st-ART me up, Hollywood Style 

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Only in Hollywood, California. Last weekend the eternally cool and fabulously historic Highland Gardens Hotel hosted the second annual stARTup Art Fair, featuring  over 50 evocative and inspirational artists. These creators of art were paired up, and together they transformed hotel rooms overlooking the whimsical old-school courtyard into mini art galleries featuring their works. Fantastico! 


Impressively stiff cocktails, fine wine and tasty bites to nosh on were available as well. What an absolutely innovative, hip and cool way to see art, and to meet and converse with the artists themselves. Enveloped in the fusion of lush flora and fauna and the good energy and positive vibrations of art, the people who create it and those who admire it. Delicious combination. 

The chicken tacos and fruity vodka cocktail got me nice and juiced up and ready to explore the art show. 

Met Jesse Standlea and his Centerpiece. Some of these creations are only as heavy as the paper they are made from. His work is shown at the Torrance Art Museuk and he was really enjoying the weekend and meeting people who stopped by his gallery. Off to a great start! 

Some rooms I slowly wandered through and others drew me in for quite some time. The beauty of it all; there was no time limit. I was free to peruse when, how and where I wanted.  

It felt like I had entered another world, an art maze of sorts. In and out of different “galleries” (hotel rooms), gazing and studying all the different pieces, while others did the same. 

I loved observing how some artists used the hotel room furniture as props or easels of sorts, while others hid all the furniture away in closets or behind curtains. 

And then, I happened upon this incredibly friendly and talented guy and his work. Richard Gayler, a Los Angeles Westside elementary school teacher, who spends anywhere from 17 to 200 hours creating these pieces by utilizing individual dots. Yes, that’s right. Individual dots. That takes some seriously intense channeling of energy and focus, I’d say. Playful yet so detailed. Loved it! 

Look at these two characters. Magnificent! 

A little further along in my travels I met up with Randi Matushevitz. What a hoot! She has endless stories and energy and it shows in her art. She has lived in Vegas, Miami and LA multiple times and through those experiences she has reinvented herself and her art. She is very proud of the direction her new work is taking, and we can see why. 

Another one of my favorite stops of the evening. I had the pleasure of spending a good chunk of time philosophizing with LA artist (by way of NYC) Wayne Chang. Sharing perspectives on the love/hate relationship with the concept of Disney and really, all things LA in general. Truly enjoyable running into someone who “gets” it. So profoundly talented, smart and admirably skilled at conveying his feelings both through art and words. 

Last of all, I rounded out my night with a simple and lovely chat with Carlos Grasso. Listened to his tales of life in Ojai and even learned about the woman who had a very recent heart transplant and how deeply touched she was by Grasso’s heart piece (below). Such an open and kind soul in addition to being gifted with such talent. 

What I love most about art is connecting with the people who are able to give visual form and life to their thoughts, passions, and emotions. I loved every minute of this event and wish I had gone all three days! Thanks to all who participated and helped to make this happen, and thank you once again to my all-time most favorite, the Highland Gardens Hotel, for hosting this sensational event! I have loved staying at this hotel on my countless previous visits to LA, but this rare experience will forever be etched in my memory. 

   

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Viper Room: You Can Never Truly Go Back 

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Back in the Stone(r) Age, I used to frequent The Viper Room circa 1993-1994, A LOT. It was so vibrant, so hot, so happening and always exciting. Wondering when or if we would see Johnny Depp step out from behind his mirrored booth. Anticipating which celebrity or rocker we might see that night. Those were the days! I hadn’t been back for many years, but my brother was in town and we were intrigued by the idea of an STP cover band so we decided to spend a Saturday night on The Strip. The show was advertised to start at 11pm, so of course I figured “we better get there early!”. First red flag should have been the fact that I was able to nab a primo parking spot right out front on Sunset Blvd at 10:30pm on a Saturday night. Huh?!?!? Upon approaching the door, we were told by the fairly friendly door guys that it would be more like 11:45 start time and to head back around then. Okay, not a big deal. Cruised down to the Rainbow to kill time and people watch. Thank GOD The Rainbow is still alive and kicking. It’s one of the only remaining pieces of rock history still intact on The Strip. God, I LOVE The Rainbow.
Went back over to the Viper Room, and they charged us $5 more per person (not cool) than they just told us an hour ago? Went upstairs to a shockingly sparse crowd. Which then made sense why they were pushing back the start time, as they were obviously hoping more people would show up. The band themselves were good (Core) but the lead singer was a complete cheesy mess. NOT a good singer AT ALL. I was personally embarrassed for him at times. Yikes. It was fun mainly we knew all the songs and Scott Weiland’s current bassist (Tommy Black) just happens to be a bartender there and came up on the stage to play a few songs, which was cool.
I was thinking back 20 years and how this band NEVER would have been allowed to play here. EVER. That was back when the Black Crowes would show up for a random impromptu show and Fishbone would take the stage after hours on a late Thursday night just for fun. I mean it was a COOL COOL place. Sad to say, The Viper Room is only a faded remnant of what it once was. But then again, I feel that way about most of “old” Hollywood these days. Bittersweet memories but not much to revisit. Thank God I was around when The Strip was still a world renowned force to be reckoned with. Ahhhh the glory days of my youth.

