Author Archive for Billy Bennight

13
Nov
19

Explore “Frontiers” at Jason Vass Gallery

(dis)connection by Tadashi Moriyama

“Frontiers” the exhibition by artists Tadashi Moriyama & Rachel Pease will be on display at Jason Vass Gallery through December 7th. Both artists use illustration in their approach to art. Those different techniques and approaches inform their respective work that shares a commonality and access different subject matter. 

It also happens that Tadashi Moriyama & Rachel Peas are a couple having met at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004 and tied the knot in 2007. Both eventually setting in Southern California where they now call home and continue their respective work in the arts.

Moriyama’s works are rooted in a combination of his Buddhism while synthesizing digital communications, dream interpretation and space exploration that lend themselves to rural networks, grids and the threads of interstellar environments. His work is bright and lavishly colored.

On the other hand, Pease takes a more organic approach to her work. Coming from a rural Indiana background she finds her inspiration from nature. She focuses on intense details, somber tones, and intricate illustrations to convey her work in a more organic way. Both Moriyama & Pease create detailed imaginary vistas full of wonder that speaks to the heart and the imagination.

“Frontiers” will be on display at Jason Vass Gallery (1452 E. 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA.) through Dec. 7th in DTLA.

Gateway by Rachel Pease

10
Nov
19

Preux and Proper “The South’s Best Fried Chicken”

Sammy and Josh at the South City Fried Chicken Lunchtime Pop-up at Preux & Proper. All Photos ©Billy Bennight

We all gathered for an afternoon feast with some 20ish media folks, upstairs at Preux & Proper, to explore the “Southside Fried Chicken” Pop-up menu introducing the new Preux and Proper’s lunchtime menu option in a glorious way.

The new menu picks up its references from all the goodness from “Southside Fried Chicken” inside the charming atmosphere of Preux and Proper. It is the celebration of all things that are “Fried Chicken” and then some.

The Austin

Joshua Kopel and Samuel Monsour were both on hand to introduce, serve and share the food and their ideas about the “Southside Fried Chicken” menu. what soon followed a mixed dazzling blitzkrieg of marvelous chicken options. All of these options were served up with Preux and Propers Fried Pickles and Mac & Cheese. The sandwiches offered were the Austin, the Nashville, the Greenville, the New Orleans, and the Chapel Hill. The chicken plates and salads all delivered in glorious fashion along with the sandwiches that included Chicken & Waffles, Nashville Hot, Whole Fired Game Hen, Louisville Slugger, Crispy Dr. Pepper Wings, Chicken Bacon Cobb, and Pop’s Chop. It was a delirious hour and a half to eat all of these tantalizing takes on fried chicken and the race was on!

All of the food was exquisitely plated and was a treat for the eyes. The sandwiches were bigger than life and portioned to satiate the hungriest of souls. All these menu options were amazing but for me, I found the Austin, Nashville, Chapel Hill, Crispy Dr. Pepper Chicken Wings, the Chicken & Waffles, Whole Fired Game Hen and the Chicken Bacon Cobb salad eyeball rolling good.

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Sammy and Josh during quieter moments shared their processes of sustainability and locally sourced ingredients from family farms that are the backbone of Preux and Proper’s ethical process in meal preparation. Sammy has started an herb garden upstairs that can be easily accessed to optimally use fresh ingredients in his culinary creations. They dry and pickle their own fruit and vegetables. They make their own chicken bacon on-premises too. When Sammy spoke he referenced their approach to diminishing their carbon footprint. In the last 2 years, they have reduced the restaurant’s waste by 80% by composting by. Josh believes is an ethical workplace for the workers by offering discounts for their workers and families while making healthcare a priority for those who invest their time in Preux and Proper’s dreams. Josh expressed he and Sammy want a great restaurant but they want their restaurant to be a great place to work at too.

The feasting continued for with a few additional dishes to taste and I/we sampled a few of the cocktails we missed on the last tasting for a little mid-day relaxation. When Sammy feeds you he goes big and leftovers were abundance. We boxed the goodies to dine later and to carry on the “Feel Goods” into the next day from this exciting “Southside Fried Chicken” lunch menu curtesy of Preux and Proper. Now you can kick your lunch game up a notch or two to make DTLA lunch more of an event!

