Getty Field Trips

Yesterday Rody and I went on our field trips with our discussion groups.I’m in Amada Cruz’s discussion group, so I went to the Japanese American National Museum to see the Ikebana and Contemporary Art show and then went over to the Pasadena Museum of California Art in (you guessed it!) Pasadena to see Kori Newkirk’s survey show and also to meet with the artist, himself.Since the Metrolink was so unkind as to only have one train passing through Claremont between 8:30 and 11, I had to get onto the 8:48 train with Rody in order to get to downtown in time to meet with the group at 10:45. So one Metrolink trip, one toasted bagel and one coffee later, I set off from Union Station to JANM on foot. I thought it would take me 20 minutes to get there, but apparently it only takes 7 minutes, so I reached JANM at 10:15, only to find that the museum opens at 11. But the wait wasn’t that bad, because Amada came at 10:30, and everyone else in the group arrived soon after her.After hanging out in the lobby (and staring awkwardly at other people) for about 20-25 minutes, the curator of the Ikebana show, Karin Higa, came down and talked to us about JANM, it’s mission, and what it’s trying to accomplish. She then proceeded to take us through the show and she told us about the different schools of Ikebana, their characteristic styles, and why she chose the contemporary works that she did. In total, I really liked the show- the flower arrangements were beautiful and the art was great- but I’m not sure how I felt about the paper “design and architectural” element. I’m sure that all that paper is significant, but I didn’t really see how, and I felt it a little aesthetically out of place with the show- but hey, can’t like everything, now can I?I also noticed that JANM had also provided for a cellphone tour, and I asked Karin Higa about it. I’m not happy with the fact that there was very little in terms of a gallery guide, that there were minimal wall labels, no tour guides for the show, and that there is no catalog yet (they’re documenting the weekly flower arrangements before they make a catalog)- but I’m more satisfied with Karin’s answer than Suzanne Isken’s answer about the cell-phone thing. It turns out that Karin is very well aware of the fact that there is practically nothing on the wall-labels and nothing for the uneducated viewer to go by, and she said that she’s rethinking the wall labels for the show because she realizes that people might not be taking away a lot from what they see (other than the seriously beautiful flower arrangements). But she also conceded that a cell phone tour is significantly cheaper for a museum, and since budgeting is tight, that’s the option they have to go for.After JANM, the group made a stop at Senor Fish’s (tacos! burritos! quesdillas!) and then went to Pasadena to meet with Kori Newkirk at PMCA. To be honest, I’d never heard of Kori Newkirk, and I completely forgot to google him before the field trip, so I had no idea of what to expect. But it turns out that I like Newkirk’s work (I love the pony bead curtains and I love the basketball sculptures). In a way, I’m really happy that I got to hear him talk about his work, because he seemed to approach his work in a way that I like to approach my own- since so much of it is personal, he’s kind of cagey when it comes to talking about it. I’m sure it frustrates some people when contemporary artists don’t really like to talk about their works in terms of what the work tries to say, but I have to admit that I’m fine when artists are reluctant to talk about their work because I’m kind of like that when it comes to my own art.But yeah. In total, I’m satisfied with my sojourn into LA. The shows we saw were well-explained by people who were highly involved with creating them, and the shows themselves were really good- I just wish that the commute to LA wasn’t so long and complicated.

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