When we start something we never know where, or what it may lead to.
Pictured below is my Certificate of Completion from the American School of French Marquetry, dated: September 20, 2002.
In the fall of 2009 I was invited to photograph my two tables next to the original on display at the J. Paul Getty Museum. It was once said by Albert Einstein, on achieving nuclear fission, that it can be likened to: “shooting birds in the dark, in a country where there are very few birds.” Einstein felt he would not see it in his lifetime. That’s how I felt about the photo below, not in my lifetime. Was I wrong! I had no idea that a satellite school of ecole Boulle in North Park, California would ever lead me to having my work photographed in the J. Paul Getty museum. While spring cleaning I stumbled upon my Certificate of graduation from ASFM. Reminiscing I remembered my hesitation to go, I thought I wouldn’t be ‘talented’ enough to do marquetry.
Onward and upward, start building
After “graduating” I spent 2003 building my chevalet and a cabinet for housing the thousands of pieces that would make up the marquetry for the two tables. During the day I worked on client’s projects, in the evenings and weekends I worked on my marquetry stuff; tweaking and refining my tools, sawblade
selection, and doing as much research on the tables as humanly possible.
Approximately six years later they were complete.
We’re looking forward to seeing you — and your tables
I e-mailed my contact, a senior curator, several photographs of the finished tables. I enquired nervously if his offer still stood about photographing my pieces in the museum. He wrote back yes, and put me in contact with his secretary to pick a date and time. Of course, the first date selected was pushed back! I thought damn, they’re having second thoughts.
Someone from above smiled upon me and the second day and time was marked on the calendar. All the while, Heidi was reassuring me that they’re very busy, and that in business dates are constantly being rescheduled.
The Drive to Los Angeles and the Getty’s Loading Docks
Loading the tables was hectic enough, but driving to Los Angeles with these two pieces was at times heart stopping. Heidi and I drove her car because the windows have a heavy tint and we could keep the entire vehicle cool with the A/C. I can now appreciate what a driver for Brinks Security must go through. Seems as though when one drives with something valuable or, someone has a new expensive car, it appears that mayhem is jumping out from every corner.
Arriving safely at the south entrance, where all freight and artwork arrives to be inspected and unloaded, we stopped at the guard house to sign in. Through the gates was a long steep and winding drive to the loading docks. Our official greeted us and handed Heidi our security badges; the place was bustling with vendors, workers, and contractors or all types.
We loaded the tables onto a cart for the journey upstairs into the museum. Our curator arrived to escort us to the huge freight elevators, the type one would only see on an aircraft carrier. They’re huge! It was Monday. This is the one day of the week that the J. Paul Getty museum is closed to the public. Walking through the hallways and rooms one quickly is taken back in time and filled with the feeling of what it must have been like living and working in the King’s Court. A call went out disarm the security system and to remove a section of guard rail. We were then joined by a second curator. Our two curators placed the original on a section of the floor that we were allowed to walk on, I placed my tables flanking the original. I couldn’t believe it, it happened. There they stood in my disbelief, I wasn’t dreaming. We were then joined by a third curator.
Three Curators and Three Tables
I’ve met many people, many different personalities through my work: executives, lawyers, stockbrokers, doctors, all very smart. However, meeting a major museum curator is something quite different to be sure. They are extremely educated, intelligent, highly professional, and not easily impressed. They’ve seen the best of the best the world over for many decades. My little tables had somehow managed to captured the undivided attention of three senior museum curators, this to me was even more unbelievable than photographing my tables in that room. I had also given them something they had not seen before — the contre partye. If one works diligently and with passion, one has a damn good chance of shooting a bird in the dark, in a country where there are very few birds.