Engaged Observers and participant at The Getty

Engaged Observers and participant at The Getty

Wendy's friend Vivian was visiting L.A. from Hong Kong for the first time this weekend, so we did a little sightseeing. Of course, The Getty Center was part of it. No matter what your stance is on the art collection, the architecture, landscaping, and view are unbeatable. The Getty made Los Angelenos care about what a building can aspire to be, leading the way for the Disney Concert Hall and so on. And after taking the tram, you really do feel like you're in another world.

We walked down to the garden as the marine layer was burning off and got there just in time for clear skies. Yes, we applied sunblock to Eloise and carried one of those free-range umbrellas, too. I love those dumb umbrellas but I also wish they chose yellow or orange or something more cheerful.

Later on, we discovered a section dedicated to children. It was still pretty early and uncrowded so we screwed around there for a while. The cubicle below is a kid-version of furniture in one of the crustier sections of the museum. This mini mattress was complemented by books on beds in both English and Spanish.

Below, an illuminated version of an illuminated manuscript with spots left open for little hands to fill in. I started the bunny head for Eloise to finish… (I expect to be done drawing outlines pretty soon, since her draftsmanship is improving exponentially.)

We also saw a grown-up exhibit: Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography since the Sixties. As a guy who likes to take pictures, it was mind blowing to see what the selection of “real” photographers did, taking their cameras to places where they could take pictures that would make a difference. Among others, Leonard Freed's Black in White America series, W. Eugene and Aileen M. Smith's photos of Japanese villagers who were poisoned by mercury, Susan Meiselas's images of revolutionary Nicaragua, and Mary Ellen Mark's encounters with homeless children in Seattle are as moving as they are artistic and inspiring as they are depressing.

Philip Jones Griffiths on the above image: “Limits of friendship. A Marine introduces a peasant girl to king-sized filter-tips. Of all the U.S. forces in Vietnam, it was the Marines that approached 'Civic Action' with gusto. From their barrage of handouts, one discovers that, in the month of January 1967 alone, they gave away to the Vietnamese 101,535 pounds of food, 4,810 pounds of soap, 14,662 books and magazines, 106 pounds of candy, 1,215 toys, and 1 midwifery kit. In the same month they gave the Vietnamese 530 free haircuts.” All this and way more at the Getty until November 10, 2010.