This past weekend was the last one of summer, and people in New York were buzzing with anticipation for the next three days. Barbeques and long nights out were discussed and solidified, and you could hear the sounds of excitement and anticipation everywhere as friends and family made their plans. I walked home after work on Friday night and felt the air change. Another season was soon to be over.
I didn't feel like staying around the city, so to fill my Sunday, I drove up to Rhode Island to visit The Breakers, which has been on my bucket list for some time. Built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1893, the mansion was a summer getaway for the Vanderbilt family up until the Preservation Society of Newport County bought it in the 1970s. Today, its doors are open for tourists to explore the main house and grounds. Implicative of the Gilded Age, it reminds me of Downton Abbey, Pemberley Estate, and Jay Gatsby's West Egg residence rolled into one.
When I arrived, it was a hot, muggy, overcast afternoon but I actually preferred it that way. I think the sunshine would have masked the true nature of the house, which was created during an era of tremendous growth but also much suffering for the American people. Inside, I saw measures of progress with telephones, electrical outlets, intercom system, and flush toilets. I stood underneath the three-story foyer and marvelled at the grandiose fixtures, art, and decorations. It looked like a fairy tale.
But it was also used as a place of refuge to escape the impending doom of the stock market crash that would devastate the entire nation. Here, things were none the wiser while chaos ensued outside. I stood on the brink of the backyard cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and thought about what this place meant for the family when they were here during that time. Avoiding something only keeps it at bay for so long. Eventually, it catches up to you and when it does, sometimes it can be worse than what you imagined because it's been so prolonged.
When you are hurting, you try so hard to find a place that will make you feel good again. You're confused and disoriented because what you thought you knew isn't what it is anymore. I think that's why I've been desperate to travel these past few weeks because for me, the timeouts help get me out of my head. After The Breakers, I left Newport and went up farther north to Providence, where I walked around RISD and appreciated the local scenes and sights. I wanted to drink it all in before I had to go back home and face what I was running away from.
Popping in here today to post some of my pictures from a trip upstate this weekend to visit the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, New York. I am a huge fan of interactive exhibits as opposed to your standard gallery fare, and anything that allows me to be outside in the beautiful weather is a plus.
Storm King is a 500-acre sculpture garden and park, and the unique thing about it is that most of the works are built directly into the landscape. I found myself off the beaten path during a walk, and came across an arrangement of boulders that turned out to be an exhibit by Patricia Johanson. The photograph of Roy Lichtenstein's Mermaid was taken during a quiet moment by the lake in the South Fields. The union between art and nature is celebrated. Care is taken to ensure that the surrounding environment isn't disrupted by the sculptures, but enhanced.
No two angles or views of the same piece looked the same, and it was interesting to observe the sculptures and their relationship with Mother Nature. The parts that faced the sun were faded and starting to show signs of wear, while their counterparts in the shade were still as vibrant as the day they arrived. It reminded me of how we have similar nuances within ourselves - how the sides of our personality that are constantly on display eventually get eroded and less meaningful, and the parts that we keep hidden and show only a select few stay relevant and special.
I really enjoyed myself in this place. It was a much needed and welcomed day off.
Recently, a friend and I had a conversation about letting go and being free. He asked me if I had ever taken a trip or gone on a vacation where I woke up in the morning, walked outside, and let the day work itself out. I told him the thought of that was giving me hives.
To be completely transparent, I'm the sort of person who makes everything into an itinerary. Things have to be planned down to a T. I don't like to waste time. I react very well to boundaries. I move on when things are done.
So much of my energy is either spent reflecting on the past or looking at what's next and thinking ahead, that I have a hard time enjoying what I have right now. Instead of looking at the clock and thinking that I have 7 hours left in my Saturday to relax and take a breather, I see it as 7 hours until Sunday, when I have a whole new list of items to do and errands to run and I better get everything finished otherwise things will spill into the next day and I'll already be behind.
Finding David Okum's clocks in his shop, Okum Made, might just be the thing that cures me of this affliction. Built on the premise that goods should only embody the things that they actually need, David's O'Clock series contain the base, the hands, and the motor by which they are made. Because the hours and minutes aren't staring you in the face, the clock becomes a simple indicator of where in the day you are presently in. It's not an arms race anymore to be productive before midnight. Its purpose is to be a steady reminder of time moving forward, which is the definition of living.
So go out and be. Everything is really okay.
Found this gem of a video today from Dutch studio Part of a Bigger Plan, who was commissioned by Herman Miller to create an introduction video for their WHY campaign. WHY is a new digital platform that tells audiences the story behind the company and why it has remained a force in the furniture industry for the last 108 years. Aptly so, Part of a Bigger Plan created a quirky animation that details the Herman Miller history in just 108 seconds.
I own several pieces from their office collections, and have always appreciated the fine detail put into the design and aesthetics of each one without sacrificing comfort and ease. In reading the motivations behind what they do, I am reminded why I am proud to support them and their cause.
"At Herman Miller, design is never just about a finished product. It is a narrative that extends from the conceptual thinking that informs a designer’s vision to the people it touches and the places it transforms."