Alexander Girard at the Palm Springs Art Museum

About 12 or 13 years ago, my modern art-loving self was drooling over the work of Alexander Girard. He came on to my radar because of his collaboration with Braniff International Airways, which I absolutely love but sadly doesn’t exist anymore. As far as modern design goes, I was still trying to keep up with the Eameses, and Girard was a breath of fresh air for me.

Girard’s Impact on Modernism

Girard’s aesthetic is happy and warm, which isn’t something you commonly see in traditional modern design. Minimalism is cool and all, but Girard draws me in because of the way he went against its stoicism. A lot of his work has Native American and Latin folk art flair, and you just can’t be in a bad mood after seeing it (well, at least I don’t think so).

Nonetheless, he was a very important part of the modernist movement. He was a master of interior design and worked on many commercial and home spaces, brightening them with his attention to color. Sitting in a room full of his designs could easily be a form of color therapy, in my totally unbiased, unprofessional opinion.

Getting My Girard Fix

I have a small collection of Girard items, including Braniff tchochkes I bought at estate sales or on eBay. I even have a huge Girard coffee table book that could easily moonlight as a deadly weapon. But when I found out I could finally see his work in-freakin’-person in Palm Springs, I about lost my shit.

I went with a couple of friends to check out the exhibit recently, and oh, man…it did NOT disappoint. I felt joy and anticipation at the mere sight of the entrance.

Abandon all sadness, ye who enter here.

The amount of Girard’s work on display is staggering. Along with his beautiful textile designs, I saw furniture, restaurant ware, drawings, films, and even dolls. All of it is colorful, fun, and good for your heart and soul.

My Girard Exhibit Highlights

There are a couple of sections that made my heart go pitter-patter. First was the body of work he did for the La Fonda del Sol restaurant in New York City. A sun motif accompanies much of the design work he did for it, which delights and inspires happiness. Seriously, if I could wake up to a canvas of a Girard sun with its happy face staring at me every day, I might not need coffee….well, maybe.

There is also a replica of Girard’s awesome conversation pit in the first room, which you can actually sit in and take the load off for a while. My friends and I enjoyed playing with the pillows in it, which all had Girard textile patterns. I could have easily napped there, but I think the docents would have frowned on that.

All the pillows, please!

Of course, I was over the moon to see Girard’s work for Braniff on display. It’s astounding how much he did for them – matchbooks, playing cards, coffee cups, even their dove logo! I was lucky enough to snag a pair of real Braniff flight attendant wings a few years ago, which I wore to the museum as a small way to pay tribute to how I found Girard and his work.

The iconic Braniff typography on display

Although Braniff’s flight attendant uniforms were not Girard creations, a couple of them made it into the exhibit. The Italian fashion designer Emilio Pucci was responsible for these, and they were absolute perfection as a complement to Girard’s designs.

Girard and Pucci…a match made in modern design heaven

One of the coolest things on display in the Braniff section was a video ad for their “End of the Plain Plane” marketing campaign, which was sheer GENIUS. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in the room where that concept was birthed! The juxtaposition of the narrator’s deadpan delivery and the rich visual imagery in the video was kind of hilarious. But hey, that made it all the more effective! For those of you who can’t make the exhibit…take a look:

If you’re into modernism and can get to Palm Springs in the near future, you’ve got to see the Girard exhibit for yourself. I don’t feel he gets enough credit for the variety and quality of his life-affirming work, and more people (that means you) should explore it.

Want to plan a trip?

Yes, of course you want to see this awesome art!

The Alexander Girard exhibit runs through March 1st at the Palm Springs Art Museum, so start making those arrangements! Palm Springs itself is an amazing city with tons to do and see, so you won’t be bored…trust me!

Pro tip: If you’re the budget-conscious type, the museum offers free admission after 4:00 PM on Thursdays only. When you’re done, trot out to Villagefest, the weekly market in downtown Palm Springs. Lots of food, music, and good people-watching!

How I Learned to Love Quarantine

How fast things can change in a week.

I sometimes think this when I look at the world I lived in and how I felt about it a week ago compared to now. Like many others, I’m in a self-imposed quarantine of sorts with, thankfully, my beloved Brian by my side. To say I’m grateful for his presence would be the understatement of all time.

It’s so easy to let my anxiety take over (which it has definitely threatened to do) because of how powerless the situation around me makes me feel. To the vast majority of the human population, the unknown is a colossal dick. So it’s only natural we’d flip out at what’s happening now.

