Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs

Back to Marfa for a quick trip on Chinati Weekend, so I can enjoy much of my long weekend at home.

I always enjoy the laid-back feel seeing exhibits here. The Agave americana looks like it will live forever.

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And next door, some memorabilia of a fine public radio station. Who set that drink there?

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To be fair, there are few places in Texas with Beto signs except the usual places. Marfa, El Paso, and Austin are a few, plus inner areas of Dallas, Houston, and south Texas.

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This houses the occasional showing of Donald Judd’s minimalist artwork installations works in various media. Tonight it was his U and V channels in mill aluminum.

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The Capri gets a new sign, but it looks like many of the plantings of small cacti are gone or moved. Figured.

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Another art dealer, but this time not from Texas (Austin), LA, or NY NY.

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At least I can now be proud to say I was from Denver when it was called a “Cowtown” and mocked for not being hip. “Denver | Marfa”…it’s all really funny!

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Texas has no state income tax, so they make up for it with large sales and property taxes. This must be about their new way of appraising and taxing the humble and now dying form of adobe buildings!

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People would get offed for hyper-taxing adobes in New Mexico. Or at least sent back to whence they came.
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Sancho must be an inside joke.

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Wide open spaces still exist for hours beyond and if you don’t take Marfa’s changes seriously! The good, friendly people I met made up for the other “stuff”, since after all, it’s Texas.

So, tip your fedora hat, as you nosh on some artisanal toast!

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Roadtrip: Sidetracked as Always

Even on a fast trip where time is everything, I try to seek out some inspiration in nature or a garden space.

Some young Agave americana were planted in a squarish bed of Nasella tenuissima, as I awaited a homemade donut from a brand new restaurant next door to this Marfa planting.

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When visiting that town only every several months like I do, there’s often a new restaurant open but a couple more closed.

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Tucked into a corner on my Friday walk to stops on “Made in Marfa” and a couple more rare Judd installation viewings…

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The Chihuahuan Desert doesn’t lack in Opuntia species any more than it lacks in yuccas and ocotillos. This is a form of Opuntia macrocentra, with pad tops in red-purple and shorter, gray spines.

It’s clearly Opuntia macrocentra. Many people in El Paso and Las Cruces cannot tell O. macrocentra apart from many other cacti such as O. camanchica or O. phaecantha. Just like many panic, because they cannot discern bullsnakes from rattlesnakes!

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Annuals like Cosmos are seeded into some challenging planters, but really cheer up cloudy days. Other places with equally narrow planting areas use grasses like this regional native Muhlenbergia emersleyi.

Why not xeric, native grasses on the Chihuahuan desert grassland?

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That is, instead of habitual, mesic eastern or European grasses as nondescript places do, like Denver or Denver-wannabe, Albuquerque. Yep – I speak the truth, as a former Denver and Albuquerque resident.

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Spring and Fall blooming Yucca recurvifolia, planted in…a squarish area of Nasella tenuissima. Certain folks would say this is “well curated”. Not I, since I at least speak US English, not English-du jour..

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And finally one of this small group of trees, which are about the tallest Sapindus drumondii specimens I’ve ever seen.

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Back to 2013: The Getty by Details

My only visit to the Getty Center was on an afternoon in April 2013.

4 hours away on business for a Las Vegas project, between selling my Albuquerque house and my next move, Los Angeles (LA) was a great weekend escape from familiarity and desert dust.

Starting in Calabasas and visiting a friend from the distant past, I can appreciate upscale and Mediterranean climate bliss.

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The place’s built landscapes and preserved open spaces almost look perfect: proof of talent, embrace of place, and a gentle but thoughtful touch.

Surfboards! Malibu is a short, winding drive down the canyon.

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Looking back at my photos of that trip, the visit after lunch in Malibu to the Getty Center was the highlight.

I’m planning a near-term weekend trip back to see other parts of the Getty missed. Also, there are now other aspects about my photos of the Getty which I did visit, but I didn’t grab onto back in 2013.

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White: many of you know I go to Marfa every few months, 4 hours from where I now live. Some of you can tell what I like there.

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The Getty has some striking similarities of how it’s sited, treated, and feels in huge LA, compared to other architecture and site-specific art in remote, tiny Marfa. Even with major differences in scale and well-contrived formality. Robert Irwin’s hand is in the design of parts of the Getty and even Marfa.

There is good-contrived, but there is terrible-contrived; both require only a bit of thinking to tell apart!

I can almost smell the cool, moist marine layer seen as haze in my photos. Not to mention the white Wisteria sinensis.

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Yes, plenty of white!

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Minimalism: clean lines without clutter are a part of so many contemporary art venues or design. Some of it looks trendy or too contrived, similar to a copy. But some of it looks deeper and from the mind and heart, similar to purposed.

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The Getty is purposed.

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Plantsmanship: the Getty has everyone’s favorite grand feature of what large cacti / succulents can be on southern California’s coastal slopes, Sunset Zone 23. It was great to see that overlook in person, after reading others’ blog posts on it.

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But there’s much more there. Though it doesn’t hurt to start at the cactus overlook, then work your way back to everything else. The gardens start the moment you walk from your parked car to wait for the tram ride to the main part of the Getty.

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Plantsmanship and horticultural skill rule, including layering, texture, contrast, and even some formal pleaching. The plants make the hardscape and vice-versa.

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The angled stone paver band at the trees compared to the same stone pavers at the building perimeter really works, as does the Parthenocissus tricuspidata on the wall.

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Low stone sitting might also work for shorter people, or at least those without hiking and skiing-damaged knees, unlike me.

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Such Mediterranean plant imagery, with muted greens and fuzzy grays, all mounded and brought closer to eye level via containers.

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Next time, I’ll look at the garden areas other than the cactus overlook and along the main walkway, plus spend more time enjoying the art exhibits inside.

With the nearing of the Getty’s daily closing, I could only look down into this area and hope to return. This is their “Central Garden”.

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In almost no traffic back to Calabasas, it was a light dinner at Le Pain Quotidien. Including a decent croissant.

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The next day after a quick return to you-know-where for breakfast, it was back to the desert dust as the unknown unfurled. An unknown that I now know, seen from 5 years in the future.

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Driving over the mountain, it was soon a straight highway as strong winds buffeted me for 4 hours to Victorville and Las Vegas. I made the occasional stop to see some primo Yucca brevifolia.

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At the pass before dropping into southern Nevada, I remember the wind grew even colder. With biting sleet and snow flurries instead of dust, their joshua trees were just then blooming. Yucca schidigera and Coleogyne ramosissima joined in.

That area, Mountain Pass, is 4,730 feet elevation. It was still early April in the highest part of the high Mojave Desert.

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I mostly survived the coming unknown, and it’s now 2018!