Did you know there is a place, hidden away in Century City, that calls itself the Annenberg Photography Space?
It located near those gigantic, twin steel high-rises that stand on the east portion of Century City. It is also behind the new glass front of CAA, and sits atop an enormous central lawn with restaurants, trees and lawyers-on-lunch break to provide the setting for one of the new cultural jewels of Los Angeles.
There was a bomb scare yesterday in Century City, so part of the Avenue of the Cars was blocked off. Two cops misdirected traffic, so that some cars were permitted to go through red lights, while other automobiles were stopped at green lights, and hundreds of pedestrians narrowly missed being killed by accelerating vehicles as they attempted to cross the street.
I had parked in the shopping center part of Century City, under Bloomingdales, in B37yellow, and walked through the shops, down the steps, amidst the crowds of blue shirted office workers on lunch, and eventually reached that central lawn where the Annenberg Photography Space lives.
Like the new James Perse store in Malibu, or the W Hotel, the Annenberg is full of outdoor lounge chairs, hurricane lamps and horizontal trusses. No individual has much money these days, but every new public facility built in Los Angeles now is luxuriant, polished, modern, in every detail from the tinted glass windows to the Euro toilet bowls. The Annenberg is in the current style, first mastered by Calvin Klein, sybaritic and sensual and corporate, down to the very choice of photographs hanging on the walls.
Power always pays tribute to power, so the most prominent, prize-winning photographs were full of Obama and Mrs. Obama and Mr. McCain, from 2008. A politically correct section had photos of screaming and suffering peoples from Palestine to Peru. One very boring photo was taken underwater and showed Olympian Michael Phelps in a crawl. Top athletes, top politicians, top tragedies. Photography at the Annenberg is always, first and foremost, about the subject matter and hardly has anything to do with artistry.
Window glare made the famous photographs difficult to view. I wonder why the “space” does not understand that sunlight is ruinous to hanging photographs.
I walked past the bathrooms, and hanging in the least appealing section of the “space” were the most comely and magnificent photographs. Here was a photograph of a polygamous sect of religious women jumping on a trampoline. It was artful and fun and beautifully shot. There was a black and white panorama of horses across the Mongolian plane, cinematic and sweeping. A group of Asian children, captured in colorful dress, and shadowy light was transfixing.
In a dark central area, an educational film educated people sitting in the dark. It was a good place to take a nap.
If you want to visit this Temple of the Lens you must first decide which parking garage you want to park your car in. You then must plan to devote at least half your visit to walking to the building. They have strange hours too. I believe they are only open certain days of the week.
The best part of coming to the offices of Century City is people watching. There are many nicely dressed professionals who are well tailored and very few are fat or look over forty. If they have naval or vaginal area tattoos, they can hide them under pleated skirts. Conversations overheard here range from derivatives to litigation.
Perhaps 90% of the strangers here supported the bailout of Goldman Sachs, I imagine.
If you have any money left on your credit card, you can dine here at Craftsteak, the corporate restaurant beef publicity and investment hungry eating space which is housed in one of those low, horizontal, lounge and hurricane lamped buildings. Pinstripes and martinis, briefcases and bruschetta, make this a premier destination for dining before and after Superior Court. “Sir, will you be dining with us?” is a friendly rejoinder spoken to every $15-a-glass wine drinker at the bar.
A bald, short-tempered owner, who I have seen on “Top Chef”, was nowhere to be seen on the premises.
But what about the Annenberg Photography Space?
By all means, come here to relax and remember that your every movement is also being recorded and monitored by security cameras.
Upcoming celebrity photography exhibits to be announced.