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Two MUST SEE EXHIBITS: “Giovanni Bellini” and “Sacred Landscapes” at the Getty Center


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Imagine being able to teleport yourself through time and space to imagine life as a spiritual Venetian noble in the 15th Century. Or as a believer in 15th Century Bruges.

Two intriguing exhibits at the Getty Center allow museum goers to take those journeys.

Firstly, Giovanni Bellini: Landscapes of Faith in Renaissance Venice offers insight into the work of a Venetian master.

What is astounding about this exhibit is that it is the first monographic exhibition in America devoted to Giovanni Bellini. This gifted and prolific artist, who when he was already in his seventies, was praised by Albrecht Durer as “still the best in the art of painting” despite the fact that Titian and Giorgione were already on the scene.

In one room, viewers are fortunate to be able to view Bellini masterpieces loaned from museums and private collections in Paris, Florence, Venice, and around the globe.

The Bellini exhibit underscores the vitality of an Encyclopedic Museum like the Getty Center. Viewers who may not be able to procure plane tickets to Venice, Florence, and Paris at the drop of a hat now have the opportunity to obtain an instant artistic passport to these places by virtue of this exhibit.

The passport that one obtains is not only geographical, but also allows one to understand the historical context.

For instance, one learns that the paintings in the Bellini exhibit were meant for private devotion for  a group of Venetian nobles. These collectors were influenced by the Italian Renaissance humanist Petrarch, whose treatise “De Vita Solitaria” contrasted the corrupting consequences of doing business in an urban center with the restorative process of meditating in solitude. Many patricians recognized the importance of taking a step away from their busy lives to meditate.

Davide Gasparotto, who expertly curated this beautiful exhibit, describes the Bellini paintings as “meditational poems” of real and ideal landscapes.

Bellini often painted St. Jerome, a figure who conflated two traditions: the hermit in the desert and the scholar. For example, in Bellini’s 1485 painting “St. Jerome Reading In The Countryside,” St. Jerome is removed from the sinful city which is featured in the top half of the painting. The perspective shows St. Jerome centrally seated in a remote, desert-like space, linking him with other hermetic Biblical figures like St. Francis and John the Baptist. (There are several paintings of St. Jerome in the exhibit- don’t miss them!)

St. Jerome

Giovanni Bellini

Saint Jerome Reading In The Wilderness.

(Venice ca 1435-1516)

ca 1485. London, National Gallery,

Image Courtesy of the Getty Center.

Perspective also plays a key role in Bellini’s “Crucifixion With the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist.” Bellini painted the cross on a threshold between the painting itself and the viewer, connecting this image to the audience in a impactful and uniquely visceral way.



Bellini Crucifixion

Giovanni Bellini.

Crucifixion With the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist. 1465, panel.

Image Courtesy of the Getty Center.

These unusual perspectives as well as the paintings’ relatively small size allows us to imagine ourselves in the room of a 15th Century Venetian patrician. Unlike their Florentine counterparts, the majority of Venetian patricians did not have chapels in their residences, so Bellini’s paintings would have hung in their rooms for private devotion.

Just as the Bellini exhibit takes us on a trip to 15th Century Venice, a second complementary exhibit, Sacred Landscapes: Nature in Renaissance Manuscripts” takes us on a journey through France, Belgium, Germany, England, and Italy.

This exhibit, beautifully curated by Bryan C. Keene and Alexandra Kaczenski seamlessly connects with the Bellini exhibit on a thematic and visual level. For instance, the image of St. Jerome appears in both. Both exhibits feature nature as spiritual mecca, a theme that harkens back to the Garden of Eden, in which a verdant space epitomizes paradise.

But “Nature in Renaissance Manuscripts” takes visual meditation a step further.

Many of these books of prayer were used by those saying the rosary.  So the second exhibit connects us to the active pilgrim, one who holds the devotional manuscript contemplating blooming roses while grasping rosary beads in one’s fingers. These books connect the visual with the tactile.

What is even more illuminating about this exhibit is uncovering the meaning behind the vibrant images of flowers embedded in the margins of the texts- rich floral details which provide clues as to scientific philosophies at the time.

For instance, in the image of The Visitation by the Master of the Dresden Prayer Book Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth in which they mutually share their blessed news of being with child. Bordering the image and text of this joyous scene are depictions of pansies, strawberries, columbines, and forget-me-nots. Not coincidentally, these plants were used during this era as a form of pain medication for the pangs of childbirth. The images of fruit have a double meaning. In the “Hail Mary” prayer, Jesus is referred to as “the fruit” of Mary’s womb. By carefully observing these exquisite pages, one can learn much about both the religious and scientific attitudes of the time.


The Visitation.

Bruges, Belgium ca 1480-85

 Master of the Dresden Prayer Book or workshop

Crohin-La Fontaine, Hours. 1

3.3 X 9.4 cm. MS 23 (86) ML. 606) fols. 71v-72.

Image Courtesy of Getty Center. 

