Archive for the ‘Art & Culture’ Category

Alien Zoo in Century City

I was invited to experience Alien Zoo, a Virtual Reality pop up in the Century City Mall. It opens to the public Wednesday February 7 and runs until Friday March 2, from 12 noon until 8.40pm, every 40 minutes. You put on feet and hands sensors, a backpack and goggles, and the adventure starts. You fly on a pod immersed in fantastical landscapes populated by magical creatures: megaraffes, frogcats, megabats, a skyray, a giant mantis, and a scary monster, the Sicari. It’s fun and exciting, the ride lasts 12 minutes and children over 10 are welcome.
I won’t tell you more so as not to spoil the surprise, just go experience it yourselves. It’s worth the $20 ticket price. Call 424-603 2980 to book.

Click on the website of Dreamscape Immersive for more info.
Click here for schedule.

While in Century City you may try, for free, another Virtual Reality experience, a walk through the streets of Havana, at the CUBA IS exhibit of the Annenberg Space for Photography, open until March 4. Read my article in Cultural Weekly: Photographs of Cuba.

Unplug in West Hollywood

Unplug Meditation WEHO opening

Last night I was invited to the opening reception for the new West Hollywood location of Unplug Meditation, at 8500 Melrose Ave, in the newly renovated building at the corner with La Cienega. Beautiful and trendy people were in attendance; it was a cosmopolitan group, I heard French and Australian spoken. Founder Suze Yalof Schwartz introduced the teachers of various types of meditation. I was intrigued by one class described as Brain Massage. Other classes are called with the suggestive names of Aha Moment, Deep Calm, Discover, Imagine, Morning Intention, Soul Travel, etc.

Founder Suze Yalof Schwartz

I have been a frequent visitor to Unplug’s Santa Monica location at 12401 Wilshire near Centinela, ever since they opened in 2014. My favorite class is Sound Bath, where vibrations provided by a crystal didgeridoo and other ancient instruments wash over the meditators and guide them to higher states of consciousness.
Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, meditation is a useful tool to tune out the distracting noise of our busy lives, and focus on our inner self.

Studio managers T.R. Shepard, Deborah Brock

See list of available classes and workshops at this link.
New students may try 2-weeks of unlimited classes for $35.

Unplug Meditation. West Hollywood.

I recommend you also try DEN Meditation, on LaBrea at 3rd St.
They offer 21 days of unlimited Classes and 3 Workshops for $50
For more info read my article QiGong at DEN Meditation.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Enjoy South Robertson

Ivan Gallery. Art by Barbara Mendes

Sunday June 4, I walked 3 blocks from my home to South Robertson to experience the SORO Fest, a joyous community event in its 20th year, when this usually busy street between Cadillac and Cattaraugus is closed to traffic and SORO residents enjoy walking to the many restaurants and shops in our neighborhood.

I greeted my friends, at the booths for RVNA, SORONC, Hami Garden, and said hello to Barbara Mendes, who was teaching kids how to do chalk drawing on the sidewalk in from of Ivan Gallery.

Fred’s Bakery-Avi Kadmon.

I spoke with Avi, who bought Fred’s Bakery two years ago and recently completed a thorough remodel. This neighborhood favorite was opened in 1949 by Fred and Harriet; when Fred passed away in 1992, his children (Bob, Steve and Cecilia) ran it for 12 year, then sold it in 2005 when Cecilia (Cissy Klein) moved to Las Vegas.

Wonders Kids World. Julia, Natalie

I looked into the window of Wonders Kids World. They were closed today, but a couple of weeks ago I had met with Natalie, from Paris, France and Julia, from Yucatan, Mexico. They are devoted to teaching pre-school children French and Spanish in a fun way, through music and games.

Barbara Mendes painting Angel Wall. July 2012

You don’t have to wait another year to enjoy South Robertson, now dubbed the Great Emerald Blvd. These businesses are open most days of the week. Go have breakfast at Undergrind Cafe, lunch at Dolce Isola, dessert at Monaco Gelato, take home tasty Argentinian Empanadas or a heavenly green chile burrito from Campos. Check out the many programs the Relational Center has to offer. Enjoy art at the Ivan Gallery, decorated with the colorful and intricate murals painted by Barbara Mendes through the years. Explore all the places that she included in the map below.

For a list of our favorites click on the Robertson page of the RVNA website.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Romantic Bookstore

It was only a few days ago, while reading an article in Los Angeles Magazine about the 14 Best Mom and Pop bookstores in L.A., that I discovered The Ripped Bodice, A Romantic Bookstore, in downtown Culver City.  It opened March 4, 2016, after a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $90,000.  It’s the dream project of two sisters, Bea, 27, and Leah, 25, smart and accomplished young women. Leah graduated from USC in Visual and Performing Arts, Bea studied Fashion History at NYU, her master thesis was titled “Mending the Ripped Bodice.”

