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Review: Immersive Van Gogh LA: A Balm for the Soul in Uncertain Times

Review: Immersive Van Gogh Los Angeles

by

Leticia Marie Sanchez

Van Gogh self portait

The Immersive Van Gogh exhibit transformed this once hesitant audience goer into a true believer. A few weeks ago, this incredible show had encountered a bump in the road to opening day in Los Angeles, due to a delay in receiving their fire permits from the city. The opening few days were postponed, leading some to debate giving the show a second chance. I decided to venture viewing it again; to my delight, taking the chance was definitely worth it.

In 2018, in Paris, I saw the Immersive Klimt show by the same producers, which was a revelation; it was the catalyst behind my decision to view Immersive Van Gogh Los Angeles. I didn’t think it could get any better, but it did. I was floored. It became more personally meaningful to this precise moment in time. Experiencing the Immersive Van Gogh show during the pandemic year proved uplifting.These past eighteen months, our eyes have been exposed to dystopian images of sickness, death, political turmoil, and now, international chaos.

More than ever, I needed soul healing images of skies and sunflowers, of light glistening on ocean waves.

Blue Van Gogh Wall

What I took away from the exhibit was a sense of Hope, that last vestige in Pandora’s Box, when the world seems awry.

In fact, the first brief moments of the exhibit are bit dark, as one walks through a dim corridor into the metaphorical recesses of Van Gogh’s troubled mind.

But then, darkness gives way to light. And not just any light. A supernova of of dazzling proportions, the projection of healing, a prolific vision of intense beauty that helped Van Gogh cope more than a hundred forty years ago. And a beauty that can help us cope today.

Yellow Van Gogh Wall

The icing on the cake, or perhaps the co-star to the art was the seamlessly juxtaposed musical score. Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” came on at a particularly apt and dramatic time as did Adagio for Strings recomposed by Luca Longobardi. The audience sat rapt and awed, like church goers in a sacred ritual. These sacred dwellers sat six feet apart, donning masks, visual cues that the pandemic is still with us.

Yet, the preponderance of whimsical, carefree, touches, like the real indoor coffee bar in the lobby, a bar surrounded by a wall of sunflowers, make us smile and forget.Sometimes, stepping inside an alternative universe of art and beauty is just what the doctor ordered!

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Uplifting Signs of Cultural Life Remerging in LA: Pasadena Pops

“Let the Sunshine In!”

An Evening by the water with the Pasadena Pops

by

Leticia Marie Sanchez

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Yesterday, I took my son and his friend to check out the Pasadena Pops. The waterfront setting at the LA County Arboretum was an uplifting spot to listen to an outdoor concert after these surreal 18 months. What was even more soulful, was when the Motown Musicians sang a rendition of “Let the Sunshine In”- that is exactly the kind of soul stirring music that is needed this summer!

Click here on the link for a taste of the music!

Let the Sunshine In

Let the good vibes continue!

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Hope Springs Eternal: An Afternoon at the Getty Center which opens May 25th!

Just What the Art Doctor Ordered:
The Getty Center reopens on May 25th!
by
Leticia Marie Sanchez
(Below, Ariadne Discovers Theseus’ Departure, 1493). Artist: Master of the Chronique Scandaleuse)
Ariadne getty
Nothing can replace seeing a work of art in person. The reopening of the Getty Center on May 25th will be a welcome relief for Angelenos suffering from art withdrawal. Walking through the galleries during the press preview was like a long-awaited reunion with an old friend.
A testament to the value of an Encyclopedic museum, my meandering through the Getty Center proved the breadth of offerings for everyone. From the breezy Rococo exhibit on “Silk and Swan Feathers,” to the provocative ”Power, Justice, and Tyranny” in the Middle Ages, one can choose how to spend one’s venture back into the museum.
Silk Chair
 If one is looking for a light-hearted escape from the surreal year behind us, a foray into French furniture can do the trick, as one can admire a luxurious 18th century armchair in the context of other Rococo treasures, like Boucher’s “Fountain of Love.”
Below. Detail from Boucher’s “Fountain of Love” 1748. Oil of Canvas.
Boucher Getty
On the other hand, the exhibit on the Middle Ages sheds light on serious subjects like sexual assault and how these social issues were handled by a hypocritical power structure. Here, the illuminated manuscripts illuminate us on medieval times, not glossing over historical realities.
After Manet
(Above, Carrie Mae Weems, After Manet, 2003, Chromogenic Print)
The Getty Center is a juxtaposition of past and present. One piece that struck me with this juxtaposition was in the exhibit “Photo Flux,” This exhibit empowers agency in previously marginalized artists and subjects. The powerful gaze of the young sitter in Carrie Mae Weems’ “After Manet,” plays with the concept of who is the viewer, and who is being viewed, transfering power to the unflinching subject herself.
The unexpected pièce de résistance of this visit was the permanent collection itself and becoming reacquainted with marvels like Hans Mont’s Venus and Mars (1575), placed so unobtrusively that only a unrushed, socially distant walk brought it to my attention.
(Below, Mars And Venus, About 1575, Attributed to Hans Mont, Bronze)
Venus Mars
To cap off the afternoon, I strolled in the beauty of the Getty Center gardens. A moment of blissful repose from a surreal fourteen months called to mind the words of Alexander Pope: “Hope Springs Eternal.”
Hope Springs Eternal
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LACMA to re-open April 1st!

