A Bad Hat, a Dumb Rock, and a Western Motel

Here’s three more reasons to visit L.A. 

1. Can we finally now get over Norton Simon’s land grab of the Pasadena Art Museum? Fond memories when we were young and first saw the Warhol Brillo Boxes and the Richard Serra cut up redwoods. That was very cool. But then followed by the worst betrayal ever. Then howls went up as we were subject to miles of dopy Rembrant prints of the same subject matter endlessly lining the walls when Norton Simon bullied his way in and bought the struggling Pasadena Museum. Move on? Oh alright. Enough grudge harboring, we say. 

A smallish Van Gogh portrait blazes out from the center room. Power to shock after a century. Everything is wrong: Face is torqued way off center, eyes don’t line up,  the hat’s two sizes too small. But glows with an electric nitro burning brute force. Even in the cel pic.

Down the hall Lucas Cranich painted figures stand almost full size, almost alive in realism. But don’t let go of the hand rail and slip down the ant sand trap to the basement where dozens of dead buff colored sculptures from eons ago wait to smother you in dust and recycled air. Stay on the first floor then run for the exit.

 2. Adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits at the LA County Art Museum, Michael Heizer has turned the nice green lawn into his personal dust bowl and set up this:  A big boulder on a mock freeway overpass  waiting to crush you. Scary. Almost as scary as walking around the Stinky Felix Arches (in the Pasadena Arroyo) at noon. Overblown Michael. But Gerhard Richter’s abstract big red painting in Eli Broad’s monument to hisself upstairs at LACMA is actually way cool. The silver shimmers under Matrix like ribbons of falling skeins of paint. Makes you feel that abstracts are ok to look at once again.  In the same room, Chris Burdon’s totally lost it with the stupid little cars stuck around a Red Grooms like set up of buildings. Really Chris? Pay your girl friend to shoot you again or something. Or at least get the little cars to actually move.

3. The best one yet. Route 66: The Road and The Romance at the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage.  Where else can you see Jack Kerouac’s 60 foot ‘On The Road’ book typed out on a taped together vellum scroll in the same room as Woody Guthrie’s beat up guitar, next to a mint 1960 Corvette and some excellent vintage gas pumps?  This is the best curated show ever. Not too much stuff, just enough. Perfect. Keep it shallow. It’s just a road.

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