Archive for the ‘Arts Exhibits’ Category

A Day in LA


Sometimes you go to a city to visit relatives or friends. Other times you are passing through on the way to a vacation spot. Then there are those times the city is your vacation destination but there are so many things to do you’re not sure how much to fit into one day.

To help you start out the year on a you-can-do-it note, here is a Day In series for towns that ought to be on your  bucket list or when visiting friends and family. Don’t be surprised if the people you visit say they’ve been meaning to go there. People who live in an area often don’t  play tourist in their own city.

The recently redone Petersen Automotive Museum. A subway system is currently being extended just outside and below the museum.

The recently redone Petersen Automotive Museum. A subway system is currently being extended just outside and below the museum.

The Day In series spotlights two main places and a restaurant, however, one or two alternatives are also included. Tip: no matter what the reason for the trip or what you do – plan some down time.


First in the series: A Day in LA

A red building wrapped with a chrome-like grill, rises from one corner.  Across the road, another modern art structure seems to beckon you to go over there and see what’s inside. You’re at Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles,

Park the car within the red building’s garage and you are ready to go exploring.  You don’t have to try this building first. Both corner buildings are filled with treasures.

Inside the eye-catching striped structure is the newly remodeled  Petersen Automotive Museum. You don’t have to be a car buff to fall in love with the beautifully designed Bugatti, silver “gullwing” Corvette, Steve McQueen’s 1956 Jaguar XKSS or the Batmobile, all currently on exhibit.

Start on the third floor and then head down. You might come across a car your parents or grandparents drove such as  a red 1956 Bel Air Chevrolet convertible or a black 1922 Chevrolet 490 series coupe that the great grandparents might have driven.

The Petersen Automotive Museum is at 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036


Chris Burden's 'UrbanLight'

Chris Burden’s ‘Urban Light’

Across the road is what everyone in LA knows as LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with its 21st century remodeled look and added buildings.

The very contemporary, multi-winged-topped structure on the campus’ western corner includes Renzo Piano’s Workshop-designed Broad (pronounced Brode) Contemporary Art Museum.

Often referred to as BCAM, it opened February 2008. It is adjacent to the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion added in 2010.

But first, pull out the smart phone to take photos of your group wandering through artist Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” outside LACMA. It’s a fun collection of old-looking street lights. Then, stop at the LACMA Will Call window for tickets to  “Picasso and Rivera: Conversations across time.”

Tip: Many LA area attractions including this exhibit need tickets so instead of waiting in long lines, purchase or reserve them on line to be picked up at the venue’s Will Call.

The ‘Picasso and Rivera’ show reveals how much the two famed artists were alike as they changed styles ranging from classical to abstract. Opened December 2016, the exhibit is in the BCAM section of LACMA through May 7, 2017.

Anyone who missed  the “Moholy-Nagy Future Present” show at the Art Institute of Chicago fall of 2016, can catch it at LACMA Feb. 12 through June 18. It’s a fabulous exhibit of  László Moholy-Nagy’s photographs, paintings, graphics and commercial designs.

Moholy, as he usually was called, was an influential Bauhaus teacher, founder of the Chicago Institute of Design and a pioneer of combining art with technology.

LACMA also has fine Asian, Latin American and Islamic collections. So you might want to divide up the time to do more than see a featured exhibit.  The museum is at 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90036.


Now about food. It would be a shame to be in the area and not take advantage of lunch at Canter’s Bakery and Deli about a mile east of the two museums on Fairfax Avenue. Since opening in 1931, the famed deli has been the background for the ‘Mad Men’ series and has fed such celebrities as Barack Obama, Wayne Gretzky, Mick Jagger and Larry King. Canter’s is at 419 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036.


Canter's Deli has been serving up some of the best Jewish food in the LA area since 1931

Canter’s Deli has been serving up some of the best Jewish food in the LA area since 1931

An alternative suggestion: The Broad Museum that opened to well deserved hype September, 2015 is worth a stop when in LA.

You will want to snap photos of the building, inside and out, see its exceptional collection of contemporary art and check out Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room.”

Museum admission is free but reservations are essential. If going there, get in line once inside for a timed ticket to the Infinity Room. The Broad is at 221 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012.


As to getting to these places, just be patient. Almost anywhere else you would likely time your forays to miss the rush hour. However, it always seems to be rush hour when driving the LA freeways. Since you are likely visiting or traveling with a companion take the car-pool lane.

Tips: Attractions are less crowded when they first open in the morning. Whatever attractions you choose, base your day on location. The places suggested here are near downtown LA.

Photography by Jodie Jacobs


Where to see or make a scarecrow

No question that pumpkin faces are fun to draw or carve but pumpkins abound wherever you turn around. However, do you know where you can see or make a scarecrow? Check out these suggestions.

Scarecrows are fun to make and take home. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Scarecrows are fun to make and take home. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Chalet Garden Center Scarecrow Festival

The Chalet, a garden center across from Edens Plaza in north suburban Wilmette does a terrific job of helping folks celebrate fall and the winter holidays. Its shop is filled, literally to the rafters with witches at Halloween and you bump into large snowmen and Santas after Thanksgiving. But to add to the fall fun, it hosts a Scarecrow Festival the first weekend of October. This year, the festival is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 1 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 2. The Chalet has heads and straw for you to use. Just bring some old clothes and you have a scarecrow to take home. The event is free. The Chalet Garden Center is at 3132 Lake Ave. at Skokie Road, Wilmette, IL 60091. For other information call (847) 256-0561 and visit Chalet.