Now here is something worth toasting, in Cultural Cocktail fashion!

In most welcome news for Angelenos who have been parched for the arts during the pandemic:

LACMA will be reopening on April 1st with advanced online reservations required.

For more information on how to reserve tickets and the required safety protocols, please visit: https://www.lacma.org

Flashback Photo of Cultural Cocktail Hour’s Editor-in-Chief Leticia Marie Sanchez at “Urban Light” by Chris Burden, at the entrance of LACMA.

 

Urban Light 4 Instagram

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In the News: Klimt’s “Roses Under The Trees” will be returned from the Musée d’Orsay

In art news, Gustav Klimt’s “Rosiers sous les arbres” (“Roses Under the Trees”) will be returned from France’s Musée d’Orsay to the heirs of its Austrian Jewish owner who sold the painting to Nazi sympathizers “for next to nothing” before dying in the Holocaust. For the full story see:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/15/arts/design/france-klimt-painting-restitution.htm

Below: Gustav Klimt’s “Rosiers sous les arbres” Painted Circa 1905. Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Klimt

 

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Pandemic Art

LA museums have been closed for the entire pandemic, so yesterday, I took my son on a walk to see some socially distant ladies.

Vermeer’s “Girl With A Pearl Earring” was my favorite!

Photography and text © 2021 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

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Flasback to last summer- Color Factory in NYC’s Soho: “Kid-tested mother approved!”

 

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The Color Factory in NYC’s Soho-

a treat for the senses!

by

Leticia Marie Sanchez

Visting the Color Factory in NYC’s Soho was like stepping into the whimsical novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Color Factory 12

Even before entering the galleries we were greeted with savory Mochi and once inside treats galore: macaroons, vanilla blueberry gelato, and candies!

Left: One of many sweet treats on our visit:

Macaroons!

 

 

But the sweetest part of the day was the stimulating visual lesson on color!

Color Factory 1

 

At the entrance of the exhibit

was 100 colors by

Artist Emanuelle Moureax.

 

 

 

Color Factory 3

 

One of my son’s favorite rooms was “Balloon Wishes” with a welcoming placard,

When you wish upon a balloon/You find yourself in this Ombre Room.” Each balloon had a delightful wish bestowed by a student from 826 NYC.

 

 

 

 

A room that was especially memorable and enriching to me was From Absinthe to Zephyr:  An Alternative Alphabet of Unusual Colors written by Kassia St. Clair.

(Photo Below)

colors

Color Factory 6I learned that the color “Terra Cotta” comes from the Italian for “Baked Earth” and that ”Nymphea” was a pink favored by Claude Monet.

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Nymphea Color

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having a ball

 

 

And of course, the ball pit at the end was a blast!

Tips: Buy tickets ahead of time online as when we went no tickets are sold at the door

https://www.colorfactory.co/tickets

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Flashback to last summer- Painting à la Pollock, East Hampton, 2019

 

pollock frame

 

mom and Julian Jackson Pollock

Painting à la Pollock:

Child’s Painting Class and Tour

at Jackson Pollock’s Home

East Hampton

by

Leticia Marie Sanchez

Photography and text © 2019 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Cultural Cocktail Hour® is a registered trademark

Jackson Pollock Trees

Painting with my 4-year-old son underneath the sun dappled trees at Jackson Pollock’s home as we overlooked the abundant natural beauty of the Accabonac Creek proved one of the most treasured moments on my artistic foray to the Hamptons.

