Friday was Jeff's birthday and our final day in Los Angeles, and we had decided to play it by ear. Still wiped out by the previous two days, we slept in and felt content to lounge in our room, eating cookie butter and waiting for our 5 p.m. appointment with Brian at the frame shop. We thought about visiting the Getty, but as far as Jeff could tell, it was pretty far-flung and unreachable by bus. This seemed elitist and cruel of the Getty, and as I began to settle in for a delicious day of resentful sloth, Jeff discovered that no, wait, we could get there by a combination of long bus rides after all. Okay, The Getty, this had better be worth it.
Our bus lumbered slowly north along the interminable Sepulveda Boulevard, stopping every fifteen yards or so. After about an hour of that, we switched buses at UCLA and continued north. The route took us on a hilly, serpentine tour of Bel Air, where we saw many gates, dense hedges, lush vegetation/shade, and other signs of extreme wealth including glimpses of mansions. This was lots of fun to see, but the bus ride was so profoundly bumpy that I was forced to clutch my breasts with both hands to keep them in my dress. "Be still, my wee ones!" I said to them as an amused (Jazzy) Jeff looked on. So ladies, here's a travel tip you won't find anywhere else: wear a sports bra if you have to take a bus through Bel Air. Once we left Bel Air, the bus unceremoniously deposited us in the midst of a construction site. We could see the Getty's gleaming white edifice at the top of a hill about a mile away.
"I think we're gonna have to walk up there," Jeff said, and I emitted a heartbroken cry of betrayal. We trudged through one of those covered walkways common to urban construction areas, and when we emerged--hooray! A TRAM!
Let's all go up on the tram together, thanks to this video I just found!
We had been told that the Getty would be an oasis, and it certainly was. The cars, the noise, the buses, and the sprawl were replaced with mondernistic architecture, Zen gardens, panoramic views, and oh yeah, some art.
Herb Ritts photography (yay) and Gustave Klimt drawings (double yay) were that day's special exhibits along with the museum's permanent collection, and, unbelievably, everything was free.
That's right, Art Institute of Chicago: some museums are free.
(My iPhone's case looks like a paint set, and I enjoyed the quizzical looks I received when I tried to take photos.)
This garden was a zig-zaggy maze of beautiful flowers, trees, succulents, and water features. I could imagine plenty of people coming to the Getty solely to escape the rest of Los Angeles and enjoy the architecture and gardens.
Above is part of the Getty as seen from that garden.
We thought these gigantic planters were ingenius and wondered how many years it took the plants to grow up through the centers before spilling out the tops.
It a treat to see Klimt's drawings. I wrote an independent study honors art history paper about him when I was in college--like many post-adolescent art girls, I was dazzled by his glamourous, richly-patterend paintings from the early 20th century. Many of those paintings are in Vienna, and I've only seen reproductions.
Above is one of his very fine academic studies from early in his career. His lines were razor sharp and frighteningly confident. (That black-and-white-on-toned-paper technique is one of my favorite ways to draw.)
Drawings that would inspire his dreamlike later work were also featured.
I was especially touched to view drawings that found their way into finished paintings, such as the above study for Klimt's Medicine. I left with a better understanding of his process and the way his mind worked.
"I'm not familiar with Herb Ritts," Jeff told me.
"Oh yes you are," I said as we entered his "L.A. Style" exhibit.
Photographer of supermodels, celebrities, athletes, and beyond-perfect anonymous male and female bodies, Herb Ritts is responsible for many iconic images of the 1980s and 90s. Skin is rarely photographed this lovingly. I remember seeing his above cluster of women in Vogue when I was in grad school. Unlike the overly-photoshopped pictures of models you see today, Herb Ritts' women never made me feel inadequate. They made me happy that creatures like that were walking the earth.
And then, perhaps in an attempt to remind us that art is more than just naked bodies, the permanent collection included THIS.
"Oh Jeff..." I said, tears in my eyes.
I've written about Vincent Van Gogh's Irises before, but this item bears repeating:
The Getty was such a lovely experience, and if you're going to be in Los Angeles, I urge you to do whatever it takes to get there, even if that means riding multiple breast-jangling buses. For a couple of hours, we felt like we could breathe again.
And then it was back to our construction zone bus stop. We arrived about 30 seconds before a bus arrived, but for whatever reason the bus driver blew right by us and a handful of other people. We fumed for half an hour.
