Travel

Travel

Why everyone should see a Total Solar Eclipse

The Solar Eclipse was an important event this summer, it was hard to escape. Every magazine, newspaper, or local tv show was talking about it and the fanfare leading up to it. I had never seen a total one, only a partial one and that was cool enough for me to want to see more. It was August 1999 and I was in Paris with my family on summer holiday. I remember it was raining that day, as it often does in Paris. We were in the Marais and everyone came out of the shops and bistros and was just standing in the streets, gawking at the sky. Since you can't look at the sun directly, I took a picture of the reflection of the eclipse in one of the rain puddles on the ground. This was back when you took pictures on a camera and waited weeks to develop them, unsure if you would actually get the image you wanted to take, with no second chances.

Partial solar eclipse in the Marais. Paris, August 11, 1999.

Partial solar eclipse in the Marais. Paris, August 11, 1999.

Marlborough girls are exceptional women: Class of '92, '94 and 2021. Photo by Matthew Clark.

Marlborough girls are exceptional women: Class of '92, '94 and 2021. Photo by Matthew Clark.

My husband, who grew up in Paris, set out on a week long bike trip to the countryside of France with his uncle, father and cousins to see the total eclipse, unencumbered by all the lights, noises and pollution of the city. He enjoyed it so much and has talked about it many times over the years, so he began preparations for our trip about nine months prior and was really anxious that we had to be in just the right spot. Over the course of 1 hour and 32 minutes, the Great American Solar Eclipse would move from west to east in a path of totality across 14 states before ending near Charleston, South Carolina. We were originally going to go to Oregon, the longest of the totality and the initial starting off point, but that booked up too quickly and even a motel 6 there was $1000 a night! Next we looked at Nashville, to stay with friends, when that fell through we debated Nebraska. My mom is originally from there and we thought it might be interesting for Dries to experience some real Americana. We decided on Sun Valley, Idaho, a close family friend had moved there a few years back and had just moved into a house with plenty of room for all.

Hiking up the mountain to see the eclipse in Hulen meadows Sun Valley, Idaho.

After much anticipation, the day of the eclipse arrived and we were ready for it! We packed picnic blankets, chairs,  warm sweaters (the temperature dropped about 20 degrees within minutes) and festive drinks and snacks along with our all important eclipse viewing glasses. We hiked up through the meadow and up a nearby mountain to enjoy an impressive view of the total eclipse. If you need to brush up on your astronomy,  a total eclipse is when the moon lines up with the sun and Earth, briefly blocking the sun and creating a momentary impressive darkness. Only the sun's radiant atmosphere (known as the corona) can be seen during this short time. 

Selfie time! Dries is focusing on the partial eclipse phase that lasted over an hour.  Eclipse sun bathing

Approximately 71.45 miles at its widest point, totality lasts longer towards the center of the path, so the closer you are to the center line of the moon's shadow, the more time you'll have to experience. I spoke with some other eclipsers who were closer to the center of the path in nearby Stanley and they saw over 2 minutes of totality. The longest duration of totality was in Carbondale, Illinois with 2 minutes 40 seconds! In Hulen meadows, we were just at the edge of totality, with the partial phase beginning at 10:12:39 AM, and totality beginning at 11:29:38 AM for a duration of 1 minute 4 seconds.

Temperatures dropped fast, Dries and Ashley watching the partial eclipse. Photo by Matthew Clark.

Temperatures dropped fast, Dries and Ashley watching the partial eclipse. Photo by Matthew Clark.

Of course, we have mother nature to thank for this total unobstructed view. After a preliminary meteorological report predicted clouds, we were fortunate enough to have perfect weather.  Not everyone was that lucky. My sister went to Nashville and right at the moment of totality, a big cloud moved in the way and partially blocked the view! Thankfully not the whole time but for at least half. There was another eclipser at our vantage point that told us that this was his 12th total eclipse trip with only 2 actual sightings due to tempermental weather conditions. Now that's dedication.

Total Eclipse photo by Ryan Gates.

Total Eclipse photo by Ryan Gates.

A total eclipse is truly something special to behold. There were around 30 of us, several families, dogs, kids, grandparents up on the mountain all experiencing this cosmic event together. The magic lies in that for a few minutes, everyone stops what they're doing and looks up to the sky to marvel at the beauty of nature, remembering that there is more than just us. Forgetting about the negativity we are bombarded with on a daily basis and instead reveling in this ethereal, transient beauty. Providing the hope for a mental shift or transfer of energy as it passes and our routine lives resume. To possibly be kinder to one another or just a little more patient. To be present in the moment and thankful for the limited time we have here on this planet and with each other. To be with family and friends at this significant moment in time, creating an enduring memory to cherish.

Group photo by Matthew Clark.

According to NASA, since 1503, there have been 15 total solar eclipse paths that have crossed the path of this Great American Solar Eclipse. The next total solar eclipse that will cross the US will be in 2024, crossing south to north. Time to start making travel plans!

Food, Los Angeles CA, Travel

How to do Catalina Island like a native

Avalon  Harbor, Catalina Island. Boats, paddle boarders and swimmers abound!

Avalon Harbor, Catalina Island. Boats, paddle boarders and swimmers abound!

This summer I'm all about weekend trips and short getaways.   My next door neighbor, now friend, grew up on Catalina, and invited me home with her to experience another side to the island. Previously, I had only thought of it as a summer tourist destination or for sleep away camp.  I hadn't visited Catalina Island since ninth grade on a sleep away trip with high school and my husband and son had never been so it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Catalina Express  ferry from Long Beach, CA to Avalon, Catalina

Catalina Express ferry from Long Beach, CA to Avalon, Catalina

To get to Catalina, you take an hour long ferry ride from several ports in LA. The closest one for us was Long Beach so we departed from there on a Friday afternoon. Cars are restricted on Catalina, with a wait list as long as 20 years +!  So the ferry is only for people and dogs (either caged or in muzzles). We took our dachshund Junior with us, he didn't love the ferry but he did pretty well overall. Once there, you can walk around the main city part of Avalon on foot or rent a golf cart or bike.

Lovely bougainvillea, quaint beach cottages, license plate birdhouses, colorful murals, proud Democrat (not too many of those on Catalina), and Casino at night on Avalon, Catalina

I had never driven a golf cart before and was surprised to find it was a blast! My son loved it too and would tell me to "Hit it!" and we would blast down the road. A golf cart's engine is similar to a lawnmower so by blast I mean when we were chugging up the hill, you could probably run alongside us.

