Behind the Scenes, Getty Conservation Institute, Getty Foundation, Getty Research Institute, J. Paul Getty Museum, J. Paul Getty Trust

What We’re Grateful For

Jumping for joy at the Getty Villa. Photo: Ginny Le

Jumping for joy at the Getty Villa. Thanks to Ginny Le (Thu Giang Le) for the great photo!

All of us who work at the Getty are pretty lucky; after all, we spend our days around great art and great people. For Thanksgiving, I asked several folks who’ve blogged on the Iris over the past year to name one thing (or maybe two) they’re grateful for about their work. Here’s what they shared.

I’m grateful for intimate moments with art and artists: from encountering something amazing from the GRI’s special collections to a casual conversation with Betye Saar.
Juvenio Guerra, Trust

I’m grateful for the diversity of interesting colleagues I interact with on a daily basis.
Anna Zagorski, Conservation Institute

I’m grateful for our visitors who photograph the museum and give me a fresh new perspective. They help me see the Getty for the first time, every time.
Steve Saldivar, Trust

I’m grateful that I can engage often with some of the inspiring and vibrant traces of artists’ creativity—drawings—from throughout the centuries.
Julian Brooks, Museum

I’m grateful to work in such a beautiful environment in Los Angeles. Making my way up the hill each day, I always appreciate the beauty of the trees and the occasional deer sighting!
Kim Sadler, Trust

I’m grateful to work in a building that houses several centuries’ worth of special collections—everything from an early 17th-century illuminated Neapolitan manuscript charting the search for the philosopher’s stone to Ed Ruscha’s negatives and contacts sheets for his 40-year project to document major streets in L.A.
Liz McDermott, Research Institute

I’m grateful for the opportunity to walk through the Villa gardens, studying the Chiurazzi replicas with Carol Mattusch and Luisa Fucito—arguably the two best informed people about such things—and for our conversations to be filmed and shared with the public.
David Saunders, Museum

I’m grateful that I work with people who are passionate about their work and who make the world a better place by expanding awareness of and participation in the visual arts.
Ron Hartwig, Trust

I’m grateful to get to connect art, the natural environment, and the city as part of my daily experience at the Getty Center.
Antonio Campos, Trust

I’m grateful to work in a place where I can peer at a miniature 500-year-old bird’s-eye view of a Roman landscape, then step outside and look out at a panoramic view of Los Angeles from the mountains to the sea.
Maria Gilbert, Museum

I’m grateful to work surrounded by beauty. For I equate beauty with care and, in this sense, with a fundamental optimism. So the visual feast lifts my spirit every day.
Alice Cisternino Jackel, Museum

I’m grateful to work with such smart, creative, and fun people.
Susan Edwards, Trust

I’m grateful for security guard Isak Popok, who stopped me when I was rushing through the galleries so that he could tell me “secrets” about the Impressionist paintings. Now I know exactly the right away to approach Claude Monet’s The Portal of Rouen Cathedral in Morning Light!
Amy Hood, Trust

I’m grateful when I’m engulfed in a swarm of school kids in the tram. They are so wiggly and squeal so loudly about the view that it makes me smile.
Nina Diamond, Museum

I’m grateful that I get to come to work in the Foundation every day and help visual arts organizations around the world. From one small office in Los Angeles, we’re able to reach and support projects near and far, from the other side of town to the other side of the globe.
Katie Underwood, Foundation

I’m grateful for Fra Bartolommeo’s The Rest on the Flight into Egypt with Saint John the Baptist, because I find it to be the most beautiful painting in the collection. And as a former gallery teacher, I’m grateful every time I see a visitor have an “aha” moment.
Bryan Keene, Museum

As for me, I’m grateful for you, the person reading these words right now. We make our website and the Iris for our online visitors, and we’re thankful you stopped by.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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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”


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