This is my second post about Seattle’s Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum which I had the pleasure of visiting in February of this year. Bright colors like this make me happy and help to transport my spirit to a better place. The metaphor of a boat filled with Chihuly glass couldn’t be more poignant at this time. The word Chihuly starts with chi, which in Chinese culture can be interpreted to mean ‘life force’. Therefore, I’m hopping aboard this little boat full of life force that’s traversing a black sea, taking me to places unknown with a whole lotta faith. And faith is what is needed in light of the recent presidential election here in the states. It left half our country feeling completely devastated, as well as some countries abroad. We’re in a time of transition and it’s anyones guess where we’ll end up.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and spent ten years living in the downtown area of Seattle, moving to L A in the mid 90’s. Chihuly has always been part of the local vernacular there. I had clients who owned pieces of his work, and downtown office buildings have permanent installations of his blown glass in their lobbies, such as the one below. Plus, there were always frequent gallery openings or museum shows that anyone could attend. It was just one of those things you sorta took for granted. But now that I live in earthquake country, I appreciate his work even more. My own small blown glass collection made from Seattle glass blowers, which I love tremendously, remains in storage for safety reasons.
The other thing that I’m reminded of when I think of my time in Seattle, is how I was perceived as ‘other’. With my black hair and olive skin, I was constantly asked my ethnicity. Are you Egyptian, Mexican, Persian… I was oddly exotic in those days. Then I moved to Los Angeles and all of that changed. I was stunned and excited at how remarkably diverse the culture here was. It was rather mind blowing to me that people came to this little plot of land from all over the world, to share in the California dream. At that point, I became much more aware of how white I actually was, and that I was also a minority here in a completely different way. If I were living on the westside, say Santa Monica or Brentwood, then I may have blended in more. I never gave it much thought, it was just the way LA was… a melting pot of really interesting cultures from all over the world. And now, with my silvery white hair and paler skin, I feel like the old waspy white guy. Wow, how did I get here in 25 quick years.
The reason that I bring this up is because most of us in white america never know what it means to be ‘the other’. For a period of time, I did. I think that is why so many of my friends here in Los Angeles, as well as my clients at the salon, feel completely devastated by this election. Some of them truly fear for their safety when they travel outside of our diverse little L A bubble. Honestly I’d never given white privilege much thought, until I discovered that I’m actually pretty white. My very handsome fiance is black, which also helped shifted my point of view, opening my eyes to the challenges he and his family have faced over the years. For me, people are people. Color has never been an issue. In fact, I’ve always thought people with darker skin than me were much better looking… maybe it’s the artist in me. And at my salon, I’m hearing interesting points of view from my clients who’ve immigrated from Ireland, England, Iran, Paris and Armenia. Even though most of them pass for ‘white’, they’re still concerned at what all of this rhetoric from our new president elect may mean for them.
As a progressive guy, I was very excited about the possibility of a female president, regardless of her baggage. To me, she was the most prepared for the position. I’ve since learned that over half of our country doesn’t feel included in the current american dream, and was willing to shake things up in an unprecedented way. Since the Donald is a complete wildcard, it’s anyones guess what the next four years will bring. This forced me to look deep into myself and ask myself what was important for me. It helped me to get clear on my soul purpose once again. Below is what I shared on my facebook page the day after the election.
Today I am a citizen of the world. I renew my commitment to focus on what is beautiful and right in this world, and will do my best not to go down the rabbit hole of fear, hatred and anger. I will continue to celebrate that beautiful piece of art, or a glorious piece of architecture that came from our higher source. I will celebrate man made elements that reflect our better selves, holding us to higher standards born out of our infinite source of creativity. To me, that is being godly, while staying connected to this world in a way that serves us all. #LoveWins
Thank you again for joining me on this journey of art, architecture, interior design, and anything else I find worthy of sharing with you. I really appreciate having a forum to think out loud, hopefully bringing a new perspective to things. Besides, beautiful things never go out of style.