Monday, January 30, 2012

Long Beach via Greystone

I had another one of those days where I began by intending to do one thing and ended up doing something else.  This time, I had it in mind to spend some time at the Greystone Mansion estate, a city park in Beverly Hills.  A former residence of the Doheny family, the city of Beverly Hills purchased the property in 1965, and it eventually became a city park.  Like the Getty Villa adventure, I thought it would be nice to wander around the grounds of another posh estate, especially since it's free.  I also wanted to be outdoors where I could take advantage of this ideal climate we've been having.
However, when I arrived at Greystone Mansion, I found the mansion covered in scaffolding and much of the grounds cordoned off due to some event or possibly filming going on.  (I read that the property is super popular as a movie/tv set.) 
There's scaffolding on the lower part of the mansion.
I had high hopes for Greystone, plus I had driven far to visit it, so I was pretty disappointed that I couldn't see most of the estate, especially since what little I saw was lovely.
Greystone Mansion
Greystone Mansion
Needless to say, I didn't stay at the park for long.  I soon left and headed towards the Golden Triangle--the swanky section of Beverly Hills which has Rodeo Drive at its center--to hunt down some lunch.  However, I grew more and more annoyed as I was stuck in traffic around Little Santa Monica Blvd.  Then the thought of finding parking and hunting for a worthy eatery likewise annoyed me.  All this vexation led me to abruptly change my mind and to decide to drive over to the Long Beach Museum of Art.
In fact, the Long Beach Museum of Art had been a contender for this week's excursion but had lost out over the fact that I hadn't wanted to do another indoor activity after the Museum of the Holocaust visit last week.  However, since Greystone Mansion was a bust, I settled on the sole runner-up, especially since its onsite restaurant, Claire's Cafe, had a reputation for tasty cuisine in a beautiful setting. 
view of ocean from Claire's Cafe patio
Forty-five minutes later, I was sitting at a table on the patio of Claire's Cafe, indulging in a glass of pinot grigio and marveling at the gorgeous view of the beach.  The weather was perfect--sunny but not hot at all.  I was so pleased that I decided to have lunch by the beach instead of in Beverly Hills.
After a leisurely meal, I walked over to the adjacent building where the museum proper is housed.  Their current exhibition is Exchange and Evolution: Worldwide Video Long Beach 1974-1999, "a retrospective selection of the significant international video works and artists who were part of the historic video art program at the Long Beach Museum of Art."
Exchange and Evolution video exhibition
The exhibition was interesting.  I didn't understand a lot of what I saw, but some pieces were viscerally evocative.  My favorite video was called Kiyoko's Dilemma, a short film about a Japanese woman's struggle to balance her artistic drive with familial obligations.
I have no idea what this installation is about.
Long Beach Museum of Art is not large so the exhibition was likewise not particularly extensive.  Other than the short film, I didn't linger much at each video installation so my time at the museum was relatively short.  I should mention that besides the video exhibition, the museum has a children's art section downstairs which the docents didn't mention but which I discovered en route to the restroom.
artwork from Mary McLeod Bethune Transitional Center for Homeless Students
From the museum, I walked towards the beach.  I didn't make it down to the beach itself but was content to sit on the embankment and people-watch.  I can't describe how nice it was just relaxing there, gazing at the water and at the people milling about enjoying the spring-like temperature.  I probably sat there for a solid forty-five minutes to an hour.  It was great.
view from my perch
a lovely day
Overall, I had a very good day.  It didn't start off well, but I am ultimately glad that Greystone Mansion didn't work out because Long Beach turned out to be a stellar alternative.  I couldn't ask for better weather, and I enjoyed chillaxing by the beach and just watching the lively goings-on of people (and of dogs) who were likewise reveling in the great SoCal climate.

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