Me and Getty Lee

posted 11 Oct 2002, 5PM

Today my roomate Awol and I climbed into his Lumina, swerved down Sepulveda Blvd and pulled into the Getty Center, the finest public cultural buldings and estates I've visited in the modern world. This was actually my fourth visit to the center since I first arrived in LA; today the air was cool, however, with thicker smog and stronger breeze, so I daresay it nearly amounted to an autumn experience. We rode the tram, explored galleries, checked out the vew across the cactus garden toward downtown LA and Santa Monica, played chess in the shade beside a fountain, and wandered through the gardens, loudly pretending to meet each other for the first time in years.

We ate us some crumbly black bean veggie burgers at the old cafe, sitting even farther away from the cool kids than the table of pimply outcasts on a highschool field trip. I most enjoy the space of the place--the view, the gardens and the architecture--but we were both particularly fond of the gallery of Greuze drawings done by the 18th Century master French artist. Paintings from that era never interested me too much, but his drawings slayed me: quick gesture sketches done in watercolor and ink; charcoal and crayon studies done as preparation for larger paintings and engravings. He captured the texture of flesh, the emotions in expression better than any artist had before his day, and many of his sketches have the expressive energy of late 19th century artists. Quite a treat.

Strolling through the courtyard, we overheard a stout middle-aged woman exclaim, "I'm just kickin' it." We peered at her queerly and chuckled to ourselves. She was leading a group of students. Sensing that we were amused, she turned and cheerfully explained that, "When you work with kids, you talk like kids. It just happens. You work with 'em all day, and you start to talk like them."

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