Art Walk in the LA Fashion District

My spirit is soaring upon the wings of inspiration after an absolutely enchanting evening at the March 2011 LA Fashion District Art Walk. I kept my camera stowed away in the car because I wanted to appreciate the art instead becoming consumed by the insatiable urge to create my own. The artists who spoke to my heart through their own work are too many to name all at once. But, hopefully I’ll be able to feature each one in separate blogs to come…

Eventually succumbing to the overwhelming urge to create, I did pull out my camera at the very end to capture a few images:

Glowing grafiti in the LA Fashion District. © Laura McNamara
LA Fashion District © Laura McNamara
LA Fashion District © Laura McNamara
Intersection in the LA Fashion District © Laura McNamara
The Cecil Hotel in the LA Fashion District © Laura McNamara
Brambalito Mezcal drink at Las Perlas in the LA Fashion District © Laura McNamara

The Itch, The Fever Call It What You May But I’ve Got to Go Far and Away & The Truth About L.A.

Yesterday marked my 6th month anniversary in Los Angeles… already? That was fast…

I woke today with a familiar energy; eyes popping wide open. I’ve been logging deep sleep but not long hours. Too much buzz coursing through my body. In fact, the past three mornings have been the same. Getting to bed around 1 a.m. Flashing awake by 7 a.m.

The last time I felt so much energy was while I was living in Playa del Carmen, MX…

Huh. A good sign, I mused to myself… noting the new boost. Exited, I thought: Okay, perhaps LA is really going to come together for me. Perhaps this IS where I’m supposed to be.

HA!

Okay. Prepare yourself now. I’ll be pouring the “wine” for the next few paragraphs. So do yourself a favor and go grab some cheese.

I’ve already mentioned my dissatisfaction with L.A. My nickname for the “city of angels” is “the slum of smoke and mirrors.” In all honesty, there are gems here. But you really have to dig to find them. At least, that’s my experience. And, I certainly love digging up the treasure buried amidst the trash, but the absolute truth is… I’m negligibly inspired here. That’s a far cry from my norm. Usually, I’m brimming over with inspiration, adventure, discovery, joy, love… the list of sappy, fairytale wonderland adjectives goes on. But here? There’s something here… beyond the surface even… that, more alarming than leaving me uninspired, downright disturbs me. I can’t quite put into words what it is, but if I did I would have to borrow the lyrics from the Big Yellow Taxi from the Counting Crow Hard Candy album (and really they borrowed the lyrics from Joni Mitchell):

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. With a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot… They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. They took all the trees and put em up in a tree museum. And they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see them.”

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What’s worse… it seems like everyone believes it’s paradise. The black top of tar is what everyone exclaims is paradise. “They” all squabble over the slightest centimeter of it… charging a millionaire’s salary for one little sq cm. You, ahem, may think I’m exaggerating… I’m not. I just passed a complex on my walk home from the semi-ritzy neighborhood of Brentwood to the partially-ritzy, partially student, partially Asian neighborhood of Westwood, where I now “live” (getting to why I was walking not biking in a minute). A two-bedroom loft in an ‘eh decent enough’ building choked by cement blocks on all sides goes for… drum roll please… not $300,000, not $400,000… can we get a $550,000 dollars please!! Oh yes, centimeters here are damn expensive. Please, pardon my French…
Continue reading “The Itch, The Fever Call It What You May But I’ve Got to Go Far and Away & The Truth About L.A.”

Fig Jam: The Key to Life

Brimming.

Precisely how I would describe today.

