A FRESH LOOK AT NAKASHIMA
“There has really not been a show like this before, at least in recent memory,” says David Rago, the auctioneer who is also an advisor to the Modernism Museum Mount Dora. The typography for the title of this exhibition, esherick to NAKASHIMA, gives a pretty big hint of the focus. The museum’s founders, Ken Mazik and Donna Brown, have a superlative collection of both Wharton Esherick’s work and George Nakashima’s. But, as Rago points out, this exhibition, which opens October 3, is “not simply showing off a collection. It is a comprehensive exhibition with a scholarly basis.” The Modernism Museum Mount Dora relies on scholarly and curatorial input not just from Rago, but from his fellow board of advisors: Suzanne Perrault, who is Rago’s wife and partner in Rago Auctions; John Sollo, a leading expert on twentieth-century design; Paul Eisenhauer, former director of the Wharton Esherick Museum; and the design scholar Robert Aibel, whose Moderne Gallery has represented Nakashima over the past several decades.
Esherick to NAKASHIMA explores the evolution of the latter’s career; born in 1905, George Nakashima was an architect by training and a furniture maker by calling, transforming fallen trees into works of organic, sculptural furniture. His Bucks County, Pennsylvania, studio—now run by his daughter Mira—became a near shrine for admirers of his work. The Mount Dora exhibition, Rago says, offers a range of work over Nakashima’s life, as well as works from Mira, and includes rare and little-known pieces, among them a wine rack and a tea cart. “More importantly,” Rago says, “it explores why he designed what he did. It shows the evolution of Nakashima’s work in a way I’ve never seen expressed before.” modernismmuseum.org