L.A.'s most exclusive gallery

Recently I stumbled upon an art exhibit at the Getty the general public will never see. Only museum employees and visitors with security clearance are able to view "Getty Underground," an in-house show of artwork by staffers which occurs every two years. Hung in a long hallway on a private level underneath the museum, the show includes works by everyone from curators to receptionists. There seemed to be little restriction on the media artists could use. I saw an interactive mosaic piece and a delicate cyanotype, a camera-less photographic process which dates to 1842. That was my favorite piece, since I had just come from viewing rare 19th century cyanotypes in the Getty's collection by Anna Atkins, the first woman recognized for her body of work in photography.

Some pieces were conceptual, some quirky. One impressive effort was a giant, digitally constructed photo collage of household cleaning products on store shelves. There were clearly different artistic and technical abilities on display, but the show struck me as a great equalizer — an expression of community within a big, intimidating institution. "Getty Underground" gives Kyle in accounting his one chance to show off his creative side in a great museum, even if it is out of sight to all but his colleagues. In a way it's an in-house metaphor for what any art museum should be — art should be for everyone. If only everyone were allowed to see it.


More by Judy Graeme:
Sometimes art is all about the collaboration
A peek inside Universal's closet
Helmut Newton and Los Angeles
Drummer girls
A. Quincy Jones getting his due
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