About: Mara Gladstone

I moved from Brooklyn to L.A. in August 2009 to become the public programs graduate intern at the Getty, and now help produce live music, dance, and theater events at the Museum. I’m especially excited about the documentary film series I organized, to screen in fall 2010. Since I’m also a Ph.D. candidate in Visual & Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, sometimes I hide away in the GRI to work on my dissertation, which examines multi-sensory experiences with art in museums.

Posts by Mara

Posted in Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Photographs, Film, and Video

Seven Documentaries Inspired by Photojournalism

Kids + money: Megan, 11, and Ashley, 13, at their Calabasas home. Photograph by Lauren Greenfield/ INSTITUTE

“Witnesses in Action,” the documentary film series I curated earlier this month, followed the lenses of brave and talented photographers who took their cameras to far-flung locales. We started in mile-long factories in China, travelled to bizarre beached shipwrecks in… More»

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Posted in Getty Center, J. Paul Getty Museum

Did You Dance? Saturdays Off the 405 Season Finale Plus Bonus Playlist!

Tina (foreground) on bass in gold and pigtails, with vocalists, and Chris on drums in the background

We really turned it up this year at Saturdays Off the 405 with an eclectic mix of the best and brightest new music—including a season finale on October 9 with New Wave favorite the Tom Tom Club, doing totally live… More»

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Posted in Getty Center, J. Paul Getty Museum

Mayer Hawthorne’s Big Love

Mayer Hawthorne, dancers, and The Getty Museum

With heart-shaped LPs and fizzy mint juleps in hand, energetic fans welcomed Mayer Hawthorne and the County’s dazzling retro-crooning act on June 12 at our second outdoor concert of the summer. It was a stylish show. Mayer set the fashion bar… More»

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Posted in Behind the Scenes, Getty Center

Saturdays Off the 405 Blasts Open with Les Savy Fav

Les Savy Fav's opening song, complete with Getty umbrella

Saturday early evening in the museum courtyard. An audience surrounded the outdoor stage. The bright L.A. sunshine was softening, and a peculiar figure wove through the crowd, dressed in white linen, a neon fur cape, and a white and silver… More»

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      A Chat with Photographer Tomoko Sawada

      A conversation about Japanese matchmaking traditions, self-portraiture, clothes, and identity.

      When did you start photographing yourself?
      I began making self-portraits when I was 19. It was an assignment for a photography class. I can’t even explain in Japanese why I liked them so much. It was instinctual. It’s as if I knew that this was going to be my style, that this is what I wanted to do. And I’m still doing it because I love the self-portrait, but I don’t know why. 

      What themes are you exploring in your work?
      I’m interested in the relationship between inside and outside. If you wear a sexy dress or if you wear kids clothes or casual clothes, people treat you differently. Even though you are you no matter what you wear. It’s that relationship that makes me think. 

      My new work is from when I was living in New York. When I was in New York, people didn’t think I was Japanese. Sometimes they thought I was Korean or Chines or Mongolian. Even Singaporean. It was funny, when I would go to the Japanese market, they would speak to me in English. When I went to the Korean market, they would speak to me in English again. I don’t seem to look Japanese outside of Japan. I was surprised because I think I look totally Japanese. It’s funny that people’s points of view are totally different.

      Could you talk a little about OMIAI, the series that represents a traditional Japanese matchmaking technique.
      OMIAI is a tradition that is somehow still working today. Usually, there is a matchmaker and photographs are exchanged before meeting. If both sides are interested, they can meet for lunch or dinner accompanied by their parents and steps for marriage proceed from there. In the old days, some people chose their marriage partner just through photographs, without even meeting each other. 

      When OMIAI was exhibited in Japan I saw people making various comments in from of the work. People would say things like, “she looks like a good cook; surely she would prepare delicious meals every day,” or “ this girl could be a perfect bride for my son,” or “I can tell she would not be a good housewife,” or “she’s such a graceful girl; she must be the daughter of a decent family.” Comments like that. 

      What was the process of making that work?
      I gained 10 pounds before I started taking the pictures, and in six months I lost forty pounds, because I wanted to look different in each photo. I wanted to change the way my legs looked. 

      Every weekend I went to the hair salon and put on a kimono. Then I went to the photo studio on the street in Japan. I would take a picture and then change my clothes to western dress. Then I would go to the studio again the next weekend. 

      Did you tell the photographer how you wanted it done?
      I told him I was an artist and wanted to make photographs with him. I told him to think that each weekend new girls would show up to make the OMIAI. I didn’t want him to think of me as the same girl who came every weekend. He understood the concept. 

      We had fun. While he was taking pictures, his wife would tell me how to lose weight. She gave me many tips.


      Tomoko Sawada’s work is on view at the Getty until February 21, 2016 in “The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography”

      02/11/16

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