Our Getty CEO died this weekend. Suddenly. With no warning whatsoever. It's shocking. And sad. My first sensation was disbelief. This must be a joke. Then I felt extremely giddy -- not with happiness necessarily, but with all the thoughts racing around in my head about what this meant, for him, for me, for the Getty. What the hell? Can we not go more than 6 months without some major drama? And not to be too harsh, but how would things be different if he'd died in December, before our Director resigned? We now have our two top position wide open, flapping in the breeze. Where does that leave us? Does it even matter really? Our day to day jobs are unaffected, at least for now, other than the ever-present sense of chaos lurking in the background.
It's no secret that Mr. Wood was not well liked by many staff, particularly in light of the lay-offs last year, and the disagreements between him and Mr. Brand, who was beloved by many staff. Certainly no one wished him dead however. Our interim director shared some very nice, and very personal stories about Jim at this week's staff meeting, and I for one found it quite moving. He told us all about a recent trip they'd taken to Spain, and how it was clear to him that above all else, Jim loved art and loved seeing and learning new things, and that counts for a lot. One of the images he left us with was of the tall, vibrant, Jim (the picture of health, really) surrounded by a group of little nuns in Toledo, Spain when they went to visit some very special El Greco altarpiece.
There's nothing like dying prematurely to cast a rose-colored hue on the life you lived. I didn't know Jim personally. Professionally, I don't agree with many of the decisions he made, and more than that, the way that he made them and communicated them with his staff. But in the end, he was a human being like all of us, and he dedicated himself to the arts until his dying day.