Thierry Lasry  Sunglasses, Zara beach cover up,  Zara kids t shirt . Janna Conner  Amina hoop earrings ,  Catori cuff bracelet

Thierry Lasry Sunglasses, Zara beach cover up, Zara kids t shirt. Janna Conner Amina hoop earrings, Catori cuff bracelet

Avalon Casino, Junior the island dog, stairs at Casino Point Dive Park

One of my favorite things we did was swim at Lover's Cove. Dries had fallen asleep and Raf and I snuck out for an hour to tool around in the golf cart, exploring the city and to take a dip in the water. It's been so hot lately, it felt great! The water was a little cold at first but instantly warmed up. Catalina's rocky coastline reminded me of Sardinia where we honeymooned because it too is mostly rocky beaches. Pro tip: Don't forget the water shoes, you will want them! The current was pretty strong the weekend we were there and some of the beaches (Descanso) had sharp rocks but Lover's Cove had really smooth ones which also made them a bit slippery. My friend Katie prefers Pebbly Beach, but there was a construction site nearby to it so we opted for Lover's Cove. You be the judge!

My plastic Eva birkenstocks were no match for the rocks at Lover's Cove!

The next day we did Descanso Beach Club, which is Catalina's version of a family friendly Miami Beach. They have a DJ on the weekends, and a section that has cabanas and beach chairs for day rental and an outdoor café & bar (that will also serve on the beach), a smoothie & ice cream shop, and a shop that sells pool floaties, paddle ball racquets, hats, umbrellas and all with decent prices. The day we were there, the private section was sold out so we just sat on the public beach part, immediately adjacent to it. It was just fine, the restaurant brought us our fish tacos, fries and margies and everything was alright with the world. 

 Descanso Beach Club. Janna Conner Aleeza rock crystal ring, Catori brass cuff, 14k gold initial bracelet.

There are a lot of boats docked in the harbor and you can swim up in one section, another is reserved for kayaks, jet skis and paddle boards. Dries wanted to kayak so we rented a two person one with Dries sitting in the middle for an hour. Once he got over screaming "Oh nooooooooo, we're going to die, this was a terrrrrrrible idea!" he actually enjoyed the last 15 minutes or so. It was lovely out on the water, sunny but not too hot and with no waves.

Catalina kayaking.jpg

The next day we headed into the hills, which requires a car (no golf carts there!). We winded our way up and around, passing the zip line station that goes all the way down to Descanso and then paused for a moment to admire some bison and heron at Haypress reservoir. The bison were brought to the island in the 1920's for a movie, but were never used and then left on the island because they didn't want to deal with taking them back. Not very nice. Now they casually wander the island. We saw one just chilling on the side of the road, minding his own business.

Catalina island bison.jpeg

We stopped at the Airport for lunch at DC-3 café and gift shop. It's very scenic high up with all the little planes flying in and out. Some of the famous pilots that have flown in include Angelina Jolie and Harrison Ford. It's not for the weak of heart, the runway is only 3000 feet! I think I'll stick to driving up for the food, I had a great salad and Raf had a buffalo burger. No meal is complete without one of their killer homemade cookies, the oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip are delicious. They also sell Rusack wine, wish I had a bought a bottle because it seemed a good price at $30 since Rusack isn't that easy to find, at least in LA. I didn't though because we were on our way to do the Trans Catalina trail and didn't think it was a great idea to keep the wine in the car. Oh well, next time!

Airport in the Sky, Catalina Island

With full bellies, we continued on our way to Little Harbor, the starting point for our afternoon hike along the Trans Catalina Trail. Little Harbor was largely deserted except for a few campers, (there's a nearby campground) it was perfectly peaceful. The Trans Catalina Trail stretches 37.2 miles across the island, seemingly never ending but we did just a portion of it since we had Dries and Junior, our mini dachshund with us and we wanted to get some beach time in. It wasn't difficult, and provided lovely vistas along the soapstone path with striking red flowers.

Trans Catalina Trail from Little Harbor and Whale's Tail Catalina Island.  Unusual red flowers everywhere along with cacti.

Catalina makes for a great weekend trip, or longer. They have great camps for kids and many scenic options for both the casual traveler and camping options for the outdoorsman. Now that I've done part of the TCT, I think I would like to try doing the whole trail!

Art, Los Angeles CA, Travel

14th Factory Tour: 10 reasons you need to go now!

I had seen a lot of images of 14th Factory popping up on my Instagram feed when it opened in Spring. For one reason or another, I wasn't able to make it until earlier this month. Since it was late in its run, I wondered if it would be worth it or if it was another Museum of Ice Cream type of expensive selfie photo op. I decided to go and I'm so glad I did. It's closing at the end of July, so make your way there as soon as you can!

The outside of the factory is painted black with giant Chinese characters and black and white flags hanging outside the entrance, imparting the foreboding feel of a pirate ship. (I have a 5 year old son, so we see Pirates everywhere these days) I love that it's in Lincoln Heights, a peaceful, industrial neighborhood I often drive through on my way home. Once inside, there are 14 rooms showcasing mainly Simon Birch's work, the British born, Hong Kong based artist who is the founder/creator of the 14th factory. I spent my Junior year abroad in Hong Kong, and haven't been back since so was excited to see this little bit of Hong Kong brought to LA.

Los Angeles was not the first city envisioned to be the home of 14th factory. 5 other cities were previously in the works, the most recent, New York City, but with all other cities, the project was about to open to the public and they either lost their funding, permitting etc, so this installation has been years in the making and very much a labor of love. Supposedly two of the pieces in the factory were sold to LACMA, so it seems that there really was a happy ending after all.

The site selected for 14th factory LA is huge; 3 acres in total in a former warehouse, making it the largest experiential art project in LA. When I visited, they were in the process of filming a documentary for the BBC, and hoping to have the next site take place in London. This whole project is like a rotating mini museum that is entirely funded by ticket sales and donations. There is no guided tour as you walk through the space, and because of its size it can be a little confusing and overwhelming at times. Birch's intention was that it be an informal space for viewing art in a casual setting rather than the conventional museum going experience. He often gives talks on site and has other collaborative, interactive events with artists on the weekends.

What was the most famous room in the factory (that is until the crown room selfie fiasco) is a replica of the room from the last scene in Stanley Kubrick's 2001. The light up floor emanates a lot of heat, each group of 4 or so has 2 minute to walk through, without shoes on and experience it. It's gimmicky for sure but still pretty cool to experience.

