ArtRx LA: Summer Day Trips

Salvation Mountain is definitely colorful (via
Salvation Mountain is definitely colorful. (via

This week, we’re all about summer day (or weekend) getaways — that perfect short trip that will change your perspective, while exposing you to something new. Here are our suggestions.

 A Really Really Colorful Place

When: Year-round
Where: Salvation Mountain (Niland, Imperial County, CA)

If you’re desperate to get out of the city and don’t mind a drive, head towards Palm Springs: off of State Route 111, towards the east, lies Salvation Mountain. Created by Leonard Knight, the mountain is a brightly painted, 50-by-150-foot outdoor adobe clay sculpture. Fans of the film Into the Wild (2007) will remember that both the mountain and its creator were featured in the film adaptation of John Krakauer’s book. The mountain and its adjoining structures are visually stunning in contrast to the dry Colorado Desert. Paint is thickly layered on top of paint with symbols of nature and bible verses scattered across the mountain. Since its creation Knight expanded beyond the colorful mountain and created the museum, a structure replicating his original, somewhat deflated hot-air balloon structure. Whether you’re religious or not, the mountain is a testament to the creativity and devotion of Leonard Knight, who passed away earlier this year. —KG

Distance from LA City Hall: public transportation – none; car – approx. 3hr

 Palm Springs Moderne

When: Recline/Design: Art and the Aesthetics of Repose until September 10
Where: Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert (72-567 Highway 111, Palm Desert, California)

A view of Richard Neutra's Kaufmann Desert House in Palm Springs (via Wikipedia)
A view of Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann Desert House in Palm Springs (via Wikipedia)

Did you know that Palm Springs has the largest concentration of a style of mid-century modern architecture called Desert Modernism? Well-known architects including Richard Neutra, John Lautner, Donald Wexler, Albert Frey William, William F. Cody, and others developed the style to represent a lifestyle of simple elegance and informality. There are examples of Desert Modernism everywhere in Palm Springs, and thankfully there’s also a useful Android and iPhone app that will help you identify the important modernist landmarks.

While you’re there, check out the Palm Spring Art Museum, which is featuring a design show titled Recline/Design: Art and the Aesthetics of Repose.

Distance from LA City Hall to Palm Springs City Hall: public transportation – approx. 4hr; car – approx. 2hr 30min

One of Noah Pilfroy's outdoor installations (via
One of Noah Purifoy’s outdoor installations at the Joshua Tree Outdoor Museum (via

 Wacky Sculpture in the Open

When: Year-round
Where: Noah Purifoy’s Joshua Tree Outdoor Museum (63030 Blair lane, Joshua Tree, California)

Take a two-hour drive out to Joshua Tree, where an outdoor museum of assemblage sculpture by Noah Purifoy lies, standing out against the open Mojave desert. The artist, who died a decade ago, worked with junkyard-type material from corrugated metal to tires to bowling balls and even bicycles, so the haphazard arena of works seems even more contrary to the neat conventions of institutionalized art. And when you’re done walking among the many sculptures, head to Joshua Tree National Park, only a short distance away by car. —CV

Distance from LA City Hall: public transportation – approx. 9hr; car – approx. 2hr 30min

A view of the Japanese Garden at the Huntington (via
A view of the Japanese Garden at the Huntington (via

 The Huntington

When: Albrecht Dürer: Master of the Black Line until August 25
Where: The Huntington (1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, California)

Just northeast of downtown Los Angeles (and very close for LA standards) lies the Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens. Located in San Marino, California, which is pretty much Pasadena, the Huntington provides an immense amount of activities on their grounds, which you could easily get lost in for about a week. Known for their wide-ranging collection of 18th- and 19th-century British and French art, the institution has a lot to discover both inside the museum and among the 120-acre estate, which includes Chinese gardens, desert gardens, rose gardens, and Japanese gardens. A current exhibition you shouldn’t miss is Albrecht Dürer: Master of the Black Line. —KG

Distance from LA City Hall: public transportation – approx. 1hr 10min; car – approx. 20min

 Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard’s Love Affair

When: Until September 28 ($5)
Where: Catalina Island Museum (ground floor of the Casino building facing Avalon Bay, Catalina Island, California)

Chaplin and Goddard: A Secret Love Affairchaplingoddard-320 is a small exhibition that explores the life and loves of the great silent movie star Charlie Chaplin, in partiular his affair with actress Paulette Goddard. As the Catalina Island Museum director told the LA Times, “In 1932 he met Paulette Goddard, a young actress, on the yacht of a movie producer during a trip to Catalina Island and became intent on making her a star.” Sounds like a perfect plan for a small romantic day trip. You should know that their affair was considered scandalous during the period.

Distance from LA City Hall: public transportation + ferry – approx. 2hr 30min; car + ferry – approx. 1hr 45min

Donna J. Wan, "In the Fog (Haleakala National Park, Maui)" (via
Donna J. Wan, “In the Fog (Haleakala National Park, Maui)” (via

 Light & Space, Treasures of the Tamayo Museum, and After Ansel Adams in San Diego 

When: Treasures of the Tamayo Museum until August 31 ($10); After Ansel Adams until September 28 ($8)
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (700 Prospect Street, La Jolla); Museum of Photographic Arts (1649 El Prado, San Diego); Museum of Photographic Arts (1649 El Prado, San Diego)

Jonathan Borofsky, "Hammering Man at 3,110,527" (1988) (via
Jonathan Borofsky, “Hammering Man at 3,110,527” (1988) (via

San Diego may be 120 miles away from downtown Los Angeles, but it’s definitely worth a day trip (though a weekend might be a better idea, since there’s just so much to do). Be sure to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, where you’ll find an excellent collection of Light and Space movement art, including works by John McCracken, De Wain Valentine, and James Turrell. The museum, which has two locations (I suggest you start in La Jolla), is also showing Treasure of the Tamayo Museum from Mexico for the rest of the month.

The Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego’s Prado complex is also worth a stop — their current After Ansel Adams exhibition explores the influence of the master of landscape on contemporary photographers. Since you’re in the Prado, make sure to take advantage of all the other galleries and museums to see, including the Timken Museum of Art, which features El Lissitzky: Futurist Portfolios (until October 6), and the Museum of Man, which is hosting an exhibition titled Empowering Women: Artisan Cooperatives that Transform Communities (until August 17) and the nefarious-sounding Instruments of Torture show (until December 2015).

Distance from LA City Hall to Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla: public transportation – approx. 4hr; car – approx. 2hr 45min

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With contributions by Zach Alan, Kimberly Gordon, and Claire Voon

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