Art Trip: Los Angeles | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

Art Trip: Los Angeles | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

NARRATOR: When we arrived in
LA, it was sunny and warm. And so we decided to
jump right into the most quintessential of Los
Angeles experiences, driving. Feeling we had spent a
sufficient amount of time in the car, Mark and I met
up with my friend Emily in Westwood, and had
lunch at Ramen Yomata. We enjoyed delicious bowls
full of porky, noodly goodness. Except for Mark’s, which
was also good but vegetarian and not at all porky. And what do you want
to do immediately after eating a
large bowl of ramen? You want to get in one of these
chairs at the Hammer Museum. These are spun chairs, designed
by Heather Wick Studios, which were part of an exhibition
at the museum last year and were so loved that they’ve
remained on view– or, um, on spin– since then. Sorry. We can checked out
their exhibition, Leap Before You
Look, which explores the history of the legendary
Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina. It lasted from 1933
to 1957, and was a hotbed of experimental
art and cross-disciplinary collaboration. Artist Joseph and Ani Albers
taught and worked there, as did Robert Rauschenberg,
John Cage, and Merce Cunningham. Walking through the
galleries admiring the hugely diverse
gathering of work, I kept thinking about how
mere things can rarely capture the spirit of a place or time. But there I was imagining
that place in time nonetheless, cobbling
together a sense of it from thoughtfully presented
text images and artwork. The show didn’t seem like
fully resolved encapsulation of Black Mountain College, but
instead a small but meaningful glimpse of it, in
perfect alignment with the experimental
spirit of the school. And we also enjoyed this terrace
where they bring together the ideas of several artists
into a less choreographed space. Machine Project is responsible
for the ping pong tables. Chris Johansson and Johanna
Jackson for the furnishings. And Yunhee Min for the
brightly colored drapes that can be reconfigured
into different arrangements. The Hammer Museum pays
a lot of attention to these non-gallery spaces. With a graphic installation
in the lobby by Kenny Scharf, and this installation
by Oscar Tuazon, which bores a hole into
the side of the museum. We’ve all heard of
art being a window to another world, or the like. And for me, this
plays with that idea. Most galleries are
white cubes, designed to create a neutral backdrop
for the art objects within, to block out all of the
crazy visual information of the outside world. This let’s all that crazy
visual information in. It let’s in the city
bus, and the Chase Bank, and all of the chaos
and commercialism of the everyday world that
white walled galleries encourage us to forget. And the Hammer has free
admission by the way, so take advantage. Then we had a grand
plan of visiting the Museum of
Jurassic Technology, but it was closed on Wednesdays,
of all days, so we headed over to Culver City to see some
gallery shows instead. We dropped into
Susanne Vielmetter to see work by Ruben Ochoa, who
made these incredible paintings that at first look
like metal slabs, but upon further investigation
revealed themselves to be acrylic paint
and rust on linen. His use of rust, or iron oxide,
as a pigment is captivating. And one starts to see
all sorts of ghost images in the compositions,
of landscapes, supernatural beings,
and galaxies. We also saw two fantastic
shows at Honor Fraser– Shadow Paintings by Andy Warhol and
Works By Richard Pettibone. The shadow paintings are some
of Warhol’s most abstract works, cult favorites of
Warhol fans, which repeats silk screened images
of, you guessed it, shadows. And since the
’60s, Pettibone has remade art by other
artists, including Warhol, but at much smaller scale
and taking extreme care to do it well. It’s a jarring experience
to see such monumental works by history’s most
revered artists on such a tiny personal scale. Both Warhol and Pettibone
deal with mirroring in different but
complementary ways, urging us to consider
and reconsider the images and objects we
are presented with in life and in art galleries. And after walking around
in the sun for awhile, and appreciating a Kenny
Scharf out in the wild, we took refuge in Cool Haus,
an architecturally inspired ice cream shop where Frank Gehry
and Rem Koolhaas welcomed us warmly. They had the most scrumptious
and inventive flavors. And then we called it a day. The next day we arose
and returned to the car to take an unexpectedly
lovely two hour drive to Bakersfield,
California to film an assignment video with
artist Jesse Sugarman. Now, Bakersfield isn’t often
a stop for art tourists, I’ll tell you. But we had a superb visual
and cultural experience. We had a first, and filmed
an episode poolside. And we talked about,
what else, cars. But in a way that considers
more deeply what these boxes we ride around in really
mean in our lives. And then Jesse took us