The Barmecide Feast by Simon Birch and KplusK associates

Garlands  by Simon Birch, Lily Kwong and KplusK associates.

Garlands by Simon Birch, Lily Kwong and KplusK associates.

Next up is an interior courtyard, filled with grass. They had just replaced it the evening before. Even though the ceiling is perforated, with the extreme heat of LA summers, the grass just couldn't survive very long. There were a few swings scattered throughout but we were told not to step on the grass because it had just been put down. With nobody on the grass it seemed like a haunted idyllic playground.

In the Garlands hall there are 10 photographs by Li Wei with various people suspended in mid air. They were shot with the subjects on cranes and in some you can see the expression of the crowd as they look at the people flying in front of them.

Upclose of The Crusher by Simon Birch, 300 wood and steel painted pitchforks suspended from the ceiling. Acrylic paintings by Dominique Fung, The Inhabitants. Closeups of vegetables in various stages of decay.

One way we've found to keep our son actively engaged while looking at artwork is to give him a camera to record his own view of the art. It's fascinating to see the angles and compositions he comes up with. We also discuss what's going on in the piece, be it the subject matter, technique employed, setting or materials involved.

Closeup of the audience watching of  The Inevitable  By Eric Hu and Simon Birch.

Closeup of the audience watching of The Inevitable By Eric Hu and Simon Birch.

The video of a vintage Ferrari speeding and crashing, flipping over and over until it's destroyed feels hypnotic and voyeuristic, it's hard to look away from. I'm not personally a big car fan, but I can imagine that this video is upsetting for any car aficionado. My son was incredulous that anyone would willing destroy a car. (Again 5 year old here) Various pieces of the car wreckage are displayed on a long table in the adjoining room like archaeological finds.

Hypercaine by Simon Birch, Gloria Yu, Gabriel Chan, and Jacob Blitzer.

Sometimes you experience an emotional reaction just from simply looking at a piece of art, and with others the story behind it makes it much more impactful.  At first glance, this room had simplistic crowns made out of various stones and metal juxtaposed with more intricate Alexander Mc Queen like head pieces and some metal fragments. When chatting with the security guard, he explained that various pieces throughout the exhibit detailed the emotional journey that Birch embarked up on after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Some pieces represent the chaos and turmoil of receiving such a grim prognosis. Others are more hopeful. The metal fragments and some of the metal cages were made from Birch's actual brain scans. This is also the room where a girl attempting to take a selfie recently fell backwards, knocking several of the pedestals down in a domino effect and causing $200,000 worth of damage. Its great when people can get right up close to enjoy and experience the artwork but it's a shame when people are careless and inconsiderate. Just because it's not a conventional museum viewing experience doesn't mean that the artwork shouldn't be treated with the same respect.

Tannhauser  by Simon Birch

Tannhauser by Simon Birch

One of my strongest memories living in Hong Kong was how crowded it was, with people and buildings.  It made New York City look like a suburb. I was there in 1997 so I can only imagine what its like now, with the rapid pace of development. Hong Kong has so many of these drab high rise buildings shooting everywhere out of the ground up to the sky everywhere as far as the eye could see.  Tannhauser gives the experience of riding upwards in a glass elevator outside these buildings as it goes from the ground floor up. Dizzying and electrifying, I really enjoyed it and you can see from the face of my son above, he did too!

Clear Air Turbulence by Simon Birch

The last piece of the show is Clear Air Turbulence, which is comprised of salvaged airplane tails submerged in a steel frame pool.  The shadows reflecting in the still water create a peaceful calm while the eeriness of the subject matter makes it slightly unsettling. The airplane tails seem like a scene of a giant plane crash. With the deck chairs circling one end its like pulling up a chair to a car crash. Voyeurism on steroids.

14th Factory closes July 30 with special events until then. A panel on the Art Experience and the age of Social Media is this Saturday, July 22 and Simon Birch will be tattooing various limited edition designs all day Saturday as well.

Tickets are $18 online, $22 at the door with residents of Lincoln Heights entering for free with valid license.

440 North Ave. 19
Los Angeles, CA 90031

Fashion, Beauty, Jewelry, Travel, Skin Care, Los Angeles CA

10 things you need this Memorial Day Weekend

It's Memorial Day Weekend! Where has the time gone? I can't believe we're already on the cusp of summer. Now that the Pasadena Showcase House of Design is over (more on this in an upcoming post), things are slowly returning to normal chez JC. Looking forward to some R&R with friends this weekend... got a birthday and a few BBQ's on tap. Nothing fancy just relaxed fun but that doesn't have to mean jean shorts and thongs.  Here are some of my current faves that have been on heavy rotation. Enjoy!

I go to Paris almost every year to visit family, when I'm there one of my favorite places to shop is Monoprix. In case you are unfamiliar, it's the french version of Target. I started shopping there when I had my son 5 years ago because their kids clothing is so cute and well priced. The kids designer used to be the designer for Bonpoint, a brand that I love but don't love the price point so much! Dries is so rough on his clothing that Bonpoint is only for special occasions, or a gift from grandma. But Monoprix, on the other hand, is for every day. One stop shopping with really good clothes at amazing price points. This cotton dress is only $50 and I can guarantee nobody else will have it! Since we're saving money on the dress, we can splurge on the accessories. Sticking with the neutral palette, are my Adeline earrings in Natural mother of pearl, mother of pearl and howlite. They make a statement without being too overpowering. Très chic!

Panama Hat by Scala, Le Specs No Smirking Sunglasses, Loeffler Randall Kiki Flat SlideEssie Fifth Avenue nail polish

I'm crazy about sun protection as you all know. I am always shielding my face from dangerous rays with a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. No early crow's feet for me! Since it's hotter out now, I've made the switch to a straw hat which keeps my head cool. I like this Panama from Scala because it goes with everything and it can even be packed or crushed. (Very necessary with a 5 year old in the house) Since I often have pink hair, I like to keep my sunglasses neutral and let my hair and jewelry be the star of the show. I chose these Le Specs No Smirking sunglasses because they pair well with gold, my preferred metal of choice. I've been lusting after these flats by Loeffler Randall since last summer, Jessie Randall's shoes are well made and last forever. I have several pairs and they're comfortable and stylish at the same time and look great season after season. After becoming a parent, I decided it was better for my lifestyle to splurge on cute flats as opposed to heels because that's what I wear about 99.9% of the time. No more heels for me! And lastly, with all these neutrals I love a pop of color. This Essie nail polish in Fifth Avenue, is a bright and cheery orangey red, while still being elegant and sophisticated. It looks great for a pedicure when paired with the gold sandal. Pro tip: Use the Essie Gel Setter top coat with it and it will last chip free one week! It makes such a difference, I'm really hard on my nails, using wire and pliers and it prolongs the wear considerably.

