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New York City Art : Hop Into the Mix

September 26, 2017 at 9:23 pm

 

As one of the world’s great art centers, New York City has everything from old masters and renowned museums to storefront upstarts and ephemeral surprises. It’s the place to get a refresh on the artwork you love, and to be stimulated by the new and completely unexpected.

Start with NYC Hop-on Hop-off Pass, an included benefit that will bring you near your choice of 30+ museums throughout the City and beyond, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (metmuseum.org), the Guggenheim (guggenheim.org), Whitney Museum of American Art (whitney.org), and the Museum of Modern Art (moma.org).

The Museum Mile (https://www.ny.com/museums/mile.html) is a lovely area along Fifth Avenue and Central Park that’s filled with museums and other fine arts institutions. At the northern end, El Museo del Barrio (elmuseo.org) celebrates the art and artifacts of Caribbean and Latin American cultures.

Through October 29, 2017, the New York Botanical Garden (nybg.org), north of Manhattan in the Bronx, features a magical garden exhibition of glass works by Dale Chihuly (https://www.nybg.org/event/chihuly-2/). Even if you arrive after the exhibit has closed, there’s still much to enjoy at one of the world’s largest botanical gardens and gorgeous Victorian-era National Historic Landmark.

If fresh art is on your radar, you’ll find galleries galore in Chelsea and Brooklyn, as well as Manhattan. The Drawing Center (drawingcenter.org) exhibits historical and contemporary drawings. White Columns (whitecolumns.org) is an alternative exhibit space devoted to rising stars. MoMA PS1 (momaps1.org) on Long Island extends MoMA’s commitment to emerging artists.

Who says art is solely a visual experience? Explore the art of scent at Aedes Perfumery (aedes.com), an intimate shop in the West Village carrying an intriguing line of fragrances.

Resources I: New York City’s own website provides a complete list of city museums and links at https://www.ny.com/museums/all.museums.html, including links to Free Night and Suggested Contribution museums at https://www.ny.com/museums/free.html.

Resources II: Cultural goings on around town are listed and reliably reviewed at the New Yorker (newyorker.com/culture), the New York Times (nytimes.com/section/arts), New York Magazine (nymag.com/arts/art/) and The Village Voice (villagevoice.com/culture/art/).

Keep your eyes open as you stroll New York City and environs, because you never know when you’ll stumble upon great work. Keith Haring painted on empty subway signs and Jean-Michel Basquiat on the walls of broken-down buildings, and the creations of both NYC artists came to be loved by the world. Some creators working now also look to make something meaningful out of what others might pass by unawares…so do be open to the unexpected in artful New York City – on your California Tours vacation!

 

The Los Angeles Art Scene: A Splash as Big as L.A. Itself

August 1, 2017 at 9:06 pm

Downtown Los Angeles skyline during rush hour at sunset

On your California Tours vacation to fabulous Los Angeles, it’s easy to add an art destination or two. Just like the city, the art world of Los Angeles sprawls and surprises, with any medium on your radar screen accessible via the city’s web of freeways.

Every time of year, L.A. is rich with major exhibits and collections open to the public for free or a nominal charge. Downtown, next to the prehistoric La Brea Tar Pits and Museum (tarpits.org), Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (lacma.org) huge collection has something for everyone – including modern, Asian, Latin American, American, ancient art, and more. The J. Paul Getty Museum’s two campuses (getty.edu/art/collection) have exhibitions with depth and variety, in stunning settings. For contemporary art, consider the Museum of Contemporary Art (moca.org), the new Broad Museum (thebroad.org), and The Hammer Museum (hammer.ucla.edu).

Off the beaten path, smaller galleries and museums reveal Los Angeles’ past and present – its vintage Hollywood glamour, mix of ethnicities, smooth surfer lines, and modernist chic. Here are a few favorites:

  • Eames House, the modern Pacific Palisades home and studio of husband-and-wife designers Charles and Ray Eames (eamesfoundation.org) showcases the influential couple’s take on contemporary furniture, architecture, art, and living. You can combine this with a visit to the Getty Villa, also in Pacific Palisades, but please note that advance reservations (bookable from the website) are required.
  • For film buffs, The Hollywood Museum (thehollywoodmuseum.com), in the historic Max Factor Building in Hollywood, displays one of the largest troves of treasures from the silent screen, Hollywood’s golden era, film noir, feature films, and more.
  • At Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station (bergamotstation.com), an eclectic mix of more than 30 galleries and a café is just 15 minutes by car from Santa Monica Pier.
  • On the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, Watts Towers are towering sculptures built by Simon Rodia. The outsider artist worked with found materials such as rebar and colored glass from soda bottles, with hand tools alone, and no predetermined design. Guided tours are available for a nominal fee (wattstowers.org/tours).
  • The Los Angeles Times’ Arts Reviews section provides a good look at what’s happening in L.A. art (latimes.com/entertainment/arts/reviews/).
    And don’t forget to pack your camera and sketchbook to record your take on L.A.’s visual palette during your California Tours vacation. From the translucent waves at your beach destination, the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles and the hills beyond from your Griffith Observatory stop, or the colorful produce at your visit to the Farmers’ Market, each L.A. stop has its own unique, and memorable, visual splendor.

 

San Francisco’s Art Scene: On and Off the Beaten Path

July 25, 2017 at 12:19 am

San Francisco’s creative soul has rocked the art world from one generation to the next – so where better to explore the delights of the visual imagination than on your California Tours vacation to the City By the Bay?  The art of the Beats and the Summer of Love; Bay Area figurative painting, abstraction, and photography; and the output of untold artists over time inform one of the most free-spirited and cutting-edge art communities on the planet.