My son and I participated in the wonderful Imagine That! Tour and art class led by engaging art educator Joyce Raimondo.

The class commenced with a tour of Jackson Pollock’s studio, where the children searched for traces of the artist’s footprints in the vibrant floor covered by vestiges of his drip painting.

Jackson Pollock Footprints

Pollock art Tour

The children then peered through a book showcasing Pollock masterpieces that currently hang at world famous museums in order to match the color palette of these paintings with the spot on the floor on which they were created.

Tour Pollock

In addition to the art detective work by the children, old paint cans and images of Jackson Pollock made the studio experience vivid and compelling.

From the studio, Joyce led us up the stairs to Jackson Pollock’s home where he lived with his wife, artist Lee Krasner.  We stepped back in time, as my son discovered old fashioned telephones and viewed Pollock’s collection of hi-fi phonographs.

Old telephonespollock records

 

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After we toured the home, Joyce led us outdoors where the children created their own drip painting à la Pollock.

 

Jackson Pollock Mat

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We sat in a blissfully serene spot under the trees. I was struck by the enveloping beauty of East Hampton with its arboreal splendor and vistas of sky blue water on the horizon.

 

 

 

 

Jackson Pollock 1

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Pollock Creek

Photo Left: Accabonac Creek at Jackson Pollock’s Home.

No wonder Jackson Pollock felt inspired!

Drip Painting Class at Jackson Pollock’s Home:

http://www.joyceraimondo.com/newsletter.htm

 

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Michelangelo’s Broken Nose

by Leticia Marie Sanchez 

In light of the Getty Center‘s new exhibit, Michelangelo, Mind of the Master, an insight into the maestro that first appeared on Cultural Cocktail Hour a few years ago:

As a teenager, Michelangelo Buonarroti suffered a blow at the hands of a green-eyed bully.

Two different accounts of the story exist. In Vasari’s Lives of the Artists, Pietro Torrigiano, an artist studying with Michelangelo under the patronage of Lorenzo De ‘Medici, grew jealous of Michelangelo’s undeniable talent. Resentful of his former pal’s new status as teacher’s pet, Torrigiano delivered a blow that knocked the 15-year-old genius out cold.

In the Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini, Torrigiano defended himself by saying that Michelangelo was teasing the other artists working in the Church of the Carmine. He admitted the viciousness of his attack: “I felt bone and cartilage go down like biscuit beneath my knuckles; and this mark of mine he will carry with him to the grave.” 

Torrigiano should have taken Anger Managment 15th Century style: I’m sorry I Baroque a Friend’s Nose.

Instead, Torrigano continued on a temper tantrum-filled path that eventually led him to prison. Not just any prison.

A Spanish holding cell established by the black-robed goons of the Inquisition. Woops. Torrigiano had become so enraged at a miserly payment for his sculpture of the Virgin that he smashed his Madonna to smithereens. Let’s just say that the fanatical judges did not crack up at the crack up.

As for Michelangelo, he carried more with him to the grave than a broken nose. He has bequeathed the world everlasting art brimming with humanity, majesty, and passion.

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Michelangelo: Mind of the Master at the Getty Center – MUST SEE Exhibit

Last judghement context

Review: Michelangelo: Mind of the Master-

 Must SEE Exhibit

February 25-June 7, 2020 

Getty Center

by

Leticia Marie Sanchez

What does it mean to be a genius? Artists throughout history have sought to mythologize their own personas, creating an aura of mystique around their identities as divinely inspired individuals. As part his self-created flamboyant persona, Salvador Dalí drove a cauliflower-stuffed Rolls Royce and showed up to a surrealistic exhibit dressed head-to-toe in scuba gear.

In Michelangelo’s case, the Renaissance maestro tragically destroyed the majority of his 28,000 drawings so that the public would not realize that he had struggled for his art; Michelangelo preferred that people believed that his breathtaking masterpieces, like the frescoes on the Sistine Ceiling, were works that he created spontaneously.

