Simplify at the Getty

by cheri block

I toured the Getty Center on Tuesday after a long limo ride from downtown L.A.

Maroun did his best to entertain me while in transit, getting off the blocked artery known as the Santa Monica Freeway and driving up La Cienega Blvd. to Sunset Blvd. I interviewed him from the backseat about Lebanon, the current state of affairs in Syria, and yoga centers. He had lots of opinions and color about the first two topics.

We arrived at the Getty at 11:00 a.m. and he promised to be back by 3:00.

As you can see for yourself, the Getty Center is an elegant statement of simplicity.

And since I was visiting by myself, my visit was simple too.

In a city which reeks of complexity, the Getty stands as an affront to the busy and the distracted.

Almost like the Acropolis in Athens.

And then I saw them–three of the most elegant Bougainvillea  trees on the planet. Truly. I ran down the pathway and there they stood all by themselves.

Oh my.

When I arrived home on Wednesday, I surveyed the Rancho. How many clay pots should be on the front porch?

What is distracting and what is enhancing?

That is an important question for us all to answer.

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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20 Responses to Simplify at the Getty

  1. Cindy says:

    Stated so simply. So succinct.
    And shared so soulfully.

    So Cheri.


  2. Brighid says:

    Whoa…what beauties those trees are…there is a lot of scrap iron in the farm’s boneyard…must go hunting for the makings.

  3. What is distracting and what is enhancing?

    That is an important question for us all to answer.

    So true–and applicable to everything from gardening to writing to cooking to conversation, etc.

    • Cheri says:

      Hi Tom,
      I’ve begun to think about that question more and more with each day that passes.

      Cell phones, the internet, non-satellite radio, leaf-blowers, junk mail, Facebook, tail-gaiters, loud people, that’s a start to my list….

      Exercise, yoga, reading, gardening, wild life, friends, silence, meditation, the simple things of life ( ironing, cooking, farmers’ markets, wine, pasta), that’s a start to my list…

      And yours?

      • Good list. To distractions I’d add political correctness, ideologies and the grievance industry. To enhancing I’d add helping, listening and finding similarities rather than differences.

        • Cheri says:

          Ha!! I laughed out loud when you wrote “grievance industry”…You must be referring to the trial lawyers and by that I mean the plaintiff’s bar.

          Lovely list of ways to enhance simplicity.

  4. dafna says:

    is no one curious about the limo ride? i am, i’ve never been in a limo. what fun, is there a story there?

    i love architecture, design… the getty deserves several posts all it’s own. there are several examples of “simple genius” design choices that if they were incorporated more often would enhance all buildings. the architect paid attention to natural light and how he could adjust it most effectively. he carefully chose the building material “Travertine” which reflects light, perhaps a nod to Mies van der Rohe, also a limestone like jerusalem stone which reflects the sun and has earned jerusalem the nickname “city of gold”. he showed respect for the topography.

    did i mention i love architecture and design? 🙂

    tail-gaiters (the driving kind), very distracting and dangerous for more than one reason. i always put flashers on and wave them past. they don’t seem to get where they are going any faster than the rest of us. a tailgaiting driver struck me as the most difficult distraction. the rest seem to be in our control to simply “leave out” as you say.

  5. Cheri says:

    Hi dafna,
    I can see that you not only love architecture and design ( I believe you are a graphic designer, are you not? ) but you also have that creative eye and that sees everything so much more deeply.
    My sister is a graphic designer, too.

    Let me explain the decision to take a limo instead of a cab. It was not a luxurious limo, so I should have clarified and thank you for the opportunity to do that. Let me begin with an example: a cab ride from LAX to downtown is a flat rate of $45.00. A limo is $60.00.

    To take a cab during rush hour in L.A. would be a mistake if going a long distance because the meter keeps running in traffic, so I arranged for one of those limos that you see all over the place in big cities to take me there so I could relax and not watch the meter…

    Still, it was $60.00 to the Getty but the Getty is free to all, so I rationalized the expense that way.

    Thanks for sharing the details about the light, the stone, the history.

    I love the additions that Tom made to my short list.
    You have enhanced the tail-gating discussion.

    Thank you for your enthusiastic and insightful comments, as always.

  6. dafna says:


    i was hoping you were in a fancy limo. the teenagers rent them here in the midwest for prom, but i have never ridden in one. that would have been an extra treat in addition to visiting the getty!

    but not worrying about traffic and getting to relax is also a treat.

    your limo vs cab explanation sounds like the difference between a “minicab” in London and a “black cab”. we never rode the black cab, although they do look impressive.

  7. Richard says:

    Isn’t the architecture a little cluttered, perhaps, Cheri?
    Compare the quiet serenity of the de la Warr Pavilion at Bexhill, along the coast from Hastings:

  8. Cheri says:

    The de la Warr Pavilion at Bexhill looks graceful and long, functional and solid. It, too, is a beautiful image of simplicity.

    What you must understand about the Getty is its setting: it is perched on several hills above the 405, one of the busiest freeways in the state. It overlooks the skyline of Los Angeles, one of the most congested, busy, complex, and loud cities in the state. I

    n light of those distractions, the Getty is unique in the Los Angeles basin.

    I was thoroughly at peace up in a building that looks down on one of the greatest facades in all of modern citydom: Los Angeles.

    • Richard says:

      Stern words. I pause upon the spiral stair
      To gaze across invasion’s shore
      A meditation thus at de la Warr
      Where oft was heard the battle’s roar.
      So silent now. I must adjust.
      For understand, I must.

      De la Warr – de la Warr. It’s said like Delaware.
      I turn the globe a little more
      And gaze across a City’s core
      From concrete cliffs close-etched by human claw
      So silent now, for Getty’s trust.
      For understand, I must.

      • Richard says:

        Should’ve been “care”. Sorry, Wasn’t concentrating enough. Or perhaps “Core” is better – I don’t know. You choose and edit, please, Cheri. Perhaps the whole thing should be scrubbed.

        • Cheri says:

          I like the poem, Richard. Tell, me, where is the sternness in the words? I fail to see it.
          The Getty is a beautiful piece of architecture which calls out from upon its hill, calls out to those of us in a rush to slow down.

        • Richard says:

          I thought I was being required to understand, but your further explanation helps. 😉

          Hastings and Bexhill once had their own council. Since 1974 they have been administered from Lewes. Recently, local residents narrowly defeated a proposal to build a multi-storey hotel on the green beside the Pavilion. Bexhill and Hastings have always been somewhat economically depressed.The coast road from Hastings to Bexhill is residentially and commercially run down and not very attractive.

          The photo in Wiki is of the seaward aspect. The landward frontage is as fine but crammed in by shops so you can’t get a good view of it.

          As for the “poem”, I’m glad you like it.

  9. dafna says:

    core is better.

    “hannibal an me” has me thinking of getty “the man”. i guess the bid idea at the core of the book was bigger than i thought.

    the building was a architectural success, the man, not so much.

    • Cheri says:

      Oh yes. You are right about that dafna. No question. But then, William Randolph Hearst was no angel but I still love visiting Hearst Castle.

      And someday, I will visit England and see where my buddy William the Conqueror left his marks. I will enjoy those structures too, all while remembering what a bastard he was…

  10. dafna says:

    oops, “big” idea

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