5 Reasons to Get Thee to the Getty Museum

"Irises," by Vincent Van Gogh
"Irises," by Vincent Van Gogh
British artist David Hockney’s painting of Mulholland Drive gives you a real sense of the steep streets and thereby hilly neighborhood where the J. Paul Getty Museum, sits atop a ridge like the Parthenon in Greece.

The Getty looks out over the Los Angeles network of freeways that weave between neighborhoods and some enviable perches. The Getty is not on Mulholland Drive though, it’s at 1200 Getty Center Drive (90049).

Walkway at the Getty Museum
Walkway at the Getty

When you arrive at the Getty you can’t drive up to the front door of the museum. Instead, there’s a parking garage and there’s a fee (currently $15) for the parking garage. Admission to the museum is free.

Here’s five things that stood out and grabbed me about the Getty:

1) The tram ride. This is like a pause before the punch line or a comma in a sentence.
The first experience not to be missed is this ride up from the parking garage to the museum. It would be hard to avoid this method of arriving anyhow! The tram offers a way to clear your visual palette for a fresh entrée. Arriving at the museum is like arriving in Spartan clean clutter-free Shangri-la.

You’re greeted with the sound of waterfalls with stark white stone and stairwells and as you walk around you’ll see things like a bronze Magritte sculpture of 3 torsos, a large one inside a smaller one, inside a smaller one.

2) The Collections (Especially Photography)
Before you go you can take a brief tour of the Getty collection. The website offers over 100 videos exploring its collection. Though you may want to find out what’s currently on display it’s hard to go wrong.

For a voracious fan of photography this is paradise. Within the current photography show, are a few pieces by one of my favorite photographers, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, which includes one of his photograms. (For an example of a photogram here’s one of mine from a previous post).

A view from inside out
A view from inside out

3) The Gardens
Don’t miss this 134,000 square foot environment designed by Robert Irwin. The immaculately groomed gardens provide a space to experience being inside art. You can have a pleasant picnic here, and luxuriate in the spaciousness and attention to every tree and bush. Sit by a running stream and listen to it gurgle. Stare out at the vastness of Los Angeles with skyscrapers in the distance. On a clear day you can see the ocean.

4) Space
There’s an alive energy of affirming abundance that envelops the Getty. It’s apparent in the amount of space allocated for housing art and the way it’s displayed. And plenty of room for the visitor to roam. There’s several places to choose from for eating lunch and an array of spaces to sit out on terraces and sip coffee or tea.

One of the terraces at the Getty Museum
One of the terraces at the Getty Museum

5) Thoughtful Staff
My cell phone battery was low and at coat check I asked where were electrical outlets I could recharge it. The kindly gentleman at coat check offered to charge my phone if I checked it in. I don’t know if this is normal procedure though I hope it is.

The Artsy Merchants of Venice

(California, that is).

Palm tree-lined Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, Calif.
Palm tree-lined Abbot Kinney Boulevard
To get the full affect of arriving in bohemian Venice, take the magical three mile walk or bike ride along the beach from the Santa Monica pier. You can rent bikes there. Choose the ones with the most comfy looking seats. The terrain is flat so the ride will only take about twenty minutes.

When you get to Venice and mosey inward a few blocks to a street called Abbot Kinney. There’s elegant modern nondescript storefronts next door to crusty houses built 80 years ago, the kind with porches and a swing in the front. And there’s restaurants with customers sitting ear to ear and there’s no sign of the name of the place.

Not a box store you’ve heard of on the street. The Jin Patisserie has an entryway that had an irresistible sensitivity to light.. The website is worth a visit if you can’t physically go there.

Entry to Jin Patisserie
"Entry to Jin Patisserie," photo by Mary Gow

I liked the presentation of these two roses.

Inside one of the fashionably retro bungalows you’ll find a charming portable fireplace, the kind you can move from one room to another. The shop owner said it was from Home Depot. I was mesmerized.

Portable fireplace in Venice clothing store
Portable fireplace

3 Discoveries About Intuitive Painting

Untitled No. 1, by Mary Gow
"Untitled No. 1," by Mary Gow
Ever let yourself paint without a purpose, reason, or plan? It’s called process painting, source painting, soul painting, or intuitive painting (“IP”). It felt like an un-learning process to me. Permission to do whatever comes to mind.

I wanted to explore intuitive painting after hearing about it and took my first class at Creative Juices Studio, founded by Chris Zydel, who has over 30 years of experience as a creativity guide. In “Intuitive Painting as Spiritual Practice,” an article Zydel wrote, she explains the essence of IP:

In the realm of art for outcome there is a constant mental evaluation going on. Your mind is continually asking itself things like “Is this good, is this bad, do I like it, do I not like it, is it beautiful, is it ugly?” When you are painting as a spiritual practice you are trying to let go of judgment and comparison and inviting mercy and curiosity to be your companions as you create. When you approach your creativity with the attitude of holding everything that comes out of you with compassion instead of criticism you have an opportunity to experience what I like to call Radical Self Acceptance.

I loved my first “official” intuitive painting experience. I realize sometimes I already make art this way, letting myself start not knowing where it is going to go and instead letting things emerge in the process. I did feel freer using paper and tempera instead of acrylics and canvas.

There’s guidelines within the IP environment that I felt supported by. Three of them in particular appealed to me.

The first one is no commenting on anyone else’s work. This creates a safe environment of non-judgment.

The second guideline was signing every piece when you’re finished. There’s something consoling about signing work and declaring it “finished.” Zydel says “Signing it means you own it.”

The third guideline I found especially appealing. Treat everything you create with respect. I like the ‘No Should-ing on Yourself’ that is part of intuitive painting.

Zydel says intuitive painting is all about saying YES to who you are:

When you are painting for the process you are operating from the belief that you are inherently a creative being and that actually everyone is creative. You are learning to say a great big YES to your creative self and to cultivate trust and faith in your creativity separate from things like talent or skill. In the world of art for product the assumption is that only a very few special, rare and gifted people have the right to call themselves artists , and that you should only be encouraged to exercise your creativity if you are extremely talented.

After Zydel gave me the orientation as a first-time participant, I started my first painting. There was a large assortment of tempera paints to choose from. There was no quota on how many paintings I could produce. It’s not about what kind, how many, which one. It’s about being present in the process. A beautiful sacred process.