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On several occasions, Michelangelo ordered his drawings to be burned. His biographer Giorgio Vasari noted that Michelangelo made this decision “so that no one should see the labors he endured and the ways he tested his genius, and lest he should appear less than perfect.”

Image Left: Striding Male Nude, and Anatomical Details, 1504 or 1506, Michelangelo Buonarroti, black chalk with white heightening. Teylers Museum, Haarlem. Purchased in 1790. © Teylers Museum, Haarlem EX.2020.1.3

Out of more than 28,000 drawings by Michelangelo, only 600 survived his intent to destroy them. Currently on view at the Getty are twenty-eight drawings that reveal the artistic process behind masterpieces including The Sistine Ceiling, The Last Judgement, and The Holy Family. Most of the surviving sketches hail from the collection of the 17th century monarch, Queen Christina of Sweden, an arts enthusiast who abdicated the throne and moved to Rome where she built an impressive art collection. The collection of Michelangelo’s drawings was then housed in the Teylers Museum, the oldest museum in the Netherlands and have been there since 1791. The Michelangelo exhibit was organized by the Teylers Museum in collaboration with the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art. At the Getty, this exhibit was curated by Julian Brooks, Senior Curator Of Drawings and Edina Adam, Assistant Curator of Drawings.

Julian Brooks

At left: Julian Brooks, Senior Curator of Drawings at the J.Paul Getty Museum

What makes this exhibit a MUST-SEE is the fact that the opportunity to view Michelangelo’s drawings is, as stated by J. Paul Getty Director Timothy Potts, “a once-in-a-lifetime experience. According to Potts, this collection is on view for the first time in the United States as many of these drawings have never left Europe. The surviving works have to be rationed in terms of their exposure to light.

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Image Above:

Four Studies of a Left Leg (verso) 1515–20, Michelangelo Buonarroti, red chalk, retraced with pen and brown ink. Teylers Museum, Haarlem. Purchased in 1790. © Teylers Museum, Haarlem EX. 2020.1.23

The exhibit allows one to explore Michelangelo’s work as a painter, sculptor, and architect. One can view his detailed anatomical sketches: Michelangelo studied dissected corpses to better understand the underlying muscles.

Sistine chapel

In terms of the curatorial conception, the monumental transportive atmosphere evoked by vivid replicas on the exhibit walls makes one feel as though one has traveled to Italy to the iconic sites created by Michelangelo.

sculpture replica

Surrounded by immense replicas of The Creation Of Adam, The Last Judgement, and The Medici Chapel Tombs one can view the intricacy in the individual drawings of Michelangelo on display, tiny pieces of a massive artistic jigsaw puzzle in the context of his epic works.

Photo Left: Replica of the Medici Chapel, Florence at the Getty Center

Hand of God

For instance, on view in front of the glorious replica of The Creation of Adam is Michelangelo’s drawing of the leg of God.

Having the ability to view this micro level of detail first hand at the Getty and the labor intensive process behind such large-scale works underscores how mind-boggling it is that Michelangelo completed the entire Sistine Ceiling fresco cycle in only four years.

And let’s not forget that Michelangelo was also a master architect and took on the project of St. Peter’s Basilica when he was 72 years old. At the Getty, one can also view Michelangelo’s drawings for the cupola of Saint Peter’s Basilica towards the end of the exhibit. Seeing that drawing in the context of his drawings for painting and sculpture makes one realize that we have only hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to delving into the mind of this quintessential Renaissance Man.

CCH Editor-In-Chief Leticia Marie Sanchez interviewed Julian Brooks about Michelangelo’s fierce privacy when it came to protecting his drawings from the public eye. Some of Michelangelo’s drawings were stolen during his lifetime by sculptors who broke into his Florence studio. In addition to not wanting to dispel the myth of spontaneous divinely inspired genius, Brooks suggested that a second reason for Michelangelo’s burning of his own drawings had to do with intellectual property concerns; he did not want another artist to copy any of his works. Seeing the labor of love, the intense detail, and the meticulous level of anatomical study, we realize that even if a lesser artist had been able to get their hands on his drawings, they would never have been able to recreate one of his masterpieces: after all, there is only one Michelangelo.

Photo Left: Third Image, Leg of God from the Creation of Adam

[Image at Top of Article: Wall Replica of Michelangelo's The Last Judgement at the Getty Center]

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