In perennially water challenged Los Angeles, succulets have always been a popular choice in landscapes but recently they have experienced a surge in popularity fueled by the latest trendsetting landscape designs. Interest in drought-tolerant plants was, and still is, on the rise, a response to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Cash for Grass program and Gov. Jerry Brown’s 25 percent mandate in the face of California’s historic drought. Not just collectors, but everyday folks are showing their affinity for cactuses and succulents by planting them in the yard, outdoor entertainment spaces and centerpieces designed to sit on the dining table. I happen to love the diversity and beauty of succulents and I know there are many readers with the same interest. Since we were visiting Studio City in Los Angeles last weekend, I had a chance to photograph some of the best specimens.
When we were at the Getty Center, I was surprised to see a lovely collection of Rembrandts and particularly this recently famous self portrait done early in his career, painted on copper. A crucial aspect of Rembrandt's development was his intense study of people, objects, and their surroundings “from life,” as is obvious in paintings as his early self-portraits and the Saint Paul in Prison of 1627. Even by Dutch standards, Rembrandt's preoccupation with direct observation was exceptional and continued throughout his career. This painting captures the universal emotion of laughter and joi de vivre of life which contrasts so sharply with his later self portraits. Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum said “The Getty Museum possesses the most significant collection of early Rembrandts in the United States, and if you had asked what addition would best cap it off, the answer would have been a self-portrait, which many regard as his greatest and most sustained achievement. But the chances of finding such a work seemed negligible, until the rediscovery of this painting in 2007. It is unquestionably one of the most remarkable works of art to become available in recent memory.”