By Jackie Hodges


   Southern California, in media hype is often best known for the Hollywood and Show Biz scene, while 'nerdy' whiz computer kids toil in the Silicon Valley of Northern California. The state also boasts ideal weather, lush golf courses, outstanding wineries, acres of fruit and vegetables, and a coast line for viewing and playing.
   And, all over California, there are many top notch art museums and galleries. Culture, sometimes controversial abounds in so many areas of this state that it would take weeks to cover it in depth.
   On a recent seven week trip that covered much of this native state of mine, my companion and I visited several art museums and galleries.
   While Los Angeles is proud of the County Museum, the newest architectural feat is the awesome J. Paul Getty Museum that opened Christmas week 1999. In addition there are hundreds of privately owned galleries sprinkled from Laguna Beach and LaJolla all the way to the gold country of Sonora with the impressive Santa Barbara Museum in between.
   If you are lucky enough to visit the J. Paul Getty Museum on a clear day, you have a breath-taking view of the coast and can see almost all the way to San Diego. The art collections at the museum are still in a state of process with more acquisitions of world treasurers to come. The Greek and Roman exhibit is well documented and explains the meaning and purpose of these ancient works of art that certainly goes well beyond beauty. This spectacular exhibit will return to its original home, the Villa in Malibu when it reopens this year. The Villa is a most appropriate permanent home for collections of antiquities and artifacts. It will serve as a center for comparative archaeology, cultures, as well as a hub for scholarly research and a graduate program.
   My companion was in awe of the beautiful Huntington Library and Art Gallery in San Marino. This non profit institution and educational center was founded in 1919 by Henry Huntington who amassed the core of one of the finest libraries in the world, established a splendid collection of British art and created a lovely botanical garden. I had spend many hours in the Huntington as a docent and it was a happy visit for me to return to this beautiful place.
   The Art Gallery was originally the Huntington residence and is home to Gainsborough's, "Blue Boy" and Laurence's, "Pinkie" Also seen in various arms of the gallery are early American paintings, and in another memorial wing one can find Renaissance paintings, 18th century French sculpture, tapestries, porcelain and furniture.
   The book and gift shop is one of the best I have ever seen in the art world. Everything is top drawer and of impeccable taste. It is a perfect place to shop for gifts or indulge one's own self.
   It takes time to see and enjoy the library and gallery. We topped it off by lunch in the Tea Room and a leisurely stroll thru a portion of the 130 acre botanical garden. A wonderful end to a most impressive day.