Laguna Art Museum and How Google Maps Finally Failed Me

So, I took a Sunday off last week to hit the WoW exhibit down at the Laguna Art Museum. My boss, one Robert Nideffer, was giving a talk on the piece that he had done that weekend, so it was as good an occasion as any to drag myself over and have a look. I’m actually a contributor to the exhibit, after all, even if they’re showcasing one of my older project.

And here’s the part where I explain how Google Maps totally failed me on this one particular trip.

If you go to Google Map and try to find the location of one 307 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, it’ll point you to some random location in Laguna Beach that’s tucked in the middle of nowhere (it’s not even sitting on Cliff Dr for that matter). I smelled something fishy about that location, so I went to the museum web site and followed the get directions link from their visitor information page… yup, points to the same place. Never mind that if I don’t get ahead of myself and just google Laguna Art Museum, the first result comes up with a map that gives you the correct location of the museum. I R SMRT, okay?

Since I thought the museum was located at some no name street to the left of me as I drove south, I was looking nervously to the left on my whole way down the Pacific Coast Highway. I looked for the street to turn left in as well as the street before it (McKnight Dr), the street after it (Crescent Bay Dr), and apparently I missed all three streets and I kept driving… until I saw a lovely statue that said “Welcome to Dana Point”. By that time I was 45 minutes late to the talk that I was suppose to attend, and I was royally screwed.

On my drive back north my map was on my lap, and I was checking my position every three or four blocks. All things looked grim as the streets (all three of them) that I was looking for was still nowhere to be found… Until I saw a huge sign at the corner of my eye that said “WoW” to the LEFT of me (I was driving north so I expected to find the museum to my right). The intersection ahead of me said “Cliff Drive”. Yeah, facepalm moment right there.

Next came the parking problem. The summer heat drove a lot of people to the beach – so much so that there’s next to no parking space anywhere near the museum. I started driving down Cliff Dr. (it’s a side street) to see how far I had to go to find a spot… and I had to drive all four blocks down Cliff Dr. plus another two blocks before I found a metered parking spot on the street. Note to self: if I’m coming back, I’m definitely carpooling.

The front desk of the museum gave me trouble, but I was able to get in by claiming to be invited by my boss (which was partially true) to the talk (which was amazingly still going on). I caught the tail end of Q&A, and missed most of what I wanted to hear – C’est la vie, and it’s much better than hearing nothing or getting lost somewhere in Laguna Beach all day long.

The exhibit itself was great . It’s roughly divided into two types of work: official art drawn by Blizzard artists for World of Warcraft, and works of art inspired by the game and/or the player community around the game. The official stuff was actually pretty standard fare: I’ve seen almost all of the work there, including the fan art and the machinima collection. It was really more of a trip down memory lane for me, like looking through a family album. The second half of the exhibit was very “artsy” and very interesting… and being “artsy” stuff, your mileage may very. Younger visitors that I saw scoffed at it, the older ones would look around and pretend to understand… I was confused by most of it too, but I’ve come to understand that art interpretation could be very personal and it’s not really necessary to “get it” in order to appreciate an artwork.

I took my time with it and spent a whole 2 hours walking around, plus about 15 minutes sitting through the last part of the talk. The walk to my parking spot was 15 minutes each way and the meter maxed at 4 hours… I ended up missing a chance to look at half of the displays there. There’s still another month before they rotate in the next seasonal exhibit, so I’ll definitely find time to go back – possibly on September 13th since my boss’s colleague would be the one giving the talk that day (and her exhibit was very interesting as well).

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