I HAVE to say, it was quite odd to be a tourist/journalist in my own town. Late last month, I was part of a 15-member team of journalists selected to be Getty/Annenberg Arts Journalism Fellows. What that meant was ten days of deep-immersion in segments of L.A.’s art culture. As I say to anyone coming to Los Angeles for the first time — it’s impossible to sum it up in a sentence. Same would go for the art scene.
I found myself criss-crossing familiar paths and meeting up with folks I have worked with, interviewed or have only known peripherally until now. It was a chance to reconnect with some of them and go behind the scenes, in some instances, in a fashion I hadn’t been able to until now. I’m still processing the experience which in certain ways, as couple of the journalists joked, was a lot like being on an episode on “Big Brother — ten days in a hotel and bus with folks you don’t know. I also had the extra-dislocating element of being “at home” but without my car. One of the strangest moments related to that was waiting on Halloween night for a cab that never arrived …
Also unusual, but helpful, was seeing the city through a set of 14-different creatively critical eyes and realizing the pressure that this city is under because it is often both over-exposped and under-clarified. I pulled back to try to make a mental map of where we’d been and the conclusions I might make. A good exercise for any long-time resident of any place — native or otherwise.
Below are just a few shots of some of the spots we passed through (Infinite City the opera based on Italo Calvino’s novel staged throughout the grounds at Union Station, the Watts Towers, the James Turrell show at LACMA, the Getty behind-the-scenes, the Bootleg theater, Disney Hall, Thank You For Coming, the Sheats/Goldstein House designed by John Lautner) — which honestly is just a tiny fraction of our ten days.
(top image Edward Lifson)