Chicken and Waffles at South City Fried Chicken Lunchtime Pop-up at Preux & Proper.

13
Oct
19

Deirdre Sullivan-Beeman’s “Heavy Water” at La Luz de Jesus

Image courtesy of Deirdre Sullivan-Berman

Deirdre Sullivan-Beeman’s “Heavy Water” recently opened last week at La Luz de Jesus. The exhibition will be open to the public through October 27th with a special artist’s talk and walkthrough with Genie Davis who will be moderating on Sunday, October 20, 2-4 PM. 

Sullivan-Beeman creates beautiful, dramatic and dream-like art that births visuals of young women who drift between innocence and their awaking. As a self-taught contemporary surrealist painter she has chosen the medium of egg tempera, a medium popular in the 14th century, to paint he subjects in lavish romantic settings of metaphorical dreamscapes with a mix of representational art and feminine surrealism of fantasy or whimsy she likes to call “Magical Realism.” Her painting is steeped in message but buried in haunting and mythical beauty that proves luminous and enchanting, speaking their secrets to the viewer’s eyes. 

Sullivan-Beeman puts it this way in her artist statement: “The characters in my paintings—and their animal sidekicks, spiritual daemons—swim among my dreams. Lucid reveries hatch their personas from factors of myself and my sphere. I awaken from these dreams, valueless without a critical mass, and dive headfirst into the soup of the collective unconscious. There, in the most ancient realm of the mind, I inherit stories. Like water, I draw my girls up from the deepest well.” and in another quote, Sullivan-Beeman says: “In these works, my girls choose to use this level of immense power for creation rather than destruction.

“Heavy Water” refers to the idea of a familiar substance like H2O being transformed into D2O, a lethal and dangerous substance that looks like water but holds lethal and undetected power. Heavy Water is essential in the process to create nuclear bombs the most powerful weapons on earth. Sullivan-Berman’s dialectic harness these “girls” made from her vivid imagination as powerful symbols of transformation and feminine power.

There will be one collaborative work “Heavy Water” exhibit with multi-media artist Gina M. Sullivan-Beeman says, I wanted to play with scale, and have someone be able to walk into one of my paintings. I really want the viewer to experience the whole show and ‘swim’ through the art. These girls are me and I want the viewer to get better acquainted with my world.”  The installation will be a six-foot seahorse sculpture set inside the La Luz de Jesus Gallery for all to explore and enjoy. This exhibition brings the luminous and enchanting world of Sullivan-Beeman’s surrealist paintings into view that is birthed out of infinite consciousness and collective thought of Sullivan-Beeman’s “Magical Realism.” Viewing hours vary at La Luz de Jesus. M-Th are 11 AM-7 PM, Fri-Sat are 11 AM-9 PM and Sunday is Noon-6 PM.

01
Oct
19

Sammy’s Cookout Every Thursday at Pruex & Proper

Preux & Proper located on Spring Street in a unique DTLA spot at the end of LA’s Art District and at the beginning of the Fashion District, between 8th and 9th, and is known for offering NOLA inspired dining in a beautiful and cozy atmosphere reminiscent of a space you’d find in the Frech Quarter. Preux and Proper’s already impressive menu is expanding into a slightly new direction by offering something particularly inspired and delicious. Every Thursday Preux & Proper will feature Sammy’s Cookout that will be taking an elevated approach home-style cooking in wondrous eye-popping ways. “Sammy’s Cookout” will be offered every Thursday from 4 pm to 10 pm for your dining pleasure.

Our preview of Sammy’s Cookout orchestrated by Executive chef Sammy Monsour started with a variety of cocktails to wet the whistle and soothe the soul with libations like the Alabama Slammer and the Texas Two-Timer. Before the dinner was served I settled at the bar in the upper room but not before I ran into Joshua Kopel who was handling a sizzling pan of Marie’s Mac & Cheese. It was apparent he already engaged in the spirit of the evening’s festivities. After our brief conversation, I settled at the center of the bar. It’s a nice long bar with a comfortable view of the whole upstairs area. There’s plenty of dining space that overlooks both Spring and Main Streets from the top. Due to Preux & Proper architecture, it’s easy to walk from side to side to view either street at your leisure and looking south you can see both streets merge into the Los Angeles cityscape. The waite staff was fun and friendly as I slid in to sip on two Alabama Slammers. These concoctions were marvelous and have a considerable punch to them.