on a tour of the town. It’s first downtown with
traditional Basque restaurants and adjoining jai alai courts
and it’s excellent Mexican food at Nuestro Mexico. We saw its second, more modern,
downtown, its Richard Neutra house, and it’s nonsensically
placed town sign, moved from its original location
to this one next to pretty much nothing but Buck Owens
Crystal Palace Music Hall and Restaurant. Hey, Willie Nelson. Table for three, please. We also took in
Bakersfield’s mesmerizing expansive of oil fields. Appreciating this rough, dry,
otherworldly, and, for me, exotic beauty. It’s a Dust Bowl town,
an oil town, but one where artists live
and work and teach and where good art happens. The next day, another perfectly
sunny Southern California day. We headed over to the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art, and decided to just
walk around outside. Walking along 6th Street,
witnessing Michael Kaiser’s levitated mass from its side. You see a giant boulder
sitting on a flat expanse. And then when you turn and
walk toward the museum, you realize that it
is indeed levitated, that you can walk
beneath it, feeling your smallness in the
landscape, feeling the weight of this enormous rock
and its potential to crush you, with your simultaneous
feeling of trust in the engineering
it took to make this mother feasible
for the public. For me, it’s a
reminder of the desert that’s not too far
from drought-stricken, but still lush, LA. And when you walk toward
Wilshire Boulevard, between the older
and newer buildings, you approach Chris Burden’s
now iconic installation, Urban Light. It’s a formation of 202
antique cast iron street lamps from the ’20s and ’30s
that Burden gathered, rewired, and painted a uniform gray. They’re grouped by
type and arranged in rows, like sentinels,
drawing attention to the infrastructure of
the city surrounding it. The lamps snap in
and out of alignment as you walk around it. And all of the sudden
I’m aware of the zigzag of the roof of the
Renzo Piano buildings, the palm trees, and the
street lamps that are not art but just street lamps. Now you’ve likely seen
many of these works appear on Instagram as flat
pictures or stylish selfie backdrops, but these are really
powerful physical experiences. We walked around enjoying
the peculiar amalgam of architectures that
is LACMA, including the pavilion for Japanese art
designed by architect Bruce Goff, the exquisite Alexander
Calder fountain that was unveiled in 1965, and
the adjacent Le Brea Tar Pits, which for me will
never lose their strangeness. The museum is developing
a campus overhaul by Peter Zumthor. And I’m looking forward
to seeing how and whether this new approach will
begin to unify the campus, or further embrace its
diverse eccentricity. We then stopped by the brand
new Broad Museum in downtown LA, by Diller, Scofidio, and Renfro,
that presents the astounding collection of Eli
and Edith Broad. It’s here that you’re going
to see all of the greatest hits of the last century. Seriously, all of them. It’s big. It’s bold. It’s exuberance. And it’s jaw dropping what
these two mega collectors have managed to amass
in their lifetimes. My favorite part
of the experience was actually the
little peaks you’re given into the
art storage spaces through windows in the interior. Museums often go
to great lengths to hide their utilitarian bits. And I was happy to see this
practical aspect of such a large collection embraced. We then fueled up at Worstkuche,
which serves gourmet hot dogs and sausages and
super crispy fries, with many non-ketchup sauces,
in a beer hall type atmosphere. It was crazy good. We saved for last the show
Revolution In The Making at Hauser Wirth &
Schimmel’s new LA gallery. The exhibition is,
simply put, mind blowing. Better than most
museum exhibitions, albeit with much less wall text. It brings together the
abstract sculptures of 34 female artists, all
made between 1947 and today. Displayed in a Warren of clean
lined but un-stuffy galleries that were once a flour mill,
the show exposed me to new work by artists I had heard of, and
a number of works by artists I hadn’t. It didn’t matter to me that
they were all female artists. Of course you
wouldn’t have known it without labeling,
because it is just a really fantastic
sculpture show, showing a fascinating array
of materials and approaches from the past as
well as the present. It’s not alternative
or revisionist history, it’s just history as
it’s being written now. What a feat for them to
have pulled all these works together. And what an opportunity
for the community to have free access to it. Then it was back in the
car and to the airport to fly home to the vast Midwest. There is so much
art to see in LA. It’s an embarrassment of riches. With each visit, I revel in
the range of art I get to see, as well as the comparatively
laid back atmospheres in which to view it. The climate allows
for art experiences where you can relax and
have the rare pleasure of taking in cutting edge art
while enjoying a nice breeze. Sure the driving is hell. But it’s worth it.

