I’ve never been a modern art enthusiast. I never understood how a chair with a sculpted hand on top of it is called “art” (just like the photo below from the Rhode Island School of Design). Since it’s a non-conformist, non-traditional type of art, I find it a bit pretentious. That’s just my opinion but I am not an artist so what do I know right? However, I have the appreciation and admiration for beauty (at least I think I do!)

This is an artist’s interpretation of art…I just don’t get it!

While I was in California a few weeks ago, I wanted to check out the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. The reviews for this newly refurbished museum were overwhelmingly positive. Besides, I wanted to see a Frida Kahlo painting. That’s not the only reason I was excited to visit SFMOMA. I was also intrigued at the museum’s restaurants (a wanna-be foodie that I am, food always rules my world!)

From Fremont, I took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) early morning to downtown San Francisco. I wanted to arrive at the museum as soon as it opens at 10am. FYI, I bought my entrance ticket online so I can skip the lines when I get there. The general admission price for an adult is $25. I arrived 15 minutes early and it gave me a little time to browse at the gift shop (one of my favorite places to browse is a museum store). My heart skipped a beat when I saw all the beautiful notebooks on display! If you knew me well, I’m completely obsessed with notebooks and journals. In fact, I even wrote a blog about this obsession.  

I was immediately attracted to this one. “They should tell you when you’re born: have a suitcase heart, be ready to travel.” -Gabrielle Zevin

When the museum opened, I showed my printed out tickets and I was immediately directed to the elevators. I decided to start at the highest floor (seventh) and work my way down to the first. 

As soon as the elevator opened, I already sensed I was going to enjoy being there. I made sure I saw every art in every corner in each floor and since I was there early, it wasn’t crowded yet. I pretty much had the whole floor to myself. 

Let me share  some of the paintings,  photographs, and artwork that caught my eyes. 

Do you recognize who this girl is in the photograph? Brooke Shields when she was 10 years old! In 1983, Richard Prince rephotographed an image of a prepubescent Brooke Shields and titled it Spiritual America. I was flabbergasted to read this was taken with her mother’s consent. I’m not a very prude person but you have to draw a line somewhere especially when children are concerned. The contrast is especially astounding between her young body and her very mature, adult-like face. 

Perusing the pictures from reviews on Yelp or TripAdvisor about SFMOMA, I saw many photos of this police officer. So when I saw him at the museum, I wanted to talk to him to let him know he’s quite a popular guy. As I got closer I was very surprised to find out he’s not human! 

The details to make him look real is simply astonishing. Just look at the veins on his arm. It’s amazing!

Nicknamed as the gay capital of the world, San Francisco’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community is one of the largest and most prominent among LGBT communities. Hence I’m not surprised to see a painting of two men as a couple. The story behind this painting is quite interesting. Alice Neel, the artist, met the two men (both artists themselves) one evening and invited them to her apartment the next day to paint their portraits as a couple. She asked them to wear the same clothes from the night before and positioned them as they had been sitting. They sat without moving while she was painting until she said it was ok for them to take a break. 

Of course the main reason I went to SF MOMA was to see a Frida Kahlo painting. I was disappointed to find only one  painting. Frida painted the  “Frieda and Diego Rivera” for a friend while visiting in San Francisco in April of 1931. Its interesting that it’s still in San Francisco after more than 80 years. 

It was time for lunch and I was excited to try the foods at Cafe 5. My friends and I planned to eat dinner at In Situ in a few days, one of San Francisco’s hottest restaurants right now which is located in the museum’s first floor. By myself, Cafe 5 was the place  to be. I love the simple yet bright and airy ambience of the cafe. It also extends outside for outdoor seating,  surrounded by skyscrapers. 

I ordered the Chicken Banh Mi. If you’re expecting anything authentic or even close to a Vietnamese banh mi, you will be disappointed. But this was delicious, a thick chicken breast fried in perfection on a brioche with  pickled veggies. 

After lunch I had more time to explore the museum and found the Sculpture Terrace. 

Also, what’s a modern art museum without Andy Warhol exhibits? 

I abhor taking selfies in public  so I asked other people to take my photos next to the artwork I thought were pretty “cool”. One of them didn’t understand why I wouldn’t face the camera. I told him it really wasn’t about me and besides it’ll ruin the picture! 🙂

I have to be honest, I didn’t understand what each of these artwork meant or represented, but I was drawn to their simplicity. Even when it was busy, the work still felt minimal. 

I took a tea break at Sight Glass coffee shop. I was savoring my time alone while  people watching. Some were busy having great conversations, others were busy working with their laptops, and a few were by themselves, staring at space seemingly  lost in their thoughts. 

My phone rang and it was my husband calling from Texas. He asked where I was and I told him I’ve been at the museum. It was now close to 3pm and I realized I had spent almost entirely the whole day there. However, the time went by fast, it really didn’t seem that long. 

Surprised by my enthusiasm he asked, “Huh?! You enjoy modern art?” I giggled. “Yes. It seems that way,” I replied. It’s one of those unexpected self-discoveries, one more thing I learned about myself.