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Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Trip to the La Brea Tar Pits and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

I haven’t blogged in a sinful number of weeks and yet each day I have hundreds of visits still.  You have no idea how that warms my heart.  Thank you all!!!

So at the end of September I flew town to Los Angeles to visit with my son before school started (he’s a student at UCLA) and to pick up my car after he used it to move into the dorms.

A quick shot from campus...

While down there I hit up the La Brea Tar Pits (yes, I’m a geek and love stuff like this… and no, it’s not actually tar… they’re asphalt pits, but that doesn’t sound as cool).

I enjoyed my visit.

Saw this on the outside, but once inside and talking with some of the employees, I learned I wasn’t looking at mammoth bones or recreations but mastodons. 

I also learned that it was saber-tooth cats, not saber-tooth tigers.  They’re not related to tigers in the least.

Here’s a shot of the workers (mostly volunteers, I understand) who are doing the tedious work of looking at bits and pieces under microscopes so they can be cataloged and what not.

This is one of the tar pits they may dig in at a future date.

And this is one of the tar pits they are digging in currently.  The little flags indicate places where they found certain skeletal remains (I didn’t get a photo of the key code).  It's pain-staking and dirty work.

BTW, there were no dinosaurs found in the tar pits since Los Angeles was under water during the time of the dinosaurs (65 million years ago) so there were no tar pits then.

After that I went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (or LACMA) which is several distinctly different buildings located on 20 acres of property.

The first one was Korean artwork, but no photos were allowed.

And speaking of photos, I offer my apologies, but since I was flying in and then walking 5 or 6 miles from Disneyland to somewhere in Orange County, I wanted to travel as light as possible so did not take my good camera.  All photos were taken on my cell phone.

Anyway, I then went into the exhibition entitled: Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s.  It was weird and cool....  Watched some snippets of strange and compellingly interesting German expressionist films like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Fritz Lang's "M".  Some of the photographs in the exhibit were beyond awesome.  According to this PDF on the exhibition, "Horror also has its roots in Expressionist films, which frequently featured monsters and villains with supernatural powers."  That makes sense.  And I got to see a life-size replica of Maria from Metropolis.

There was the Pavilion for Japanese Art.  They were having a kimono exhibition which was cool because it was all spread out along the walkway of the beautifully designed building.


Totally inspiration for some jewelry designs!

Although I missed the Samurai armor collection by a few weeks, I did get to see this cool piece.

I'm going to again apologize for the low quality of these photos but I feel I must show you none-the-less.  This is cloisonne enamel.  While not my design style, I can appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship. This is an incense burner is by Yasuyuki Namikawa.

This, however, totally my style.  The artist is Kawade Shibatarō (Japan, 1856-1921).

Then I went into the Netsuke room (Netsuke of the Meiji Period 1868-1912).  I spent about an hour looking at these awesome miniature works of art.  Taken from the LACMA website: "The traditional Japanese garment, the kimono, has no pockets. Small personal items to be carried were either tucked into the kimono’s large sleeves, slipped under the sash (obi), or placed in small multi-compartment cases (inro) or other hanging containers (sagemono) that were suspended from the obi with cords. Netsuke—pronounced nets-keh—are toggles and were worn to counterbalance these containers. The cord of the inro, purse, or tobacco pouch was threaded under the obi and attached to the netsuke through holes or openings (himotoshi) in the netsuke. The netsuke held the entire ensemble in place by resting atop the obi and preventing the cord from slipping down."

Here were some of my favorites that weren't blurry beyond all reason...  And remember, these things are small.  Usually no more than an inch or two high.

The first one is a tiger carved by Matsushita Otomitsu.

Next is a man coming to life out of a wall hanging scroll.  Love the concept.

I took this photo for my lampworking friends.  It's a lovely eggplant colored glass gourd made from Satsuma glass.

Here's one (had to show both sides) by Masatsugu Kaigyokusai of the symbols of the Chinese zodiac.

And the final one to show you is by the same artist.  It is an oyster shelled carved as the view of Itsukushima shrine. 

In the main building was the type of art I am more familiar with, but I found all of it exciting and inspiring.  Here are some paintings you may recognize.  How many artists can you name?

The final thing I saw the Metropolis II which is a huge kinetic display of toy cars, trucks, trains, etc going in all different directions on a structure created by Legos, Lincoln logs, train tracks, etc.

In regards to jewelry making, I’ve been working on a lot of new things and trying out some experiments and I want to share everything with you.  Come back soon… I will. 


  1. Looks like you had a lot of fun. Only problems with the tar pits is that they stink, but I love all the bones and history . Thanks for the photos.

  2. It all looks like great fun! I love the netsuke, in particular, but you know I want to see the "other side" of all of them, to help figure out how they were hung from their cords....

  3. Thank you for sharing your trip with us. And haven't you heard? Most pics are with a cell phone nowadays. I know I rarely take out my big camera since it is much heavier then my little cell.