Dereck Turner

57 thoughts on “Art Trip: Los Angeles | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

  1. bob polo says:

    No, you probably don't wanna get into a spinny chair after eating noodles, or any other type of food for that matter.

  2. Clarence Chou says:

    Hey, Art Assignment, Vancouver awaits you. Can this please happen?

  3. plus2happiness says:

    I saw the leap before you look exhibit when it was at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston

  4. Leandra Luna says:

    Another great video!

    Also, I was wondering what books you could recommend to me as a starting point to brushing up my art knowledge? I am a complete novice but would love to learn more! Thanks in advance.

  5. ray & sunflowers says:

    sarah did u go to art school? did u want to be an artist or did u always wanna be a curator?

  6. ray & sunflowers says:

    btw im in DC right now and will be going to the national art galleries tomorrow, what should i be sure to see?

  7. Fraser Radford says:

    I had to pause the video right after the segment about the Black Mountain College exhibition because I remembered that I read an article about a group of folks opening up a residency where BMC once stood. They are calling the residency Black Mountain School. Here is the link to the article if you are interested:

  8. Finn Hafnmr says:

    Is the hole Open or is there glass

  9. maggieedna says:

    the mets weird open storage room was the thing that made me an art history major in college (my advisors weird and uncomfortable insistence that I learn french was the thing that made me switch out)

  10. Carissa Pobre says:

    Art Trips are among the best 🙂

  11. This Is Fifty With Lil says:

    Earthquake terror-filled me would have an anxiety attack walking under that rock! Fun Fact: I grew up in Los Angeles and never went to La Brea tar pits! Also, those tacos looked amazing.

  12. Gidon says:

    Next time you're in LA you should visit the Norton Simon museum if you've never been.

  13. nemesis962074 says:

    You should do a art tour of LA but viewing the art produced by or for its immigrat communities, especially the Latino and Asian art that is so prevalent in certain areas

  14. Luis Rivas says:

    Can I just say how much I enjoy that both you and your husband make YouTube videos?

    That being said, this channel is my first true exposure to the fine arts and I really appreciate how accessible it makes it to those of us who may have been just a little bit intimidated by anything beyond a Picasso or The Starry Night. I will definitely be keeping an eye on new exhibits coming to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts!

  15. Victor Kong says:

    So sad you missed the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Definitely very freaky. Hopefully next time.

  16. Qwen Wan says:

    Wow, that was great.

  17. Paris Guglielmoni says:

    Would you ever do a case for Banksy?! ☺️

  18. firewordsparkler says:

    Such a great video! Definitely going to try to hit some of these places next time I go to LA.

  19. Kathia Rodriguez says:

    I was completely stressed in the middle of a paper but this made me breathe. You don't know how much I appreciate this type of content

  20. Oliver Bollmann says:

    Ah nice, the Broad! It was still under construction when I went by last year… 🙂

  21. Elliott Collins says:

    Sad you missed the Museum of Jurassic Technology. One of the stranger places in the world.

  22. Nate Villaume says:

    Once again I loved the video. I'm bummed that the museum of Jurassic technology was closed. I would have really enjoyed hearing your take on it. I've never seen anything like it. It has a purpose I'd love to hear you articulate.

  23. takerone says:

    Graffiti cut scenes, hey, better than nothing. 😀 Even though the "Venice Art Walls" graffiti wall at Venice Beach is not exactly a free for all, you have to get permission, so it's kind of curated, almost like a gallery. Except less exclusionist. 🙂

  24. xBangBangPow says:

    Can we get artists from the Middle East and North Africa region?

  25. Andrew van Zyl says:

    Dear Sarah
    Thank you SO much for your great videos, many of which I have taken the liberty of posting on my Art Scoop here

    Keep up the great work and take care, Andrew van Zyl

  26. Mithra Murali says:

    I love going to art galleries, especially to see installations by artists. A forced shift in perspective is a pretty unique experience in itself. But it got me thinking about the artist's journey to this point. These installations you've featured are pretty big projects – but where do these artists start out? Do they all start with something small and graduate to something larger, or is it not always that linear? And would it ever make as huge of an impact if you were seeing the artist's first and only work as opposed to their 50th or 500th?

  27. Leslie Jones says:

    For "Art Trip: LA, Take 2" please spend some time in our museums' permanent collections. And don't come on a Wednesday. The Museum of Jurassic Technology is well worth it.

  28. 1incubuschik says:

    Damn why did no one tell me you were coming to Bakersfield…. It would have been cool to see you and I would like to know more artists that live here

  29. Margaret Moon says:

    I would recommend doing an art tour of Houston. There are some fantastic museums there. But I would try and time it around the art car parade. This wacky rolling display shows everything from low rider bikes to cars covered in mirrors. Cars come from all over the world. It's amazing. It is usually at the end of April. To find out more, go to

  30. Jenna Ellis says:

    I love these art trip videos!