First, false courtesy from she who has offered me a roof. She and a friend leave for brunch with no invitation or inclination to include me. An obvious move to make an obvious statement. Certainly not the first time I’ve experienced this, so the disturbance is measured in ripples that spread through the shallows. But, beyond the surface, the calculated move bears no real penetration. Just merely skips off the periphery. My only concern is, after so many years of developing an intuition to avoid such superficial relationships, how did I let this one develop? How did I let this one slip through the cracks? Is it a weakness in my foundation? Or, was meeting me a necessity in the development of hers? My hunch is a little of both…

Moving on. The Italian-American takes me to the Beverly Hills farmers market. He collects blood “red” oranges, imported cheeses, cilantro basil pesto and a small purple orchid, which he gives to me. I love orchids. They are exquisite in their feminine delicacy. This one is petite, yet lavish with blossoms. Ten blossoms blushing with pink, speckled with a richer plum. Five more blossoms on the way. For me, her beauty is yet more striking in this realm thirsting for authentic refinement. Quickly, I find myself attached, jumping at her every shimmer and sway…. fussing over her blossoms like a mother fusses over a newborn.

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The Doheny Mansion. He’s right. Only tourists with guide books delight in this peaceful escape. Would be an ideal location for lifestyle photography. Too bad you need a license to shoot anywhere in this city. It seems everything is marked with bureaucratic, bourgeois tape. Basically, anything worth anything has already been pissed on, marked by the dogs, 100 times over. Common grounds for the public? Dream on. The smell of rain-soaked lavender, so refreshing and soothing, softens my edge and lulls me to a calm…

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A hidden trail finally leads up back to where we started, a small Coy pond…

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Next we pass the Beverly Hills witch house. It looks as if it’s straight out of a Brother’s Grimm tale.

Another Beverly Hills oddity… this one a house inspired by Gaudi:

Quickly, we breeze through Santa Monica just after the rains, strolling along the broad boulevard as the sun begins to break through the clouds…

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Venice… Despite six months in this city, this is the first time I’ve explored her charm. Wow… so there is hope. A far cry from so many of the hidden escapes I’ve come to adore, yet finally some true character! Bohemian flair, a few small canals that survived the city-wide larson, eclectic shops, sophisticated galleries. I will have to find a haven here if I shall make it for any length of time in this city. It’s so wonderful to breathe in the salty sea air… always she calls to me, the sea.

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Ducking into the Ritz Carlton, we seek a quick reprieve from the rainy weather and sip a glass of wine before the crackling fire.

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Winding upwards to the tip top of the Pacific Palisades. We pass clearance and an automatic gate lets us into the clifftop mansion, home to the inventor of Sony PlayStation’s Crash Bandicoot. Fine wine. Homemade pizza after homemade pizza spill from the outside oven, barely hitting the granite counter top before we scarf them down. Imported cheeses, truffle oil, a bountiful selection of savory sauces, fig jam… the list of toppings seems endless. I hand toss, hand roll my first ever homemade pizza. Pesto sauce, chunky slices of Parmesan cheese imported from Italy, red onion, gobs of rictotta, drizzle of honey, crushed black pepper all sent to the outdoor oven. We dress the pizza with buffala, balsamic must and top quality olive oil before serving. The general consensus: mmmMMMMM. The pink panther is my friend’s creation. Can’t remember all the ingredients but wine saturated Manchego cheese, dates and fig jam were key ingredients. He has discovered that fig jam is the key to life.

Gelato to finish us off. Pistachio mixed with chocolate my favorite.

Throughout the night, my friend’s stories, impersonations and jokes carried the delightful evening and roused bouts of laughter. He, as well, a refreshing encounter with true character.

With simple ease, he revealed many of LA’s gems…

Inspiration in the City of Angels

Excerpts from articles I’ve written about a few of the compelling stories I’ve encountered here in Los Angeles:

‘Gifted’ Musician Rocks ‘Social Harmony’

He boasts a four-octave vocal range and has written more than 300 original songs. In just one year, he has led his band through nearly 60 performances in more than 30 venues. When he holds his15-second falsetto note, one wonders if he just might one day soon rival the long note of soul great Bill Wither in “Lovely Day.” Yet, there is one more reason they call this young musician “gifted.” Twenty-five year-old Scott Siegel lives with autism…

Filmmaker Leads Grassroots Campaign to Bring OCD to the Big Screen

It is a film about extreme paranoia and debilitating fear. It is a story of illusion and immobilizing dread. No, this is not a horror movie. It is a narrative drama meant to illuminate the disturbing realities of the fourth largest mental illness plaguing millions of Americans today. Machine Man, a feature film about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), is a story meant to save lives.