I've been looking for a good one piece for a while and when Shopbop had their recent 20% off sale, I splurged on this striped one by Solid & Striped. I love the unique colors in the stripe pattern and wanted something more fun than my old black one piece. It's a bold pattern yet slimming since they're vertical stripes and it could be cute worn as a bodysuit with shorts or a skirt even. I typically gravitate towards blues and greens but since having my hair pastel pink for the past few years I've been finding myself wearing a lot more corals and pink hues.

For sun protection, I always love Supergoop because it's cruelty free of parabens, pthlates etc and immediately absorbs without any sticky residue. Sunscreen is a pain so I like to make it as enjoyable a process as possible and Supergoop Body Butter definitely fits the bill. You can even reapply throughout the day without it pilling on your skin or getting gummy. If you are an avid sunscreener, you know what I'm talking about!

Now for jewels, this summer I'm re-launching a classic style, my lace filigree earrings. They're on the large side but they're lightweight so you can wear them all day. The lacy filigree gives it that boho feeling perfect for summer. Pair that with a chunky dome bangle and hat and sunnies and you're good to go!

Now, one of the things I look forward to most about the weekend, is relaxing with a drink in hand. I drink mostly white wine and rosé but have been lately trying to cut down on my alcohol intake as a way of reducing sugar and calories. I just can't get behind pouring soda water in my wine, it seems criminal to me to ruin a good glass of wine. I just try to alternate between each glass of wine with one glass of sparking water. However, I am always looking to liven up my non alcoholic libations so I'm excited to try this Rosemary, Honey and Grapefruit Spritzer recipe, courtesy of Tending the Table. It's refreshingly tart, not too sweet yet herbacious, what more can you ask for?! Cheers!

Rosemary, Honey and  Grapefruit Spritzer

Recipe by Tending the Table :   Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup honey

4  sprigs rosemary

1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (from about 5 grapefruit)

crushed ice

soda water

rosemary sprigs and grapefruit wedges to garnish

PROCEDURE

Combine the honey and rosemary in a small pot and gently heat over medium-low until the honey just begins to bubble around the edges, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile fill 4 glasses with crushed ice. Once the honey has cooled slightly, remove the sprigs of rosemary and transfer 1/4 cup of the infused honey to a jar with a tight fitting lid, add the grapefruit juice and shake vigorously until combined and frothy. Divide the mixture between the glasses and top with soda water. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and grapefruit wedges.

Art, Los Angeles CA, Travel, Fashion

Desert X: 6 must sees in Palm Springs

I love Palm Springs. I love that it's far enough from LA that it seems like a getaway while being close enough that you could go for a day if you wanted. I love the dry heat, the mountain views and the hot air blowing through the palm trees at night. I love the desert landscape, the modern architecture with its relaxed California lifestyle. Palm Springs enjoys a history of being both a past favorite for Hollywood's glamorous like Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope back in the late 1930's yet is still relevant today.

I gave up on going to Coachella years ago, love the music but didn't love the crowds, dust and traffic. Now that I'm a parent, kid friendly adult activities are what I'm all about. When Desert X popped up on my radar, it seemed like the perfect combination of all things I enjoy most: art, nature, discovery and travel. I was not disappointed. I loved it and hope it becomes a yearly recurrence!

Jeffrey Gibson - Alive! Location: Palm Springs Art Museum

Desert X is a two month long, interactive outdoor art installation located throughout the Coachella Valley. Its like a modern day treasure hunt! Not only did it expose me to some new artist's work that I wasn't previously familiar with but it introduced me to some parts of the Coachella Valley I didn't know very well either. When I come to Palm Springs, I usually rent a house or stay in a hotel and spend the entire time poolside with drink in hand. Desert X encouraged me to venture out and explore Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert and other cities that I had been so close to all these years but had never seen. Desert X is also free to the public, so there is no barrier to entry. It was great seeing entire families out with their kids enjoying and interacting with the art.

First stop on Desert X, checking in at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs. Grab a program guide here and get on your way! There were 16 installations in all, both from local and internationally acclaimed artists. Ideally we would have been able to see them all but we had our son with us, and only 24 hours to do it in, so realistically we knew we had to be strategic before burning out. We started with the Jeffrey Gibson wind turbine at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Any visitor to Palm Springs is familiar with the famous drive in surrounded by all the wind turbines. A ready made object, the turbine is covered with the words: I AM ALIVE! YOU ARE ALIVE! THEY ARE ALIVE! WE ARE LIVING! It also has opalescent paint that shimmers in the sun and looks quite pretty with the palm tree background.

Doug Aitken - Mirage        Location: 1111 West Racquet Club Road, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Zara bomber, Goyard St Louis purse

If you've seen an image of Desert X, it was most likely Doug Aitken's Mirage. It is the longest running of all the installations and the most permanent structure. It is a completely mirrored house, both interior and exterior.  You simultaneously see your reflection along with the surrounding mountains sky and desert landscape. It's pretty incredible. As you walk through the maze like interior you see yourself and the other visitors and surrounding landscape from all angles, which is both an exhilarating and disorienting experience. The home is a suburban ranch style without any doors or windows, providing a seamless transition between interior and exterior. I went when it first opened at opens at 3 pm and there was a line snaking through the door. Because it reflects the surrounding landscape, its appearance changes depending on what time of day it is. I would love to go back at night and see it in the dark with all the lights twinkling on the valley below. While the rest of Desert X closes April 30, Mirage will remain open until October 31, 2017 so go!!!!!

Next up, Swiss artist, Claudia Comte's Curves and Zigzags, is the third in a series of black and white optical painting walls. The lines start out angular and morph into a curvilinear pattern reminiscent of a Bridget Riley painting. As a kid, I was always drawn to black and white op art, getting lost in deciphering where the graphic pattern changed and evolved into something else entirely. The Homme Adams park is the perfect location for this undulating wall. It houses trails that lead to a vista where you can look down on the sculpture. Desert X also coordinated a walk with the artist herself, on the morning I was there. Dries had fun running around it and looking at the giant ants that were on the ground.

