Geeking out

14 Nov

Yesterday was one of those rare and glorious days that I spent indulging my inner nerd. After a Saturday feeling under the weather, it was good to get out and be amongst people…by myself. (Weird, right?) I am a social creature and enjoy spending time with the people and if you know me socially, you might categorize me as an extrovert. However, I find that I need just as much alone time to replenish the social stores that get depleted and find that time to be incredibly gratifying.

So with my alone time, I indulged my geekiest passions: literature and art. I went to see Anonymous, the wonderful film with Rhys Ifans that questions the legitimacy of Shakespeare’s authorship and paints a very disturbing picture of the possible true author’s relationship with Elizabeth I.  Fiction, of course.  I think.

(This of course led me straight to Island Books after to buy the new novel Elizabeth I by Margaret George, a big juicy dive-right-into-it book. Island Books is now selling e-books as well, a wonderful example of commerce adapting to society and a sure sign that my favorite store will be there for many more years.)

I also visited the Bellevue Art Museum to see the George Nelson exhibit.  Nelson, one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, believed that design reflected the whole cultural landscape and said, ‘Design is a response to social change.’ He was of the era of architects and designers that looked to an aesthetic that represented a value system, which I of course am enamored with. I love the idea of design reflecting what’s happening now versus what happened 80, 100 or 1000 years ago.

Needless to say, the Nelson exhibit inflamed me with furniture lust, the clock wall and the storage wall being especially seductive. I sneaked a photo or two before the guard threatened to throw me out. I checked the gift shop with the hope of buying the catalog for the images, but at $105, it was a bit precious for my pocketbook. There was a Nelson swag-leg desk there that I coveted and checked out at Herman Miller (the company for whom Nelson designed and which still sells much of his work).  Retailing for $1949 on their website, I think I will keep trying my hand at thrifting to find something similar.

Seeing all these wonderful designs that defined a generation does strike one with a bittersweet kind of nostalgia. Punctuating that nostalgia was another haunting exhibit by Cathy McClure entitled Midway. An almost surreal multi-media installation (bordering on carnivalesque nightmare) with mechanical metal and plastic toys, a merry-go-round with metal elephants rising and falling and a light flashing on it like a zoetrope, it has both an enticing and unsettling. There was a Calliope kind of melancholy music that played the same lines over and over again making the entire experience feel both real and dreamlike.

What resonated in association of the George Nelson exhibit as well, was the statement below about inspiration for the Midway installation from a poem, Pyrography by John Ashbery which expressed the mood she sought to convey, ‘…And midway we meet disappointed, returning ones, without its being able to stop us in the headlong night toward the nothing of the coast.’

Such an interesting commentary appropriate for the mid-century sensibility of both hope and disappointment, so popularly examined lately in works like Mad Men or Revolutionary Road.

And in my head I still hear that droning Calliope which may now always be associated with George Nelson for me.  I hope not.


4 Responses to “Geeking out”

  1. Roger J. Morris June 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    Sounds like we visited the exhibit the same week! ( Except you got in a few photos…I got in trouble before the first click of the camera.

  2. Julie Montgomery November 16, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    What an awesome day! I need to get over to BAM and see the Nelson exhibit, too. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Brandy November 16, 2011 at 10:56 am #

      Sure thing. It was so much fun! Enjoy!

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