As you dip your toes into the Bay area’s myriad inspirations, you’ll find a superb choice of major museums with internationally significant exhibits – San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (sfmoma.org), De Young Museum (deyoung.famsf.org), Legion of Honor Museum (legionofhonor.famsf.org), Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (bampfa.berkeley.edu), and Oakland Museum of California (museumca.org).

If your interests lie off the beaten path, there’s much happening locally, as well. All venues below are near transit lines and entry is free of charge.

A good starting place is one of the area’s renowned colleges of art. The San Francisco Art Institute (sfai.edu) (two blocks from Lombard Street’s curves), and California College of the Arts (cca.edu) (San Francisco and Oakland) have welcoming campuses showing fresh sculpture, painting, photography, performance, digital art, printmaking, film, and more. Both have curated galleries and informal areas exhibiting the work of established and up-and-coming pros, and hot-off-the-brushes student work.

If you want to remember your stay by purchasing a piece of art but are put off by high prices and slick galleries, head to Crown Point Press (crownpoint.com). In the heart of San Francisco’s tech-centric SoMa neighborhood, this old-world publisher of hand-pulled etchings, with a workshop, gallery and store in a lovely historic building, represents a wonderful variety of artists. And, you can snap up one of their prints at a nice price.

After you sample California cuisine at Berkeley’s gourmet ghetto on Shattuck Avenue, be sure to check out ACCI Gallery (accigallery.com), an artists’ cooperative with an appealing range of attainably-priced jewelry, ceramics, paintings, fabric arts, and more, by local craftspeople. Ship your purchase home from the post office only one block away.

Once a month, many downtown San Francisco galleries stay open after hours to host receptions and viewings on First Thursday (sfada.com/member-events/). If you’re in town, this lively art and people-watching experience is worth checking out. And if you’re not in town, the link takes you to a comprehensive calendar of art events.

And, as you head out on your California Tours vacation package to San Francisco and beyond, don’t forget to pack your sketchbook and watercolors or pencils. When inspiration comes, you’ll have the tools handy to jot down the day’s impressions, and return with your own take on a memorable area.

Regions of Kauai and Favorite Movie Moments

April 25, 2017 at 4:35 pm

Aerial landscape view of spectacular Na Pali coast, Kauai, Hawaii, USA

 

The island of Kauai is the fourth largest island in the Hawaiian chain, and is also known as the Garden Isle. It is home to such majestic beauty that over 60 movies have been shot on Kauai throughout its five distinct regions. I encourage you to be your own director or photographer as you visit Lihue, South Shore, the East side a.k.a. Coconut Coast, the West Side, and North Shore.

Jurassic trees in Allerton Garden

Lihue: Huleia River can be reached by air or accessed on kayak. It is where the Raiders of the Lost Ark was filmed when you see that initial temple scene. And if you travel to the Nawiliwili Harbor, some scenes will remind you of Jurassic Park: The Lost World. While you are in Lihue, take a peek inside the Kauai Museum where you will find some great local art and learn about the island’s history. And head to the Grove Farm Homestead Museum to see what life was like back in the farming days.

East Side (Coconut Coast): If you are a fan of Blue Hawaii, Lydgate State Park served as a key spot for this popular Elvis Presley movie. Meanwhile, get yourself good and wet at Wailua Falls, one of the tallest falls on the island. It is also where Fantasy Island, the TV show was filmed. Who can forget that famous line, “The plane! The plane! For the films Blue Hawaii and Islands in the Stream, the gorgeous Wailua River served as an idyllic back drop. Meanwhile, amazing Opaekaa Falls was the site for The Wackiest Ship in the Army, a 1960 flick starring Jack Lemmon. This 151-foot waterfall flows over volcanic eruptions and can be found at the Wailua River State Park. Opaekaa means “rolling shrimp” which were once found in its waters.

North Shore: Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Lighthouse represents one of the famed sites included in the Disney animation, Lilo & Stitch. It is also a coveted locale for bird watching. Pay a nominal fee at the Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge (on the same property) and see if you can spy a red-footed boobie! The same film features Anini Beach Park and Hanalei Bay. And do you recall the musical South Pacific? Key shooting locations included the Lumahai Beach and the Makua Tunnels Beach which is particularly known for great snorkeling and scuba diving. And when you take a speed boat or hike out to Na Pali Coast, note to yourself that this familiar scenery was featured in Jurassic Park: The Lost World and Six Days/Seven Nights.

West Side: Waimea Canyon is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Do come here for hiking and plenty of picture taking. This deep green canyon is featured in films such as Donovan’s Reef, Honeymoon in Vegas, Lilo & Stitch. Hanapepe Town, sighted for Flight of the Intruder, Lilo & Stitch, and Thornbirds, is also the art capital of Kauai. You’ll have to come here to take home an art treasure and discover your new favorite artist.

South Shore: Manawaiopuna Falls, seen only by air, can also be seen in the first Jurassic Park. And when you see the movie, it will also give you a great glimpse of the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Allerton Garden. You will have to make a day trip to come out. Other tourist sites include the Spouting Horn blowhole for photo opportunities and Poipu Beach Park for picnics and swimming. Old Koloa Town is where you will get your shopping fix as you meander through restored plantation buildings.

The list of movies continues to grow as YouTube videographers and Hollywood directors continue to draw inspiration from the Garden Isle. Have a movie you have seen shot in Kauai not listed here? Give me a holler! Aloha for now.

 

 

Kathy Chin Leong is an award-winning travel journalist who has trekked the world. As founder of www.bayareafamilytravel.com, she is passionate about helping people step out of their comfort zones and challenge themselves to try new things and visit new places. Her work can be found in National Geographic Books, Sunset Magazine, and many others.