Desert X is such a unique experience because it completely turns on its head the traditional notion of how one views art. It allows complete interaction between the viewer and the subject. I marveled at the lack of security, for the most part there were no guards securing the pieces with the exception of Mirage. The Richard Prince house was vandalized and subsequently closed which is a shame but I suspect that had more to do with the animosity towards his appropriation of other artists work for his own profit rather than general vandalism.  I was impressed that there was no graffiti or trash surrounding the works. I did notice the influx of bloggers that were posing with the wall, some even by putting their feet up on the walls they leaned back on it.  I wonder, why shouldn't the same rules of decorum apply to an outdoor work as would a piece of art hanging in a museum? Just because someone isn't standing there to tell you not to do it doesn't mean you should. It made me think, is this the new way we interact with art?  I do see the value in as many people interacting with art in their daily lives but fear people ruining art installations with their own curiosity and desire to touch.

Aerial photo of I am by David Blank.

Last up for day 1 was Bahamian artist Tavares Strachan's piece I am. Unlike the other daytime installations, it's only open at night Weds-Sat from 7-10 pm. We visited at closing time and it was a surreal experience. You drive down a dirt road out in the middle of nowhere, turning into a dark field. You then wander down a longish path and see in the distance neon lights embedded in metal shapes cordoned off in a field. You have to sign a waiver to go in, since it is so dark you can hardly see anything except for the neon lights, adding to the element of anticipation and spookiness. The shapes spell out "I am" scattered throughout the desert floor spanning two American football fields.  Meandering through the cutouts in the dark night with only the glow of neon and the desert wind blowing was pretty incredible. It creates a spiritual experience that is truly unlike anything I've ever seen. 

Phillip K. Smith III - The Circle of Land and Sky

After a little time in the pool, we set off the next day for Phillip K Smith - The Circle of Land and Sky. Comprised of 300 polished stainless steel rods they are inserted into the sand at 10 degree angles in the shape of a circle. Reflecting the land and sky and the interplay of light and shadow, the resulting colors never look the same depending on the time of day and the angle of the sun. Like Mirage, it's fascinating to see the interaction of mirrored image with the Sonoran landscape. The reflectors bring the sky to the ground and the desert floor to the sky, creating a unique perspective.  The Los Angeles born artist began the installation with a 1/4 mile arc in Laguna Beach in this past November and then continued the theme for Desert X.

Raf Conner Desert X (131 of 132).jpg

Will Boone - Monument    Enter at your own risk!

Last stop before heading back to LA, was Will Boone - Monument. It was out in the middle of a field, again usually easy to spot the Desert X installations by a swarm of people milling around in the middle of nowhere. We parked and waited in a short line to go down the bunker where JFK was waiting for us. I was surprised at how many people I had overheard the day previously at the other Desert X sites and this one who didn't know who it was! What I liked about this work was that it was more of a private moment than the other pieces and that it was meant to be experienced alone. If you were the first one to arrive on site and it was closed, you texted or emailed for the pass code to the lock to the bunker, then swing open the hatch and down the stairs to a mini tunnel. JFK is a bronze statue painted in the style of a hobby kit. Hailing from Texas, Boone said he has always felt a connection to JFK being that was where he died. The bunker also touches upon the fear of nuclear attack and invasion of the other, something we as a society seem to be grappling with even in 2017.

Desert X was such a memorable event, I really hope that it will become a recurring exhibition.  Even if most of the installations close today, Doug Aitken's Mirage is open until the end of October so you still have time to have some of the Desert X experience!

Travel, Los Angeles CA

how to do the poppy field superbloom with a 5 year old: Warning there may be whining!

I had heard about the super bloom of wildflowers in the California desert over the years but never thought much of it. Most likely because we have been experiencing a serious drought and for years there hasn't been much to see except brown, dry brush. This year though, we finally got some much needed rain, and lots of it (at least for us). Spring came early for Southern California, the wildflowers have been exploding all over the place. I see them allover on my hikes and daily errands in the car along the roadside.

I had heard reports from friends who had visited Anza Borrego and the Poppy Reserve that it was packed with people and traffic with long waits in the car. Neither are ideal if you are traveling with a 5 year old! I was looking for a little less of a commitment than A.B. or Death Valley since it was going to be just me and my son. My husband was off skiing for the day in Big Bear and I had a restless boy to entertain.  I decided to chance it and set off early in the am, by 8 after an initial travel delay. After a 70 mile drive, (5 fwy to the 14 fwy) we arrived a little past 10 am, and already the line of cars was snaking down and out of the Poppy reserve half a mile down. I would recommend setting out by 7 am for a 9 am arrival for less traffic and best light. I had heard that wildflower gazing was best accessed from the side of the road and not actually from the reserve itself. Because the reserve is protected land, visitors need to stick to trails and not wander off into the fields. I decided to pull over and bypass all the people crowding at the road side and wander through into the fields and low and behold Dries and I were alone with the poppies. It was magical, a perfect day with perfect weather. The sky was blue, there was a little crisp chill in the air with a slight breeze and the sun was shining bright. We took care where we walked and were careful not to trample or pick any flowers.

State flower of California: the  Poppy

State flower of California: the Poppy

Dries took this of me, not bad for a 5 year old!

Dries took this of me, not bad for a 5 year old!

Dries watches my husband Raf and I take a lot of pictures, either of jewelry or travel or daily life. We gave Dries one of our old cameras and he likes to practice along with us. This trip seemed like a great opportunity for a beginner photography lesson. We practiced composition, how to hold a camera and how to find your light source.  He was so proud and it helped him learned to look more critically at the scenery.   He took the picture of me above and the one below is his holding the flowers. Love the macro perspective with his little fingers!

Had to take a ring selfie! Shown L-R my  Sidewell  ring,  Diamond Bar  ring, and my  Diamond starburst  ring.

Had to take a ring selfie! Shown L-R my Sidewell ring, Diamond Bar ring, and my Diamond starburst ring.

We found a farmhouse and a ramshackle old trailer that made for some good exploring. For the video, scroll down to the end!

Dries was ready to get on the road at this point so we decided to head back to LA. As we walked back to our car, we saw even more cars had joined the line to get in the reserve and there was a line to head back to LA! I had noticed patches of yellow flowers on the way in so I wanted to make sure to check them out on the way back. I'm so glad I did, they were really stunning with views of the snow covered mountains in the distance.

Snow covered mountains in the distance. The colors of all the wildflowers are just incredible. All the photos published here are all #nofilter and not retouched!

Snow covered mountains in the distance. The colors of all the wildflowers are just incredible. All the photos published here are all #nofilter and not retouched!

Check out the video of our wildflower adventures!

