Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Fabulous Gettys

I was bowled over with admiration for Mr. Getty when we visited the Getty Villa and the Getty Centre - both awesome museums in more ways than one and all financed by the generous Mr. Getty. Never have we been to a private museum where we didn't have to pay for admission (other than parking) and were welcomed by such friendly staff who (one would assume) must have been treated well by their employer.  The facilities were superbly well-maintained and the Getty Center in particular, was awe-inspiring both for its architecture as well as its spectacular setting.  

I will let the photos speak for themselves.  But do visit the link to read more about the Getty Villa and the Getty Center (also called The Getty).  The Getty Villa covers antiquities while the Getty Museum focuses on pre-20th century European art, sculptures and decorative arts.  At the Getty, I was quite distracted by the amazing architecture and possibly spent more time taking photographs than inside the five museums.  It was a very productive trip nevertheless as the Getty provided many unique photo opportunities.

The Getty Villa

The formal gardens of the villa

I like this pregnant female figure from the early Cycladic period 2700 - 2300 B.C.

And this Squatting Ibis from 300 B.C. - amazing!

Long corridors and a beautiful outdoor amphitheatre 

The Getty Center 
The main building at the Getty Center

The terrace
Panorama from the Center

The cactus garden

One of the five buildings in the complex
An architectural feature on a gorgeous stone wall - the perspective changed throughout the day as the sun moved.

As the shadows grew longer, the landscape changed

Downtown L.A. can be seen breaking through the smog

As the sun crept closer to the horizon, it became harder to leave the center...look at the light!  There is a good reason why this is called the golden hour.

The Getty at sunset
This wraps up this past winter's trip to California.  Check back here for more warm weather posts...

Los Angeles Downtown

Even though we've been to Southern California many times before, we've always bypassed downtown L.A. because of the traffic chaos and because we saw it as just another American city with nothing that would really engage us.  This time around, I was determined to find a reason to visit the downtown of what is considered the second biggest city in the U.S.  I looked up the tour books and found that it has some interesting architectural attractions like the Walt Disney Music Centre, designed by Frank Gehry and there were a number of historic buildings listed by the LA Conservancy that sounded interesting.  

We planned our trip so that we arrived in the Disney Centre mid-afternoon (best place to park) and spent the time walking the few streets south of the centre.  The Disney Centre was spectacular and alone was worth the trip.  There were a number of art deco buildings in the neighbourhood, including the Los Angeles Central Library.  

One big surprise was the lack of people in the public spaces in the downtown area.  The main public space, Pershing Square, was deserted at 4 o'clock in the afternoon except for a few homeless people, and remained so into the late afternoon because it seemed that everyone left the downtown core by car.  It was a really weird sensation to be walking down empty streets in a big city like this, quite unlike San Francisco, Chicago, New York, or any of the Canadian cities.  We stayed in the downtown area as we had bought tickets for a concert at the Disney Centre, also known for its great acoustics - highly recommended. Downtown L.A. turned out to be an interesting place to tour - we will certainly return for more, perhaps join one of the walking tours offered by the L.A. Conservancy.

Walt Disney Music Centre - Frank Gehry building (of course)
One Bunker Hill - allegorical figures by Merrell Gage represent light, power and hydroelectric energy - this was originally the home a utility company.  Cubic motifs in the facade repeated in the lobby floor and elevator ceilings.

Coffered ceiling, floors and walls are composed of at least seventeen different types of marble.

Los Angeles Central Library, 1926
Pyramid at the top of the building features a sunburst and is topped by a handheld torch symbolizing the light of knowledge.

Elevator doors and doors into the building

Fountain outside library.

The exterior of the building is covered by ornamental and symbolic artworks and sculptures. 
The PacMutual Building on W. Sixth St. across from Pershing Square.  Three interconnected structures built between 1908 and 1936.  Beaux Arts building with grand lobby and vaulted ceiling, sweeping staircases.

Millennium Biltmore Hotel

Pershing Square at 4 o'clock on a week day

Disney Centre lit up at night

Inside the concert hall - great acoustics!

Saturday, 19 September 2015

California Hwy 1 and Montana de Oro State Park

It was not the first time we had driven down the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) in California but it was the first time that we had dry weather and enjoyed a spectacular drive all the way without worrying about rain.  Obviously the drought had something to do with it.  We stopped briefly in Monterey to revisit 17 mile drive and gawked at the always impressive Pacific Ocean.  I was happy to see that the lone cypress was still standing but it was surrounded by a retaining wall - no longer in a natural environment.  

We proceeded down the coast and stopped at ocean vistas along the way, including the famous Bixby Bridge completed in 1932.  We did a short hike to see McWay Falls in the Big Sur State Park and stopped many times to capture cattails against the setting sun along the highway before reaching our destination for the night in Morro Bay. 

Montana de Oro State Park was a short drive from Morro Bay.  There are many trails in the park but the coastal trail was the easiest and very accessible.  It was definitely a worthwhile trail with abundant wildlife along it - pelicans, cormorants, turkey vultures and we even saw an egret stalking and capturing its prey.  And what I love most was that the ocean was always there, showing off its power and might - I could spend hours watching it.

Morro Bay State Park also had its share of wildlife with its own nature reserve.  There were trees along the beach where pelicans were nesting, although we were told that the trees were dying off.  At sunset, there were lots of birds on the beach in the reserve, feeding in the receding tide.   It had been a very pleasurable few days driving down the coast.

Pacific Ocean at Monterey

Lone Cypress - 17 mile drive, Monterey

Vista along Hwy 1

Historic Bixby Bridge built in 1932

McWay Falls at the Big Sur State Park

Cat tails at sunset

Pelicans and cormorants at Montana de Oro State Park

Turkey vulture in flight
Heron capturing lizard right beside the trail

Spectacular views along the coastal trail in the State Park
Powerful ongoing erosion, lots of arches and caves along the coast

This one reminded me of the Queen Nefertiti bust (similar one in Yehliu Geopark in Taiwan)
Pelicans in flight

Panorama from the coastal trail

Pelicans' nests in Morro Bay State Park

Morro Bay State Park at sunset