Photography by Trevor Smith

Petra Cortright


| Altadena

Ever wonder what the internet would look like if all of its contents— the banal, the beautiful, the groundbreaking— came to exist together on a tableau? What colors, emotions or visuals could possibly represent such a dynamic body of information? Well, thanks to Petra Cortright, we’re a little closer to that answer… The Santa Barbara-born, LA-dwelling artist is celebrated for bringing digital art into a physical space; using Pinterest boards and shareable images as her palette, she works with computerized software to create layered paintings that blend real-life, abstract and cultural elements. She’s drawn to florals and nature (FYI, her husband, painter Marc Horowitz, and her tend to a stunning garden of their own at home), though inspiration can equally strike from a photo of a well-curated kitchen (Cortright’s a devoted Martha Stewart fan and a proud collector of her magazine Living). Simply put, if Matisse, Ms. Stewart and Jeff Koons found themselves in a room with Google search and Photoshop Paint bucket, what’d inevitably emerge would look a lot like Cortright. Of course, Cortright has been instrumental in video as art as well— it was one of her YouTube videos that caught the eye of Stella McCartney and launched a still-standing collaboration between the two (Cortright— once joined by her husband— stars in these videos wearing McCartney’s designs). Their professional partnership-turned-friendship isn’t too surprising: after all, they’re both leading ladies with a refined creative eye and something to say. We’re listening. Here, Cortright sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on LA.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: We are in Pasadena, South Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley a lot when we go out to eat, but we also really love cooking at home— grilling is great in California all year-round and we love that! Our neighborhood standby is Gus’s BBQ in South Pasadena (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). We split one wedge salad and one famous burger (medium rare) with a side of fries and ranch dressing (for dipping the fries in!) every time. To us, it’s the best burger in the world and a perfect meal— splitting those two things is exactly enough; we have it down to a science!

COFFEE OR TEA: I drink Harney & Sons Paris tea every morning. I don’t drink coffee anymore because I love the Paris tea so much. [My husband] Marc likes getting the cold nitro from Café de Leche (MAP IT, x) later in the morning or occasionally in the afternoon. If I go there [with him], I will get a hot chocolate or an Arnold Palmer depending on the weather.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Din Tai Fung (MAP IT, x)— it’s a chain restaurant inside a mall and they have a Michelin star. It’s full of contradictions in that way and I love it even more because of them! Order the cucumber salad, wood ear mushrooms, sautéed string beans with garlic, mustard greens with ginger, bbq spare ribs, noodles with sesame sauce and several orders of pork xiaolongbao (plus a few chocolate dumplings for dessert). It’s just unbelievably delicious and consistent every. single. time.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: It’s been almost 4 years now since we stopped drinking alcohol so I really just enjoy getting into the cedar hot tub we put in in our back garden. That sort of “relaxing” has replaced the drinking thing for us. That being said, I think the BonaVista lounge at the top of The Bonaventure Hotel downtown is very ‘80s LA to me (MAP IT, x). It’s a rotating restaurant and the view is so cool. I would definitely go there to have a Shirley Temple and snack on the goldfish crackers that they serve there in martini glasses (I hope they still do that?)!

LADIES LUNCH: Huntington Garden (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is fun for that. You can make reservations and do a tea room thing or, if you want something more low-key, I’m actually pretty into the burritos that they have in their new lunch place at the entrance.

BEST BRUNCH: I was trying not to repeat answers, but I do have to say Din Tai Fung for this as well because they have these special tiny xiaolongbao that you can only get on the weekends— they are usually gone within an hour after opening! Other than that, I have a hard time going out for breakfast when I would rather make waffles or make a Dutch baby (German pancake) and chill at the house in pajamas. I hate having to get dressed to go out to get a breakfast to tell you the truth— it’s really bullshit. I will get dressed for the something special that I can’t make at home (AKA the tiny dumplings).

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: At the malls. Strip malls are good, but I like Westfield Santa Anita (MAP IT) and The Americana in Glendale (MAP IT).

HEALTHY STAPLE: Grassroots in South Pasadena (MAP IT, x). They have great burritos and salads, and incredible honey lemonade.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Olive oil cake from Lincoln (MAP IT, x); Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt in South Pasadena (MAP IT, x); Uncle Tetsu Japanese Cheesecake in the Santa Anita Mall (MAP IT, x).

LA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: The San Gabriel Valley for food— it’s not even a secret actually; just a secret to people on the West side who don’t come East because it’s a long drive!

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: Our dogs, our house and our garden. I get kind of bummed if I know something is blooming in the garden and I miss it. Some blooms only happen once a year and you have to wait a whole year to see them bloom again. I missed every lilac this year because we were on a big trip for two months.

