24 June 2011
We spent the day at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. It was my first visit to the Getty and my second to the Cathedral, having visited it once before in the Fall of 2003 during the first year of its existence. Completed in 2002, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the archdiocesan home of Los Angeles, is the source of much admiration and contention. It cost a LOT of money (I understand it was near $250 Million), but its beauty (another rather contentious issue) has always captivated me. I absolutely love the tapestries for which it is best known. It was nice to be with a brother friar who is a textile artist on the faculty of the Art Institute of Chicago on this trip to really help contextualize how significant the tapestries really are. Knowing little about art, I’ve always enjoyed them from a purely aesthetic perspective.
Last time I was at the Cathedral I was an undergrad student at St. Bonaventure and I was on retreat with a small group of students and friars. We went to Sunday Mass there with Cardinal Mahoney presiding. Today was a Friday afternoon and there was no one to be found but a few stray folks, ourselves included. I am very grateful that we were able to visit the church again.
The Getty Museum was a mixed experience. I absolutely deplored the modern-art collection (or, really, the lack thereof), which is what I am most interested in these days. Those who know me well are aware of my fondness for Salvador Dalí and similarly contemporary painters. I also happen to be a fan of some of the more experimental sculpture pieces that have been displayed in recent years in places like the Arts Institute in Chicago and the Tate Modern in London. I was sadly disappointed with the very, very small collection of so-called “modern” pieces at Getty – mostly twentieth and late nineteenth-century impressionists. No really wild stuff about which I could get excited.
That said, the buildings and the property itself was absolutely astonishing. Our friar-art professor-guide informed us that the Getty is perhaps best known in the art world for its labs and research more than its collection. Nevertheless, I was captivated by the space and architecture, which to me was simply gorgeous. More than the pieces on display throughout the museum, the space is what won my attention. I particularly loved the garden and water/plant display that is found in the center of the property.
All in all, it was a wonderful day. The two-hour long car rides to and from the museum made for some wonderful conversation, yet another reason to appreciate the field trip. I think, overall, everybody had an excellent time. Yet another reminder of what an excellent group of men from around the United States this is preparing to profess solemn vows in the Franciscan Order.