The Art & Soul of It

by Joel Martens
Sunday Mar 23, 2014

It is art that shows us who we are, who we once were, where we have come from and gives us context for how we can gauge human experiences. It freezes time, recording our idealism, our condemnation, our joys, sorrows and terrors, humankind's souls displayed for all to see.

On canvas, sculpted in marble, executed in steel and glass, housed in museums across the land and begging for its story to be discovered. Come explore and look deeply, learn something beyond what you might know - and discover the very nature of human existence.

Los Angeles:

The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center

If you've never been to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, this is a bucket list must-see for a number of reasons. Its breathtaking location designed by famed architect Richard Meier is one of its main attractions. The Getty sits high atop a 900-foot hill above the Brentwood neighborhood and consists of a 24-acre campus on a 110-acre site surrounded by a 600-acre nature preserve in the Santa Monica Mountains. If you have ever wanted to understand how the city of Los Angeles is laid out, this is the place to do it: You can see Downtown's skyline, the Pacific Ocean as well as the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains from this single location. Choose a clear day, my friends, because L.A.'s smog can be mind-boggling and just a little terrifying.

The Getty Center branch features a vast collection of pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts as well 19th- and 20th-century American, Asian, European paintings, sculpture and photography, and so much more it's staggering. Classical artists in their collection recognizable by most include, Fra Angelico, Fra Bartolommeo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Van Dyke, Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet and Edgar Degas, to name just a few.

This is just a tiny cross-section of the museum's large collection that ranges from the Stammheim Missal, a manuscript created in the 1100s, sculptural works beginning from approximately 1450, decorative arts and a photography collection that began in 1884

The Getty Villa

The Getty Museum began at J. Paul Getty's home in Pacific Palisades in 1954, which Getty later expanded with a complete museum wing. As the collection grew, a replica inspired by the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum was constructed, just below Getty's original location, opening in 1974. Known as the Getty Villa the site re-opened in January of 2006 after a major renovation project designed by Rodolpho Machado and Jorge Silvetti begun in 1997. This coastal branch is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria and houses approximately 44,000 works dating from 6,500 BC to 400 AD, of which over 1,200 are on view. Another stunning location, sporting a view of the vast Pacific Ocean, which is just 100 feet from the front entrance - I guess it's good to be a Getty.

The J. Paul Getty Museum is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles. The Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades. And guess what folks, both are totally free, though there are fees for parking. For tickets and more information call 310.440.7300 or go to getty.edu.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Honestly, you could spend hours - actually days - wandering this crazy-quilt campus without even touching all that this Miracle Mile Los Angeles art institution has to offer at Museum Row. Known affectionately as LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art began in 1965 and has been "devoted to collecting works of art that span both history and geography, in addition to representing Los Angeles' uniquely diverse population."

Now considered the largest art repository in the western United States, the museum contains over 120,000 items from antiquity to the present, broadly encompassing the geographic world and nearly the entire history of art. LACMA's strengths include its holdings of Asian art, Latin American art, from Pre-Columbian masterpieces to works by leading modern and contemporary artists; as well as Islamic art, of which the museum hosts one of the most important collections in the world.

Rooted in what was the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art during the 1910 Exposition, LACMA retains its original three properties on Wilshire Boulevard; the Ahmanson Building housing its permanent collection, the Hammer Building for special exhibitions and the 600-seat Bing Theater for public programs. Expansion has definitely been the game here with the Anderson Building (renamed the Art of the Americas building in 2007) opening in 1986 to house modern and contemporary art. Followed next in 1988 by Bruce Goff 's innovative biomorphic Pavilion for Japanese Art, opened at the east end of campus. The museum acquired LACMA West, in the form of the modernist May Company department store building In 1994. Most recent additions include the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, a 60,000 square foot space for the exhibition of postwar art, the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion, which provides the largest purpose-built, naturally lit, open-plan museum space in the world, for housing major rotating exhibitions.

LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles,
for tickets and more information call 323.857.6000 or go to

The Museum of Contemporary Art

Everything is bigger in Los Angeles. This includes The Museum of Contemporary Art, located in Downtown L.A, or as it's otherwise known MOCA. Founded in 1979, MOCA is the only museum in Los Angeles devoted exclusively to contemporary art and is considered by most to be the largest and most encyclopedic art museum in the western United States.