“I didn’t know that it’s so common and that people have these thoughts that are called ‘harming thoughts,’” Kellie Madison said. “They walk around in life worried that they’re going to hurt another human being and the anxiety is so great it debilitates them… it was so heart-breaking learning about what these people are going through. I knew I had to make a movie on it.”

Neighbor Goods Leads the Borrow Lend Movement

Why buy when you can borrow? That’s the idea behind 32-year-old Micki Krimmel’s new project – a website that facilitates lending and sharing within local communities. In an age where neighbors seem more like strangers, NeighborGoods.net encourages people to again borrow and lend as friends. “NeighborGoods is a service that connects friends and neighbors to save money and resources by sharing stuff they already own instead of purchasing new stuff,” Krimmel explained.

Flickers Glinting through the L.A. Brume

I was “completely love struck.”

As my eyes briefly flutter over the prose that was written by a most smitten soul in A Rare Soul Indeed, a slight chuckle escapes from my lips.

Oh, Laurita. What a romantic you are!

And proudly so. This fairytale romance has come to an end. Much quicker than I had hoped. Yet the fruit of it was sweet, but for an ever so slightly bitter bite to its aftertaste. As always, I have learned and I have grown… and I am grateful for yet another magical experience.

Here I am in L.A: the city of illusion, the slum of smoke and mirrors. Three months with him. Three months without him.

Admittedly, I still haven’t recovered from the “culture shock.” Everyday the waves of nostalgia for foreign lands wash over my heart. I long to leave this “labyrinth of madness” and return to the journey. But, a small voice inside me insists not yet.

Why not? my heart forlornly whispers back. The answer remains hidden in the smoggy haze that envelopes this city. Not many understand my silent mourning as I search for the straggling gems in a land stripped of its natural beauty. Stripped for a manufactured glamour that, in reality, hardly even exists.

I, the hopeless romantic and the eternally smitten, feel less than charmed by this famed Hollywood seductress.

Yet, something unknown is keeping me here. And, just now, thanks to TweetDeck… a hint flashes in the bottom left corner of my screen:

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. ~Proverb (@AinBelton)

And again, with an ever so slight smile, I admit that I do spy soft flickers of light, glinting through the brume that permeates the city of angles…

Evening soirees. Waterslide waterfalls. Mystic lairs of enchantment. Eclectic expression. Scraps of nature stolidly resisting concrete vanity.

Below the kindling I’ve begun gathering for the great bonfire:

Girls Night In Art Experience
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Flying from LA to Camarillo
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Mindscraps: D’Cache to the Artwalk at the Miracle Mile

It appears the Flamenco restaurant will be my home away from home. Friday night I organized a girls night out and took them all to D’Cache for sangria, chocolate souffle and live Flamenco! This time I tried various tapas: empanadas, pinchos de carne, mushroom pizette and fried yucca… exquisite!

The restaurant was a hit with the other six women who joined and we all end up showing off our sultry Flamenco moves along with another all female birthday group.

I’ve decided I need to work there. The romantic ambiance of the candlelit restaurant, the savory food, the sweet sangria and the live Flamenco music infect me with an utter sensation of feeling alive with magic! I’ll be calling the restaurant tomorrow… informing them they have a new waitress… in lesser words. 😉

After dinner, I felt like I had stepped back into Central America as we hit a latino club for some reggaeton! The night was a blast and the women were fabulous… we can’t wait to do it all again!!

Saturday was all about expression. Art class with Clara Berta and her two other students was a spirit-lifting success… smashing glass, white-washing a painted canvas to begin anew and adding the final touches to a third. All three pieces I’m currently working on look promising… promising enough for me at least! I’ll post when they’re complete.

I met with Clara again in the afternoon after she clued me into the autumn artwalk at the Miracle Mile. We discovered a great new gallery Art Space Ware House, which opened just three weeks ago. Some photo on canvas modified with texture and paint has inspired me to experiment with modifying my own photos soon!

