Last summer I spent a beautiful couple of hours photographing the Musée Rodin. The rose garden was in bloom and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. I arrived at mid-day when the sun was at its height, so the lighting wasn’t ideal – or so I thought. I spent most of my time in the garden taking endless photos of the roses, trying to get the perfect angles, and even though direct sunlight can be difficult to work with, it can yield amazing results if you work a little harder.
Just like most humans, I enjoy coffee, and just like tons of people my age, I LOVE coffee shops. A coffee shop is almost like a second home; a place where you go to spend hours studying or catching up with friends. We all have our favorite haunts, and for me, that was Sagebrush Café. It was the first coffee shop I ever visited before finding other favorites in other cities. Sagebrush is my coffee home.
I always had it in the back of my mind that I would love to show my photographs at Sagebrush – they’ve been featuring the work of local artists on their walls pretty much since they opened 7 years ago, and I’ve been interested in photography since high school. They’re part of a new culture that has arisen in the Antelope Valley, a refreshing and uplifting change that was much-needed in this sprawling desert suburb. Within the last few years, an art museum and community of local creatives has sprung up. The Antelope Valley is the kind of place that every high school kid wants to escape, to run away from the moment graduation is over. I was one of those kids, but I find myself drawn back not only because of my family who still live there, but also because of establishments like Sagebrush Café.
When they approached me, asking if I’d like to show some of my travel photographs, I immediately said yes.
I have a kind of love-hate relationship with the Louvre. I love that it houses some of the greatest works of art and most precious bits of history in the world, but I hate how damn huge it is. On one hand, I love the idea of getting lost in a labyrinth of culture, but on the other, my feet and brain start to become fatigued after hours of slow-walking and observing. Appreciating art is hard work!
Despite having visited the Louvre more than 10 times, I realized I know very little about it. I had a vague idea that the Louvre started out as a much smaller military fortress, and that the Mona Lisa is WAY smaller than you’d expect, but honestly – that’s not much. Anybody could know those trivia facts with a quick peek inside the informational booklet.
Last Wednesday night, I was feeling pretty crummy about everything, asking myself existential questions like, “why am I here, what’s the point of going into Paris, I’m running out of money, what is life, who am I???” So I decided, instead of wallowing in these thoughts, I should defy them and go see something I’ve never seen before in Paris.
I chose Musée Jacquemart-André, a relatively small museum of decorative arts in the fancy 8th arrondissement. One downside to no longer being a student, is that I no longer receive free admission to certain museums around Paris. I naively attempted to use my old Parisian student ID, but embarrassingly, the ticket woman checked the date on the back and I ended up paying the full price. oops! :p
My Grandmother was in Paris a few weekends ago, and I was able to show her around Paris. We went to the Louvre, but we were all extremely exhausted from all the traveling and early mornings, so we didn’t spend a ton of time there.
We did see the brand new Islamic arts collection though! And it was really beautiful! Some things were a little boring (some of the pottery and shards of tile), but there were also some gorgeous and unique treasures like intricately carved jewelry boxes, ancient suits of armor, ornate and jeweled teapots (or “genie” lamps… I don’t know the proper names of things), and mosaics that used the most gorgeous shades of blue. There were also many rugs, architectural fragments, and carved wood doors. I think the most fascinating thing about Islamic art is all the surface decoration and patterning.
When my Mom was in Paris, we took an hour to check out the Gustave Moreau museum. Most people, even people who have some knowledge of art history, aren’t super familiar with this artist, but I gotta say, he’s extremely interesting!
He’s considered a Symbolist painter, so many of his tableaux are a fantastical melange of biblical, mythological, medieval, and otherwise imagined references. Some of his work is more textured, expressive, and colorful, like the later work of Delacroix, while his more famous works are expertly drawn, highly ornate, and almost scintillate with detail. His mix of symbolism with extreme attention to detail bring to mind, at least in my own head, apocalyptic yet ancient, and cult-like, ritualistic themes. I picture his images taking place in an imaginary time that is futuristic, yet extremely ancient at the same time, and it’s pretty easy to become lost in them.