Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

So I'm friends with The Getty on Facebook.

Go ahead - judge me. I use Facebook for more than silly quizzes and stalking boys that will never give me the time of day. So hate me.

But I got wind that this past Tuesday they were having a free lecture that I was interested in. Former NEA chairman Bill Ivey and prolific cultural critic and Harvard professor Lewis Hyde were going to have a conversation about the "roll of the Artist in Society" and "Our Cultural Bill of Rights". As a supporter of the Arts and an amateur musician and writer I felt a bit vested in the issue and it was free so why not?

Plus it had been awhile since I'd taken in the Getty Center and its not like I'm doing anything useful right? I might as well join in The Conversation - even for a bit.

Well, I brought along a few comrades. One is my Artist friend Eowyn. Yes, that's her name and she is as Elvy, magical and wistful as it sounds. Shes one of the few real artists I know. Like a painting, attending art center, dresses like a genius, always thinking about something profound, passionate, soft spoken, shy of people, loves animals, brilliantly well spoken individual. I adore her. She's all but my little sister, we've grown up together. Her sister is a few years older than me and has a PhD from Notre Dame in Medieval Studies and is a professor at BYU. Yeah - if you ever want to feel like a slacker, stand close to this insanely gifted family.

I try to spend as much time around her as I can because she is so remarkable and she teaches me things about things I thought I knew, like a real artist should. So she, and the super adventurer/rock star Lauren came too. I was the least accomplished of the group and the least likely to get hit on as well (they're both gorgeous) so I figured it was a day fit for sitting back and just being enriched.

We took in the gardens and impressionism and the photography exhibits they had there and finally got kicked out of the Decorative Arts building when it closed in a bundle of giggles at the sarcastic carvings on some of the French pieces. Giggling in the museum is the best.

We soaked up as much sun as we could in the garden and moseyed our way over to the lecture hall and I couldn't help but notice how pointedly we were by everyone lounging outside the lecture hall. Everyone was huddled over their obligatory cup of coffee and attired in the abounding scarfs and chunky glasses. One of the things I love about events like this is the kind of draw there is and observing the mix of people. I was just taking in the scene and glancing casually around but as I did I noticed that, like I said before, the looks I got back were not casual at all. I found this strange, and like I always do, attributed them to my girth and how fat people in LA are a rarely seen breed. I always get looks like I'm an alien. I'm used to it.

It wasn't till after the lecture, which was not what I was expecting but nevertheless poignant, and during the question and answer session, that I realized why. Everyone that was asking questions were reporters or people from the California Arts Council or former members of the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) or all of these heavyweights that turned up. Even the head of the Getty and PBS were there. I had NO idea, none whatsoever, that this was going to be a networking bureaucrats haven.

Lauren, Eowyn and I were probably the youngest people there. I would have desperately hoped that in a city like LA, BRIMMING with musicians and thespians and artists that the lecture hall would have been packed. I'm not nearly talented enough to be the indie kind of musician that I listen to, but if I was a working performer I would keep my ear to the ground about stuff like this. These kind of conversations change thinking and any time in a room with minds like that of those two gentleman is always worth taking.

On the shuttle ride home I sat next to two older ladies in artsy ponchos and lots of big jewelry talking about the lecture and name dropping and saying where they used to work etc and they, making conversation asked me where I was from and how I heard about the event and I said "......." and I quote "I'm just a student and I got a message on Facebook....."

No grace, no decorum, not even enough of a sense of humor to make fun of them by bluffing something and making up a French name and random university I was doing sociological research for. They didn't even know who the guys were that were speaking sadly, I was more informed as to the nature of the discussion. That's how I initially entered the conversation, I was being a know-it-all, like usual. I found it kind of funny that they went to this lecture and didn't even know who the guys were or why they were important. They were there for the elbow greasing. That's so foreign to me.

So yeah - walking back to the car I was feeling a bit strange. Sheepish more like and I heard piano music and saw a white feather drift by. Had I known so many decision makers were going to be around I would have been shamelessly handing out my resume.

But alas, like most of the big things that have ever happened in my life, I don't realize the gravity of the matter till I'm past it.

Oh well - it was a very interesting lecture, when I wasn't battling the exhaustion of walking around the Getty all day and I got reminded again how it really feels to be in a world but not of it.

If you see me sporting obtuse scarfs, name dropping sideways over some overpriced beverage, and being somewhere to be seen instead of being involved, you have full clearance to slap me.

I felt so enriched by the end of the day my head hurt so I grabbed some $1 cookies at McDonalds and settled down with my blanket and Netflix for some kung fu cartoons and, while keeping everything I learned,shook off the pretension of the day.

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