I’ve definitely experienced grief. Right now, I grieve for the world around me, I grieve for the people who don’t get the luxury of staying home because we need them, I grieve for my friends who are suddenly finding themselves in a position of financial hardship, I grieve because I can’t see my elderly parents back home in Texas…the list goes on. Grief looks different for lots of people, so I thought I’d share my journey and where it’s led me to now.

I was initially incredulous at the thought of a pandemic causing this much upheaval. It was one of many who was guilty of feeling like it wouldn’t affect us the way it did. When it finally started creeping into my way of life, I was angry. Angry at the virus, angry at the spreaders, angry at the hoarders…you get the idea.

Then came the “if onlys”. “If only we’d taken this seriously sooner”, “If only our healthcare system was better equipped”, “If only we had a leader who knew what he was doing.” There are so many fucking if onlys. Guys, don’t think about them too much, or you’ll never get out of that rabbit hole, FYI.

Several days ago, I experienced my first bout of real depression. I was depressed at the thought of watching our retirement savings dwindle, the thought of my parents possibly becoming infected, the healthcare system finally collapsing, the thought of more and more people succumbing to the virus…holy shit, it was intense at times. But to my surprise, it didn’t last long at all.

It’s hard not to feel an impending sense of doom when you read the news or even go on social media, because all anyone can talk about is the virus, how it’s affecting everything, and how the world will basically shit on itself if we do nothing. But as the crisis deepened, I started to see signs…signs of hope, unity and good will.

“Innovation is born out of necessity.” I love that quote. And I am seeing proof of it everywhere I look. People are using their creativity and knowledge to come up with ways to help or enrich the lives of others. From people trying to make masks for healthcare workers to virtual concerts, classes and happy hours, our humanity is peeking like a slit out of our collective skirt of self-absorbance.

Earlier this week, a neighbor brought me kidney beans and canned tomatoes out of kindness, because every place I’d tried was sold out, and all I wanted was to make a pot of chili. Another friend messaged me today to see if we needed any toilet paper because he’d found some on his way home. I’m seeing communities come together to support their bars, restaurants, and other local businesses that have seen their revenue streams cut. And it’s giving me hope.

We are capable of so much good. We really are. I have a pretty fair amount of cynicism in me, but I’d like to believe that we’ll find ways to lift each other up during this time of extreme sacrifice and strife. Yes, even in spite of how shitty we humans are sometimes.

When I woke up yesterday, I looked out my window and saw a little hummingbird flitting around our trees, pausing here and there. I was completely mesmerized by it. It was like time stopped at that moment. When it flew away, I finally snapped out of my daze.

And it really hit me – when we’re finally able to step outside our homes and slowly rebuild ourselves and our communities, I hope our overall feeling is similar to the one I felt at that moment. A feeling of wonder, hope, and renewed gratitude for the little things that pass us by every day without us noticing much. A heightened appreciation for the things and people we take for granted and think we’ll have tomorrow, next week or next year.

I’ve entered the last stage of my grief and accepted what is happening now – that we need to do the right thing so we can fight back against this virus. So we can all go hug our loved ones again, even tighter than before.

How fast things can change in a week. Stay hopeful, stay safe, and for the love of all things, please stay the fuck home.

New Blog, New Direction

If you followed my previous blog called Adventures in Tiki, you may have seen a post alluding to my bringing it down. I decided to do so because writing only about Tiki wasn’t as fulfilling to me as it used to be. I’ve been wanting to expand on the content for a while and felt a little stifled because I felt I couldn’t do it without compromising on the original purpose of the blog.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Tiki, and it will continue to be a big part of this new blog I’ve created. But I also have a lot of cool experiences that sometimes might be Tiki-adjacent or not Tiki at all. These include visits to historically significant sites, cool homes, interesting food and drinks, and even personal stories I feel others could relate to.

With life (and therefore my mindset) being kind of on the shitty side lately, I stopped writing and internalized a lot of my thoughts. But recently, I started realizing how much I missed writing and being creative. I think it’s time to get back to that.

I’m also hoping I can up my writing game, because I looked back at some of the stuff I wrote for my old blog and was like, “Yikes, did I really write like that?” It was a bit of a cringefest reading through some of those old posts. But I’m my own worst critic, of course.

I want to thank everyone who read my previous blog and follows me on the socials. I’ve met tons of great new friends along the way, and I hope to continue doing that. I love sharing the badass stuff I’m lucky enough to see and do with all of you.

My new blog is a work in progress. A fully customized site (better than this one) is in the works. So please bear with me while I work on getting it ready. Nonetheless, I’ll still be writing, so watch for a new post soon!