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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, plenty of white!
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.
The Getty is purposed.
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.
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.
Plantsmanship and horticultural skill rule, including layering, texture, contrast, and even some formal pleaching. The plants make the hardscape and vice-versa.
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.
Low stone sitting might also work for shorter people, or at least those without hiking and skiing-damaged knees, unlike me.
Such Mediterranean plant imagery, with muted greens and fuzzy grays, all mounded and brought closer to eye level via containers.
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”.
In almost no traffic back to Calabasas, it was a light dinner at Le Pain Quotidien. Including a decent croissant.
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.
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.
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.
I mostly survived the coming unknown, and it’s now 2018!