Jim treated me to a trip to Los Angeles for my birthday. Going to LA and dedicating the trip to looking at art is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. We made the all-day drive and arrived at our temporary home (courtesy of Airbnb) in Culver City in the late afternoon.

LA-6Photo: James Cowlin

We stayed in a 1960’s vintage trailer. It was great. Close to everything we wanted to explore, walking distance to good restaurants (ask me about the Hawaiian breakfast!), and mostly non-freeway driving to museums and galleries. Jim did all the driving in LA, thankfully, as I am phobic about driving in the best of circumstances. We also had trusty Mildred, a brand new GPS that did a stellar job of helping the driver get us from one place to the next with minimal backtracking.

My favorite meal (besides the Hawaiian breakfast) was my birthday dinner at the Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica. We also had a nice dinner with our nephew, David Don, who managed to get away from his grueling job for a few hours for a visit.

Highlights of our three days of visiting museums and galleries were the LA Louvre, the Hammer, LACMA and the galleries in Culver City. The 3-days of non-stop looking were both heavenly and overwhelming. We barely touched the surface of what’s in LA art-wise, but it was enough for this time. I don’t think I could have taken in more or my brain and eyes would have gone into total overload.

Below are a few more of Jim’s photos.

LA-1Looking at Mark Bradford: Scorched Earth, gorgeous paintings at the Hammer Museum.

LA-3If I could climb inside this painting to figure out how Mark Bradford added and carved out the layers of paint and other media, I would have!

We almost didn’t visit the Hammer, but ended up there first (long story) and saw three incredible art exhibits. Turns out that it’s my favorite LA museum so far. And it’s free. We came back to the Hammer on Thursday evening for a jazz concert (also free). It was truly an amazing experience to be at the performance of Kyle Buckmann’s Wrack…Awaits Silent Tristero’s Empire. I don’t pretend to know anything about jazz, but was enthralled by this performance by a group of musicians from around the country. It was a privilege to hear them perform in the beautiful courtyard space in the museum.

LA-4Paintings and photographs by David Hockney at the LA Louvre. I could have spent the entire 3 days looking at these.

LA-5At LACMA, looking at work by Noah Purifoy

I was set to skip LACMA, having been there on many previous visits to LA. There wasn’t anything showing there that jumped out at me as a must-see for this visit. But a nice gallery director in Culver City recommended Noah Purifoy’s Junk Dada exhibit at LACMA. Sounded interesting so off we went. It was amazing work, assembled from debris. After living and working in LA for much of his life, he moved to Joshua Tree, in the Mohave desert, where he lived for the last fifteen years of his life and created a 10-acre park filled with his sculpture. I’ve see plenty of assemblages of random junk in my time, but never anything like this. How he took all this stuff and put it together to make cohesive & beautiful art is way beyond me.

Jim taking a break LAACMAAnd here’s my snapshot of Jim, taking a much deserved break at LACMA.

We made the drive home last Saturday, leaving hectic LA and arriving back in quiet and lovely Oracle. I couldn’t wait to get back to work in my studio.

I can’t imagine a better birthday gift. Thank you Jim, it was a magical time.