In one of the galleries I picked up an informative magazine about The Julia Dean Photo Workshops. Apparently the artist is going to begin offering workshops in Guatemala. I just about died. I’m going to contact her in the mere hope that somehow I can convince her she needs me to help with something… anything!! I’ve certainly got plenty of photos and connections in Guatemala!

The highlight of our Miracle Mile exploration though would have to be Colleen French and her Renegade Dinner Club. Owner of two restaurants in Portland, OR, Colleen lives in LA after falling for an Cali dude. Consequently, no longer cooks in her own restaurants, but still relishes in her passion for cooking by offering to cook for anyone willing to buy the food. She and friends had just recently traveled out to have a gourmet dinner in the desert. They trucked in a beautiful hand carved table made from shipping pallets, strung together sheets and fabric for a colorful, make-shift canopy and dined in the desert! I LOVE the concept. Colleen even has her truck set-up to be a rustic, portable kitchen, complete with two propane-fueled burners. We spotted her outside the gallery that featured the set up from the dinner in the desert an old record-player accompanied her slow cooked pulled-pork and chicken… all served from the back of her truck. Both were a savory surprise!

Flamenco: Kristelle Monterrosa

Saturday night was a night of dancing, madness and magic. Kristelle and I connected on the web through Couchsurfing.com. Both new to LA, it was Kristelle who reached out and contacted me first. Saturday night I invited her to join my boyfriend, some of his friends and I for dinner. Kristelle crackled with a vibrant, magnetic energy from the moment she first slid into our car. This woman is full of life and spirit… an absolute breathe of fresh air. She is here in LA to further her acting career after studying and acting in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At dinner, the pure-heartedly passionate and compassionate Kristelle managed to move me to tears…

After dinner Kristelle suggested we hit a hot, new Spanish tapas restaurant for dessert and sangria. What a treat we were in for!! Live, flamenco music greeted us at the door and Kristelle and I quickly hit the dance floor to get our flamenco on! The sangria, with a splash of cinnamon and nutmeg proved to be a burst of succulence in a cup. And the chocolate souffle she recommended? Rich and divine!

As the night progressed, we found ourselves left with an intimate group of 16 after hours in the restaurant. One of the other 16 turned out to be the lead singer for the Gipsy Kings and he, along with the other musicians, delighted the rest of us a to an impromptu, private concert. All I can say is WOW!! This was definitely one of my most magical nights since my arrival in LA.

Kristelle is planning on offering flamenco classes here in LA. I will definitely be among her first students!

Below you can see a video of her dance flamenco:

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A play she helped develope is also currently hitting the stage in Buenos Aires: Medea Tango

Mixed Media Art: Clara Berta

I found Clara Berta and her art classes thanks to a ‘Google alert’ for “Los Angeles.”

Curing With Los Angeles Painting Lessons | Comparing Fashion

By Clara Berta

Los Angeles Painting Lessons may cure you. Those who are weighed down by negative thoughts but cannot convey them in thoughts and words might be able to come across curing in art therapies…

When we create something, we give it our complete undivided attention. We immerse ourselves within the process. The music or the paint or the wood and the cake flour or the patch of fertile ground in the back garden lifts us over the difficulties we have and takes us away from ourselves, despite the fact that what we may be producing is incredibly internal. Producing art offers us something to look forward to and will take us outside of ourselves. It offers us hope…

Clara Berta is a globally renowned combined new media artist who focuses on painting lessons los angeles, classes and everything else. Interior designers simply adore this modern art and she is also most desirable for her popular collage painting in Los Angeles. For anyone who loves art, she surely does not let down!

Further delving into art has long been an objective of mine so I eagerly contacted Clara. She invited me to a free introductory class, where I discovered how much I LOVE to throw paint and whatever else onto a canvas. Perhaps I’m not making anything worth anything but I don’t care… just the creative process… the journey of turning a blank canvass into well, something, if not art… is utterly liberating!

I’m so grateful for Clara’s mentoring and her willingness to share her creative expertise with me along with her creative workspace in her own home. Clara is a most welcoming woman who takes joy in sharing her passion with others.

I will definitely see her again next week!