Hope you go out and have your own adventure and of course, remember to treat the wildflowers with care and not leave any garbage. It is a tricky thing to experience being in nature without affecting it at all in any negative capacity. Car exhaust, touching or trampling plants, garbage and human negligence all take their toll on the landscape. Instead of only viewing nature through the lens of a screen it's crucial to go have the physical experience of sight, sound and smell. How else can we teach our kids to care about the environment if they never experience it firsthand? Being a native of California, I love that within one hour, you can be swimming at the beach, skiing in the mountains or walking in the desert. We truly are so lucky to have such a varied landscape. Go out and explore, I'd love to hear what you find!

Travel, Food

A Day in Solvang

Solvang, California

Solvang, California

The   Landsby

My curiosity in the Landsby was piqued by an article in Travel and Leisure. It's located in Solvang, a unique little town that looks like a Danish village in the middle of California.  I visited many years back but was intrigued by the photos of the addition of the new Scandinavian chic boutique hotel.  My great grandfather was from Copenhagen, and I would love to visit there one day.  Traveling with a toddler is tricky, so for now this is a lot closer!

Dining room at  Mad + Vin  (food and wine in Danish)

Dining room at Mad + Vin (food and wine in Danish)

Janna Conner Jewelry-10.jpg

Charcuterie plate at Succulent Cafe. Hands down the best charcuterie plate I've ever had. Great selection of meats and loved the picked vegetable garnishes. They also have a great wine list, which is always important! We chose to sit outside on the patio and enjoy the nice weather. It's also conveniently located directly across the street from the Landsby.

A trip to the Santa Ynez Valley wouldn't be complete without a little wine tasting! First stop: Lucas and Llewellyn tasting room. We weren't initially familiar with their wine but decided to check it out while waiting for our room to be ready.  It was conveniently located just a block from our hotel and provided the convenience of trying great, new wines without having to make the trek to individual wineries. We had their white wine tasting, and liked their chardonnay and viognier the best. We bought a few bottles to take home and enjoy later. It's always fun to drink a wine that conjures up a memory of a great trip!

The sunlit lobby facing Mission Drive at the Landsby

The sunlit lobby facing Mission Drive at the Landsby

I love the natural wood and neutral color palette with pops of yellow. I also appreciate the unexpected detail of the tiling on the underside of the stairway.  Santa Monica design firm, Studio Collective did a great job of creating a chic yet relaxed, and understated vibe. The Scandinavian chic look is on trend for decor, because it follows not only form but function as well. It's my style of choice for my downtown LA office and personal residence.

Raf standing with  Sherry by Rachel Brown .

Raf standing with Sherry by Rachel Brown.

Tina by Rachel Brown  in the Landsby Lobby.

Tina by Rachel Brown in the Landsby Lobby.

One of my favorite design elements of the Landsby are the paintings by Rachel Brown that are in the lobby and in most rooms. She is a Misssouri native, now calling West Los Angeles home. Rachel comes from a long line of artists, both her mother and grandmother are painters and she picked it up at a young age. Growing up on a farm and being a lover of travel and adventure, one can easily see both of these influences on her work. I personally enjoy the whimsical spirit of her paintings. She even teaches workshops in the LA area,  I may have to take one myself!

    Aebleskivers at Solvang Restaurant.

    Aebleskivers at Solvang Restaurant.

After lunch we walked over to the Solvang restaurant to try Aebleskivers (jam filled pancakes in ball form) Something you have to try while in town, as it is a quintessentially Danish treat.

We had so many recommendations for food in Santa Ynez but decided for dinner to go with one that was a true favorite of local residents. We heard countless recommendations for Industrial Eats in nearby Buellton, and it did not dissappoint. It's a short drive from Solvang, and as the name attests it's located in an industrial area.   Despite it's spare surroundings, it has an inviting interior with large shared tables and the restaurant and butcher shop features food sourced from the Central Coast. We enjoyed the mussels, oysters, zucchini accented pizza and shrimp & pancetta toast. Delicious! They also offer butchering workshops if you are keen to get your hands dirty and fresh preserves, pâtés, cheese and handmade bacon to go.

Winding down after a fun filled day.  Unpacking, never leave home without my Bottega Veneta travel duffle bag or my Valextra travel jewelry pouch to house all my many jewelry options! Also, shown Janna Conner Dome cuff bangle and Arria Amazonite Beaded Necklace. I spy Sherry peeking out behind me on the wall!

 I recently cut my hair and have been using Sachajuan to enhance natural waves. The Sisley Suprema Yeux eye cream is an indulgence, love the gold packaging and that it's a pump and not a pot so keeps product fresher longer. The Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse oil is great for cuticles, body, face and I even use it on my hair. Love multi functional products since I feel like it makes me a tiny bit faster in my constant struggle against the clock.  Love how my jewelry matches the decor! Shown Janna Conner Evita Crystal Point Necklace, mother of pearl tala ring, and 14k gold ear cuff.

The King bedroom with Patio, love the Goodnight on the wall. Such a sweet touch!

The King bedroom with Patio, love the Goodnight on the wall. Such a sweet touch!

Bottega Veneta sandals, Janna Conner dome cuff &  pearl Gilda ring .

Bottega Veneta sandals, Janna Conner dome cuff & pearl Gilda ring.

Time for bed! Janna Conner  diamond ear crawler ,  diamond disc , and  pyramid stud .

Time for bed! Janna Conner diamond ear crawler, diamond disc, and pyramid stud.

What a fun day of food, wine, design and décor! I know we'll be back soon Till next time!

Beauty, Skin Care, Travel

Travel Beauty Essentials

Summer time is a great time to for travel, whether that means local trips or to far away locales. My husband was born in Belgium but grew up in Paris so we make a trip back to both countries to visit family every year.  I love to travel but I hate to pack all my toiletries! I'm a total beauty junkie so it's very hard to narrow down my daily arsenal to pack for a trip. (I've never been accused of being a light packer...Just ask my husband!) Now that I have a child whose stuff I have to lug along as well, I've been forced to pare down to the essentials. Here are my tips for making your toiletries bag a little lighter!

When choosing items for traveling, focus on two things: size and durability. The smaller the better and nothing that is delicate. Leave your fabulous eye shadow palettes at home, they will most likely crumble and make a mess of your cosmetic bag. When I travel I love to use my makeup in stick form. Summer is all about easy beauty and I love that with sticks you can just swipe and go. I like the Smashbox Studios blendable lip and cheek color in L.A. Lights /Silver Lake Sunset. One because the name is great, (I love LA!) and two because it has a mini sponge that you can use to blend the stick into your face for a seamless application.  It's a pretty, natural color great for a flushed glow, (it's a little too pale for lips though so I don't use it for that).

