Monday, August 27, 2007

Smog Angeles (Part 3 of 4)

[Part 2 turned out to be very long, so I continue here.]

One true highlight of this trip was our visit to the Getty Museum. We've been trying to get there for 10 years, and WineGuy and I were ecstatic to have finally made it. The Getty was worth the wait. The Disney Hall paled in comparison to Richard Meier's travertine tour-de-force on the mountain. Wizard and I took an architecture tour, wherein they discussed how Meier lived on the site during the 15 years it took to build the museum, research center, and foundation buildings. Regardless of which gallery you're in, there is plenty of seemingly natural light, that moves with the day and changes the patron's viewing experience. The interplay of light and shadow on the walkways was artful.
Meier said that his task was to "manipulate forms in light, changes in scale and view, movement and stasis." He used the principles of Modernist architecture – simplified forms, materials and function that dictate the final result – to create volumes and surfaces and that mold the light. The setting is incomparable; the buildings are masterful. Nothing overwhelms the visitor except for the vistas, which are beautiful from every vantage point.

Oh, yes, they have art there, too. Good art, some outstanding pieces. Truly remarkable for such a young collection. It goes to show you that a huge endowment can create an amazing collection in no time. From the ancient Roman antiquities (some of which have recently been in the news), to the illuminated manuscripts, the period French furnishings, and the incredible Impressionist paintings, it is clear that the museum directors had carte blanche to pursue the ultimate collection. My little art student, Wild Thing, was particularly taken with Van Gogh's Irises. He loved the brushstrokes and movement in Van Gogh's paintings. We also enjoyed seeing some of Edward Weston's photographs. WineGuy and I had a great time discussing the visual and psychological ambiguities of Edouard Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. which was a special exhibit this summer.
After spending hours looking at art, we took a break at one of the lower level cafes. It was wonderful sitting outside in the cool mountain breeze overlooking the magnificent gardens at the Getty. We meandered down through the Central Garden, just blazing with summer's floral glory. There is a series of water features whose sounds change depending where you stand near them. There were lots of butterflies and bees enjoying nature's bounty that day, too. We found a secluded sculpture garden just off the Central Garden. It offered "smogly" beautiful views of the City of Angels. We even hiked down to the South Promontory to see the cactus garden. Wizard took this photo of me and WineGuy in the Central Garden.
We ended our Getty excursion in the museum store, where I purchased a box of notecards featuring pictures of the building. WineGuy got a rock. Yes, a rock, like Charlie Brown found in his Halloween sack. No, I'm not kidding: WG purchased a small block of the ubiquitous travertine, etched with the museum's logo.

Guess what? Our day was far from over. WineGuy believes in milking every last experience out of every trip -- despite exhausted and whining spouse children, so we took a little driving tour. We saw some famous theaters -- Pantages, El Capitan, and the newly restored Egyptian; the Capitol Records building and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I found Bonnie Raitt's star there, but not my own. ;-)We wended our way up Mulholland Drive. The views from up there were spectacular, BUT the road is one tight switchback after another and requires 110% concentration to drive. You have to intensely crave privacy to live up there.

Finally, the touring ended. We drove back downtown to have dinner at a Los Angeles institution, Philippe (pronounced "FILL-ih-pee") the Original. Philippe is "French dip heaven". Yea and verily it was. I've never had a better French dip sandwich anywhere. In fact, the leg of lamb version was even better than the beef. By the end of dinner, we were stuffed and exhausted. I needed to shower and get some sleep because the Jeopardy! taping was scheduled for the next two days.


LSM said...

I am enjoying living vicariously through you during this series! I really want to see the Getty. I need to quit procrastinating and schedule a trip out to see my LA brother.

Christina said...

You would think I could drive the 2.5 hours up to see the Getty wouldn't you? Jax and I have talked about it, but not done it yet! I just need that precious commodity - time. It looks well worth it. Some day for sure.

Ah, the Pantages! My parents had season tickets there for about 3 seasons and I fondly remember those drives into the city, the fancy dinners before, and the fabulous plays we saw. Then I remember falling asleep in the back of the car on the way home every single time.

I love your reports!

Robin said...

It's good to finally see you and WineGuy. :) Wizard has a good eye. Nice composition on that photo.

Oddly enough, I understand buying a rock. I've purchased a few rocks on our travels.

I'm enjoying your travels. I hope to visit the Getty someday. :)