Broadie directing traffic @Kusama, 10:36am

A Broadie (Broad Museum, Visitor Services Associate (VSA)) directing traffic at the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors exhibition at The Broad Museum in the Grand Avenue Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles
A Broadie (Broad Museum, Visitor Services Associate (VSA)) directing traffic at the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors exhibition at The Broad Museum in the Grand Avenue Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles

I think it would be cool to be a Broadie (Broad Museum, Visitor Services Associate ). Hang out with the art. Talk about the work with visitors. And sure, tell peeps not to get too close sometimes.

I was talking with a Marcianomonsta (Marciano Art Foundation, Visitor Services Associate (VSA)) who told me that being a Broadie was just too much and that she liked her new job as a Marcianomonsta much better. Still, I kind of thought I’d enjoy the too much of The Broad and it’s Spectacle of Instagram.

But for all the Broadies working the Kusama Infinity Mirrors show today, it seemed different. Whether or not you were the Broadie with the stopwatch, gently kicking peeps out of the room after 30 seconds, or at any of the other stations, it was just so much crowd control. It looked like a lot of work. A lot of being on for an endless stream of public. Dare I say, an Infinite Public.

The Door to The Infinite, 10:33am

A visitor services associate holds a door open for people leaving one of Yayoi Kusama's infinity rooms
A Broadie (Broad Museum, Visitor Services Associate) stopwatch in hand, informs visitors to Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibition that their 30 seconds of out-of-body experience are now over

The Lascaux Cave, The Rolling Stones, and Kusama Infinity Rooms don’t scale

What does scale? Kim Kardashian. The iPhone. Anybody, or at least anybody with US$700, can have an iPhone. And with that iPhone, you can join the 105 million other people who follow Kim Kardashian on Instagram.

But the Caves at Lascaux do not. After 20 years of human breath, the 16,000-year-old art started to disintegrate. Today it’s hard to even get into the Disneyland of Prehistory, Lascaux II.

If you like stadium spectacles, then you can enjoy The Rolling Stones and every mega-band since them. But if you like sitting in a small club and being close enough to actually see the singer’s lips move, then that experience hasn’t been available for a long time.

The Broad Museum here in Los Angeles, and the organizing  Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., are doing a commendable job of realizing an impossible task. To provide individual humans with a singular experience on an impossibly large scale.

The Mayan Ball Court and The Rothko Chapel

Why did Mark Rothko want a “chapel” to install his art in? I think because the sublime cannot be experienced in 30 seconds.

I sat at the Mayan Ball Court at Chichen Itza, Mexico for 3 hours. I looked. I sat. I loitered. I meandered. Perhaps I was a psychic flâneur, in that my experience was not about the few humans contemporaneously there with me, but about wondering, and imagining, about the events at this place so long ago.

I didn’t really need photos from Chichen Itza because, after 180 minutes, I had experienced a meaningful part of this place. At Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors you get 30 seconds in each of 6 rooms. A total of 180 seconds of experience. The work is powerful. It is as sublime as one can experience in 30 seconds.

The wall text states:

Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away is an immersive environment that fosters an out-of-body experience… this installation creates a harmonious and quiet place for visitors to contemplate their existence, reflect on the passage of time, and think about their relationship to the outer world.

Really?

It sounds like the wall text is describing The Rothko Chapel to me. Not art-as-entertainment-as-thrill-ride.

I’m not really complaining. It is beautiful work. It is sublime. I felt lucky to experience it. Even for 30 seconds. Like the Mayan Ball Court or the Rothko Chapel, I could have stood there for 3 hours. But this is retail experience. Pay. See. Move on. I don’t know a better way to show or experience this work. It is a presentation at scale, of work that does not scale.

Hollywood Blvd: What is Art? 8:31pm

Kristina, sitting on the curb on Hollywood Blvd between Vine & Highland. She drinks a bottle of water, smokes a cigarette, and looks out, smiling and thinking
I forgot their names. But let’s call the blonde Kristina. She’s 23. From New York. Living now in Long Beach. Which she describes as OK, but a little dull. That’s why they’ve spent all day in Hollywood, schlepping their way from Barnsdall Park, to their current spot on Hollywood Blvd, between Vine & Highland, and heading West.
Rachel smiling through pursed lips and making peace signs with both hands. She's dressed in all black and stands against night on the street.
This is Kris’ sister, Rachel. Also from NYC. Also living in the LBC. Kris was super-engaged, engaging, and talkative. Rachel was somewhere else. She wandered a few feet away from us and didn’t seem to listen or say much. But, as you can see, she was happy to pose for the camera.