I also love Bite Beauty for it's natural products and creamy lipsticks. They make all their products to be food grade because the average woman consumes 7 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime. Yikes! Each Bite lipstick is infused with the age-fighting antioxidant resveratrol — the equivalent of five glasses of wine. I've always liked to drink my wine but now I can wear it/eat it too! What's great about this Bite Beauty mini stick is that it's small and can fit in your pocket and has 2 different colors, one lighter for day and more dramatic for night. In the summer I get shiny, especially with all that sunscreen. I like to carry this mini Make Up For Ever setting powder. It's so small and I just shake out a teeny bit to tone down any unwanted t-zone shine.

My daily routine would not be complete without a highlighting product and this one by RMS Beauty is great for traveling. All natural and made with coconut oil, this travels very well because it's hardened in a pot and not like liquid tubes which can explode or get punctured and spilled. I've had this happen and it's a b*@#% to clean up! Apply this to the inner corners of your eyes, under the brow bone, the cupid's bow of your lips, bridge of nose, middle of forehead, chin, and top of cheekbones and blend. It will give your skin a dewy, radiant not shiny or glittery appearance. Love!

Last but not least, the Clé de Peau concealer can hide a multitude of sins, from jet lag to blemishes. I had a bit of sticker shock with regards to the price, but I have to admit that it's the best I've used. It's creamy and blendable and very long lasting. Some concealers slide right off or if they're long wearing can be too drying or cakey but this one is the perfect consistency. Love the stick formulation, it's perfect for traveling because it won't spill all over your bag.

Flawless makeup doesn't happen without a great base of healthy skin. I like to wear less makeup in the summertime so I try to make sure to take extra good care of my skin. Since I'm a beauty addict, I have a lot of samples that I've accumulated over the years. These used to pile up but I realized that they make great travel partners. That way I can take everything I want face masks, face wash, oils, shampoo etc. without taking up tons of space and it actually makes your bag smaller by the end of your trip because you throw things away as you finish them! It's also a great way to try out new products and see if you like them.  Plane rides can be extremely dehydrating to your skin so I use this Sisley Black Rose Cream Face Mask on any long flight and made sure to drink a ton of water. One sample has quite a bit in it, enough for probably 1-2 applications depending on how much you apply but I just use the extras on my neck and on the back of my hands, and since it's so dry on the plane they both were absorbed pretty quickly.  This rose mask applies more like a heavy lotion, don't rinse or tissue it off just leave it on. I also wouldn't normally recommend carrying a bottle of oil but I absolutely love this almond oil from L'Occitane. I first used this when I was pregnant to prevent stretch marks (which it did) but still use it to moisturize all over my skin and even the tips of my hair and cuticles. I love a multi-use product!

I typically use an anti-oxidant serum before my sunscreen everyday so I love that this Anthelios AOX by La Roche Posay has a SPF 50 and a built in serum. It eliminates an extra step and an extra bottle in your bag. The sunscreen has a great consistency and blends well and isn't tacky to the touch. It's also priced very well at under $40 which often serums alone would cost at least that alone and usually more. To touch up my sunscreen during the day, I love to use Supergoop Setting Mist in SPF 50, I just spray it on and it sets makeup a a bonus. I love the travel size, I just throw it in my purse so I'm never without sunscreen. 

I love to wear fragrance and if I'm not going on a long trip I take travel perfume bottles from Sephora. They work great and you can just spray in any one of your favorite fragrances. I was gone for 3 weeks though so I needed something a little bigger. My current fave is Jo Malone Mimosa and Cardomom and I love that it comes in a small bottle! I used to always buy big bottles of perfume but found that when you buy the smaller sizes you end up using them up quicker before they expire and are free to experiment more with different scent combinations.

Reception at  You Doll You

Reception at You Doll You

I first got eyelash extensions 10 years ago for my wedding. In the years since, I've done it off and on. A few years back I started using Latisse which works great for lengthening your lashes but doesn't do much for making them fuller or darker. (At least for me) I am very zealous with washing all my makeup off every night but no matter how many cleanses I do (micellar water + cleansing product) I still wake up with some kind of mascara remnant under my eyes which I really can't stand. I knew I was going to be in the pool on vacation and thought I would go get lash extensions again. What's great about them is that you don't really need to wear much makeup at all with them because they really define your eyes. No eye shadow, liner or mascara. I just used a bit of blush and lip gloss, highlighter and was done.

Chinese character  Zen , which is how you will feel

Chinese character Zen, which is how you will feel

The treatment rooms

The treatment rooms

Eye lash selections

Eye lash selections

When I started going to Kiyomi at You Doll You, she was doing eyelashes out of her house. Since then she has moved to a few different locations, the most recent is this lovely soothing atmosphere in Beverly Hills. I chose the Silk Premium lashes, which I had last for 3 weeks with no problem. Last time I went back for a refill they told me that they will be discontinuing the silk as of this fall and only going to have the Mink which is a bit more expensive but supposedly lasts even longer. My silk premium was $85 and $50 for touch ups within 3 weeks. You doll you is the best deal in town when it comes to lashes!  I had a friend who went elsewhere and paid double and all her lashes had fallen out within a week.  It takes about an hour to have it done. I fell asleep both time, the aestheticians are so gentle, that it just feels like light feathery strokes around your eyes. To preserve the lashes, they advise against, hot showers (steam) hot ovens (cooking- which I wasn't going to do on my travels anyways and is a great excuse not to cook in the summer! ) and to not use oily products around the eye, and basically try to keep them as dry as possible. You can't take a shower within 24 hours of application because the steam will cause the eyelashes to go straight.  I waited as long as I could and took cold showers (which also makes your hair shinier) and didn't cook and was very careful about washing my face and didn't apply any makeup or oily products around my eyes and when I swam I kept my face out of the water. I typically do this anyways because chlorine is terrible for your hair anyways. So for me it wasn't a big deal but if you love to cook and take long hot showers then this might not be the ideal solution for you.  I included some before and after pictures below...

Before

Before

After!!!!

After!!!!

After 3 Weeks before refill

After 3 Weeks before refill

After refill

After refill

Travel, Art

The Broad

The  Broad Museum   - Downtown Los Angeles

The Broad Museum - Downtown Los Angeles

Detail of the honeycomb lattice exterior.

Detail of the honeycomb lattice exterior.

