Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Get thee to the Getty

Back in Los Angeles, yet still floating on Sequoia highs, I decide to visit the world famous Getty Center on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains. To get there, I can take a taxi for the measly sum of $45.00 one-way, or I can take the same trip by bus for $1.00. As a Senior, I do even better . . . I get bargain rates: $0.45 for an hour and a half trip! All I have to do is walk several blocks to the LAX bus depot on 96th Street, take the Culver City 6 to Westwood and make the transfer there to Metro Rapid Line 761.

I arrive at Getty Drive, leave the bus, and hop onto a sleek tramway that makes me feel like I am a bird rising above the landscape below. The museum complex is huge, positioned around a central plaza. The buildings are clad in enameled metal; the plaza in split travertine, some blocks of which reveal fossilized aspen leaves. Huge asymmetrical archways frame panoramas of the mountain ridges beyond and the city below.

The architect, Richard Meier incorporated undulating design elements into the Getty buildings to soften the stark geometric design of the campus; a softening enhanced by the natural gardens designed by artist Robert Irwin which lead visitors along a walkway bordered by colorful flowers, trees, and shrubs that change with the season. The walkways meander around and across a boulder strewn stream that eventually cascades down into a pool with its own floating maze of azaleas.

Always anxious to learn as much as I can about a place, I took the architectural tour with a guide who shared all sorts of nifty ideas about how Meier’s concepts managed to blend contrasting yet complimentary shapes and forms into a complex compatible with the surrounding landscapes yet incorporate his preference for tightly controlled environments (note all those "Cs in this very long sentence).

After the tour, which last over an hour, I bought a chicken salad at the outdoor cafe and sat under an umbrella to relax. I ate surrounded by babies in strollers, tripping toddlers, kissing lovers, doting grandparents, and a bevy of gorgeous red-hatted black ladies in the purple outfits waltzing by to the music of their own laughter. So much activity, yet I felt wondrously alone and content in the warm afternoon sun.

I had such a good time outside, wandering through the gardens and walkways, watching groups of parochial school children in plaid uniforms and red shirts working earnestly over sketch pads that I quite forgot about visiting the numerous art collections inside. Instead I peeked over the young people’s shoulders intrigued by the variety of objects they chose to draw – buildings, scenes, flowers details, until another more boisterous group of children (followed by admonishing mamas), jostled past me and busied themselves running hither and yon in free-floating delight.

When I checked my watch I realized that I’d only one-half hour left in which to visit the art galleries. How would I explain myself if I didn't at least give them a peek? So off I dashed, working my way from one floor to the next of one gallery. I'd reached the third floor when I realized the sunglasses I'd been guarding so assiduously had disappeared. I needed those glasses. The sun was too bright without them and I'm cataract prone. My loss triggered a mad search of every gallery room as I attempted to retrace my steps. I could swear that I was rushing through rooms that hadn't been there earlier. Finally I was back where I'd begun my gallery tour and wouldn't you know, that's where I found those glasses. They blended so nicely with the black table on which they sat in the dark interactive screening room that they seemed to want to stay.

The ride back to Los Angeles resembled a crazy game of sardines -- men, women and children crushed onto seats among a swaying mass of humanity clinging to bars and handle straps as their purses and shopping bags and lunch buckets strove for space as well. A woman in front of me hummed the same two notes in quiet monotony for the entire trip. I wondered if she was claustrophobic, and if I hummed with her I might assuage the feeling of suffocation I was feeling.
At each stop, people got off and more got on to take their place. I arrived back at the hotel just as my husband returned from work.

It was still light out, so we headed to Manhattan Beach, where we walked in the sand for almost an hour. Hungry by then, we stopped at a tiny corner restaurant called Talia where we ate a not so tiny Italian meal. Meanwhile, our car, sitting alone in the parking lot, decided to spring a flat tire. It could have been worse, that tire could have flattened while we were careening down the Sierra Nevada Mountains earlier in the week. Besides, that flat gave me the chance to admire something new about Bill: his competent skill with car jack and wrench. Impressive. Compared to it, my successful foray by bus to the Getty, seemed like child's play.


tinker said...

What adventures you've been on -
glad you found your sunglasses.

Jo said...

Sounds like a wonderful day, I could do with one like that :)

Here's the link to my blog

http: florescence. wordpress. com

Good to see you again.