Each page of these illuminated manuscripts offers a teachable lesson about botany, religion, or medicine, and often all three simultaneously. Most importantly, they capture a moment in time.

Both of these exhibits, one devoted to a Venetian master and the other a journey to arboreal splendor are MUST-SEES. 

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A truly Cultural Cocktail: The Bellini!


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered Trademark

And now, for a delicious libation that epitomizes the Cultural Cocktail!

Toast Bellini!

You can share this trivia the next time you are at a cocktail party and become the toast of the fete!

Did you know that the Bellini cocktail was named after the Venetian Renaissance painter, Giovanni Bellini?

The history of this popular drink harkens back to Harry’s Bar in Venice.  A Who’s Who of artistic luminaries frequented this bar including Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Orson Welles, Arturo Toscanini, Peggy Guggenheim, and Alfred Hitchcock.

In 1948, Harry’s Bar owner Giuseppe Cipriani created a concoction blending peach puree and Prosecco. He named the refreshing cocktail a “Bellini,” after the sumptuous peach hue on the toga of a saint painted by Giovanni Bellini.

This exquisite painting (Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist and a Female Saint in a Landscape) once hung at Venice’s Gallerie dell’ Accademia but is now on view at the Getty Center.

Perhaps this is the exact painting that inspired Mr. Cipriani?

Look at the detail of the shiny peach colored sash of the saint.

Full Bellini paintingGo see the painting for yourself at the Getty Center.

  • Tune in to Cultural Cocktail Hour for more details on two enlightening new exhibits at the Getty Center that just opened on October 10th: Giovanni Bellini: Landscapes of Faith in Renaissance Venice and Sacred Landscapes: Nature in Renaissance Manuscripts.



Detail bellini saint

Image and detail from: Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist and a Female Saint in a Landscape. Giovanni Bellini (Venice, ca-1435-1516). Ca 1501, panel, 54 X 76 cm. Venice, Gallerie dellAccademia, inv. No 881 (Moschini Marconi). Image Courtesy of Getty Center. 


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Classical Music for healing

Hopeful music during these dark days of violence and tragedy.

Thank you to Brian Lauritzen – KUSC for sharing this inspiring piece of music on his program.

The St. Olaf Choir, Anton Armstrong, Conductor, performs “Even When He Is Silent” by Kim André Arnesen.

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10+ Facts About Marc Chagall

The #1 Search Term on Cultural Cocktail Hour has consistently been—- Marc Chagall!!

To reward my faithful readers for their curiosity, here are


1. Real Name: Moyshe Segal

2. Birthplace: Vitebsk, Russian empire

3. Artistic Style: Chagall invented his own style, blending Cubism, Fauvism, Surrealism, and Expressionism with images from Jewish folklore and legend.

4. Family Background

Chagall was born into a Hassidic Jewish family living in Russia.

His father, Zakhar, assisted a herring merchant;

His mother, Feiga Ita, ran a small shop.

5.  Wife

Bella Rosenfeld:

a cultured woman with a passion for theatre, painting, and poetry

6. Paris

“My art needed Paris, like a tree needs water.”- Chagall

When Moyshe Segal arrived in Paris he changed his name to Marc Chagall. The resourceful painter did not let his lack of money stop him. He painted on canvases made from curtains and even his own shirts.

7.  Stained Glass Windows.

In addition to painting, Chagall also created stained glass windows.

“Stained Glass Windows represent

the transparent partition

between my heart

and the heart of the world”-


Chagall’s magnificent stained glass can be found in France, Germany, Britain, Switzerland, and the United States.

8. Ballet

Chagall created designs, sets, and costumes for New York City Ballet Theatre, including:

Tchaikovsky’s Aleko

and Stravinsky’s Firebird

9.  Circus:

Another image that intrigued Chagall was the circus. As a child growing up in Russia, he had observed many carnival-like fetes for the Jewish festival of Purim. In Paris, Chagall attended the Cirque d’Hiver at the behest of Ambroise Vollard,  the prominent art dealer.

10. Judaism

Chagall often infused his work with mystical Jewish symbols.

Unfortunately, the Nazi Regime classified his work as degenerate, and Chagall eventually sought exile in New York.

His painting, Solitude, poignantly and movingly evokes alienation and loss.

-Solitude- by Marc Chagall

11. *BONUS*

Some of the recurring symbols in Chagall’s art include:

Peddlers, Acrobats, Angels, Musicians, Couples, Donkeys, Cows , Fish, Clocks, Violins, Ladders, Flowers, and the Eiffel Tower

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Autumn Cultural Highlight- Pacific Standard Time

Pacific Standard photo 1PACIFIC STANDARD TIME LA/LA is THE Blockbuster cultural experience in LA this Fall and Winter.

Led the GETTY, the massive undertaking explores Latin America and Latino Art in dialogue with Los Angeles.