As the upstairs had filled with foodie influencers and journalists, we were all encouraged to find a place for the feast that laid before us. I had joined Elise  Thompson and Bob Lee for a bit of chitchat at the bar before we settled but it so happened someone had taken a key seat where we couldn’t dine together at a table. So I was flying solo. After I settled I noticed somethings were already laid out on the table when I returned to my spot.

The watermelon and cucumber salad, the Spam fries with spicy pineapple ketchup and Ritz crackers with pepper jelly and pimento cheese spread were waiting there for the taking. All beckoning to us in their colorful splendor. The watermelon cucumber salad was fresh and intoxicating with their light crispy textures. Both major elements (watermelon and cucumber) mingled in with the Thai basil, mint, cilantro, macadamia-coconut crumbles, California extra virgin olive oil, lime & smoked sea salt with ecstatic results. The watermelon didn’t dominate and the other elements made it a fresh and lively surprise. It was delicious guilt-free moment in eating. I was most curious about the spam fries because I’m not a big spam fan. I found that they had the consistency of potato fries and the sweet dipping sauce was very complimentary. They were kind of addictive when mixing them with the spicy pineapple ketchup given their light crunchy exterior and soft spammy interior. The Ritz crackers with pepper jam and pimento cheese were snacky madness at it’s best.

The next course, we were presented with the Cast Iron Cornbread (Kentucky sorghum, cracked white pepper, butter), Baked Mac & Cheese (orecchiette pasta, scallions, turbodog ale, Cabot extra sharp cheddar), and Colorado lamb ribs (Jamaican jerk, central barbecue’s sweet heat wing sauce, Nate’s pickled watermelon rind) were followed by the masterfully made 18-hour bone-in pork shoulder with 5 regionally distinct barbecue sauces. The 18-hour bone-in pork shoulder sat before us was the culinary ne plus ultra of the evening with its luminance steamy presence dominating the center of our table and my foodie desires.

Continue reading ‘Sammy’s Cookout Every Thursday at Pruex & Proper’

06
Sep
19

Douglas Tausik Ryder’s ‘Body Language’ opens at Jason Vass Gallery

Photo of “Reclining Nude” courtesy of Taisik Ryder

Douglas Tausik Ryder exhibition ‘Body Language’ will be appearing at the Jason Vass Gallery on Saturday, September 7th. Taisik Ryder‘s work is a conversation that evokes and integrates both biomorphic and the geometric applications to his creations. His wooden sculptures are products of his interest in the organic form but are mastered through a digital process using a very specific industrial technology. All these pieces are manufactured utilizing digital technology known as geometric code “G-code” is a CAD/CAM language and this fabrication process utilizing G-Code drive the industrial CNC (computer numerical control) machine/tool that makes his art is located in his studio rather than offsite. By doing so he is able to guide the process on a more skillful and intimate exalting the primitive. Unlike other artists who farms the process out Ryder constructs these pieces in his studio. Additionally, every one of his creations is detailed and hand-finished in the studio. Taisik Ryder’s work consisting of wooden sculptures alludes to abstract organic forms some echo the sensuality of the feminine and others reveal the primitive.  G-code allows Ryder to harnesses digital process to create these fluidly abstract biologically and organically informed pieces that seamlessly announces his art in intriguing familiarity that’s pleasing to the eye. Tausik Ryder’s “Body Language” will be on view at Jason Vass Galler (1452 E. Sixth Street, Los Angeles). The opening reception is September 7th from 5 to 8 p.m.

 


01
Sep
19

The Backyard at Santa Monica’s Historic Chez Jay is Open Now!

