Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ojai in Early Autumn ~ Pumpkins and Mud Rituals

There is something in October 
sets the gypsy blood astir:
We must rise and follow her,
When from every hill of flame She calls, 
and calls each vagabond by name.
~William Bliss

 It seems when I go up to Ojai these days, it's a short whirlwind. These pics are from two trips. I'd gone up late after working in LA on a Saturday night, got up in the morning on Sunday and got my yearly treat of Pumpkin Pancakes at Bonnie Lu's! Yum! I'm not saying I will only have them once but they are only there in the fall until Christmas ... then you have to wait until fall rolls around again!

They really don't even need syrup. If you get to Ojai in the fall, I highly suggest you go to this cute little diner for your pumpkin pancakes. They were every bit as good as I'd remembered!

After Bonnie Lu's, I headed to the east end of town to Boccali's Pumpkin Patch. Yes, same place I went last year and the year before. Can't seem to resist taking more pictures and and taking in the beautiful array of squash and pumpkins!

October, baptize me with leaves!
Swaddle me in Corduroy and nurse me 
with split pea soup.
October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets
and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins.
O autumn!
O teakettle!
O grace!
~Rainbow Rowell, Attachments

If I thought I could get this pumpkin out of my car and up my stairs, without dislocating my shoulder, I would have done it. Isn't it it magical? Looks like the perfect pumpkin to be turned into a coach! 

This ear of corn, below, was on the ground. The photo is kind of my autumn version of the "Lion King in the pumpkin patch" ... lifting it to the sun! It looked spectacular in the sunshine, right? It's as if it were wearing a crown. 

I get a bit overexcited about these things, I guess.


I didn't go nuts buying this year, but got a nice little array for my little apartment ...

After the pumpkin patch, I raced over to this funky little place called "The Relaxation Station." They don't speak much English (which is fine) but for 21 bucks they'll massage you for a half hour! And they're good! Perfect to recover from all the driving around Southern California, in traffic!

Then, I raced to my parents class to teach a little hour and a half art workshop to 4 kids. Then I devoured a little grass-fed patty, before heading down to Ventura to my friends' house. They were leaving 5 days later and I had all kinds of maps and things printed out for them, on Rome and Umbria, for their honeymoon. And, you all know how much I love talking about Italy!

Check out Jessica's watercolor! It's a still life of one of the bouquets from my friends' wedding. Stunning, right?

Anyway, I was there at my friends, talking about Italy until Midnight. Got up in the morning, met my friend Lynn for coffee (she also lives in Ojai too) and then headed out to Costco in Camarillo to get new tires, then Sherman to grocery shop for my friend who had surgery. 

I might have over scheduled myself a bit, but it was all good stuff, so ...

These couple of pics were from my parents' place ...

My parents' collection of float balls, in the late afternoon light ...

On my sister's birthday weekend in September, she decided we should got to the Ojai Valley Inn Spa for the Kuyam treatment.

Here is the description of the Kuyam on the website:

"The only treatment of this type in the United States, we encourage our guests to experience the Kuyam (Koo-Yahm). Kuyam is a Chumash Native American Indian word which means “a place to rest together.”
This treatment combines the therapeutic effects of self-applied cleansing desert clays infused with essential oils, dry heat, inhalation therapy and accompanied by a traditional Chumash narrative. Diffused low lighting, rich colors and Moroccan-styled tile chaises enhance this unique offering. Each session can accommodate up to eight women or men."

The Kuyam is very "groovy Ojai" and very relaxing. The Native American Flute music helps with that. There are 3 or 4 different clays that go on different parts of your body and they are amazing, each with a different mix of essential oils. I wish they sold them! 
Anyway, my parents got my sister and my Kuyams for us, for our birthdays, which was very sweet. I'd never gotten a treatment at the Inn before! (I'm generally more of a "20 bucks at the Korean spa kinda gal.") The Inn, as you can see, is pretty swanky.

See? Swanky. It's another world. A beautiful, swanky, relaxing, Spanish Style world.

Little birthday treat for my sis!

My nephew and brother-in-law, were off on a Boy Scout adventure, so my folks took Penny and I to her birthday dinner at Suzanne's. If you ever stay in Ojai ... it's my favorite fine dining. So yummy and they have a bit of everything. It's sort of French/Italian, seasonal  and fresh. You can check it out here. 

This time I had a mix of seasonal seafood with beurre blanc sauce, and a really lovely fresh salad, of butter lettuce with blue cheese, shaved red onion, and sweet pecans ... but they also have a great lunch menu! (Love the salmon sandwich with dill-caper mayonnaise!) 

Anyway, now you know where to eat and buy pumpkins, in Ojai! Oh, and you can eat casually (pizza/pasta) at Boccali's too, not just get your pumpkins!

