Monday, June 23, 2008


Yesterday I happened upon a documentary on PBS about Emile Norman, By His Own Design. Although I've seen Emile's work many many times, I'd never heard of him before, and after watching the documentary I was really surprised that I hadn't. Not only is his life story incredibly inspirational and romantic, he also created one of the most impressive works of art in San Francisco, the mosaic window in the Masonic Temple on Nob Hill (detail below).
masonic mosaic
Norman is a genius artist who was completely self taught, who, when he could not find the material he needed, invented a new kind of epoxy. That's the kind of innovator he was, and still is.
Also interesting to me at this time , since I'm taking my first Gay and Lesbian Studies class right now, is that he is something of a gay icon. He was born in 1918, and was out when people didn't do such things. He and his partner built themselves a house in Big Sur, where they lived openly (and happily) as a couple and he has been an inspiration to other gay artists. Since this is Gay (and Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer) Pride Month, I think it is happily appropriate that I have encountered all kinds of cool LGBT culture stuff in the past couple weeks, which I can share with you, like the Norman documentary, a really interesting (and kind of depressing) article about John Cheever in Believer magazine, a cute show on Logo called Exes and Ohs, and the upcoming movie Chris and Don: A Love Story, which I am looking forward to.
Anyway, the point really is that I highly recommend the Emile Norman documentary, or, if you don't have a chance to see it, at least visit his website to see examples of his amazing work, or, if you live in San Francisco, take the cable car up to the top of Nob Hill and check out the Masonic Temple in person. You could even make a little day of it; the Temple is right across the street from Grace Cathedral and the Flood Mansion and just a block or two from the Fairmont Hotel, home of the Tonga Room and their famous Lava Bowls. Yum.

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