Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy hour at the museum!

We enjoyed our visit to LACMA - the Los Angeles County Museum of Art - but - honestly - sometimes museums can be exhausting. We saw three exhibits that were all wonderful but all completely different from each other, and it was overwhelming to have that much swirling around in our heads. What to do?

Have a drink!

If you think of museums as stuffy places with echoing marble halls and guards who creep about with creaking shoes on polished wooden floors, shushing guests - you aren't going to the right museums!

LACMA has come into the twenty first century, revitalized by new buildings and collections. It's all part of a ten-year rebuilding plan. LACMA is already huge seven building complex, and the campus is being transformed by architect Renzo Piano. In 2008 it opened the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, and in fall of 2010 the Lynda and Stuart Resnik Exhibition Pavilion opened just next door.

The courtyard between the Broad and Resnik buildings and the older buildings to the east is an open space traced with covered walkways, visually linked by bright red-painted steel beams and columns, the color echoed in the stairs and elevators to the parking structure.

The wide plaza displays sculptures by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, and beyond toward Wilshire Boulevard stands the Chris Burden installation "Urban Light."  Beneath the shelter, clustered tables and colorful Eames chairs invite art lovers to relax from their wanderings, while more substantial relaxation can be found at the brand new Stark Bar - which opened in February, 2011.

Like many new LA watering holes, this one emphasizes the art of mixology, serving cocktails made with fresh, seasonal ingredients, "small-batch" liquors, herbs, house-concocted garnishes, and dashed with rare or unusual bitters and European digestifs.

But here, the artsy hipness has a more authentic cachet - it IS, after all, at an Art Museum.

Fascinatingly people lounged on the white-coated wire chairs - originally designed by Harry Bertoia in 1952 for Knoll - that filled the main bar seating area. The bar stools were Bertoia designs, too, with bright red seat-pads. There were sleek, curving vinyl-coated settees, and other modern-design chairs in red, including a few Arne Jacobsen "Egg" chairs, with their sheltering wings. The outdoor dining tables of the adjacent restaurant, Ray's, were set with Eames fiberglass armchairs. The whole place looks like a showroom for Design Within Reach.

It's a great place to people-watch - a different kind of art-appreciation.

It's a new world, baby! When was your last visit to the art museum? You might be surprised at what you find there.


shrink on the couch said...

Ah, the liquid antidote to so many head-swirling occasions. Beautiful amber color. What was that drink?

smalltownme said...

Now how did I miss the happy hour when we were there? When was it? September? We were late because we'd been stuck in a horrible traffic jam for hours and only had time for a couple buildings. I could have used that lovely cocktail.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Happy Hour already?

Well who am I to argue!


Laura in Toronto said...

we ate at Ray's--wow, great food.Luv luv luv LACMA

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

In order to survive, museums have to be able to adapt to a changing society. It's a shame, we live in an age in which a lot of people just aren't into "cultcha". The bar looks awesome, though!

Crystal said...

I'd have to say I probably haven't been to an Art Museum since I went as a kid on a field trip. Probably need to go again some day. :)