Getty Center “Before” and “Current” Photos

I’ve posted “Before” and “Current” photos before (including an awesome pair about a month ago, and check out the Photo Gallery to see all of them), but the ones I’m sharing today are definitely some of my favorites. I can’t wait for you to see them! I’ll get to them in a little bit, but let me share some other pictures first.

On Saturday, I met up with my friend Paul and his husband Court. Paul and I met when we were students in the theatre department at the University of Michigan, and after graduating, I headed to L.A., and Paul headed to New York City. I’m totally envious of Paul’s job – he’s a technical director for the Metropolitan Opera – and I’m envious of Court’s career too, for that matter – he’s a scenery and costume designer who works throughout the U.S. and Europe. I studied theatre design in college (and have the degree to prove it), but before graduating I decided I wasn’t cut out for it professionally. I’m thankful to have a handful of good friends from that program who have forged wonderful theatre careers (Paul being one of them), because whenever I hang out with them, I can live vicariously through their stories and imagine my life in an alternate universe. For the record, I don’t regret not pursuing theatre design as a career – I love theatre, but I’m happier being an educated audience member.

Enough back story. Paul and Court swung through Los Angeles on their way to Hawaii, and I met up with them at the Getty Center, a giant art museum on top of a hill in Los Angeles. Here we are (Court on the left, Paul on the right) in the gardens:

The Getty Center is an impressive place. Designed by architect Richard Meier, it opened about 15 years ago, and cost $1.3 billion. The artwork is displayed in five two-story buildings arranged around a center courtyard. Other buildings house offices, a restaurant, an auditorium, and a research facility. This is basically the same photo as above, but without anyone blocking the view:

People (including me) come to the Getty Center for the architecture, gardens, and views as much as they do for the art. This was my fourth or fifth visit, and I’ll never get tired of walking around that campus. The landscaping is full of colorful and exciting plants…

…and the view is second-to-none. It spans from the ocean to beyond downtown L.A., and we were there on as an extremely clear day:

The skyscrapers in the distance are downtown L.A., and the closer ones are Century City and Westwood.

It was fantastic catching up with Paul and Court as we wandered through the galleries. They were also more than happy to help me with my little project. And that brings us to…

…Some AWESOME “Before” and “Current” photos!

I know I said no more back story earlier, but I lied. There’s a little more back story, and here it is:

The last time I was at the Getty Center was in the summer of 2009, when I came with Tavi (my aerialist/dancer friend that gets mentioned way too frequently on this blog) and a friend of his. Here’s a picture from that outing showing how big I was at the time:

What we’re doing is recreating the sculpture on the left that we had just seen in one of the galleries, of the Greek god Cronus (the Romans changed his name to Saturn) devouring one of his children. The sculpture had been the basis of a funny conversation – basically, Tavi thought it was sweet that it showed an old man kissing a baby, but when I looked closer, I saw that the baby’s hand was completely inside the old man’s mouth, and it was clear he certainly was not showing affection.

By the way, I had forgotten how disgusting and disturbing Greek mythology can be. Not only did Saturn eat five of his own children, but he also castrated his own father, and tossed his testicles into the sea (Fun fact: the testicles created a white foam in the ocean, from which the Goddess Aphrodite emerged!). Saturn’s sixth child, Zeus, was hidden from him, raised by a goat, and returned as a grown-up to overthrow him. Zeus, using a potion, also forced Saturn to barf up all the siblings he had eaten, and they all survived.

The sculpture is really quite stunning – much more appealing to look at than Francisco Goya’s painting of the same event. There was a print of this painting hanging in my grandparents’ house when I was a kid (I think it was my uncle’s), and it gave me nightmares. Literally. (Fun fact: Goya painted this directly on the wall of his own dining room – can you imagine looking at that every time you sat down for a meal? It’s now in the Prado Museum in Madrid).

OKAY, OKAY, enough with the mythology lesson. Get on with the pictures!

In addition to staging photos where it looks like we’re eating each other, Tavi and I also took photos in the garden, and because I hadn’t been back to the Getty since losing over 165 pounds, I thought it’d be fun to recreate two of the photos as closely as I could. Paul and Court have great eyes for detail, so they helped figure out the angles and get me into position.

So without any further ago (I swear), I present:

GETTY CENTER “BEFORE” AND “CURRENT” PHOTO #1:

and GETTY CENTER “BEFORE” AND “CURRENT” PHOTO #2:

Holy Crap, what a difference two and a half years makes! These pictures make me so happy – you have no idea. And doesn’t that statue have a nice rack?

The Getty Center also provided a nice bonus workout. I say ‘bonus’ because I had already taken Richard Simmons’ aerobics class before meeting up with Paul and Court. In addition to walking around the enormous campus for a few hours, I also walked up to the museum itself. While the museum is on top of a big hill, the parking garage is at the base of it, and there’s a tram that connect the two. I had no patience for the long tram line when I arrived, so I decided to walk up the hill. It’s not a long walk – 3/4 of a mile – but the whole way is up a steep grade. Here’s one the trams that passed by on my way up:

The three us also walked down when we left. An extra 1.5 miles of hill walking? Yes, please!

One final picture. We stayed at the Getty Center until after the sunset, when the sky turned all sorts of gorgeous colors.

I have a whole lifetime of sunsets like that to look forward to, and that’s just another reason to…

KEEP IT UP, DAVID!

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3 Responses to Getty Center “Before” and “Current” Photos

  1. Joanne Greene says:

    The before/after photos are fantastic!

  2. laura says:

    That Goya print gave me nightmares too!!! Couldn’t help but stare at it, like staring at a train wreck. I never knew that the painting was of Saturn barfing up a child though- I thought he was eating the child. Brilliant classic or not its kind of a f’d up subject for a painting. Always liked the Don Quixote print much more :)

    Anyway fantastic before / after pics, and must have been fun to re-stage. I love the Getty Center, my favorite place in LA!

    • David says:

      The painting IS Saturn devouring the child (as is the sculpture) – I just re-read that part of the post, sorry if my poor choice of words suggested otherwise! And I couldn’t help but stare at it either – it’s completely transfixing!

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