REGULAR AT: The Altadena Farmers Market (x). We know most of the vendors names and they know us. Aris makes the best yogurt in the world (I also crave their tzatziki all the time and have to buy two to three tubs of it at a time now because one was never enough). Shucks Oyster Bar has the best, freshest and most delicious oysters from the Pacific Northwest and New Zealand (depending on the time of year) and we look forward to them every week. The Gastrobus has incredible roasted potatoes with garlic and grilled cheese— I actually get a kid’s grilled cheese to go alongside the oysters. Mama Musubi makes these amazing Japanese rice balls— I love the spicy tuna one— and I also like their green tea lemonade. McFarlin Family Farms has incredible produce like stone fruit and citrus. After living many places outside of California, I try to remember to never take California produce for granted— it’s really some of the best in the world.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: We don’t have a regular date night; we just go where we want to when we want to, ha! Houston’s in Pasadena (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is actually kind of fun with dark lighting so it’s maybe good for a “date night.” The most official date night we had was a while ago and we went to N/Naka (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). It took months to get the reservation and it was worth it— it is spectacular! We called that a date night after the fact, but really, we had just wanted to eat there…

DELIVERY GO-TO: Sugarfish (MAP IT, x) or Domino’s (which is honestly so good by the way). I hate people that talk shit about Domino’s; I love the thin crust because it’s almost pastry-like.

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: There is no place to see and be seen in Altadena— that’s why we like it.

TO GET INSPIRED: The Norton Simon (MAP IT, x) has such bangers in their permanent collection (they have two of my favorite Matisse pieces) and the sculpture garden is really lovely and relaxing. I also love the size of the museum— it’s not so huge that it’s tiring— and the fact that it’s a 10 minute drive from our house. We go there all the time.

GALLERY PICK: 1301PE on Wilshire (MAP IT, x) and And/Or Gallery in Pasadena (MAP IT, x).

GO-TO GETAWAY: I am from Santa Barbara and I love it up there so I try to go as often as I can. The beaches are nicer than LA; it’s relaxing; I see friends and family and the food is some of the best in all of California. I like to go to Brophy Brothers (MAP IT, x) and sit right on the water at the harbor; the cioppino and garlic baked clams are the best. La Super Rica (MAP IT, x) is legendary for Mexican food (I actually like their tamales and the #16 special over the tacos). And, I love Los Arroyos (MAP IT, x). Actually, I would have to do a whole other interview for Santa Barbara entirely…

CLOSET CHECK: I used to have a lot of fun going to thrift stores, but I simply don’t have the time that I used to. It really does take a lot of time to put in the effort to find the cool pieces! Santa Barbara and Montecito have amazing thrift stores; Pasadena as well. The goal is to go to cities or neighborhoods where there are say rich old ladies wearing something once and then donating it. But like I said, that takes a lot of time and energy. I am actually really so spoiled because after working with Stella McCartney (MAP IT, x) and becoming friends with her, I now go straight to Stella without question when I want something special! Her clothing is so fun and easy to wear, but it makes you look so elegant and feel so powerful. Every time a new season comes out, I just freak out and want everything. The pieces are such good quality and they are sustainable. You know you will be wearing them forever. I’m a really ride-or-die Stella girl at this point…

QUOTIDIAN KEEPER: Oh my god, actually yes… I am obsessed with the dog groomer that I take our dogs to in Pasadena: Jackie at K-9 Klipping (MAP IT, x). She is located in a cottage within a garden nursery (which is just so great) and then the nursery, Carrillo’s Garden & Landscaping, is really, really, really good too. The owner, Carlos, is incredible and we have gotten some really unusual and rare tree specimens for our garden that you would never find at other nurseries!

BEST HOME DÉCOR: We are weirdos and our stuff comes from everywhere so it’s a hard question to answer. I like 1stDibs. Marcia Weber Art Objects in Montgomery, Alabama (MAP IT, x) has a great selection of outsider art which is our favorite kind of art for our house— it’s soulful, unpretentious and affordable. Another great resource for art is Creativity Explored in San Francisco (MAP IT, x). And, you know what, I will give a shout out to South Willard on West 3rd Street in LA too (MAP IT, x)— it’s a really nice shop. Peter Shire is an LA icon and his coffee mugs are great; you can buy them there along with other nice things.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Bread from Seed Bakery in Pasadena (MAP IT, x) is a great gift…

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: Daniel Moon (MAP IT, x) for hair and Ginny King (MAP IT, x) for eyebrows.

FIT PICK: We go to The Wellrock in Altadena (MAP IT, x) for strength-training and conditioning. It has the best teachers and attracts the best group of people. We are getting so strong from it and feel great.

ULTIMATE LA MOMENT: I met my husband in a hot tub… CP

Petra’s LA

From L to R: First Row: Inside Gus’s BBQ; Norton Simon Museum; Womenswear by Stella McCartney; Seed Bakery bread. Second Row: Work by Petra Cortright; Olive oil cake at Lincoln; Bites from Din Tai Fung; Huntington Garden.


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