I was SUPPOSED to finish up my literacy specialist work calendar on June 30th. Due to the “secession” of the Eastside of Jordan School District, however, I spent July 1-8 packing up my eastern office to sneak across enemy lines along the Jordan River – not to be confused with the Mason-Dixon Line – to safely arrive at the new JSD headquarters at Jordan Landing – not to be confused with Harper’s Ferry. (There was no firing upon Fort Herriman, as in Middle School, but the consequences have pretty much pit community against community, district against district, parents against school boards, and constituents against legislators. But that’s too depressing to go into at this hour.)
Next I headed further west to avoid the fray for 10 days to care for my 4 adorable Nevada grandchildren while their parents traveled east for an LDS Church History Tour. Upon my return, I enjoyed less than a week of doing pretty much nothing before venturing back to work to finish organizing my bunker and to work on professional development classes for the ’09-’10 school year. In other words, time has been in short supply. Money has also been scarce due to one or more of the following reasons:
- the current depression recession
- the reduced wages due to working fewer days
- the Eastside secession
- the western desert landscaping project
- the deficit-spending habit I have yet to overcome
- the shopping anti-depressant therapy I prescribe to
- Check all of the above.
As a result of these circumstances, dreams of an exotic vacation long ago vacated. So why some of my friends headed to the Bahamas, Chicago, and Disneyland, I decided to find pleasure in the errands I run in and around Utah and Salt Lake counties. While this is not exactly the kind of adventure I usually long for, I was determined to make the best of Summer ’09. So here is my travel journal from about a month ago.
July 8, 2009 ~ One-hour tour of Ikea
Grateful that my new phone includes a camera and feeling every bit the tourist, I took photos of the artistic simplicity of hanging sculptures created by Swedish designers who must have been inspired by Dan Steinhilber. He is an artist who “explores the beauty and natural qualities of the mundane in a way that compels us to become more aware.” (By the way, I would know nothing of this up & comer in the art world had I not enjoyed meandering through Dan’s mundane marvels at BYU’s Museum of Fine Arts last January.)
Anyway, these Ikea displays smacked of museum-quality exhibits, and so I chose to share these selections as they are my favorites or because they are the only photos that turned out. (Now you won’t feel quite so bad about missing the Steinhilber exhibition, AND your experience will also be elevated by my thoughtful commentary.)
Light in the Forest ~
I was awed by the way in which the plastic captured the light – much like the filtering of sun rays through Wadsworth’s forest primeval ~ “The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, …” Ahh, breath-taking. I don’t know if Evangeline would have been wowed, but Martha Stewart would definitely store away this display of primeval practicality. (Compare with Steinhilber’s collection of Sprite bottles.)
The Swallows ~ Can’t you just hear the flutter of wings taking 100s of the little birds heavenward? OK, these are napkins, I know that; but they just might represent the “Scout Swallows” that “clear the way for the main flock to arrive at the ‘Old Mission’ of Capistrano.” (Who knows what Swedish artists think of when they design their exhibits?)
Upon viewing this design, I remembered visiting the Mission at San Juan Capistrano when I was 8. I wanted to buy a rosary, but my mother wouldn’t let me. I’m not Catholic, but I loved the beads. I finally convinced her to buy a bracelet that LOOKED like a rosary, and it even had a charm of the Madonna dangling from it. (Compare this creation to Steinhilber’s flying hangers.)
What this exhibit lacks in arrangement, it makes up in warm colors and fluffy puffiness. The display actually invites viewers to forget the shopping list and head home to enjoy a siesta on the couch. I would suggest that if you start yawning before exiting the store, you should curl up on one of the sofas on display, but Ikea’s furniture only LOOKS comfortable. (Check out Steinhilber’s balloon work, and see if you don’t think it inspired Ikea’s display designers!)
A Pitcher is Worth … ?
My final encapsulation of mundane marvels pours forth from the soft pastels of plastic pitchers. You can almost see water spouting forth, fountain-like in its descent. The trickling and gurgling songs of H2O take us from the desert to mountain streams, to garden fountains, or to Steinhilber’s PVC pipes.
Ikea, like Calgon, can take you away. Soon you are no longer shopping for storage containers and dish towels in Draper, Utah; rather you are meandering down the streets of Stolkholm or wandering through museum floors, ready to embrace the ordinary and appreciate “works open to imperfection, complexity, free-association, and real life” (Steinhilber). Whatever that means.