I have a couple of goals going into the new year, and I think my last week of 2016 helped me begin strong. Being a Berkeley student has made me even more aware of how little I have read and how uncultured I really am. So I have decided that 2017 will be a year that I will fill with as many good books, art, and museum visits as possible. Right before NYE, Aashish and I had a week off, so we drove down to San Diego to visit family. We also took this time as a good opportunity to hit our favorite museums along the California coast. That week, filled with museums and culture, as well as a couple good books I devoured during our 20 hours of driving, really gave me a great push off into the new year!
1. BALBOA PARK
Ok, so with all the time we spent catching up with family and old friends, we didn't make it to Balboa Park in time to actually go into any of the museums, but the Spanish Colonial/Mediterranean Revival architecture in the park is so beautiful it almost feels like an art museum itself! We had a good time wandering around with friends and taking in the sights.
One of my favorite spots in Balboa Park is Panama 66, a little restaurant located west of the San Diego Museum of Art. They have a sculpture garden where you can spread out a blanket and have a nice glass of rosé while enjoying the beautiful scenery, which includes this view of the tower of the Museum of Man. On Thursdays they have live music too!
The botanical gardens were absolutely picturesque with the holiday lights! During the day this is a beautiful place to come and sketch (or watch others sketch), or simply to enjoy watching the koi fish swim around. The building is one of the largest lath structures in the world and is home to over 2,100 plants.
The Getty holds a special place in my heart because it was the place where Aashish and I both realized for the first time that we were in love. We went to the Getty Villa in Santa Monica for our one-year anniversary (as boyfriend/girlfriend) in commemoration.
Perhaps my favorite thing about the Getty is the architecture, designed by Richard Meier. The whole museum campus is constructed with white tavertine, a stone imported from Italy. The structure is very much focused on rectangualrity; even the circular structures are constrcuted out of rectangular pieces. The effect provides abundant framings of the landscape, turning nature itself into works of art. The Romantics would be proud.
One of the most eye-catching paintings in the Getty's collection is this Venetian scene by artist Luca Carlevarijs done in 1711. It is called A Regatta on the Grand Canal in Honor of Frederick IV, King of Denmark. During the 18th century, many young men of the upper class and nobles would embark on The Grand Tour, an expedition meant to educate and expose one to different cultures. This painting was comissioned by Frederick IV as a sort of souvenir and display of the fact that he was well-traveled. The details of this painting are incredible. The image is very reminicent of Shakespeare's description of Cleopatra's visit to Rome.
Giovanni di Paolo painted this exquisite panel depicting Mary and Jesus with gold leafing for the background. This piece is part of the "Shimmer of Gold" exhibit (only at the Getty until January 8, 2017!). The panel is absolutely stunning. The style very much reminds me of classic Tibetan paintings, which generally have the main subject sitting upon a lotus flower, surrounded by different deities and with the main god/teacher seated above the subject's head. In this panel, the lotus is replaced with a seat of angel wings that are painted in a way that resembles a lotus, Mary and Jesus are surrounded by angels, and the figure above their heads is speculated to be the Holy Ghost.
Hearst Castle is by far my favorite museum that I have ever been to. This trip was my seventh time touring the media-magnate's home! The architecture is very similar to that of Balboa Park, which was built for the 1916 Panama Exhibition. Hearst originally wanted Japanese-inspired structures until he saw what had been done in San Diego and told his architect, Julia Morgan, he wanted to change directions. I am so glad he did, because this Spanish Colonial/Mediterranean Revival style is my favorite.
The most amazing thing about Hearst Castle is that it is so packed with beautiful artifacts that everytime I go I see some new detail that blows me away. For example, this face is carved into the bedpost of a canopy bed that was custom made for Hearst himself (he was quite a tall man and needed his beds to be specially made to fit him!).
These Sekhmet scultpures date back to the New Kingdom of Egypt, which began between 1570–1544 BC. Just being in their presence feels incredible and instantly brings back the awe I felt when I was in Egypt seeing other ancient statues like these.
Of course, the most famous parts of Hearst Castle are the Roman (pictured above) and Neptune Pools. The Roman Pool is my favorite purely for its luxurious make; the blue stones are lapis lazuli and the gold is real gold! Fun fact: Lady Gaga filmed portions of her music video for G.U.Y. in these pools. In order to be able to do so she donated $250,000 for castle maintainance and repairs, as well as made a PSA on water conservation. Additionally, she added all of the people who had a hand in the making of the video into the credits for the film, even the castle's night security and janitorial team!
DE YOUNG FINE ARTS MUSEUM
The de Young Museum, while not my favorite of the museums I visted, had some wonderful pieces.
I'll tell you, Penelope here lives a pretty great life: forever surrounded by beautiful art in a museum in San Francisco. Penelope is the wife Odysseus, the king of Ithica, and daughter of Icarius (not to be confused with Icarus who flew too close to the sun) and his wife Periboea. The statue itself is gorgeous, but against the backdrop of paintinngs in gilded frames and the dramatic lighting, she truly shines.
This piece by El Anatsui claims a whole wall to itself, making it a must-see in the museum. Anastui uses recycled materials for his works, giving new life to the saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure." This particular piece is made from flattened soda cans woven together with copper wire.
I have always loved this glass bust by Nicolas Africano. This is about to get real artsy-fartsy, but stay with me. Looking at this bust from different angles, bits and pieces of the sculpture become more sheer or opaque, but there is no point at which one can see through the entirety of the bust. It reminds me of human nature and human character. Depending on the specific relationship you have with a person, parts of them become more visible, while other parts remain opaque. Other people, who have different relationships see that same person see them from a different angle, and the parts that are opaque to you may be translucent to them. But, in the end, no person can be fully seen or understood, not even by themselves. Everyone has parts of themselves that will forever remain opaque.
Well, that is all from my week of museums. Until next time!