Their mission statement: "To be the defining museum of contemporary art, MOCA engages artists and audiences through an ambitious program of
exhibitions, collection, education and publication MOCA identifies and supports the most significant and challenging art of its time, places it in historical context and links the range of the visual arts to contemporary culture. MOCA provides leadership by actively fostering and presenting new work, emerging media, and original scholarship. With a collection over numbering over 6,800, this museum has one of the world's most renowned permanent contemporary collections and is housed in three unique facilities: MOCA Grand Avenue, 250 South Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, 152 North Central Avenue in Little Tokyo and MOCA Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood.

For tickets and more information call 213.626.6222 or go to moca.org.

Orange County

Bowers Museum

Founded in 1936 by the City of Santa Ana, through a bequest from Charles and Ada Bowers, this museum is considered the largest in Orange County, with a permanent collection exceeding 120,000 works of art and objects.
Nearly 2,000 paintings reside at the Bowers and consist mostly of works painted between the late 19th through the 20th century. The museum's largest department is Native American Art comprising more than 24,000 objects, strongest in the cultures of the West and Southwest but also representing native cultures from across the U.S., from Pre-Historic to contemporary.

Over 4,000 pieces of Pre-Columbian Art, of which is primarily pottery, textile, stone and metal pieces, strongest in sculpture from the ancient cultures of Western Mexico - but also includes Mayan artwork as well as objects from Pre-Columbian Peru. Asian Art, of which consists over 6,000 pieces, is primarily of Japanese and Chinese derivation ranging in date from Neolithic to 20th century. The Art of The Pacific collection includes basketry, pottery, feather work, weapons, wooden sculpture, food bowls and utensils, jewelry and costume from many of the Pacific Islands including Papua New Guinea, Irian Jaya, Melanesia, Polynesia and Australia. The Decorative-Arts Collection includes more than 12,000 objects such as historic costumes, military uniforms and textiles, furniture, dolls and toys, tools and housewares. Also amongst the original compendium of the Bowers is the Orange County History Collection, nearly 30,000 objects including historic newspapers, magazines and other publications, photographs and art and objects relating to the early days of Orange County. And don't forget to check out the "Kidseum" for a ton of fun for children of all ages. Start them early, who knows if you have the next budding Rembrandt or Rauschenberg?

The Bowers Museum is at 2002 North Main Street in Santa
Ana, for tickets and more information call 714.567.3600 or go to bowers.org.

Orange County Museum of Art

Opened in 1962 as the Balboa Pavilion Gallery by thirteen visionary women, the Orange County Museum of Art or OCMA focuses on modern and contemporary art. Growth and expansion in the museum's collection and its following allowed for the museum to open its doors in the current location on San Clemente Drive in 1977.

Remodeled and renamed the Orange County Museum of Art in 1997, OCMA's collection is comprised of nearly 2,500 modern and contemporary art objects. With a concentration on the art of California from the early 20th century to examples of works by and exhibitions of major local, national, and international artists such as John Baldessari, Elmer Bischoff, Jessica Bronson, Chris Burden, Vija Celmins, Bruce Conner, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Irwin, Helen Lundeberg, Stanton MacDonald-Wright, John McCracken, John McLaughlin, Catherine Opie, Alan Rath, Charles Ray, Ed Ruscha and Bill Viola.
OCMA is at 850 San Clemente Drive in Newport Beach, for tickets and more information call 949.759.1122 or go to ocma.net.

San Diego:

The San Diego Museum of Art

Located in the heart of Balboa Park and opened as The Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, most mistakenly assume this museum was originally built as a part of Panama-California Exposition of 1915. The Sacramento Building originally stood on the site and the museum's current building was designed in 1926 by architects William Templeton Johnson and Robert W. Snyder in a plateresque style to "harmonize with existing structures" from the original exposition.

The museum changed its name to the San Diego Museum of Art in 1978 and is considered the region's oldest, largest and most visited art museum for almost 250,000 visitors annually. The nationally renowned permanent collection includes Spanish and Italian old masters, South Asian paintings, as well as 19th- and 20th-century American paintings and sculptures. The museum's collection is encyclopedic, with pieces ranging in date from 5000 BC to 2012 AD, including such works by Francisco Goya, Giovanni Bellini, Diego Velázquez, works by Italian masters Giorgione, Giotto, Veronese, Luini and Canaletto, Northern European School master works by Rubens, Hals and van Dyck and German Expressionist paintings, drawings and prints including Otto Dix, Egon Schiele, Alexej von Jawlensky, Gabriele Münter and Gustav Klimt. The modern art collection boasts works by 20th century Europe and Latin American masters including Matisse, Dalí, Magritte, Rivera, Tamayo, Miró, Calder, Moore and Hepworth.