The scope and scale of this artistic endeavor is staggering. PST LA/LA encompasses:

1100 artists from 45 countries 

More than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, and from San Diego to Santa Barbara

 The themes of Pacific Standard Time include:

  • Pre-Hispanic to Colonial
  • Borders, Diaspora, and Displacement
  • Definitions of Identity
  • From Abstract to Conceptual Art
  • Critiquing Globalism and Modernism
  • Art and Activism
  • Design and Architecture
  • Film, Music, Dance

Cultural Cocktail Hour will be covering individual exhibits this Fall and Winter.

Pacific Standard Time LA/LA  runs from September 2017 through January 2018.

For a full and up-to-date list of all the exhibitions and 100s of events, please see:

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Happy Fall Equinox to my readers!

 ”Give me a spark o’ Nature’s fire,

That’s a’ the learning I desire.”– Robert Burns

California Gold

photographed Thanksgiving weekend 2011 Pasadena, CA

Photography © 2011 by Leticia Marie Sanchez

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Christie’s Photographs from the Museum of Modern Art

Moments in Time


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Photography has become an inescapable part of our daily experience. One cannot sit in a restaurant without seeing someone snapping a photo of their spring rolls, their Tinder date, or even themselves. A few weeks ago on the Pacific Coast Highway, on a particularly crowded weekend, the man in the lane next to me took a selfie while stuck in traffic. Hopefully, police will soon be ticketing drivers for the 2017 version of DUIs: Driving under the Influence of Instagram.

For better or worse, photography is now ubiquitous.

But at one point in America history, photography was not pervasive.

In fact, as a medium it was breaking new ground in order to be recognized as an elevated genre worthy of hanging on museum walls.

An intriguing exhibit at Christie’s depicts a time when photography was first recognized as an art form.

The exhibit is in conjunction with a series of sales of more than 400 photographs from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The sale will benefit the acquisition fund for the Museum’s Department of Photography. MOMA, founded by a coterie of “daring ladies” including Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, Lillie P. Bliss and Mary Quinn Sullivan, was the first museum in the country to establish a department devoted to photography.

The photographs being auctioned at Christie’s include works by photography pioneers Alfred Steiglitz, Ansel Adams, Man Ray, and Henri-Cartier Bresson.

What unifies the diverse iconic photographers is their ability to capture humanity through moments in time.

For instance, Henri Cartier-Bresson was influenced by 17th century Cardinal de Retz who declared,” There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment.”

One of Cartier-Bresson’s photographs epitomizes the elusive, decisive moment.

The 1932 photograph, “Behind the Gare St. Lazare” depicts a mysterious black silhouette seconds before he alights from a ladder to a pool of water. The moment before his shoes get wet. Before his pants get muddy. In head to toe black, this anonymous soul could be anyone rushing to work. Yet, this is no moment of quiet desperation. Rather, the figure evokes a joyous freedom in his leap, paralleling the the image of le grand jeté, the exuberant jump of dancers featured in the posters behind him. Peeking from behind a gate, Cartier-Bresson embodies a fleeting moment poetically captured by a lens.

This image inspires us all to engage with photography to reach new heights.

derriere la gare st lazare

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)

Behind the Gare St. Lazare, Paris,


Gelatin silver print

15 ¼ X 10 ¼ in.

Printed for Cartier-Bresson Recent Photographs, 1968

© Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

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Cultural Cocktail Hour Contest- Win 2 tickets to season opening of Pittance Chamber Music

Pittance Chamber Music

Southern California Residents, please email a message about you think is missing in the LA Arts and culture scene.

What do you think would MOST improve the performing arts in LA?


The winning entry will receive a pair of tickets to the season opening performance of the Pittance Chamber Music!

Deadline for sending your contest entry is Thursday September 7th.

The concert is Saturday, September 16, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. at ​Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall. The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. 135 North Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

The season opening program program of Mozart, Berg, Brahms and Bernstein, featuring Principal players from the LA Opera Orchestra, along with Domingo Colburn Stein Young Artist, soprano Elizabeth Zharoff.

 The full program is listed below:

Soprano:        Elizabeth Zharoff 
Horn:              Steven Becknell 
Clarinet:          Stuart Clark
Violin:              Ana Landauer 

Violin:              Marisa Sorajja
Viola:               Brian Dembow 
Viola:               Shawn Mann 
Viola:               Alma Fernandez 
Cello:               John Walz 
Cello:               Rowena Hammill 
Piano:              Milena Gligic

W.A. MOZART           Quintet for Horn, Violin, two Violas and Cello in E flat, K. 407
A. BERG                        Seven Early Songs for Soprano and Piano
J. BRAHMS                 Quintet for Clarinet, two Violins, Viola and Cello, Op. 115
L. BERNSTEIN           Selected Songs 

​Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall. The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. 135 North Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

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All photography ©2017 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Fallen Leaf Lake August 2017

“If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere”- Vincent Van Gogh

Tahoe for Web






Tahoe CCH 5

Tahoe CCH1Tahoe CCH 3

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An Edward Hopper moment at Fallen Leaf Lake


All nature photography ©2017 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Fallen Leaf Lake, August 2017

Edward Hopper, The Long Leg, 1935

Edward Hopper







Tahoe more CCH 1jpg

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