along colorado blvd.

20 Jul


Not wanting to be outdone by my mom and my recent trip to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, my Dad and I spent his first day of (much needed) vacation in Pasadena. While we’ve gone many times in the past (and usually make a stop at the frozen yogurt mecca 21 Choices), this time we ventured to the Norton Simon Museum to check out the various art exhibits. We scoped out the exhibits online before committing – and it looked like they had a wide range of art: from Peter Paul Rubens and Francisco de Goya to Degas, Picasso, Van Gogh, Klee,…the list goes on and on.

The museum is located at 411 West Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena – and for a $10 entrance fee total (I got in free with a student ID!) we spent over an hour looking at everything. While I honed in on the Van Goghs and Picassos (my favs), I also added a few new favorite pieces to my list of favorites. Here are some things that stuck out to me…

Head of a Peasant Woman in a White Bonnet, Van Gogh 1885

From the Norton Simon website: “he used working-class laborers for his subject matter because he thought their lives—simple and honest—would “teach something” to the urban bourgeoisie. The color, which is limited to black-infused red, blue, yellow and white, emphasizes the dirtiness of the figure, while the thick impasto reinforces the coarseness of her features. Together with the palette, these elements directly connect her to the earth off which she lived.”

Portrait of a Peasant (Patience Escalier), Van Gogh August 1888

From the Norton Simon website: “Van Gogh believed that this portrait was one of a small group that marked his break from the principles of Impressionism. Instead of using color to achieve a greater naturalism, van Gogh used color subjectively to express emotion.”  

I think it’s pretty interesting how Van Gogh’s portrayal of working class people in the form of portraits varies so drastically in 3 years. I liked the fact I could walk across the room and see the artist’s evolution technique-wise. Additionally, the 2nd painting was completed just months before Van Gogh committed suicide – a part of his life history I have always found tragically interesting.

Mulberry Tree, Van Gogh 1889

The swirling brushstrokes of this Van Gogh was pretty stunning – and quintessentially Van Gogh. This Diego Rivera piece screamed Diego Rivera to me as soon as I walked into the room – and I appreciate Rivera’s use of bold colors.

The Flower Vendor (Girl with Lilies), Diego Rivera 1941

…and here’s a Picasso I love so much it’s currently the background on my iPhone (another thing I love):

Woman with a Book, Picasso 1932

I love how Picasso explored so. many. genres. throughout his career – and this is representative of what is probably my favorite style of his.

St. Jerome in Penetence (1798) by Francisco de Goya

I was surprised to find several examples of Spanish master Francisco de Goya at the Norton Simon – and I’m happy I’ve finally trudged through enough art museums to be able to peg this as Goya before I went up to the little sign and saw that it was!

We checked out the museum gift shop, a special exhibit on 60s pop art, and examined some more classic pieces from as early as the 14th century! We sort of ignored the collection of Asian artifacts – not really our scene – but overall we were really impressed with the enormity (and the quality!) of the museum as well as the gardens outside.

The last piece that really stuck with me was a Vermeer on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art called “Woman with a Lute.” I’ve seen a couple of Vermeers before and have always been struck by his use of light  – and this painting was no exception. There was a security guard standing right next to the work as well as an explicit “no photos” sign so I knew this one was a big deal. It was:

How incredible is that map?? Seeing this makes me want to nerd-out a little harder on Vermeer – so my mom has loaned me the Susan Vreeland novel “Girl in Hyacinth Blue” to read – and I might try to read “Girl With a Pearl Earring” as well. Anyone out there read either of those? Thoughts?

After we left the museum, I used my trusty iPhone’s Yelp app to find a place for my Dad and I to eat lunch. He requested Vegetarian or Vegan food (no, he’s not either of those, but is trying to lean that way apparently) and lo and behold, 0.4 miles away we came across Father Nature’s Lavash Wraps at 17 N De Lacey Avenue. This place was delicious – and inexpensive! Mediterranean food is easily my favorite sort of “ethnic” cuisine – I could literally consume hummus intravenously if that were possible. I ordered something off the beaten path and was overwhelmed by how much I loved it. Now I’m looking for an excuse to go back to Pasadena and find more hidden gems on Colorado Blvd.

Number 13 - Colorful Taboule!

What’s your favorite sort of ethnic cuisine??

6 Responses to “along colorado blvd.”

  1. Kristen - Anywhere There's An Airport July 20, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    My favorite ethnic cuisine would have to be Indian! The Spaniard introduced me to really good Indian in Lisbon and now I am hooked!

    But my favorite thing about this post is the daddy / daughter day! I had a skype date with my dad today and we discuss financial market, politics and the debt ceiling. It was perfect! I really miss our daily talks at the office. So happy to see more father / daughter love! 🙂

    • gillian July 20, 2011 at 11:41 am #

      I love Indian food too! It’s delicious. You guys should definitely check out all of the placed in Lavapiés in Madrid if you haven’t already!

      And thanks re: father/daughter time! I love spending time with my Dad and learning obscure facts about politics as well! haha! 🙂

  2. Caroline July 20, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    Sounds like you and your dad had such a great time. All of the art is gorgeous! You know me though, I’m drooling over the food aspect. The taboule wrap looks deeelicious. I love ethnic cuisines, and would have to say Mexican food is my favorite. 🙂

    • gillian July 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

      Thanks! It was great – definitely nerding out haha. Definitely love Mexican too – there is nothing better than margs and chips and guac 🙂 Looking forward to see what else you’ve been cookin up lately!

      Sent from my iPhone


  1. summer’s over… « That's G - September 3, 2011

    […] trip to Santa Barbara to check out their art museum with my mom – and, not to be outdone, a trip to the Norton Simon in Pasadena as well as the Watts Towers and Venice with my dad. We also all headed to Santa Cruz for a weekend […]

  2. two thousand eleven: the playlist. « That's G - December 31, 2011

    […] “real” apartment in WEst Hollywood, went art museum hopping in Santa Barbara and in Pasadena, checked out the street art in Venice and at the Banksy exhibit in LA, went to Santa Cruz with the […]

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