The Backyard at Chez Jay! ©Billy Bennight

Recently, myself and a host of other food journalist and influencers were treated to a special preview of Chez Jay’s new “The Backyard” in Santa Monica. This designated historical site now has a handsome new addition to its historic location on Ocean Blvd. creating a friendly open space where people can dine, drink and mix. The new deck is a large partially-covered area filled with benches, tables, chairs with a conveniently located bar near the back corner of Chez Jay original structure. The area is rustic, friendly and eay to access. There’s a lounge area has a focal point in the center of comfortable sofas and a Persian rug covered with a whimsically positioned canopy of slotted sailcloth floating above. There’s a strategically located booth in the opposite corner or diagonally positioned from the bar in The Backyard. It’s situated in a way where you can nest with your friends and be chillin like a villain on the DL in anonymous comfort. The Backyard is an expansive and comfortable space with people in mind.

Continue reading ‘The Backyard at Santa Monica’s Historic Chez Jay is Open Now!’

20
Aug
19

Maisel Day Expounded!

Palisades Village – The Bay by Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas on Amazon Prime Video’s “Maisel Day”. All Photos ©Billy Bennight

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been nominated for 20 Emmys and Amazon Prime Video has celebrated the momentous occasion of being the most Emmy nominated comedy for 2019. Amazon Prime Video has treated Los Angeles with “Maisel Day” where various retailers throughout the various communities in the city offered special 1959 pricing from a host of opportunities ranging from food to hotel rooms.

My Maisel Day started on Wednesday night as I dropped by The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to find out when I could book a room for $40.00 a night. My research yielded a 9 Am call to line up for a room. Following this research expedition, I ended up late to bed and an unfortunately early to rise.

In the morning my first priority was The Roosevelt. Walking up it was immediately apparent there was a line. That line ran all the way from the door of The Roosevelt to the corner and possibly beyond. I knew immediately I wasn’t going to be able to book a room.

It was time to continue to the next level of my Maisel Day’s plan. There were a lot of great places to experience on Maisel Day like Canter’s Deli or Starring by Ted Gibson. But considering the prospect of long lines and possible dubious outcomes, I set my sights on the Pacific Palisades.

I rarely visit the Pacific Palisades and didn’t realize how serendipitous my decision was until I found myself in Palisades Village where all the action was happening. My first move was securing an appointment at Gornik & Drucker for my $3.00 haircut.

See’s Candies

Felicia and Liz on Maisel Day 2019

Once this key part of my itinerary was secured, with a five hours plus wait laying in front of me, I moved quickly to get the most of my Maisel Day. I set my sights on the See’s Candies for $1.50 of candy which was a $21.00 value. While the idea of securing great values and bargains it is also exciting to imagine or internalize the mid-century world that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel inhabited. The See’s candy line was long but in the world of lines it proved to move speedily and I had my chance with the candies in about 45 minutes. Rick Caruso accompanied with a handful of other gentlemen passed us by coming from the See’s candy area when a man next to me called out to ask him how his day was going. Rick answered back with a salutation indicating his day is going fine. It’s unusual to spot the owner of The Grove and the Palisades Village, a billionaire publically strolling any mall but there he was checking out Maisel Day with the rest of us. A See’s employee who had been handing out candies came around to count us out. We made it but soon after the count supplies ran out. See’s Candies offered p their last supplies while I was at the register. From there people moved on to their day or sought a new line to take advantage for Maisel Day goodies. I had my eye set on the Rueben at Hank’s.

Continue reading ‘Maisel Day Expounded!’

06
Jul
19

A View of the Mighty Blue Whale

Photos of ©Billy Bennight for Extravagant Behavior

It is Blue Whale watching season with the return of the mighty Blue Whale to Southern California. Every year around this time Harbor Breeze Cruises and Aquarium of the Pacific sponsor a special media whale watching excursion out of Long Beach to explore the edge of Pacific Ocean’s waters off of San Pedro and Long Beach to view these mighty, majestic and beautiful creatures while they feed and navigate in these deep coastal waters filled with krill and other wonderful sea life.

On this excursion, we slipped through the foggy morning air far out into the Pacific Ocean. We eventually settled miles out running parallel with Palos Verdes near a research boat and skip busily tagging a young whale to study its habits and behaviors. The researcher motored over in their Zodiac Hurricane to our Harbor Breeze boat for a mid-water rendezvous where the scientist took the time to explain the process of tagging the whale and the information he was hoping to acquire from his work. It was a first on the many excursions I have taken and a welcome surprise.

