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A journey through grief, self discovery & singleness

  • Writer's pictureChristine Angelique

A Night Out with Basquiat

Updated: Feb 29

Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure Exhibit

I don’t remember if I saw the flyer in person, or if my social media algorithm knows I’m a Black girl who would enjoy such an exhibit, but I saw that Jean-Michel Basquiat had an exhibit showing in Los Angeles. Growing up as a museum kid, I learned to love art, history, and fun, inexpensive indoor activities. So choosing a Basquiat art exhibit for my first “F U grief" self-love date was perfect!

I’m not a known Basquiat fan or anything, but as a fellow artsy, young, gifted and Black person, I’ve always respected him and his work. I was super excited for this opportunity to learn more about him and see his artwork in person! But if you read my intro post, you’ll know a girl is broke at the moment, and I figured an exhibit like this might cost some coin I don’t have, so a girl scoured the website for more information. Tickets were around $32-35, which wasn't in my budget, but I knew I’d really enjoy this exhibit and needed something to get me out of my depression. I contemplated just throwing this on my credit card with the other purchases I technically couldn’t afford, until I clicked the education tab and a mini miracle found me.

“Tickets are FREE EVERY Thursday from 5-6pm… We have reserved a limited number of tickets which are available on a first-come-first-served basis.”

Yea baby!! It’s free! And since I work from home, I can easily make weekday evening plans fit my schedule!

Self-Love Date Tip: If you’re a museum/art exhibit girly like me and you’re looking for fun things to do in your city, read the fine print and look for free museum/art exhibit days! Sure it might be at a weird time of day or smack dab in the middle of the week, but it’s worth it!

And just like that, I was off! As far as grief-coping goes, my plan was already working! I got my ticket Monday night and the exhibit was Thursday, so having something to look forward to all week definitely helped cure my somberness. As far as the singleness part goes, art exhibits are great solo dates! You can walk at your own pace, and do your own thing and no one will notice or care. Plus, if you’re a romantic like me, having a reason to get cute and be outside your apartment already helps your chances of finding a future boo, so it’s a win-win all around!

I really enjoyed this exhibit! It was four parts spread across several buildings that had a nice loop that led you into the next part with ease. It was an exhibit crafted from Basquiat’s estate showing his family’s perspective, which made it more personable and heartwarming. It started with his childhood and upbringing, led into his studio days, gave us a glimpse into his nightlife scene, then ended with his legacy and influence. It was also really cool because Spotify curated a playlist for each part of the exhibit, so you could listen to the music he listened to/music that represented his art and voice while you explored. (A cute girl listening to music in an art exhibit, is that not main character energy or what?!)

I’ve included some of my favorite pieces so you can get an idea of how it was, but I can’t even describe the love and care that went into this exhibit. Not only were his art pieces featured, but there were also documentary style interviews with his family and people he’s worked with throughout. There were projections of home videos of him as a baby and child, and photographs from his adult-life. My favorite part was the recreated sets of his childhood home and studio space! The recreated studio was so detailed. It had cigarette boxes on the floor and his VHS and music collection. A paint-splattered jacket and his pieces all around like he just finished them. It honestly felt like he’d turn the corner any second, and we’d all get a live show of him creating his next piece. That’s how real and personal it felt. I loved it!

It was also amazing seeing his family members. All beautiful and Black with their natural hair, dreads and braids. I felt proud to be Black, proud to be artistic, and proud to be alive just being there. That’s an amazing feeling to have when for months it’s felt like part of you died with your mother. This was also a good, first healing-through-grief date, because since it was curated by the family, you could also feel their love for Jean-Michel. He wasn’t just an artist to them, he was a brother and a son. I wasn’t sure of her relation to him, since I stumbled upon her interview midway through, but this family member (speaking about his accomplishments) said,

“If Jean-Michel were to sit here, it wouldn’t be about any of that, it would just be about the fact that I miss him.”

Writing this is making me a bit teary-eyed myself, because I now know that pain. What it’s like to just miss someone you love so dearly. To want more days and more time with them. Yet even with that constant pain of missing him, she and her family curated such an amazing exhibit for his fans to continue his legacy and share his gift with the world.

Grieving Tip: Remembering someone’s legacy is a big part of the healing process, at least it is for me. When I feel stuck in sadness, I think about my mom’s legacy and how that now falls on me, like it did with Basquiat’s family.

Maybe it's not something huge like curating an art exhibit in his honor, but my mom was a light and even with every crazy obstacle life threw her way, she found the silver lining and pressed on. On days when all I want to do is lay in bed and cry, I think about how smily and joyous my mom was. I think about how she was a fighter and never let anything hold her back. It motivates me to keep moving forward and continue to be a light in this world, just like she was. And hey, if it’s an exceptionally hard day to get out of bed, I give myself some grace and try again the next day. Grief comes in waves, so enjoy the good days when you can push through, and don’t beat yourself up over the days when you can’t.

Overall, the Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure exhibit was exactly what I needed! I had a reason to get cute, I got out of my apartment, I connected with a random lady (also riding solo) over how beautiful his bold colors were. I empathized with Basquiat’s family who are on their own stage of their grief journey, I spent under $20 for this experience (Ticket: Free, Bus transit: $1.75, Dope Basquiat pin souvenir: $16.50 & I didn’t have to buy this so it could’ve been just $2!). I saw some amazing art, I got inspired to get back into my own creative projects, and lastly, I felt alive and happy living in this moment.

If you are local to Los Angeles and would like to check out this exhibit, click the link below!

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