A couple of weeks ago I took a trip out to San Diego that was essentially three years in the making. My best friend moved out there my sophomore year of college and asked me to come and visit immediately. Well, being a broke college kid kind of limits your ability to do much of anything except drink cheap beer on Friday nights and occasionally study. Fortunately for her, I was able to immediately secure this receptionist gig right after graduation (thank you craptastic economy and your limited job resources) and was finally able to save up enough money and get my butt westward.
Now if you are a northeast-coaster like me, you’re probably thinking “there’s no place like home.” We’ve got some of the best cities around, and even better, we get changing leaves and snow! But there’s no getting around California Dreamin’ (unless you’re a Bret Easton Ellis fan and then California is just a hell-hole waiting to suck you dry). Probably because of that whole frontier thing, we’ve come to sentimentalize the Golden State: clean beaches, beautiful weather (almost on a daily basis), semi-laid back people – things all us east-coasters crave on the daily. Changing leaves and snow are always awesome… except when you slip and fall and get hot tea all over you, or its 30 feet deep, preventing you from leaving your house forcing you to watch hours of instant Netflix (which isn’t such a bad deal in hindsight, but you get my point). San Diego is quaint in comparison to what I’m used to but I really loved it. But then again I am easily swayed – I pretty much love anything that can effortlessly combine my three favorite things: Mexican food, beer/wine, and of course art. So you can assume that I returned home a little plumper, a litter drunker and with a new appreciation for the art world.
If you know anything about San Diego, you probably know about Balboa Park. For an art enthusiast this place is heaven. Home to about 18 different museums (including the San Diego Zoo), many of which are housed in old school Spanish-style architecture and surrounded by beautiful gardens, this place is seriously worth it. You could spend a whole day just exploring the grounds and the museums. I only made it to two museums before my friends decided they’d had enough art for the day. Lucky for me (and for you) they were quality museums with really great exhibits.
This audio tour will focus on the first exhibit we saw – Toulouse-Lautrec’s Paris at the San Diego Museum of Art. Toulouse is one of my favorites, not only because his art is awesome but because his life story is so interesting. He’s the kind of artist that keeps me going at this stuff because he offers a sincere visual history that has lasted in the public conscious for over a century. You don’t have to look far for the weight of his influence Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge is proof enough. In true nerd form, I start geeking out over Toulouse’s personal life and its immense impact on his chosen subject matter. Tragic/weird stories just makes art all the more interesting, why do you think people are so over the moon for Vincent Van Gogh or Jackson Pollack (who I think is a total whack)? Tragedy sells.
As goofy and strange as Toulouse may appear, he resonates for another reason: even amid the wailing alarm set off by some kid getting too close to a painting in the 20th Century Art wing and various other disruptions (including a guy taking a phone call about his cell phone bill) for a moment you felt as if you were being pulled back in time, to a Paris long lost, forever preserved in the works of Toulouse-Lautrec.
Toulouse-Lautrec’s Paris on view at the San Diego Museum of Art
July 10 – Dec. 12, 2010
Your Handy Package includes: MP3s, Photos, Intro to Audio Tour
DISCLOSURE: I DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT, speak French and I probably never will. So, I am sorry in advance for sounding incredibly stupid when French words are brought up – I tried to avoid them as much as possible. So have fun and enjoy!
photo credit: Aaron Vowels