Egyptian Theatre: A Hollywood Golden Era Great

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Transport yourself back to 1922, Hollywood California. Hollywood is in its hey day and King Tut’s tomb has just been discovered in Egypt. Egyptian fever has hit the world. With a seating capacity of 2,071 seats and a special appendage to the stage for opening prologues and performances, “Robin Hood” is shown at Hollywood’s first-ever movie premiere at the Grand Opening of the Egyptian Theatre on October 18, 1922, with an admission price of $0.75. This theatre was Sid Grauman’s $800,000 brainchild and he oversaw every last glorious detail. Only to birth the world famous Chinese Theatre across the street five years later in 1927. These were the good old days of Hollywood, to be sure.

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As Hollywood declined in later decades, and the economy bottomed out in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, this once lavish movie palace fell into such disrepair that it was closed and sold to American Cinematique for $1 with the provision that this historic landmark be restored to its original splendor. After 2 years and a nearly $13 million renovation, the Egyptian Theatre arose from the ashes just like a Phoenix, in December 1998. Fast forward to October 5, 2014 and here I am at the (original) Cleopatra screening and special event. What a treat! What a beauty!
The restoration did come with a few structural changes, but you can still feel the energy of its exquisite past. A fantastic display of historical artifacts in the lobby. I could only imagine the celebrity-filled gala premieres that took place here back in the day.
I got to watch this legendary 1934 film
as well as attend a Q&A session afterwards with a Hollywood film historian. Too cool!
For those of you who missed this festive event, the American Cinematique hosts tours of this theatre once a month for a very reasonable price. Embrace American film history and go see this place.
Hooray for Hollywood!

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Barry Manilow, Greek Theatre, June 16, 2013

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A night of sing alongs with the one and only Barry Manilow at Hollywood's Greek Theatre.

A night of sing alongs with the one and only Barry Manilow at Hollywood’s Greek Theatre.

No matter how old or young you are, everyone knows Barry Manilow. And there isn’t any better way to reminisce through his songbook of heartfelt ballads than to sing along with 6,000 other people who feel the same way you do. “Somewhere in the Night,” “Looks Like We Made It,” “I Can’t Smile Without You,” “Copacabana,” “Mandy” and on and on and on. What made this night even more special was that Barry was celebrating his 70th Birthday. 70! He sounds incredible and still has the energy of a 30 year old on stage. So gracious, good natured and chatty with his audience, the show was sensational! He is a true performer in every sense of the word. I’m not sure if it was the wine or Barry, but I left the concert feeling very warm and happy inside. A pure feel-good show. Loved it!

Sergio Mendes and Herb Alpert, Hollywood Bowl, July 17, 2013

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Fabulous night of jazz at the Bowl. Herb Alpert blew me away.

Fabulous night of jazz at the Bowl. Herb Alpert blew me away.

What could be better than a warm summer night at the Hollywood Bowl, listening to Jazz great and trumpet master Herb Alpert followed by Brazilian legend Sergio Mendes. It was a sheer eargasmic experience. I have enjoyed listening to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band since I was a very little girl riding around in the car with my Dad whistling along to playful hits such as “Whipped Cream”, “Taste of Honey”, “Zorba the Greek”, “Tijuana Taxi”, “Spanish Flea”, and one of my all time favorite love songs ever “This Guy’s in Love with You”. Herb Alpert had been on my Must See list for a very very long time and I finally got to treat myself to his mind blowing talent. He and wife Lani Hall are a musical match made in heaven. Their version of “Puttin’ on the Ritz” was too cool for school. Made me want to run out and take modern dance lessons. His entire set was pure gold.

To top off an already perfect evening, Sergio Mendes took the stage and the magic continued as the sensual Bossa nova sounds enveloped the crowd. “The Look of Love” and “Mas Que Nada” wowed the crowd as Lani Hall stepped in and reclaimed her role as lead vocalist for the band as she sang “The Fool on the Hill” and other hits. Such a world class talented performer.

Definitely an A+ night at the Bowl. Just remember, it gets chilly at the Bowl, regardless of how warm it is during the day, traffic is a guaranteed nightmare and your parking options are basically either stacked parking lots or Park n’ Ride busses. Once you come to terms with the slightly messy logistics, you can relax and enjoy the splendor of the Hollywood Bowl.