So much more can be found within and also next-door in the nearby Timken Museum of Art.

The San Diego Museum of Art is located at 1450 El Prado, Balboa Park in San Diego, for tickets and more information call 619.232.7931 or go to sdmart.org.

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

Did you know that there are two locations for the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD)? Most known for the coastal La Jolla location, many do not realize that the second sister location in the heart of Downtown San Diego is aligned. Both house an internationally renowned collection and as they say on their site, "MCASD is the region's foremost forum devoted to the exploration and presentation of the art of our time, presenting works across all media created since 1950."

It is a collection that houses more than 4,000 works, representing a variety of media and genres: Painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, video, and installation including, minimalist and Pop Art from the 1960s and 1970s, conceptual art from the 1960s to the present, installation art, Latin American art and art from California and the San Diego/Tijuana region. MCASD is also known for collecting pieces by emerging and under-recognized, mid-career artists, as well as through pieces from major figures in international contemporary art.

MCASD La Jolla is at 700 Prospect Street, MCASD Downtown is located at 1100 and 1001 Kettner Boulevard, for more information on both call 858.454.3541 or go to mcasd.org.


American Museum of Ceramic Art (Pomona)
Anaheim Museum (Anaheim)
The Autry - Museum of the American West (Los Angeles)
Bakersfield Museum of Art (Bakersfield)
California African American Museum (Los Angeles) California Heritage Museum (Santa Monica) California Museum of Photography (Riverside) Carnegie Art Museum (Oxnard)
The Huntington - Library, Art Collection
& Botanical Gardens (San Marino)
The Irvine Museum (Irvine)
Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles)
Laguna Art Museum (Laguna Beach)
Latino Art Museum (Pomona)
Long Beach Museum of Art (Long Beach)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles) Mingei International Museum (San Diego) Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles) Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach) Museum of Neon Art (Los Angeles)
Museum of Photographic Arts (San Diego)
Museum of Tolerance (Los Angeles)
MuzeO (Anaheim)
Norton Simon Museum (Pasadena)
Pacific Asian Museum (Pasadena)
Palm Springs Art Museum (Palm Springs) Pasadena Museum of California Art (Pasadena) Riverside Art Museum (Riverside)
The Riverside Municipal Museum (Riverside) San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (San Luis Obispo) Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Santa Barbara) Santa Monica Museum of Art (Santa Monica) Torrance Art Museum (Torrance)
University Art Museums and Art Galleries in California Beall Center for Art + Technology (U of California Irvine) California State University, Long Beach - University Art Museum Fisher Gallery
(University of Southern California, Los Angeles)
Fowler Art Museum (UCLA, Los Angeles)
Grand Central Art Center (California State University Fullerton)
The Hammer Museum at UCLA (Los Angeles)
The Luckman (California State University, Los Angeles) Pasadena City College Art Gallery (Pasadena) Pomona College Museum of Art (Claremont)
Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery
(Scripts College, Claremont)
University of California, Northridge, Art Galleries
University of California, Riverside, California Museum of
Photography Art, Design & Architecture Museum
18th Street Arts Center (Santa Monica) Armory Center for the Arts (Pasadena) Angels Gate Cultural Center (San Pedro)
Barnsdale Park Municipal Art Gallery (Los Angles) Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens (San Clemente)
Consejo Fronterizo de Arte y Cultura (Irvine)
The Corita Art Center (Los Angeles) The dA Center for the Arts (Pomona) ECF Art Centers (Los Angeles)
First Street Gallery Art Center (Claremont)
Irvine Fine Arts Center (Irvine)
LA Artcore (Union Center for Fine Arts, Los Angeles) Los Angeles Center for Digital Art (Los Angeles) Muckenthaler Cultural Center (Fullerton) Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (Santa Ana)
Palos Verdes Art Center (Rancho Palos Verdes)
Side Street Projects (Los Angeles)
Skirball Cultural Center (Los Angeles)
VIVA Art Center - Valley Institute of Visual Art
(Sherman Oaks)
Watts Towers Arts Center (Los Angeles)

Copyright Rage Monthly. For more articles from Rage visit www.ragemonthly.com


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