Wednesday, March 21, 2007

If It Ain't Baroque...

I had a unique experience last night. I was invited, along with some other folks, to view a collection of period military uniforms and baroque paintings amassed by a fellow named Mike that attends the same church we do. Sarah and I had met he and his wife before at a dinner at our pastor's home. He had spoken of his collection then and our interest was peaked. Since it's a fairly large church with multiple services, we haven't seen them since and just forgot about it.
So, our pastor emails me and invites us to see it. Sarah can't go due to her work schedule but I decide to go. I rode out with some other friends not really knowing what to expect. The house is pretty impressive. It's sitting on a cliff overlooking Puget Sound and the view is quite spectacular. (I didn't take my camera...darn, darn, darn) Once inside, we got a tour of the house and it's art. There are baroque (and other style) paintings all over the house. I immediately noticed Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington (one of many) but none of the other paintings were familiar to me. I loved his office. It was filled with replicas of armor, helmets and such. There was even a suit of chain mail that a couple of us tried on.

We ate dinner and it was very nice. It was a great opportunity to get to know some church folks a little better. After dinner, we went out to the museum that is in a separate building from the house. When we walked in I couldn't believe my eyes. It's a large space decorated in baroque style with marble floors and gold gilded ornaments throughout. Most, if not all, of the paintings have gilded frames, some of which he built and gilded himself. In fact, he had done all the gilding in the entire building. The walls were covered with paintings and the floor space was aligned with row after row of mannequins dressed in period military outfits. It was overwhelming. My favorite was the Scottish outfit with the sporran (belt) made out of a badger. He also had a drinking glass from the time of Christ and it's made out of glass. It looks like a modern day tumbler. He joked about it being the Holy Grail. Oh, and there was a gilded skull that I thought was interesting. It made me want to write a story called (wait for it) The Gilded Skull.

I can't wait to go back when Sarah can go. She will go bonkers for all those outfits. I want to go back so I can look again. I'm sure I'll see different stuff the 2nd time around. I really appreciate them opening up their home like that to us. They are super hosts and nice people. Heck, Mike was trying make everyone eat Ben and Jerry's before we all left. (I was good and turned it down...but it was hard)

The time came to leave and we said our goodbyes. On the way home, we tried to process all we had seen. I don't think I can. I have that problem in any museum. I remember going to the Museum of Modern Art in NY. I spent the entire morning in there by myself just bouncing from room to room gasping audibly at the sight of some of my favorite works of art. (There's nothing like seeing the real thing) My friends who lived in Delaware at the time drove up to meet me and when they finally found me I was a babbling mess. I was in some sort of art catatonia. They calmed me down, took me to lunch and then we went back for more. I tell you, it was like art heaven. Mike's collection didn't affect me quite that way since it's not really a collection of things I'm into necessarily...but it was way cool and it was too much for my mind to grasp in one viewing. I've been reading lately about artists who suggest camping out in front of one work and meditating on it. I agree and I've done it but it's difficult. It's hard for your eye to focus on that one piece when you are surrounded by many.

Anyway, I am way off track now. Thanks Mike and Cheryl, for an unforgettable evening.

1 comment:

Cassie said...

Did you find all the gold bugs? He's done some amazing stuff in that place!