After our meet up we continued further out crossing the path of a pod of dolphins until be happened on a large Blue Whale named “Kinko” feeding in the deep on krill. The Aquarium of the Pacific expert recognized the marking of the whale that indicated it was the whale researchers like to call Kinko. Every whale has distinctive markings that make them identifiable. We spent about an hour with Kinko as he would dive and surface in 12 to 15 minutes intervals. It was pretty much a regular day of whale watching and whale feeding as the fog was slowly burning off. Kinko fluked twice while we were there. Once everyone had had their time shooting video or taking pictures we were on way back returning to Rainbow Harbor and Shore Line Village.

Continue reading ‘A View of the Mighty Blue Whale’

04
Jul
19

APOLLO 11 – The Immersive Live Show – Opens the 5th of July

The Lunar Module Apollo 11 media preview event in Lunar Dome at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. ©Billy Bennight

It was nearly 50 years ago when I had just turned thirteen when the lunar module set down on the moon and Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the lunar surface. Being a young boy in love with Star Trek and brimming with outer space fantasies made this the most important and dramatic event in my young life. From the moment Apollo 11 surged into the sky off of Cape Canaveral to start its tenuous and epic journey to the moon. Like all Americans and the world as a whole, we were all on pins and needles the whole journey with anticipation for this unmatched achievement of science and technology. We all set around the television every night to watch this journey unfold. The Apollo 11 flight generated trepidation, wonder, and unrestrained excitement that still sparks the human imagination to this day.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years since that epic launch and its return to Mother Earth. Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin all returned heroes and celebrities. That excitement and interest still exist to this day.  So it comes with little surprise that some imaginative folks have found a way to regenerate the passion of the moon mission to once again activate people’s imagination and create a fascinating recount of the Apollo 11 story by commemorating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 with the APOLLO 11The Immersive Live Show. Apollo 11 retells this remarkable moment in human history by using cutting edge and visionary technology to tell the story finding a way to engage every aspect of our senses.

Continue reading ‘APOLLO 11 – The Immersive Live Show – Opens the 5th of July’

29
Jun
19

Mezcalero’s New Drink Menu: It will Delight the taste buds and feed the soul!


Mezcalero has been an exciting addition on Broadway in DTLA for a couple of years now. It’s gained a reputation for its exceptional take on bar food and its adventurous drink program focusing mezcal from the beginning with all the blessed fruits of the agave plant. Mezcalero’s beverage director Nathan McCullough has reshuffled the cocktail menu for Spring and Summer with new exciting new takes on the mezcal inspired cocktail by incorporating clever foodie ideas and birthing them into fascinating beverage choices that shortcircuit the idea of food and drink as being 2 different things.  The question arises  “Do you drink it or eat it?”

Yes, his new mixes are still beverages and they are crafted in marvelous new combinations. For the presser, I (we) sat down and did the hard work of sipping and tasting these new concoctions. No tasting is complete without a few yummy bites to activate the palette. We all shared the mandatory chips, salsa, and guacamole before we ordered our food. My food choices were the Carne Asada taco (salsa verde, onion, and cilantro) and the Braised Tinga taco (braised chicken, onion, tomato and chipotle). Each was a delight as sips and bites intermingled as every new beverage was served.

The first of the 2 tasting rounds arrived  that included “Tig Bitty Fresca”, “Shady Cricketry”, ‘Cheesus Take the Wheel” “Salty Affair” and the “Maria Concita”. Tig Bitty Fresca was a light and lively, a sweet delight, while Shady Cricketry was darker earthy umami owed its flavor to the use of “Chapulin”, real crickets, infused mezcal to the drink. Cheesus Take the Wheel sung deliciously all the way through and was a wonderful flavor surprise of Spanish goat cheese, cheese without the farm – no gaminess and pure enduring cheese satisfaction! Salty Affair paid homage to carnitas in a pickle back way with its a saline tip of the hat to pork and peppers dotted with swimming peppercorns that zested up the drink. Maria Conchita was as delightful and it was delicious set in what looks like a terracotta pear cup is fruity fresh and wild with a lively tropical zing.

Continue reading ‘Mezcalero’s New Drink Menu: It will Delight the taste buds and feed the soul!’




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