  31. Ambrose Reed says:

    Thanks for pointing out the Broad Museum! I'm gonna go while I'm nearby for VidCon

  32. ARTiculations says:

    Question! Is it possible to see some of these places without driving (e.g. public transit, uber?). I will have only a day later this month (day before Vidcon) to maybe check out a couple places but I am terrified to drive in LA lol.

  33. fortheloveofLDS says:

    Motherfeasible…you're full of it, Sarah. 😉

  34. Claire Savage says:

    I'm from Bakersfield and it was so cool to see my town in an art assignment video. It's fun to hear we have some common feelings about the beautiful and bizarre things Bakersfield has to offer even though you had a short visit while I grew up there.

  35. Jeremiah Daniel says:

    but what about The Getty??? :/

  36. im cheese says:

    jet fuel can't melt steel beams

  37. Bettie Turner says:

    I love these little travel vlogs you do. 🙂

  38. K Bender says:

    My husband and I have very little similar interests, so I love that we watch the Art Assignment together!

  39. phombuspucker says:

    Pork isn't kosh.

  40. Oliver Nilsson says:

    Shoutout to Marks vegetarian ramen.

  41. ProfessorPuppet says:

    I'm sorry you missed the Museum of Jurassic Technology. It's one of the weirdest/best hidden gems of Los Angeles. I'd love to hear how you describe it. (And it's just a block from an In-n-Out burger! Or, for a classier, more vlog-worthy bite, the Lobby of the Culver Hotel.)

  42. Anna perry says:

    If you guys are able I urgently recommend visiting the Everson Museum in Syracuse. They're having their biennial until August 28, "Kindred Beasts." It's amazing and not something you'd want to miss

  43. Anne H. says:

    Love these public outdoor art installations! Are there any artists you recommend who have created installations in miniature? V(. interested in miniature art in general)

  44. Indubitably Zara says:

    This is the only thing that has ever made me want to visit LA for its own sake. Thanks for the reminder that even the places we may think of as unpleasant or odious have plenty to offer if we're willing to take a careful, generous look.

  45. EZ Films says:

    Wich camera do you use ?
    Thanks !

  46. Genevieve Armstrong says:

    Have you guys ever come to the DFW area?
    I grew up here so i KNOW know know we have the worst rep, the one we are infamous for but I get a little frustrated when no one ever sees the kinda of amazingly resilient artists that come from here. It can be super lonely as a Texan artist- I'm guessing that's why they often leave. But if we can lay claim to an artist like Rauschenberg, I only wonder what other hidden treasures Texas has birthed.

  47. srh says:

    this was so great to see you guys around my city! thanks for the restaurant recommendations!

  48. Jose Bravo says:

    Holy shit, my professor from Cal State Jesse Sugarmann is in this! 😀

  49. joseph adam dunn says:

  50. Nicole says:

    I feel so fortunate to live about an hour north of LA for this reason. Growing up in a tiny mountain town the vastness of culture available so near to home is invaluable.

  51. Pepper Rivera says:

    watts towers?

  52. Howard Owens says:

    I learned of some locations for art in LA I didn’t know about and I’ll need to visit next time I’m there with some time but I can’t imagine going to LA from for art and not taking in the Huntington. I’ve been three times and I’m sure I’ll go again some day.

    There would be no culture in Bakersfield without Buck and Merle. That iconic sign was save because of Buck (no relation). I love the Crystal Palace. I saw Buck there twice.

    Art in Bako is otherwise pretty dismal.

    I wish you had included the Getty. I’ve never been there and would like to know more about it.

  53. Jane Tai says:

    This honestly makes me appreciate having these museums in such close proximity to me. I only live like 30 minutes away from LA and I've been to almost all of the museums in this video at least once, and now I really wanna go again.

    Also, you should check out the Getty next time you come!

  54. CYRUS GRAHAM says:

    🌴🌞The Summer of Year 1999 My Postcard📝📮🎨 Art I Sent to Record Companies, Capital Records,etc I was living in Bakersfield, California. Apartment #3 Grassotti Court.

  55. Loves Lunatics says:

    Art scenes are so fckn white, with a little tokenism, natch

  56. lovecarl68 says:

    PLEASE, take me to the Museum of Jurassic Technologies.

  57. Sock Cucka says:

    This is fucking boring and awful.. please shut down your channel

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