Bea, photo (c) Elisa Leonelli

Bea (c) Elisa Leonelli

I was so intrigued that I immediately contacted the sisters. Bea graciously received me and answered my questions. “Bodice Rippers” is a term used for erotic romance novels of the 1970s and 80s. Bea said they wanted to poke fun at that popular perception, and immediately communicate to their fans, “This store is for you.” “Sex is not something that we should be ashamed or embarrassed about, we all come from sex. It’s completely insane to me the way sex is discussed in this country, and all these issues that women are facing right now.  We’ve reverted into this dark age.”
Their store carries all sub-genres in the romance novels category, from paranormal to LGBTQ, and they host community events. “Thursday December 15, 8pm, is our monthly romantic comedy night, and this month we are collecting travel size toiletries to donate to women shelters in Los Angeles.”

The Ripped Bodice (c) Elisa Leonelli

The Ripped Bodice (c) Elisa Leonelli

The store is huge and bright, decorated like a comfortable home, with armchairs and couches for reading, books are piled up everywhere. Get over there, it’s well worth a visit.

The Ripped Bodice: 424-603 4776
3806 Main St. Culver City, CA 90232

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Culver City summer

Kirk Douglas Theatre (c) Elisa Leonelli

Kirk Douglas Theatre (c) Elisa Leonelli

Yesterday I checked out the Summertini event in Culver City. I discovered that the name means small tastings of martinis, vodka mixed with different fruit juices.  They were served in tiny (tini) plastic cups, not only at restaurants, but also at art galleries (The Whole 9) and a gift shop (Lundeen).  My favorite place turned out to be Grilliant, because they offered me a full size Winetini in a real glass.  The best location was the Kirk Douglas Theater lobby, where tea, not alcohol, was available and a platter of assorted cheeses and fruit.  I had seen an amusing play there in April, Women Laughing Alone with Salad, and I loved the atmosphere.  They had a backdrop set up where photographs of audience members were taken holding fake salad bowls in front of virtual scenery. Very cool. Take a look at their fall/winter season.
The Third Wednesday event for August 17 is called Tropical Staycation.  It’s the 5th annual Spiked Tropical Punch Tasting, so check it out.
Free summer concerts have been taking place for years in the courtyard at City Hall. Tonight July 21 it’s Latin Salsa dancing rhythms.  See program for the upcoming Thursdays: July 28, August 4 and 11.  Our favorite way to enjoy these evenings is to sit at Hikari across the street and listen to the music, while eating sushi and drinking sake.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Culver City Hall (c) Elisa Leonelli

Culver City Hall (c) Elisa Leonelli

Arcana-Helms Bakery

Aline Smithson

Last Saturday afternoon I attended an event at the Arcana bookstore in the Helms Bakery District. I was intrigued by the photographer, Aline Smithson, who was signing her new book, Self & Others: Portrait as Autobiography. My curiosity was rewarded, because Aline turned out to be an interesting woman, and her book is amazing.
“Beginning with her earliest black and white silver gelatin prints, she photographs the world around her considering the poignancy of childhood and the pathos of aging and relationships. The photographer considers all her portraits a reflection of herself and the stories she wants to tell, and in that way, has created a visual language that is her own unique autobiography.”

Helms Bakery, murals

Helms Bakery, murals

I then walked around and discovered something I had not noticed before, murals reproducing old photographs of the bread delivery trucks, on the wall by the valet parking. And that the furniture store Plummers is now called Scandinavian Designs.

Click on our previous post about the Helms Bakery and go there to explore yourselves, then please comment on your favorite places.

Text  and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Helms Bakery

The Helms Bakery District

The Helms Bakery District (Photo: © 2015 Joe Martinez- All Rights Reserved.)

Living so close to Culver city, it seems a shame not to take advantage of some of the areas that practically border our neighborhood. One area that I like to frequent, and is well within walking distance, is The Helm’s Bakery District just south of Venice Blvd.

Once upon a time, it was an actual bakery. The family owned and operated Helms Bakery supplied local residents with its fresh-baked bread for over four decades. Now it is a local landmark and home to a variety of restaurants and businesses. From Father’s Office Gastro Pub, with its 36 beers on tap, to LA Dijonaise Cafe’, with it’s offerings of fresh baguettes, croissants and desserts…there is something here for everyone.

After a bite to eat, I like to make my way over to Arcana Bookstore, one of the world’s premier visual arts bookstores. It is unique in that its primary focus is Photography, Art, Fashion, Design, Architecture, Cinema and Music. It’s been in business since 1984. Originally in Santa Monica, it moved here in 2012.

Or perhaps you need to freshen up your decor? You can head-on over to a number of establishments that cater to home decor furnishings like HD Buttercup or Room & Board.

In any case, it is a nice way to spend an afternoon browsing or shopping…and it’s “right next door.”

Oh and be sure to catch the 6th annual free Helms Sunset Cinema series returning to Helms Walk – the pedestrian plaza on Helms Avenue. The Outdoor film screenings kick-off on September 5 with the Disney animated film “The Princess and the Frog”

For more info, check out the Helms Bakery Website.

Helms Bakery District
8800 Venice Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90034 *

* In a strange zoning configuration, part of Helms Bakery District is in Los Angeles and part in Culver City

– Joseph Martinez