Akron Life April 2011 : Page 11

speak easy by Rodney Wilson Does Escher still Matter? / M.C. Escher’s popularity with the college crowd peaked in the ’90s (once everyone had a poster). Yet I still found myself at the Akron Art Museum — with my kids. / here at the beginning: I was a pretentious college student. My wardrobe consisted of a collection of carefully-selected corduroys and tweeds procured from the local thrift shop, and my prescription eyewear was a pair of perfectly round, gold glasses. >> We should probably get this admission out of the way right >> It was the mid-’90s, so I had serious opinions about Pearl Jam that I was more than willing to share at length with unfortunate passersby who made the mis-take of seeming interested. Also, I had a ponytail. Understanding this point is crucial to the statement I’m about to make about beloved graphic designer M.C. Escher: Pretentious college kids love the hell out of him. Or, at least they did in the mid-to late-’90s. Well, I know I did. It did seem, in these halcyon times, that M.C. Escher had reached a peak in mass popularity. Escher memora-bilia was easy to come by in those days — one store in the mall had a decent collection of Escher coffee mugs, select department stores carried Escher t-shirts and even the local Kmart offered a handful of black-and-white Escher posters sandwiched between images of swimsuit models and sports celebrities that a pretentious college student like myself didn’t recognize. I always wanted one of those Escher posters and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to choose between the hands drawing themselves and the staircase that didn’t lead anywhere. I was never able to decide and abandoned owning a Kmart Escher when I entered into my mini-malist/maximalist period and all available wallspace was consumed by countless Post-It notes displaying a single word. I did have a t-shirt, though, and I wore it a lot. You don’t really see M.C. Escher t-shirts in mall stores anymore, and post-college life has battered a bit of pretension out of me (though I’ve retained enough to claim the title of “writer”). In my little world, M.C. Escher no longer matters. This is probably why, when I saw the Akron Art Museum was hosting a showing of Escher’s works titled “Impossible Realities” (advertised using one of those Kmart Eschers with the trippy staircases), I was confused. I’m no longer rabid about Pearl Jam, so how could M.C. Escher even matter anymore? A Sunday afternoon viewing of the show led to me to realize that, yeah, Escher does still matter. For all the reasons that an artist’s body of work should endure the harsh passing of time, Escher’s life’s work — of which there’s a lot in “Impossible Realities,” from lithographs to woodcuts to sketches and more — was a marvel to behold in person. That’s not why I say Escher still matters, though. This verdict is based on the audience with whom I num-bered while viewing “Impossible Realities”: families, led by normal-enough looking parents who encouraged their knee-high offspring to repeat terms like “planes,” “infinity” and “spacial reality.” I recognized these people, even as I similarly tried to elicit some response from my two kids (one responded by hitting the wall until a security guard asked her to stop, while the other lay down and attempted to make imaginary snow angels on the hardwood floor). In college, I would have met these folks for bad coffee and talked about Pearl Jam until dawn. Through sheer force of will, former pretentious college students are instilling an appreciation of M.C. Escher’s artwork, ensuring that a future generation of preten-tious college students will demand posters of staircases that lead absolutely nowhere. / Writer Rodney Wilson spends his days serving coffee at his Kent, OH, coffee shop, evenings wrangling two rambunc-tious daughters and nights writing a novel that refuses to end. He’s also a musician with a nasty case of tinnitus. Comments? E-mail them to editor Georgina K. Carson at gcar-son@bakermediagroup.com. Escher memorabilia courtesy of the Akron Art Museum Gift Shop www.akronlife.com 11

Speak Easy

Rodney Wilson

We should probably get this admission out of the way right here at the beginning: I was a pretentious college student. My wardrobe consisted of a collection of carefully-selected corduroys and tweeds procured from the local thrift shop, and my prescription eyewear was a pair of perfectly round, gold glasses.

It was the mid-’90s, so I had serious opinions about Pearl Jam that I was more than willing to share at length with unfortunate passersby who made the mistake of seeming interested. Also, I had a ponytail.

Understanding this point is crucial to the statement I’m about to make about beloved graphic designer M.C. Escher: Pretentious college kids love the hell out of him. Or, at least they did in the mid- to late-’90s. Well, I know I did.

It did seem, in these halcyon times, that M.C. Escher had reached a peak in mass popularity. Escher memorabilia was easy to come by in those days — one store in the mall had a decent collection of Escher coffee mugs, select department stores carried Escher t-shirts and even the local Kmart offered a handful of black-and-white Escher posters sandwiched between images of swimsuit models and sports celebrities that a pretentious college student like myself didn’t recognize. I always wanted one of those Escher posters and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to choose between the hands drawing themselves and the staircase that didn’t lead anywhere. I was never able to decide and abandoned owning a Kmart Escher when I entered into my minimalist/ maximalist period and all available wallspace was consumed by countless Post-It notes displaying a single word. I did have a t-shirt, though, and I wore it a lot.

You don’t really see M.C. Escher t-shirts in mall stores anymore, and post-college life has battered a bit of pretension out of me (though I’ve retained enough to claim the title of “writer”). In my little world, M.C. Escher no longer matters.

This is probably why, when I saw the Akron Art Museum was hosting a showing of Escher’s works titled “Impossible Realities” (advertised using one of those Kmart Eschers with the trippy staircases), I was Confused. I’m no longer rabid about Pearl Jam, so how could M.C. Escher even matter anymore?

A Sunday afternoon viewing of the show led to me to realize that, yeah, Escher does still matter. For all the reasons that an artist’s body of work should endure the harsh passing of time, Escher’s life’s work — of which there’s a lot in “Impossible Realities,” from lithographs to woodcuts to sketches and more — was a marvel to behold in person.

That’s not why I say Escher still matters, though. This verdict is based on the audience with whom I numbered while viewing “Impossible Realities”: families, led by normal-enough looking parents who encouraged their knee-high offspring to repeat terms like “planes,” “infinity” and “spacial reality.” I recognized these people, even as I similarly tried to elicit some response from my two kids (one responded by hitting the wall until a security guard asked her to stop, while the other lay down and attempted to make imaginary snow angels on the hardwood floor). In college, I would have met these folks for bad coffee and talked about Pearl Jam until dawn.

Through sheer force of will, former pretentious college students are instilling an appreciation of M.C. Escher’s artwork, ensuring that a future generation of pretentious college students will demand posters of staircases that lead absolutely nowhere.

Writer Rodney Wilson spends his days serving coffee at his Kent, OH, coffee shop, evenings wrangling two rambunctious daughters and nights writing a novel that refuses to end. He’s also a musician with a nasty case of tinnitus.

Comments?

E-mail them to editor Georgina K. Carson at gcarson@ bakermediagroup.com.

Read the full article at http://digital.ipcprintservices.com/article/Speak+Easy/676522/64937/article.html.

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