Wednesday, October 20, 2010

California pt. 4 - Pasadena, Norton Simon Museum and Jennifer's Oscar

Saturday was an incredible day and one that I'll never forget. We were scheduled to be at the Norton Simon Musuem at noon so we left in plenty of time to get there. I drove, my first experience driving there, and it wasn't bad at all. Along the way, we passed Forest Lawn Cemetery. I would have loved to visit but our time was tight and I knew if I got in there, I wouldn't want to leave (cemeteries fascinate me).





The traffic was minimal and we ended up arriving in Pasadena around 11. Pasadena is beautiful and charming, with a totally different vibe than the other areas we had visited. We drove around the historic downtown area where beautiful architecture and roses abound. We stopped at the Wrigley Home but it was closed. Wrigley, the chewing gum magnate, donated his home to Pasadena with the stipulation that it be used as headquarters for the Tournament of Roses.



The noon hour approached so we headed to the museum, myself a bundle of nerves. The building itself is quite beautiful - very modern with lots of glass and dark stone. The sidewalk leading up the entrance with planted with exotic trees and expanses of lush green grass where statues by Rodin and other artists were displayed.

I met my friend at the entrance who made all this possible (she runs a website on Robert Walker, Jennifer Jones' first husband and she knows the Walker family). They opened the doors, we purchased our tickets and went directly out into the museum gardens where Robert Walker Jr.and his wife, Dawn, were waiting for us. They were incredibly nice and told me some wonderful stories about Jennifer. We spent an hour talking and then Robert had to leave for a sound check and Dawn remained with us, regaling us with even more stories.



At one point, the museum curator came out and she told me that she wanted to introduce us and tell the audience about my Jennifer Jones website (very nice!). At that point Dawn jumped up and said that she had something to share with the audience. She returned with a wine bag and when she sat it down on the table, I could see the head of an Oscar poking out. It was Jennifer's Oscar - you could have scraped me off the floor. I can now say that I not only have held an Oscar, but I've held Jennifer Jones' Oscar!



Two hours had passed and it was time for the program. The curator spoke with Robert Walker Jr. on stage and they both shared some stories with the audience. A funny one that the curator told involved art expert Sister Wendy. Jennifer Jones was a big fan and she wanted to get Sister Wendy to come to the museum and record a film about the art pieces there. Sister Wendy had only seen one film in her entire life and that film was "The Song of Bernadette". When she arrived at the museum, Jennifer greeted her with open arms, exclaiming "Wendy!!!" and Sister Wendy held out her arms and screamed "Bernadette!!!"

They then showed "The Song of Bernadette" and it was a very moving experience seeing it on the big screen with an audience. After the film, I rushed through the museum, trying to take in the wonderful art that was there, but I have to confess I was numb from the excitement of the day. We left the museum and Cindy, Vickie and I had dinner at a great Mexican restaurant where I had a margarita to calm me down (and I don't drink often!)

Before I left the museum, I did take time to wander through the magnificent garden. Jennifer Jones was instrumental in both the redesign and landscape design of the museum and gardens during the last two decades (she was married to Norton Simon). The garden was designed by Southern California landscape designer, Nancy Goslee Power in 1999. It is a tranquil garden with a long pathway surrounding a meandering pond. Plantings include more than 180 species of trees, shrubs, vines, ground cover and perennials. Sculptures are integrated into the landscape.

























The day could not have been nicer. My expectations were truly surpassed!

One more post to go - the last one will be about our day on Sunday when we went to Santa Monica and Malibu.


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

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17 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You did have a day to remember. Was the Oscar heavy? The gardens there are gorgeous.

Tallulah's Antique Closet said...

The gardens are beautiful! Thank's for the tour. Haven't made it there yet.....J

Kyna said...

I love the tone of this post, you just sound so happy! :D I'm glad you got to hold her Oscar, that's just too cool!

I totally would have had to make a whole day for Forest Lawn lol

Phillip said...

Lisa, it wasn't really as heavy as I thought it would be.

Tallulah, the garden alone is worth the visit.

Kyna, thanks, I was very happy! If I get to go back, Forest Lawn is on my list. I so wanted to go there and some of the other cemeteries as well.

Diana (Di) said...

Phillip, what a wonderful event and at such a beautiful place. I share in your excitement and joy - felt every bit of it in your words. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Tim said...

Your post (and the smile on your face in the photos) are so filled with excitement! What a great treat!

David said...

We have enjoyed reading your posts of your fabulous trip and all the photos. Thanks for sharing.

sandrajonas.com said...

What a wonderful trip! How does it feel to hold an Oscar?
Too bad about Forest Lawn, you'll just have to go back.
Welome back, you were missed.

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

I'm happy for you Phillip. How nice they are were, and you got to hold her Oscar. I have several of Sister Wendy's books on art and religion so I especially loved the story. Being Catholic, we've seen the Song of Bernadette several times. :)) Thanks.~~Dee

Randy and Jamie said...

Phillip,
I'm so happy for you! No one deserve it more!-- Randy

Becca's Dirt said...

You certainly have had a wonderful trip. And that was a busy day. Love the photos of the gardens. How did it feel to hold that Oscar. Special I bet.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

How fabulous for you, Phillip! I confess I had to go look up Jennifer Jones, who I didn't recognize by name, but once I read about her I realized--she was one of the real, great actresses of days gone by, unlike those shallow cookie cutter types we see today. Glad you had such a memorable experience.

Cameron said...

Love your photos of the garden. I didn't see that one last January -- we went to Huntington Gardens when in Pasadena.

Have you been to the Getty gardens along the Pacific Coast Hwy between Santa Monica and Malibu? GO!

Gail said...

I am thrilled for you! Her Oscar and her garden! It's a beautiful garden~The water gardens are lovely...Lucky guy! gail

Annie in Austin said...

Thanks for taking us along - you look so natural with the Oscar in your hand, Phillip! The Norton Simon Museum looks wonderful - Rodins on the lawn, quite amazing. How fantastic to be there and meet the family. Your tribute websites really are cool.

The three Jennifer Jones films I'd seen from your list were Bernadette, Beat the Devil & Cluny Brown (adored both the book & the movie long ago but DVD's don't seem to come in US format). Today I found Love is A Many-Splendored Thing on instant Netflix & am still in tears.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Masha said...

Great story and a very beautiful garden, much better done than the one in Stanford I have to say. Thanks for the tour!

scott davidson said...
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