A Day at LACMA

Written by
Raemar Pink White by James Turrell

“This world that we have around us is not a world that we receive but more a world we create and make.” – James Turrell

Editor’s Note: KCRW Music Publicity Director Rachel Reynolds spent an entire day at LACMA. Here is her story:

One of the reasons I love LA the most is that you can take all kinds of “staycations,” including one dedicated entirely to art. There’s just so much in this city it’s overwhelming, but it’s also why I didn’t get to see the James Turrell Retrospective until weeks before it closed.

I tried around the holidays, but my usual trick of buying a membership on site to skip the line and see the latest exhibition didn’t work this time around because a very limited number of people were allowed inside at any given time. (Feel free to steal that trick, it usually works and supporting arts organizations is good for everyone!)

LACMA is so huge now you can pretty much spend an entire day there.


I walked in from the West side so I could walk under the much-talked about giant rock aka Levitated Mass. The earthquake the other morning gave this a new meaning to me and I thought about it as I stood underneath this mammoth piece of granite.

I got my morning coffee from C&M in front of the art exhibition I lovingly call the “yellow spaghetti strings” (officially called Penetrable” by Jesus Rafael Soto) and headed to be part of the first group into the Turrell exhibit. I highly recommend a weekday morning for seeing ANY exhibit. I actually got to stand in some of the rooms entirely by myself and really take in the wonder of Turrell’s work with light. Since the 1960’s, the LA artist has been manipulating light, the way other artists use paint or clay, to influence perception.

It’s hard to describe, but he uses light and color is ways that are beautiful, disorienting, and prompt a lot of emotion. I even gasped when I walked in some of the rooms.

It is very powerful work.

DVF by Warhol (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

I also highly recommend checking out the Diane von Furstenberg: Journey of a Dress — a celebration of the 40-year anniversary of her wrap dress. It’s a fantastically curated collection, not only of her dresses but of the designer herself and the artists who considered her a muse, including Andy Warhol.

Aaron Axelrod studio (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Keeping in the art theme, I left LACMA for lunch with my favorite up and coming LA artist Aaron Axelrod.

His Melting Rainbows project was featured in a national commercial and he is hard at work on a new project. He has plans for these boxes!

Aaron Axelrod studio
Aaron Axelrod studio (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

I returned in time for a quick drink at Stark Bar only to find that my food writer friend Lesley Balla, who regularly appears on KCRW’s Good Food, has a drink named after her on the menu!

After a snack, I headed over the Bing Theater for a live read of “Groundhog Day”. KCRW’s own Elvis Mitchell is the curator for Film Independent at LACMA, which includes this program.

He introduced Director Jason Reitman who made a sweet tribute to Harold Ramis before bringing out the cast – Jason Bateman as Bill Murray’s Phil as well as Stephen Toblowsky, the actor that originally played Ned (Ned Ryerson!!) in the film. He got the most laughs, but Jason was spot on. It was a blast.

(Kudos to Mae Whitman for perfecting the “morning zoo” radio host voice —  “okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooold out there today.”)

All in all an excellent way to spend a beautiful SoCal day!

Hot tip: KCRW members get a discount on admission to LACMA with their Fringe Benefits card!


Side note: Turrell hasn’t even finished his magnum opus, Roden Crater, which he has been working on for more than THREE decades in northern Arizona.