For other types of dining, check out Osteria Monte Grappa or Farmer and the Cook!

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came-
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples
And leaves of every name.
The sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
~George Cooper

Oh, yes, and ...
Happy Halloween!!!
(My sis and I, c. 1973)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Central Park ... Strawberry Fields, Upper West and a Famous Beer

It was a beautiful day in August, and the humidity had let up a bit. I met my friend Marlene for a carb breakfast on the Upper West Side, across from Julliard. We walked over to this bakery, Levain, famous for their cookies, which seem to weigh a half pound. 

Marlene got the Chocolate Chip Walnut, and I got a dark chocolate peanut butter cup. One cookie is practically a meal, but because I felt I needed something savory to start my day, I got a flat bread which was sort of similar to piece of pizza. So, as you can see, I was not on a wheat/flour free diet of any kind. 

Kind of an obvious music choice, so I went with another artist singing, just to mix things up. Is that bad? Anyway, here you go!

Strawberry Fields
Central Park

We headed over to Strawberry Fields, directly East of us in Central Park, with our cookies and flat bread, and sat on a bench and listened to some interesting versions of Imagine. We chatted about our lives, got caught up, and talked about the upcoming birth of her second child. (Which ended up coming, less that a week later!)

Strawberry Fields was dedicated by Yoko Ono, to John Lennon, in 1985. The couple lived just across from this part of Central Park, at the Dakota.

On another day ... "Imagine," surrounded by rose petals.

The Dakota

Residence of John Lennon from 1973-1980. Also called home, in the past, by Lillian Gish, William Inge, Roberta Flack, Rosemary Clooney, Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, Gilda Radner, Rex Reed, Joe Namath, and John Madden.

After loading up on carbs when headed back into the Upper West side, past more cool buildings.

And then we headed to Marlene's, just off the Hudson River, for more visiting. I love how they have their son Kai's artwork up in their place! He just turned 3!

Marlene was in a past post of New York, from our trip to the Metropolitan Museum together, in 2013. We met in an oil painting class at UCLA extension. (She's brilliant.)

Kai! Isn't he beautiful? His baby brother came soon after this. :)

After hanging out for the day with Marlene, I headed back toward the park ...

Past Lincoln Center ...

And then, when I got into the park, I thought, what a cute place to have a beer!

When my beer came, then I realized where I was.

Turns out Tavern on the Green was closed for years and had recently reopened with this more casual outdoor setting, that was the perfect place to stop and wet your whistle. 

I even did a little mini sketch, at the bar. 

After my beer and sketch stop, I headed back through the park, toward Larry's. We had plans to go tux shopping for him, and grab dinner.

After being in Central Park for quite a while, it always seems somehow surprising to be suddenly thrust back out into the city again.

Larry, trying on his tux, in the J.Crew Men's store, in Columbus Circle, and me documenting it. :)

After shopping success, we had a yummy dinner at El Centro, on 9th. So tasty. I had grilled fish and a pomegranate margarita. I remember many years ago, it wasn't easy finding decent Mexican Food in the city, but this place totally hits the spot.

To see an old post of Central Park in snow, click here.
For my post of Central Park in Fall, click here.

To read about Strawberry Fields in Central Park, click here.
For more on the Dakota, click here.

Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
It's getting hard to be someone
but it all works out
It doesn't matter much to me
Let me take you down,
cos I'm going to
Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
and nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever

Blessings and light!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Art and My Hood ~ LACMA and Mid City

Color is a power
which directly influences the soul.
~Wassily Kandinsky

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

After getting back from New York (no I'm not done posting that trip) I made it just in time to see the Van Gogh to Kandinsky exhibition at LACMA. It showed the influence of post impressionists like Van Gogh (and that whole movement going on in France) and how it ended up influencing the German Expressionist movement.

It was such perfect timing that I had seen the Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937 Exhibition in New York at the Neue Gallery. Neue is near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Many There was definitely a crossover, with certain artists in the two exhibitions, like Emile Nolde and Kandinsky.

If you aren't aware of what was termed "Degenerate Art," in pre-WWII Germany, it's a fascinating period in art history. The Nazi party had a certain idea of what they considered art and what would show Germans (and Germany) in their best light, and it was definitely not the German Expressionists or pretty much any and all Modern Art, including Matisse, Van Gogh, Picasso, you name it.

They would poorly hang modern artists in a venue, with crummy lighting, cramming the walls with art, then pronounce the artists "Degenerate." Then, next door, they'd nicely hang a show with all the works that they considered the true "art" of that time.

Of course, most people would agree that much of the contemporary work that Hitler and his cronies liked, was pretty much crap.  The old school painters were another story. They liked the old masters, working in a realistic style, and stole and looted everything that that they could get their hands on. (Rent The Rape of Europa, if you haven't already.) I'm sure you know already about all the artworks they are still trying to return to families and museums to this day.

