazy fog, you could not see that day).
Despite the museum's modern look, its specialty is Western art from the Middle Ages to the present (a more dignified roller-shoes pose may be in order). They do "mix it up" a little, though. There was a really great video exhibit there (California Video was the name of it and it runs through June 8). I couldn't take pictures there, but my favorite artists were Jim Campbell (Home Movies 920-1 my favorite by far), Jennifer Steinkamp (Oculus Sinister my second favorite), Martin Kersels (Pink Constellation), Bill Viola (The Sleepers), and Paul Kos (Chartres Bleu).
There was also a lovely sculpture garden, where I did cut loose with the camera (again- click the thumbnails for larger views/slide show):