Somebody had tagged the curb by my feet with "STATE," and this reminded me of Coach Taylor's whiteboard on Friday Night Lights, S05 E02, an episode to which I cannot link easily. But you people who watched that show: you know what I'm talking about, and I took it as a vote of confidence.
Does it go without saying that the ride back to the hotel was soul-destroying, and that once we were there it was nearly mid-afternoon, and after we'd had just enough time to freshen up and attempt to print boarding passes using the hotel's Pliocene-era computer, we had to turn around and get on two more buses to return to the frame shop, and that was also lousy? And before we hit the frame shop, we walked pretty far out of our way to try Beligian fries (Jeff's holy grail) that were, as usual, not everything they should have been?
It does go without saying any of that? Good. Let's consider ourselves at the frame shop. It's 5:15.
I was flustered and sweaty from our mile of sprint-walking in the afternoon heat. Luckily Brian wasn't there yet. I positioned myself beneath the Sherman Gallery's ceiling air conditioning outlet and fanned myself like crazy with a pamphlet. I was happy to meet Mike, my gallery worker and email pen pal for over a month, who came out with the painting, beautifully framed and wrapped in plastic. He had done such a speedy, great job with it, and again this cost me hundreds of dollars less than if I'd gone to the shop's many competitors. Check out these guys if you need to frame something in L.A. I took a photo and enjoyed a few final moments with my--soon to be Brian's--painting.
Brian appeared at around 5:30 in his SUV. I'd made sure that he had a vehicle big enough to transport the painting. It was wonderful to finally meet the man with whom I had exchanged nearly 300 emails (no joke) during the course of this project.
Brian took us out to dinner at Fig restaurant in Santa Monica. Fig is a young, hip place that--let's all say it together (especially you, Caroline)--Jeff had researched on the internet. Birthday boy had the beet risotto...
...which he loved, and our pal Brian...
...enjoyed a nice-looking plate of fish (halibut?).
The gentlemen did not take any photos of me, probably because I was a blur of tornado-like eating action. That was the best chopped salad of all time.
Unfortunately, Fig was packed and very loud, so we almost had to shout our conversation. But we still had fun talking with Brian about his upcoming wedding, the house he and Katherine had recently purchased in Colorado Springs, and our misadventures on Match.com, where we had all eventually found love.
Brian was supportive and enthusiastic as I completed this painting--I couldn't have asked for a better client. I'm lucky that he had discovered my work while searching online for portrait artists last year. He is also a true romantic and obviously in love with Katherine. I wished I could have met her in person, too, because she sounds amazing! Brian told me my painting was phenomenal, and he knew she would love it. He dropped us off at our hotel--what luxury to be in an actual car for a change!--and we wished him a happy wedding and marriage. Brian said, "I hope we'll be even half as happy as you two." D'awww. See what I mean? Great guy.
Mission accomplished, we went to bed early in anticipation of our 4:00 a.m. wake-up time.
That wake-up time came about as quickly as this new paragraph did. We took a speedy cab ride to the airport at 5:00 and were waiting at our gate at 5:20, a new record for us. Repeat: from hotel to gate in 20 minutes. Most of that time was spent curbside where we checked the gun case. This time it contained Jeff's extra shoes, cookie butter, and a bottle of Belgian beer he had purchased at Trader Joe's.
Baggage check man: I'm going to have to open that. What's inside the case?
Jeff: Alcohol, shoes, and peanut butter [It was just easier to call it that.--K].
BCM: [quizzical, smiling look] You don't need to open it. [waves us through]
Jeff: [a minute or two later, to me] It's like they want us to get out!
Me: It's like an apology.
(I will never stop loving the Pac Man-shaped fields Texas. I'm guessing that was Texas, anyway.)
We flew from LAX to Dallas/Ft.Worth to Chicago to Champaign. Nothing much happened on our flights, except for a Dallas passenger whose eye-watering halitosis had a radius of about six feet. As the day wore on, Jeff and I became slap-happy, laughing our heads off over signs like this one.
Jeff: "Caution! Do not trip over tiny hat!"
Me: "Beware of smashed sombrero!" "Extra dangerous if you have no hands or feet!"
Each layover lasted at least a few hours, so by the time we were back home, it was 9:00 p.m. A very long day of travel!
Three joyous cats met us at the door. Each had many needs to meet and many things to tell us. Bun walked around nervously for about an hour before finally settling down, satisfied that we weren't going anywhere else for a while.
That was pretty mean of me to show the painting wrapped in plastic up there, wasn't it? All will be revealed in my next post! Please *like* the heck out of my Facebook watercolor page, and I'll see you soon. :)