Friday, May 28, 2010

The Getty Center: A Tree?

Anyone following this blog recently might well think it should be named "birdaware" rather than "treeaware"- regardless of the fact that a lot of the birds I have been writing about have been nesting in trees, or if not nesting in or under trees at least using sticks from trees to construct their nests...

Well, I'm now going back to trees as the main subject- although my first "tree" turns out NOT to be a tree!

Just before I left Los Angeles, my daughter, granddaughter and I accompanied visiting friends on a far too brief visit to the Getty Center in Brentwood. For those who don't know it, this is a palatial Modernist/Classical complex set high above Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, with wonderful extensive 360 degrees views, including both the Pacific Ocean and the San Gabriel mountains. It was completed in 1997 for the J Paul Getty Trust, both to house artworks from the Malibu Getty Villa and to house other Getty institutes and administrative offices. Designed by Richard Meier, the buildings - including the pavings- are largely clad in 350,000 pieces of a warm, light-reflecting Travertine, transported from an Italian quarry. Different textures are used- some polished, others rough-hewn.

Even without entering the buildings to see the Art Collections and exhibitions, it is a great experience. The gardens are an integral part of this. Designed by the artist Robert Irwin, they were conceived as a work of art. So now we come to the tree-that-was-not-a tree: walking down into the gardens, my curiosity was immediately aroused by a group of unusually shaped umbrella-like magenta trees. Taking a closer look, I felt rather stupid as I realized they were not trees: they were tree-shaped metal structures supporting an abundance of Bougainvillea!

So here they are:

This image shows one aspect of the gardens relationship to the buildings and to visitors (visitors being in this case my daughter Molly, granddaughter Violet and very good friends Kathy and James):

And here is a puzzle for visitors: a water-maze, which can only be used by ducks- who, of course, could always cheat by flying if they got defeated...

Finally, I will show a TREE! a real, living tree...

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