The newest addition to the burgeoning LA art scene is the Broad Museum. It truly is an impressive site to behold! I love passing by it and Disney Hall every day on my commute. It's such a welcome addition to the neighborhood. It's across from MOCA, now making it a mini museum row of two impressive collections. The Broad was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler, it's a 120,000 square feet example of the "veil and vault' concept. Home to almost 2,000 works of art, there are two stories of gallery space combining public exhibition space with collection storage. The vault which houses the art storage defines the user experience throughout the museum.  It's heavy mass is visible from underneath on the ground floor and on the top level when you are walking on it.

Arriving at  The Broad , going up the elevator through the vault to the top level..

Arriving at The Broad, going up the elevator through the vault to the top level..

 John Baldessari -  Tips for Artists Who Want To Sell, 1966-68  Getting tips to make some money!   

 John Baldessari - Tips for Artists Who Want To Sell, 1966-68

Getting tips to make some money!

 

Jeff Koons   - Tulips, 1999-2004. Background:   Christopher Wool   - Untitled, 1990

Jeff Koons - Tulips, 1999-2004. Background: Christopher Wool - Untitled, 1990

I never thought I was that much of a Jeff Koons fan but there are several works of his on display at the Broad. He's apparently one of their favorite artists to collect. The way the Tulips are displayed is pretty incredible. Light floods in from every angle from the honeycomb "veil" which forms the ceiling. On a sunny day, (of which there are no shortage of in LA) it's breathtaking. With all the light, the colors are brighter, and the reflections of the metal really standout.  There is another Koons Tulips, at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas. See here what a difference light can make! Behind the Tulips, is a work by Christoper Wool, an artist I wasn't that familiar with but have since come to enjoy. i love how the two works of art complement each other in the space.

Julie Mehretu     -  Cairo,2013

Julie Mehretu - Cairo,2013

Just on the side of the Tulips is another giant piece by Julie Mehretu.  Her painting juxtaposes precise technical architectural drawing with the chaos of a windstorm blowing through the city of Cairo. It's a subtle yet impactful piece. I love the little pops of neon color peppered throughout the delicate drawings.  Mehretu, born in Ethiopia,  is one of the many female and various ethnicities represented throughout the Broad. I appreciate the cultural diversity of its collection. Touring through the space I felt that they tried and succeeded in the effort to represent male and female artists from all over the world. Sure, there are the usual who's who of contemporary art like Koons, Hirst, Burden but there is also Kara Walker, Yayoi Kusama, Glenn Ligon, and Barbara Kruger to name a few.

The Vault

The Vault

If you take the elevator down from the top level, you will miss one of the most interesting parts of the Broad. The vault, where they store all of the art that is either not in use or on loan, can be seen from the small stairway that leads down to the ground floor.  The Broad Art Foundation purchases fifty works of art annually, that's almost one a week! With all that art, not all can be on display at once so they have to rotate. This is the case in most museums just you never get to see behind the curtain into how or where they store all the unused artwork. The viewing windows are a clever addition to the building, offering this permanent behind the scenes view.

Yayoi Kusama  -  Infinity Mirrored Room - The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013

Yayoi Kusama - Infinity Mirrored Room - The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013

A trip to the Broad would not be complete without a visit to the Infinity Mirrored Room. The wait can run hours long for the room, an experience that only lasts approximately three minutes. My recommendation is to sign up on the queue immediately upon entering the museum. The day I went the wait was two hours but I went and toured the museum and had lunch and by the time I was done, I received my text to line up. At that point, I only had to wait 10 minutes in line. Once allowed in, the room is quite small with a central bridge that juts out over water. There are hanging lights everywhere and they are reflected on the mirrors surrounding you. Unlike with LACMA's Rain Room (which is awesome by the way) you get to enter with only your party so you can take photos with abandon and not have random people in your shot. Something I wished they did a better job of at the Rain Room but that's another story...

Ragnar Kjartansson  - The Visitors 2012

Ragnar Kjartansson - The Visitors 2012

One of my very favorite pieces at the Broad is The Visitors by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson. It's an hour long video shot featuring nine musicians playing the same song in several rooms of a decrepit house in upstate New York. The viewer is omnipresent, being able to view the musicians walk from one room to the next, and engage with each other or remain solitary in their chosen room. Kjartansson himself plays the guitar in a bathtub throughout the piece. The musicians are playing the same piece of music over and over for the entire hour. What seems like would become maddeningly repetitive, is actually quite beautiful.  The Visitors explores how the same lyrics performed by different musicians transform from poignant to transcendent. I've seen this piece on several visits to the museum, and since it is an hour long, it's understandable that it can be challenging to see the entire piece from start to finish.  I've noticed that for people to really get it, it's helpful to see it from the beginning to see them setup in each room, interact with each other and then check back in at the end when they unplug and all leave the house together. Hurry and go see this piece before it and other pieces from the inaugural collection are taken down Sunday, May 1.  In order to prepare for a special exhibit with Cindy Sherman, opening June 12, The Visitors and other pieces on the ground floor innaugural collection will be taken down.  Hurry up and go already!

The bar. Interior shot by  Otium .

The bar. Interior shot by Otium.

You might be hungry after seeing all those amazing works of art. You're in luck, because Otium, the new restaurant from French Laundry alum Timothy Hollingsworth and restaurateur Bill Chait ( of Bestia, Petty Cash, République and Sotto) is now open.  Hollingsworth, only 36, is a James Beard Rising Star Chef of the year recipient. A recent downtown Angeleno transplant, he describes his cuisine at Otium as "sophisticated rusticity with approachable elegance".  Otium makes the most of local talent with the vertical gardens that it cooks with by LA Urban Farms, furniture by LA furniture designer Chris Earl, staff aprons by Hedley & Bennett,  outdoor design by South Pasadena's House of Honey, and ceramics by Heath and Irving Place Studio.

Stefan Sagmeister  - Inside Out and Outside in. photo by Cassia C. Borges.

Stefan Sagmeister - Inside Out and Outside in. photo by Cassia C. Borges.

I love this hand painted wall of thicket of branches spelling "Inside Out and Outside In" by Stefan Sagmeister. He's an Austrian born, New York based graphic designer and typographer, renowned for album covers for Lou Reed, David Byrne and the Rolling Stones.

Courtyard by House of Honey

Courtyard by House of Honey

Damien Hirst Isolated Elements. Large scale photographic mural on the exterior wall of Otium.

Damien Hirst Isolated Elements. Large scale photographic mural on the exterior wall of Otium.