Hollywood Blvd.

I’d eaten at Veggie Grill on Sunset & Vine, walked up  Cahuenga back to Hollywood Blvd, and was now heading West toward the Trump Star at Hollywood & Highland when Kris said “Hi! Those are great glasses!”

A conversation effortlessly ensued. Kris was either a little high or else just bubbly and engaging. The topic turned to What is Art?

Kris said the question confused her. A lot. But in fact, her insights were exceptional. I won’t try to recreate the conversation for fear that I’ll either make her seem more informed than she really was, or less intuitive than she really was. My sense was that she had no formal training. She didn’t use any art words or mention any artists, other than Bob Ross. But she definitely had an intuitive and clear idea of art in the 21st century. Even if how clear she was, wasn’t clear to her. Having taught “Art Appreciation” to 4,842 students in the past 12 years at Long Beach State, I can tell you that understanding the domain of art to be far beyond Renaissance & Impressionist Painting, is not a trivial thing. 

Kris sitting on the curb on Hollywood Blvd and making a funny, sort of scrunched-up-face as she talks and describes art ideas.
Kris asked me to wait for them as they went into a Hollywood Blvd pizza place and got sodas. She asked if I wanted one, but I’d just eaten at Veggie Grill. She waxed about all the amazing aromas in the pizza shop. Drinks in hand, she sat on the curb on Hollywood Blvd to have a cigarette. Kris had one, Rachel had one, and when some guy came by to bum a smoke and a light, they gave him one too. She offered me one, but I said no thanks.
Rachel with her arm around a street sign and smilling
After her cigarette, Rachel asked me if I smoked pot. I said no. She asked if the smoke would bother me. I said no.

Trump Star

Kris asked what I was doing and I told her about the Trump Star project. She asked if I was on Instagram or Snapchat and I told her I was glenn_irs on both. She looked at the Trump Star pix on IG and seemed to like them. More conversation on the nature of art followed. Kris wanted to know if “sitting here and kicking off my shoes” could be art?

She said “let’s walk to Hollywood & Highland” and so we continued West on Hollywood Blvd toward the place I’d been heading in the first place.

I can’t hang with people who aren’t honest

Just before we came to Hollywood Toys & Costumes, and Outfitter Wigs, Kris pulled on my hair and asked,

Kris

Is this a wig?

Glenn

No. You think my hair is a wig!? 

Kris

Oh, so you dye your hair, like me?

Glenn

No, this is my natural color.

Kris

Really!?

Glenn

No, I’m just kidding.

Kris

Are you gay?

Glenn

No.

Kris

How old are you?

Glenn

Sixty-two.

Kris

No, you’re not!

This is when Kris told me that she was 23, and Rachel said that she was 21, and Kris said that I was definitely not 62. Kris asked me 3 or 4 times how old I was and I continued to tell her that I was 62. She said that she couldn’t hang out with someone who wasn’t honest with her. I said, why would I lie about being 62?

Kris

I need a minute.

Can you give me a minute?

Glenn

Sure.

Kris and Rachel step aside and huddle for a minute.

Kris

Glenn, we’re gonna go.

Glenn

OK. Keep up the good work.

With that, I turned West and continued down Hollywood Blvd. They turned East and walked the other way. Our conversation ended as abruptly as it had begun.

Kris sitting on the curb on Hollywood Blvd.
Could just sitting here and kicking off my shoes be Art?

Unfriendly Union Station, 9:16pm

A guy laying down on the bricks in the Union Station courtyard. Parked next to him is a 10-speed bicycle.
No idea what, exactly, this guy’s doing. But he does illustrate the point that Union Station is an unfriendly place that’s extremely stingy with seating.

Union Station is mostly wide spaces with no seats. What seats there are are restricted to special travelers, or customers of fancy restaurants and shoe-shine services. The large courtyards are almost void of seats, except, again, for the paid dining seats.

Union Station is the hub for Train, Bus, and Metro Rail transportation in Los Angeles. Just don’t expect to find a seat there.

Proof that we need more women architects, 2:47pm

Bathrooms at Union Station in Los Angeles, California. One man walks into an empty men's room as a long line of women wait outside the women's room
If architecture were dominated by women, or even if half the architects were women, do you think we’d see this familiar scene of no line at the men’s room and long, snaking line at the women’s room? This line is proof that we need more women architects. (and, unfriendly, not-so-hospitable Union Station could use more, and more clean and decent, restrooms overall)

And, more generally, diverse teams come up with better, more inclusive solutions than project teams from monocultures.