RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life

It pays to belong


LACMA Ode to Santos Dumont

Although I attend most of the special exhibits at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), usually with friends, sometimes I just like to hang out at the museum by myself with no particular agenda in mind.

Friday I was on my way there by bus when I decided to check the schedule of events on my smart phone. I saw there was a showing of the late Chris Burden’s Ode to Santos Dumont at 1:00pm. As the #217 was lumbering north on the always congested Fairfax Avenue I was annoyed at myself for not taking the earlier bus.

Once off the bus I figured I would try for it anyway. There was nobody in the Member’s line, I snatched my ticket and slid into the Resnick Pavilion with time to spare!

LACMA Ode to Santos Dumont

By now you are wondering, what is she talking about? This is from the LACMA website:

The highly balanced and refined mechanism—modeled after Santos-Dumont’s 1901 dirigible that flew around the Eiffel Tower—achieves indoor flight in 15-minute intervals throughout the day. An examination of weight and gravity, the work is powered by a quarter-scale version of a 1903 De Dion gasoline motor handcrafted by machinist and inventor John Biggs. Ode to Santos Dumont offers a palpable and emotional expression of the density of air, gravity, and energy required to move about in our earthly environment.

Sometimes I just can’t say it better myself!

I took a video of the performance but couldn’t figure out how to upload a .MOV file to WordPress without a URL. If you are really desperate to see it in motion, there is a video at http://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/chris-burden-ode-santos-dumont although I prefer mine! On that same page is a eulogy to Chris Burden (1946 – 2015).

LACMA-060515-011-C-800px LACMA-060515-024-C-800px LACMA-060515-026-C-800px LACMA Ode to Santos Dumont

Show over, I wandered into the 50 for 50 exhibit.

LACMA 50 for 50

Again, from the website: In just 50 years, LACMA has established itself as a world-class museum with one of the strongest encyclopedic collections in the world. The more than 120,000 objects that make up LACMA’s holdings are due to the generosity of donors. For the museum’s 50th anniversary, that spirit of generosity continues with this exhibition.
…the exhibition features gifts from more than 25 generous donors. Masterpieces on view include works by Claude Monet, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and Andy Warhol as well as art from Africa and decorative arts.

Metropolis II

It wouldn’t be a proper visit to LACMA without popping in to view Metropolis II, my favorite Chris Burden piece, if not my favorite exhibit in the entire museum. I am always mesmerized by this kinetic look at “traffic.” I took a video of this too which came out pretty well. Too bad you can’t see it!

I am always entranced, whether looking up close at the details or watching from above looking down. I was fortunate to arrive just as the cars started moving.

This is a look at the making of the exhibit. 

I have the teeniest tiniest attention span but I found it interesting. If you can make it through all five minutes it is worth it, especially the “ride” through the exhibit at the end… but don’t skip to the end!!

Page Museum

It was lunchtime. I bought an over-priced tuna sandwich (but not nearly as over-priced as the same item at the Getty!) and trotted on over to the La Brea Tar Pits (yes, I know, that is saying “the The Tar Tar Pits”). I sat for a while and people-watched. I always appreciate the opportunity to take time out on a weekday. Life is indeed good!

The above photo is the working Paleontology Laboratory in the Page Museum at the tar pits. As a member of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) I also have membership privileges at the Page. So I can hop in there for a few minutes whenever I’m at LACMA, which shares the Hancock Park campus with the Page. It’s fun to watch the paleontologists cleaning and sorting the fossils found at the pits. I’m not sure I would be comfortable working in a goldfish bowl.

Page Museum

Does your state have an official state fossil? California does! And I’m happy to say it is the Saber-toothed Cat.

Page Museum

Far from being cuddly, these kitties were the same size as a lion, but more heavily built. None of the fossils found at La Brea are more than 50,000 years old, so yes, people were around when these cats were roaming the area. If you’d like to see a cast of a recently excavated jaw of one of these guys click here.

Perhaps when the Page has finished their renovations I’ll devote a blog post to the museum.

As I had to return by way of LACMA to catch the bus, I stopped off to see the Raku exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion.


Another Chris Burden piece, Urban Light, graces the “new” entrance to the museum. There are a bazillion pictures of this artwork on the internet as it is every tourist’s favorite photo spot. But I still get a kick out of it.


As I passed by there were couples dancing out on the sidewalk next to the lights. Filming a commercial? Rehearsing for something? A big family enjoying themselves? Who knows? Chris Burden would most likely have appreciated the activity around his artwork!


These plants are growing next to the sidewalk.

And across the street, the spectacular new facade for the Petersen Automotive Museum is taking shape. Right now it is closed for renovations with an expected re-opening date of December 2015.

Petersen Automotive Museum

By now I was ready for the bus ride home to Culver City and glad I didn’t have to steer my way through rush-hour traffic.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


Author: RMW

I am an explorer and creative person. I've had many jobs, careers and interests... everything in life and the universe fascinates me. Born in Brighton, England, I've lived my entire adult life in Los Angeles, California. A few years ago I rediscovered photography which is a great excuse to get outside and look. I'm also in the process of re-writing some of my unpublished short stories and possibly a novel. .

13 thoughts on “It pays to belong

  1. I agree, I started membership with a few botanical gardens in Florida. It’s a lot cheaper, and they are safe places for meditation and taking pictures.


  2. Maria, I love museums… and botanical gardens… and it’s so nice to be able to visit whenever I feel like it!


  3. What a great outing, Rosyln! You do live an exciting life. I love that you take advantage of all the sites in your city. Love the people dancing!


  4. Splendid! I’ve been to LACMA only twice. Very nice showing of it, Roslyn. The Automotive Museum looks wicked cool too!!!
    About putting up a video… try uploading it through youtube, then just use that youtube link when you post… if that’s easier or possible.


    • Thanks Rommel, I love LACMA! I was trying to go direct with the video… there is some app but I can’t be bothered… but if I decide to do more videos I’ll check out the YouTube approach.


  5. That is so cool place!


  6. The Petersen Automotive smacks me upside the head, Ros. That’s one gorgeous new automotive museum. The whole day looks like a delight to me. 🙂


  7. Pingback: LACMA: blink before it’s gone | One Good Life in Los Angeles

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