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A day in Pasadena

Aviva and I dropped off Basil at our dog sitter and drove to Pasadena.

We ate lunch at Mi Piance; don’t bother, the space is uninteresting and the food wasn’t worth the cost (the service was pleasant and good at least).

We then went to a travel bookstore, Distant Lands Travel Bookstore. We made reservations to go to Italy, so now we have to get the things we need to make the trip. This is a good travel store, with perhaps more books than the one we liked in Chicago, The Savvy Traveler (now closed). I found a small book on Siena, Siena & the Heart of Tuscany. We also bought a few other things for the trip like round-the-neck wallets and small locks.

We next drove over to the Pacific Asia Museum. The museum was nice, but the collection was a bit small. It didn’t help that the South and Southeast Asian art gallery was closed for remodeling. We had to walk a different path than indicated on the map because a wedding was being held at the museum. If you’re in Pasadena its worth checking this out.

Back to the car and a drive to the Norton Simon Museum. The museum is housed in a large, modern building with three levels (offices are on the third floor). There is a sculpture garden on the way in with a number of works by Rodin, including his “The Burghers of Calais.”

The facade of the Norton Simon Museum

“The Burghers of Calais” by Rodin

We then walked around the pre-17th century European art, and downstairs for the Asian art galleries. The downstairs galleries were really neat – there’s a main, pillared aisle with sculpture at each pillar, and rooms going off both sides; its very open and inviting, and it gives a little feeling for how it may have been to walk into a decorated room. One of the special exhibits up until November is “A Garland of Melodies: Ragamala Paintings from India and Nepal,” which I especially wanted to see. The paintings on paper are in one gallery and was wonderful; from the description on the web site:

“A ragamala is a pictorial illustration of a musical mode; melodies are personified as male (raga) or female (ragini) and evoke a particular emotion, element of devotion or mythological episode. Often accompanied by a poem that further expounds upon the theme, each painting is thus a combination of three forms of artistic expression, music, poetry and painting. This exhibition draws upon the Museum’s rich collection of ragamala paintings from Nepal and India and opens in the new rotating Asian gallery on the lower level of the Museum.”

“Fidelity”, a fresco moved to canvas, by Martini (c. 1485)

“Kali” by Himachal Pradesh, Kangra Workshop (c. 1800)

“Bhairava” (no. 2) from the Ragamala Album (c. 1650)

“Bhasha” (no. 4) from the Ragamala Album (c. 1650)

We drove back into old Pasadena to visit Vromans Bookstore. This is a very large bookstore with a good bargain books section and a nice newstand right outside.

We had dinner at The Parkway Grill; I had a half chicken, which was unboned except for the wing, that was cooked in a fig and lemon butter sauce on top of mashed potatoes. It was wonderful!

After dinner we drove back to Woodland Hills, picked up the dog, and came home.

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