Visit to the Edward Gorey House

July 18, 2012 § 1 Comment

I recently visited the Edward Gorey House, a museum in a small house where he lived dedicated to his life and works.  I had an amazing experience visiting the place.

The house has gray shingles and a big wrap around porch, a little property and a barn, and an unusual magnolia tree (the mystical Gorey magnolia) but otherwise is very commonplace.

Inside is filled with the stuff of his life – mostly odd assortments of junk he collected from yard sales, antique stores and what-not and often displayed in arrangements around his house.  There was a collection of dark, metal jewelry he loved to wear, teapots, carved animals in wood and stone, tiny ceramic figures from tea boxes, a bottle of lye, a bottle of gin, small creatures he hand sewed and stuffed with rice, a giant pile of tickets to operas, plays, and concerts he attended.

Then there were many original artworks on envelopes he sent off in the mail, books he illustrated and some he wrote and illustrated, information and items from his work on Dracula for Broadway, and a pile of slightly unnerving puppets from little shows he put on later in life for small and excited audiences.

I got the sense as I was looking around that what caught his interest in life was anything that perked the ears of his imagination, that hit the right cord to amuse or inspire him.  He obviously didn’t care about money or status, which was alluded to when he gave away his Tony award to a friend, never really mentioned it, and never did any other Broadway after the highly renowned set and costume design he did for Dracula.

And I think that’s because his authentic sensibilities occupied that space — an idiosyncratic mix of childlike, playful, morbid, gothic, detailed, lush, sparse, and a little bit of everything it seems.  I felt like his work was so unique and brilliant simply because he stayed in his creative mind and worked with intense, obsessive passion not for status but to make the thing, the exact thing his imagination wanted.

Even the information they passed on about the end of his life seemed sad, but not tragic – not empty in any way.  It felt mystical and meaningful.  The museum said the Gorey magnolia produced a bloom out of the usual season in time to ornament the wreath on which his friends sent his ashes out to sea.  There were pictures and dates… but regardless, I believe them.

I felt like I got a little snapshot into someone who lived a truly creative life.  And I left feeling happy for him and excited for myself and my close people.

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