Friday, August 26, 2011

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever

Well, another day, another adventure.

I landed in Portland yesterday; I came out to visit some friends who live here and to help my brother move.  I flew out, but I'll be driving his 1966 Volvo Amazon home, so it's going to be an adventure.  He keeps warning me that I'll love it for the first hour and then it'll be hot, smelly, and tiring.  I hope that's his age speaking and I'll actually enjoy it.

Anyway, yesterday I landed and made my way to the Portland Art Museum.  Right now, there is an exhibit called "The Allure of the Automobile," which you know I had to go see.  I'd heard it was a smallish exhibit and kind of pricey, but I'm a devoted autophile; I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror if I didn't go.  Within the first five minutes of entering the gallery, I'd made my investment back.

Pictured above is one of my many dream cars, the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB.  There's not a lot I wouldn't do to drive one of these things, much less own one.  Seeing in person the exact car pictured above, which won its class and finished third overall in the 1961 24 Hours of LeMans, was an absolute thrill.  This very design influenced countless Ferraris, several other exotics, and even the Ford Mustang Fastback later on.  It is a legend, and I got to stand two feet away from it.

Also featured, among the ultra-rare Tucker Torpedo, Bugatti Atalante, and others, was the 1937 Talbot-Lago T150-C-SS Teardrop.  This is, in my opinion, the most beautiful car ever built.  I think it absolutely shames anything else parked nearby.  Standing next to it, it had a presence, an air of powerful and controlled grace; it is the proverbial athlete in a tailored tuxedo.  Tell me you don't agree (Picture is of a similar vehicle selling for, wait for it, 4 million dollars at auction.  Images of the car I saw can be accessed via the museum link above.  Scroll through the gallery, it's worth it.)

All of these amazing, ultra-rare, and beautiful cars got me thinking about how good I really have it.  I'm certainly in no kind of position to ever use my Deusenberg for pizza deliveries, but I'm lucky to even be able to travel to a far-off destination, pay a museum fee, and simply look at and appreciate all of these automotive idols.  I also am grateful for designers who took the time to get the lines right and for owners who thought to care for these rare gems, rather than let them waste like I do with my cars.  I was just thinking about how lovely it is to live in a world where design and creativity in something as elementally appliance-like as a car is appreciated.  These cars are things of beauty, true works of art that belong in these museums and galleries.  Art is inspiration and I'm grateful for wherever that inspiration comes from (hint, hint).

This world is full of beauty if one takes the time to find it, and one needn't look in art galleries or the garages of the ultra-rich, either.  It's in nature and science, found in the night sky and in the operating room.  It's found in Lucky jeans, Madsen bicyles, Dyson fans, and copper and blue and red front-loading washing machines.  It's found on antique bookshelves and in gourmet kitchens and in your grandmother's music room.  Beauty is everywhere.  And every time you look at, read, taste, feel, listen to, or otherwise experience these things of beauty, they fill your life with joy.

For further information on my dream cars, visit the museum website, linked above.  Pictures are courtesy of

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