St. Charles Scarecrow Festival

Scary and funny scarecrows take up residence downtown west suburban St. Charles the second weekend of October. This is the big one, the area’s largest scarecrow festival with more than 100 of those gangly, weird, straw people. The festival activities are all over downtown so there are zones. The scarecrow contest is in the Arcadia Theatre zone on Main Street between 4th and 5th. Walk among them and vote for you favorite. But don’t forget to check out those that are at the businesses in the Jewel Osco Zone on 3rd Street between State and Cedar Streets.. Both zones are on the west side of the Fox River. To make your own scarecrow, cross the bridge to the Baltria Vintage Auto Zone on the east side of the river, north of Main Street. There’s no charge. Tickets at the festival are for rides and food. Hours are Oct.7-8 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For other information call the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 777-4373 and visit Scarecrowfest.

Tom’s Fall Festival

Drive out to the countryside of Huntley, a small town northwest of Chicago between Oct. 1st and Oct. 31 to see yard full of pumpkin families, a market where the aroma is apple and pumpkin pie and the garden center has what you need to make and take a scarecrow. You don’t have to bring any materials but the scarecrow workshop costs $20. There are lots of children’s activities from mazes to explore, animals to pet and bouncy constructions. The activities are pumpkin families activities are $7 children and $5 adults, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and $10 adults and children Saturday, Sunday and Columbus Day. Saturday and Columbus Day hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Sunday is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tom’s is at 10214 Algonquin Road, Huntley, IL 60142. For other information call (847) 669-3421 and visit Toms.

Art and architecture make The Broad museum memorable

The Broad experience begins in an unusual lobby

The Broad experience begins in an unusual lobby

What do you try to visit when you travel?

Certainly scenic views are high on my list as well as most travelers’. But next to nature’s wonders I seek out art museums. So luckily our California daughter picked up tickets for The Broad, a new museum downtown LA where visitors may wait in line for hours for a ticket if not reserved in advance.

And yes, it is worth the wait if need be. But if going to LA, reserve tickets ahead of time. Admission is free but the museum just opened in September 2015 so is still on everyone’s to-do list.

BTW, the building and art collection is a gift of Eli and Edythe Broad (pronounced Brode with a long o) to the public, thus the free admission. However, special exhibits and programs will have fees. Check programs.

Much of the free museum collection is on the first and second floor. The third floor will have special installations.

So why all the excitement? First, the building, itself, is an architectural attraction. Described as a “veil and vault” construction, it was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Gensler for about $140 million. Indeed, as visitors descend from the second floor they can peer through a window into the vault that holds more art works. The veil is the building’s honeycombed-style roof and sides.

Another $200 million has been put in trust by the Broads to cover maintenance, operating expenses and acquisitions. The “docents” there will tell you they really are paid staff with art backgrounds and not volunteers.

Peek through a window to see the vault

Peek through a window to see the vault

Secondly, the collection is an art history lesson of some of the best examples of works from the 1950s to now. Not all pieces in the 2,000 work collection are up at one time. To see some of the collection and its artists on line click here.

Among them are works by Henry Moore, Ed Ruscha, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Cy Twombly. Chicagoans who have recently seen the “New Contemporary” exhibit recently donated to the Art Institute of Chicago will recognize editions of some of the same and similar pieces.

If you go, stop in a darkened room to see “The Visitors,” a video installation by Ragnar Kjartansson that shows eight musicians in different places and on different screens but all playing the same music.

The other must-do stop is “Infinity.” To go in to it you have to sign in at a registration screen in the lobby because only one person is allowed entry at a time so entrance is a time slot.

A Roy Lichtenstein sculpture is set off by the honeycomb's reflected light

A Roy Lichtenstein sculpture is set off by the honeycomb's reflected light

The Broad is a don’t miss experience no matter what style or period of art peaks your interest. For more information visit The Broad.

Fun holiday shopping ideas

First, toss away the idea that museums visits are just for occasional drop-ins to see current exhibits. Their gift shops are a treasure trove of unique, artistic items.

Secondly, think two-for-one when shopping at a museum store. You are getting a special item and a portion of the price goes to the museum so you are helping a not-for profit place you enjoy visiting.

Third, you can go in person to spend some fun hours browsing or shop at the museum store online.

Here are three museums with fun and fascinating gifts for the holidays.

Find artistic gifts at the Art Institute of Chicago

Find artistic gifts at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S, Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60603

It’s fun to walk through the main store in the original building to see cases of jewelry, shelves of ties, stationery, cards and books and displays of pottery and art glass. But don’t forget the shop in the Modern Wing for its home decorative items. Many of the items are online so you can go to art institute shop and call 1-855-301-9612. If you go in person be sure to stop downstairs to see how some of the Thorne Rooms are decorated for the holidays.

The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605

The museum is always worth a visit to see dinosaurs, American Indian artifacts and wander inside an Egyptian pyramid tomb. But for the holidays also go to lose yourself in The Field Museum’s huge shop where you roam among large stuffed animals, exotic art items, out-of-the-ordinary jewelry and clothing and fun t-shirts. Best plan is to visit in person but when time doesn’t allow go to fieldstore.

Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637

Go to see the museum’s Grand Tree in the Rotunda and the 50 smaller trees that for years are a holiday tradition because they are decorated by Chicago’s ethnic communities. While there go through the museum’s Mirror Maze and visit the robots currently moving around a special exhibit area. However, the museum store is also a good place to find a great gift for your budding scientist or an historic photo for someone’s wall from the photography store.

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