Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Culture in the City – A Sunday at LACMA

Since I am a girl who grew up in the once small towns of Sedona, Ariz. and Kailua Kona, Hi going to junior high school, high school and then college in Phoenix, Ariz. was a shock to the senses. There were multiple movie theaters, malls, strip malls, freeways, an array of different cultures and local television channels. However, I never believed I was challenged in the ways of culture. That is of course until I realized just how many opportunities there are available to me now that I live in Los Angeles, Calif.

This past Sunday another Arizona import friend of mine invited me to go to LACMA with her. Having lived here for more than a year and a half I really began to realize that instead of living in LA I have been merely existing in LA. Knowing that payday was still ten days off and that my bank account was bleeding after rent had been paid I still opted to join her in the experience. I had preconceived notions that this visit would somehow resemble the half day field trips that I would take to the Museum of Science and Industry in Phoenix while growing up. I was mistaken.

We arrived at 2 p.m., parked next to the LaBrea Tar Pits and cruised by the odorous tar ponds with the statues of Wooly Mammoths hanging out waiting for their photo op. The sky continued to cloud up and fill with another day of rain and immediately I regretted wearing flip-flops. Once inside the gallery I became amazed at all of the statues, oil paintings as well as the dates on them. It is somehow hard for me to fathom that good portions of the items in the collection are more than 300 years old. Within an hour and a half we had zig zagged through the galleries of impressionism and European art to finally arrive at the ancient arts beginning with Egypt and the Middle East. For the first time in my life I saw a mummy in a sarcophagus. I was so excited that many times I broke the acceptable "inside voice" volume and would cry out in childlike joy.

We saw items used in the 700 B.C. era and my mind could not grasp that idea either, that somehow thousands of years ago there were men, women and children eating from the bowls I was looking at from behind a pane of glass. I could not imagine some of the weapons I saw in the Ancient Iran exhibition being used in wars waged over religion and land so many generations in the past. Seeing the history and beauty of it all also struck home just how important religion was to all of these past generations. It seems now I live in a generation, that instead prides you for your faith, argues with it and frowns upon it; but I guess that is a blog for another time.

While a good portion of LACMA is currently under construction, at a quick pace it took my friend and I approximately three and a half hours to walk the galleries on one floor of two buildings and the entire Japanese Calligraphy exhibition. We missed the Dali exhibition as it was sold out and it was the last day.

My friend and I finished the evening with dinner at her place and “cultured” girl talk over a few glasses of wine. It had been an incredible day and one that will remain in my personal memory banks forever. I took away a piece of culture, an experience and a thirst for more. Next on my hit list is the Getty and the Planetarium at Griffith Park, both of which I have never been to. The renaissance person that I am wants to know as much as I can about as much as I can. Some have told me that in the professional world this passion as a weakness. In the real world I see it as an absolute delight.