Cuno Amiet, Swiss
Portrait of violinist Emil Wittwer-Gelpke, 1905
Oil on Canvas

Anyway, the show in L.A. was very extensive, and totally fabulous. They allowed photography on a case by case basis. It was up to whomever loaned the painting. These were the pieces that I loved that I could actually photograph. (And that came out, with my my iPhone.)

As you will see, all the post impressionists weren't French, and the Expressionists weren't all German, but part of a larger movement of artists, influenced by one another and what came before them. 

Wassily Kandinsky
Russian, active Germany and France, 1866-1944
Flute, 1907
Heliogravures on Wove Paper

Henri Matisse
French, 1869-1954
the artists studio

This next piece was amazing and pretty much impossible to photograph, in part because of the varnish and crazy glare from the lights, but even so ... it's impossible to really experience it in a photo. I was with my parents and my dad and I kept coming back to it ...

Emil Nolde
German, 1867-1956
Ship in Dock, 1910?
Oil on Canvas

Here I'm trying to avoid the glare, taking it on an angle. How he painted this way, and made it so luscious and yummy, and not muddy, I'll never know. His brush strokes are so bold and loose ... ugh. I love it. 

Nolde was persecuted by the Nazis, wasn't aloud to do his art, so he did watercolors in secret during the war because, unlike oils, they don't smell. He had actually been a previous member of the Nazi party but that didn't matter ... he was a modern artist. I'm hoping he had a big come to Jesus moment, because I really love his work.

Anyway, because he was called "degenerate" and persecuted by the party, in the end, after the war, it actually helped his career that he was on that list.

Of course, any time I get the chance to see a Kandinsky, and be in its presence, I get this sort of  "art contact high." These colors ... they sing! Kandinsky was also considered "degenerate" by the Nazis. They only liked very realistic pieces, or goddesses, Arians and very horrid, flag waving, nationalistic pieces. Bleh.

Wassily Kandinsky
Arabian Cemetery, 1909
Oil on cardboard

Color provokes a psychic vibration.
Color hides a power still unknown but real,
which acts on every part of the human body.
~Wassily Kandinsky

This next piece was a small little gem, by Franz Marc. I usually only see his huge oils but seeing it scaled down gave me a whole new appreciation.

Franz Marc
German, 1880-1916
Colored Flowers, 1913-14
Tempera over graphite

I love how Cézanne messed with perspective, and somehow it all works and is completely stunning. I can never get over his fruit, and that grey/blue ceramic pot? Seriously.

Paul Cézanne
French, 18391906
Still Life with Apples 1893-94

Oh my gosh ... love her.

Kees van Dongen
Dutch, (1877-1968)
Modjesko, Soprano Singer, 1908

The layers of color ... see how they vibrate both on top of, and next to each other!? Looks like energy, no?

My dad and I take silly pics, kind of like what I do with my nephew. I know ... I'm such a nerd. Can't help myself. 

Edouard Vuillard
French, 1868-1940
Woman in a Striped Dress, 1895
Oil on canvas

Félix Vallotton
Swiss, 1865-1925
Laziness (La paresse), 1896
(see the kitty?)

Paul Gauguin
French, 1949-1903
The House of Pan-Du, 1890

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
German, 19=880-1938
(detail) Otto and Maschka Mueller in the Studio, 1911
Oil on Canvas

I zoomed in a little, on the Van Gogh, so you could see the beautiful bold strokes of his brush ...

Vincent van Gogh
Dutch, active France, 1853-1890
Pollard Willows at Sunset, 1888

The artist must train
not only his eye
but also his soul.
~Wassily Kandinsky

The Broad (BCAM) Building at LACMA, houses this giant piece by Richard Serra, on the first floor, called Band. Love the way that it changes and effects the way you feel as you walk around the piece ... as it undulates and leans toward you and then away.

If you want to read more about it, click here.

My folks. :)

Painted aluminum
by Tony Smith, (1912-1980)

I'm so behind on posting, I am combining posts!

These following photos were taken on several different walks in mid-city Los Angeles, from Hancock Park to just east of West Hollywood. Love the varied styles of architecture. I thought you might like to see some things I see walking around LA neighborhoods, if you've never been here.

Below, a very swanky apartment building on Beverly Blvd. ...


Alley off Melrose, some cool graffiti. I like the red shoes left behind!

My little car + cool graffiti 

OK, gotta run! Hope there aren't too many typos!
Can you believe October is winding down?
Hope you are all doing great!!!

Blessings and light!

That is beautiful which
is produced by the inner need,
which springs from the soul.
~Wassily Kandinsky