The Getty Center is built like a modern day fortress in the Brentwood hills overlooking Los Angeles. It promises a day of adventure, far from the bumper to bumper city streets and highways that are LA. Its imaginative and vast architectural spaces, impressive art collection, and exciting gardens lift your spirit to a higher plane.
And it all begins on a monorail.
Vehicular transport is hidden in a James Bondesque bunker-like garage carved into the belly of a hillside, where you board a monorail for a scenic ride up to the Getty complex, setting the tone for the wonder and excitement that awaits.
I was especially interested in visiting the gardens, designed by the artist, Robert Irwin. His lack of any garden design experience or knowledge of plants, on top of a contentious relationship with the Getty’s architect, Richard Meier, made him a controversial choice, and a juicy subject for critics.
The stream is a living sculpture. It invites you down the canyon over criss-crossing bridges, while the various notes of cascading water rush past boulders and trickle through gentle rivulets, creating a soothing melody…a gentle soundtrack that eases you into the the amphitheater of delights below.
The water pools into a circular river that surrounds an island garden, creating a maze of tightly pruned azalea.
Sandwiched between this garden jigsaw puzzle and a walkway shaded by a border of protective trees, is an exuberant garden celebrating color and diversity.
Hummingbirds dance through the air like faires. Bees and butterflies fill the garden with activity, thriving on the deep menu of flowers that flourish here.
It is a riot of plants that don’t necessarily have any relation to each other, but one by one, create a captivating concert.
Who can resist this mini meadow of poppies?
Or this incredible vine whose flower is shaped like a snail while in bud, but opens to a flower reminiscent of the delicacy of a newborn’s ear?
Above the waterfall are rebar vases filled to the brim with hot pink and purple bougainvillea.
Whimsy and grace amidst the timelessness of stone.