Woody Internship at the Getty: Week 4

Another week has gone by here in beautiful Los Angeles, and I’m enjoying  my internship more than ever! Here are some of the highlights from the past week:

Last Monday was the opening reception for the new Andrea del Sarto exhibit, which features drawings and paintings from the Renaissance master’s workshop. The exhibit itself is fascinating, especially in the way that it shows the artist’s process from preliminary sketches to finished oil paintings (including all the changes and mistakes along the way). But, being in the events department, I was more readily concerned with the reception itself, which I am happy to report went very well. As with the other events I’ve written about, I assisted with the setup and organization. Once it started, I took a position at the check-in table, welcoming guests and making sure everyone who attended was accounted for. While that kept me busy for a while, I was also lucky enough to enjoy some of the party itself (and by “enjoy”, I mostly mean eat the food. Which was delicious.) Tuesday was slightly less crazy, with the main event being a lecture for the docents by one of the photography curators.

One of the benefits of working late nights: getting to see beautiful sunsets like this!

One of the benefits of working late nights: getting to see beautiful sunsets like this!

I had Wednesday off, then was back on Thursday afternoon/night for an alumni event for the University of Pittsburgh. This was my first external event, which means that it was not put on by the Getty for the public or by the Getty for its employees. External events are kind of different from internal ones because they usually use outside vendors and the clients are obviously not from the museum and tend to be less aware of the various limitations of the venue. Shannon, the lead event coordinator for this, did a great job of making sure everything went smoothly (which it did), despite some minor setbacks like the fact that a bunch of people showed up way early and a bunch more stayed quite a bit past the designated end time.

Friday was definitely the most exciting/busy day for me last week. Once a month during the summer, the Getty hosts an event called Friday Flights, wherein a local artist (or in this case, artist pair) is brought on to “host” an evening of multi-media art and performance. Basically, the Getty invites an artist and then that artist in turn invites various people in their network to participate as well. In the case of last Friday, a duo called Lucky Dragons hosted, and they invited LA performance artist Rafa Esparza, an experimental dance troupe called the Sunland Dancers, a xylophonist named SK Krakaba, and filmmaker Jibade-Khalil Huffman. The end result was an evening filled with very contemporary, somewhat experimental music and performance art. To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t really up my alley, but I was glad for the opportunity to expand my artistic horizons. Plus, it was definitely a challenge, events-wise. While most of the evening itself went smoothly, there were some issues leading up to the event with regards to security, fire code violations, and other things that may not occur to the average visitor. I really enjoyed working Friday Flights because I felt a sense of real responsibility. Rather than just shadowing, I completed a lot of tasks on my own (while using the ubiquitous walkie-talkie to communicate with my supervisor, of course). At the end of the night, I felt proud of what we, as a team, had accomplished – despite the challenges that popped up along the way.

Some of the performers for Friday Flights

Some of the performers for Friday Flights

This has been one of my take-aways from this entire experience thus far: events work requires a lot of thinking on your feet. As important as it is to be thoroughly prepared and detail-oriented, there will almost always be unforeseen issues. While the organization is necessary, I think that how one handles these issues is what really makes or breaks them as an events coordinator. And, of course, that kind of improvisation can be applied to many work environments and, you know, life in general.