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Downtown Field Trip

Earlier this month, we invited our readers to cut class and ditch work with your resident Ferris Buellers for our first official Sirens & Scoundrels Field Trip. We were beyond thrilled to have an awesome group of artists and innovators come together for a rogue weekday art, food & culture adventure to Downtown LA! Who knew Tuesdays could be so cool?

We started our adventure at the new Broad contemporary art museum on Grand. We first wrote about the Broad in our December article: HERE. Many readers wanted to check it out for themselves afterwards, but were surprised that tickets were booked out months in advance. So we decided we’d make it really easy: secure a bunch of tickets and invite people to just show up. This is the best way for you to do it with your friends, too. Tickets are free and you can reserve up to nine at a time, so we suggest that you just take the initiative for your gang and book the earliest date available online: HERE. The good news is so much advance notice gives everyone plenty of time to work out their schedules and make it happen.

HOT TIP: The first time we went, we got mid-day tickets. We don’t suggest doing that if you want to get into Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, a special installation that you have to sign up for once you enter the museum and you WILL want to see no matter what. So this time we booked 11:30am tickets (they open at 11am) and had no problems. As soon as your group is allowed entry to the museum, head directly to the Infinity Room sign-up kiosk located along the grey wall on the first floor between the gift shop and the gallery entrance. Enter your name, group size and phone number on the tablet screen. They will text you when your group entry time comes up.

The private 2000-piece contemporary art collection of Eli & Edythe Broad is displayed over two floors, generally grouped by artist, not by movement. Most of the heavy-hitters are represented, without much historical narrative. But there is no denying that it’s incredibly impressive for a personal collection—Warhol, Basquiat, Murakami and Lichtenstein are all given the star treatment.

Modern art can be very divisive, but that’s also the fun of it. Does it make you feel anything? Does it need to? Does it have to “mean” something? What does it mean to you? It’s all fuel for lively conversation and different perspectives. Especially in the Koons room. It might be the photo hotspot of the museum with its large pop art sculptures of balloon animals and Michael Jackson with Bubbles, but it’s also the best place for overhearing heated debates about what constitutes art. Standing back and looking at people as they look at the art and argue its meaning is just about as meta as it gets.

But it’s not all just fun and fluff at the Broad. Robert Longo’s Untitled (Ferguson Police, August 13, 2014) appears to be a giant black and white photograph of the police during the Ferguson riots, but in fact it’s charcoal on paper…and it never ceases to give us chills. A darkly haunting image that packs a visceral punch. Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Your body is a battleground, 1989) will have you questioning the relationship between media, politics, power and the individual. On the peaceful side, Rudolf Stingel’s oil on canvas mountainscape Untitled (2010) is deeply affecting in its simplicity when you sit in its looming greyscale beauty. Sit on the bench in front of the painting and take a Zen moment to commune with “nature”.

Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors is by far our favorite piece in the museum. The nine-screen video installation of individual musicians playing the same song together from remote rooms is indescribably moving. Indescribable because it just has to be experienced. But if you can imagine being physically wrapped up in a lullaby, that’s kinda what it feels like–dreamy, other-worldly and completely entrancing. With a runtime of over an hour, you can have as much or as little of the experience as you want. We like to keep checking in throughout our visit, to continue getting snippets as it progresses. Just try to walk away without humming “my feminine ways…” aloud to yourself for the rest of the day, no matter if you’re a siren or a scoundrel.

When you get the text for your group to come to the Infinity Room, line up single file along the wall behind the velvet rope. You will go in one at a time for one minute each. Cameras are allowed inside, but our suggestion is to take a photo at the top and then put your camera away. Moving around inside is fun and gives you lots of wow factor, but the biggest impact comes from standing or sitting perfectly still for as long as you can and gazing out in front of you. You’ll suddenly understand the meaning of the word “infinity” like never before.

After the museum, we gathered up our gang and hoofed it just around the corner to Grand Central Market. Head across the street from the museum down 2nd, take a right on Hill and you’re there—just a couple short blocks away. Downtown’s mecca of all things foodie, Grand Central Market has become the go-to place for some of the best food and beverage offerings in LA, with enough options to please every palate.

LA-based Golden Road Brewing’s new tasting bar opened the day we went. With 20 craft beers on tap, it got big thumbs up from our scoundrels. Ramen Hood 100% vegan ramen and pho also got rave reviews. Sirens Sarah & Kelsey hit up Madcapra for falafel salads that were out of this world—subtly spiced, light and delicious. They were also big fans of the sparkly fresh-pressed beet juice—refreshing and earthy, but not too sweet.

Siren Christina decided to dive into Eggslut—famous for all things egg-related, as well as their extremely long lines. But today was lucky and with no line in sight, the fantasy of the egg burger was made a blessed reality. Ooey and gooey in all the right places, with a PERFECT balance of savory, sweet and saucy…it’s clear why this burger constantly tops the “Best of LA” lists. HOT TIP: Our insiders informed us that if the lines are too long at Eggslut, head on over to DTLA Cheese + Kitchen for an egg sandwich believed to strongly rival their more famous neighbor.

In beverage land, G & B Coffee is a complete experience in itself. Grab a seat at the bar for some of the best people-watching in Downtown while you wait for the barista to create your drink with the focus and care of a true artist. The turmeric latte with homemade almond & macadamia nut milk is off the hook. Seriously. Just try it.

We finished up our day the way all great field trips should end: with a visit to our favorite ice cream truck. The pastel yellow Van Leeuwen Ice Cream truck is parked outside the Broad most weekdays. The homemade ice cream is created from just a few simple ingredients: fresh milk and cream, cane sugar & egg yolks. The vegan ice cream is made from housemade cashew milk, organic coconut milk, organic extra virgin coconut oil, organic cane sugar, pure cocoa butter & organic carob bean. We never met an ice cream here (regular or vegan) that we didn’t love, though Salted Caramel, Earl Grey & Candied Ginger seem to be the biggest crowd pleasers. And you’ve never had vegan ice cream if you haven’t tried THIS vegan ice cream. It’s the vegan ice cream to top all others—so decadently rich and creamy your mind will argue with you that they must have slipped you the wrong scoops on accident, there’s no WAY this can be vegan. Well, lucky you…it is. The Vegan Cookie Dough and Vegan Mint Chip ice creams are enough to start a new addiction. But addictions can’t be bad when they include natural ingredients, right?

Be sure to subscribe to Sirens & Scoundrels for more Local Adventures delivered straight to you! Enter your email address on our home page & hit “SUBSCRIBE”! 

Find exact locations and hours to create your own Downtown LA Field Trip. The Broad: www.thebroad.org. Grand Central: www.grandcentralmarket.comVan Leeuwen Ice Cream: www.vanleeuwenicecream.com.


Words by Christina Huntington // Photography & “The Visitors” Video by Sarah Prikryl  // “The Infinity Room” Video & Contributing Photos by Josh Yeo

© 2016 Sirens and Scoundrels

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