Cristina Ruiz: Crossing the finish line in LA

The sun is shining in Beverly Hills and Hirst’s spots look great in the last Gagosian branch on my tour. I took a 7am flight from New York to get here and to keep costs low I’m heading straight back to the airport to catch a flight back to New York after I finish. Fortunately, after the surly Gagosian employees in New York, the staff here are a delight—smiling, chatty, friendly. They even give me a tour of the building and take me up to the roof terrace to see the Franz West sculptures and Jorge Pardo lanterns.

Larger than the Hollywood sign? Hirst's spots in Beverly Hills

Then my card receives its final stamp and the challenge is complete. I am asked to fill in a form where I can choose the personalised inscription Damien Hirst will write on my very own limited-edition spot print. What can I write? I want to choose something Hirst might actually want to say to me. So after careful consideration I come up with something short and to the point: “Dear Cristina, Fuck off.”

The view from the Gagosian Gallery roof

After four trains and nine flights amounting to nearly 50 hours in the air in the last week alone, I have now seen all 11 Damien Hirst spot shows. So what have I learned? That it’s hard to write nearly 5,000 words about spots. That the paintings make much more sense in rich cities like Geneva and Beverly Hills than they do anywhere else. In places such as these it doesn’t really matter that the paintings have no meaning. They’re colourful and decorative and are instantly recognisable as a work by one of the most famous artists of our time.

Franz West sculptures and Jorge Pardo lanterns on the roof

My favourite Gagosian galleries on the tour? Rome and Beverly Hills.

Would I do it again? Not in economy class.

The running tally

Flights from New York to LA to New York: £199.10 ($314)

Taxi to JFK: $40

Taxi from LAX to Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills: $55

Taxi to LAX: $50

Taxi from JFK home: $40

Total today: $499

TOTAL SPENT, FINAL TALLY: $3250.75

Published Fri, 10 Feb 2012 16:39:00 GMT

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25 Feb 13
15:27 CET

GREGORY, DERBY

“Dear Hirst, Fuck off.” would have been more appropriate.

10 Apr 12
14:39 CET

MELISSA GRIFFIN, BALLARAT AUSTRALIA

Dear Cristina, I loved the way you made the seemingly impossible absolutely achievable. Inspiring stuff, well done!!

20 Feb 12
15:25 CET

IVAN, LUGANO

Dear Christina, I may sound naive and silly, but this idea of visiting all DH exhibitions makes me only think about the waste of money and, worse, carbon dioxide useless contribution. What's the point. Those dots are to me already sort of depressing for they represent much of contemporary art, and its current decadence. Your trip efforts are a linear, consequent reaction to this status, but still, I can't help but feel uncomfortable with this Berlusconi-like attitude of quantity versus quality. Best regards, Ivan

18 Feb 12
16:55 CET

DANNY NASH, LONDON

Dear Christina, I love your informative and punchy reporting style and especially, your positive sense of humour! Love, Danny

16 Feb 12
23:29 CET

SARA NASH, LONDON

As your "oldest" admirer I tip my hat off with awe to your tenacity and perseverance! CongratulationsXXS

16 Feb 12
19:41 CET

ROGER BEVAN, LONDON

Dearest Cristina, congratulations on digging deep into your energy reserves and your wallet to complete the challenge just ahead of the value of the print and to have supplied your followers with a very entertaining account of your journey which I have forwarded to my Exhibition Circle subscribers. We send very best wishes for a safe and comfortable flight homewards to retrieve your prize and replenish your account.

15 Feb 12
23:59 CET

HUW, LONDON

Congrats Cristina. Do you know what the rules are re the inscription? Can you request anything?

15 Feb 12
20:34 CET

ERICJ, DENVER

While I love Fuck Off, my inscription to you would have "Dear Cristina - Everyone Loves You"

15 Feb 12
14:44 CET

FRANCESCO, TOKYO

Well done Sis.....

14 Feb 12
15:16 CET

SHARON NASH, LONDON

I love the personalized inscription you came up with. Now that's art!!!

13 Feb 12
15:51 CET

VEIT, DRESDEN

Congrats, Cristina! I just added you to my list of other spot chasers: http://connectingspots.blogspot.com/2012/02/other-spot-chasers.html Also set up a Facebook group so all of us can connect a bit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/293899150665802

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Cristina Ruiz

Over the next six weeks, Cristina Ruiz, our editor-at-large, has taken up the challenge to try to visit all 11 Gagosian galleries showing Damien Hirst’s spot paintings. Follow her as she blogs about her travels here.