Each time I travel abroad, I realize how little I tend to take advantage of the opportunities that are closest to home, especially when it comes to museums. I grew up in the vast metropolis of Los Angeles and yet have never visited most of its famous attractions. Coming back to California after years away I feel like a tourist (in a good way). My eyes are wide open to the opportunities in my neighborhood.
A few weekends ago when I wasn’t feeling outdoorsy enough to go on a hike but wanted to venture out of town, I settled on the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California. The residence-turned-museum is considered the oldest continuously operating art museum west of the Mississippi river. Like the Phillips Collection in Washington DC (which I visited earlier this year), the Crocker art museum began as the private collection of a wealthy family, eventually becoming a public museum. There is a historic museum building (right), as well as an ultra sleek modern building, which houses the majority of the art.
I was lucky enough to visit on a day when Bank of America cardholders were granted free access so I didn’t have to pay the usual $10 entrance fee. However, it would have been well worth it. I learned for the first time that California had its own wave of French-inspired impressionism at the beginning of the 20th century. As expected, the images were mainly of the California countryside and coastline, and it was interesting to see these familiar sites through this new lens.
But, my favorite pieces were the wonderfully dark and dystopian paintings of Irving Norman. It reminded me that I have an affinity for super detailed and morbid landscapes of art, like the Grayson Perry piece I saw over the summer at the Santa Barbara museum of art. There’s something about the epic scale of such works, intricately portraying groups of people in all stages of life, that set it apart from every day images that explore only one moment in time. I would have adored this art in my teen years and it still strikes me as poignant in the same way.