7th Annual Auction
If It's Saturday, It Must Be Yarmouth Port!
Alison Lurie recounts a very special friendship
Read what Ms Lurie told auction attendees about The Beastly Baby, The Curious Sofa, and The Doubtful Guest!
Online bidders prevail!
Images in the middle, from top to bottom:
EGH Chairman Tom Michalak opens the live auction
Mystery! poster donated by Ed Bradford on the block
Lé Théâtricule Stoïque performs The Curious Sofa
For more information call the Edward Gorey House
Images by Glen Emil.
10 October 2008 Special to Goreyography
I DO a lot of things throughout the day. And most of that is thinking about doing something else. Eventually, something gets done. But one thing I never thought about until today was the act of opening and closing doors. I don't know how many doors I open and shut daily, but I think there's a lot. Bathroom doors, bedroom doors, shower doors, garage doors, car doors, office doors, elevator doors. Once I started counting, I easily lost track. Midway through the day, I realized that approaching a door, being on one side of one and then the other three seconds later, is one the most common acts of transition that occurs with amazing frequency. And those are just the physical doors.
There are the doors that open and close, metaphorically. I don't even want to start putting doors on stuff that didn't already have them, but think a minute and you'll see, everything can be seen as a sequence of opened and shut doors, and whether we open them, or chose to keep them shut. Bolting shut a door in the mind can be one of our most deliberate of personal actions. It often makes me feel strong, too. Opening doors, in your mind, often leads to some sort of change. Doors. Great stuff. I can think of them forever now. 'What's behind door number three' has been burned into our collective choice-making processes. The Doors. Paint it black.
I didn't need to open doors to go into the church where the auction was being held, they were propped open. But I felt the weight of opening them as I entered. I was happy to arrive; passing through the doors just gave it an official beginning. The Edward Gorey House's 7th Annual Auction & Goreyfest was to begin in an hour. I thought I was going to be late, this being the first time. Crackers and cheese and muted conversation were in the air, and I descended the stairs in search of them. As I reached the bottom landing, I realized I was most likely approaching heaven. It took two seconds to spot Gorey things scattered about within eyeshot: flyers on tables, artwork on the walls, life-size mockups of Gorey characters and furniture in every corner. And the smiles! Nearly everyone I spotted had smiles on their faces, or at least some expression of concentration and pleasure. No one was trying to ignore each other. What a change from Maryland, where I had come four hours earlier! I knew these people had Gorey on the mind. And not a shut door in sight.
Unexpectedly, instantly, I felt like an intruder. For some reason, I felt like I walked into Yarmouth Port's Gorey family reunion. I knew this wasn't the case, just the fear of being a stranger, but it sure felt that way. I searched out Andreas Brown, the only face I knew I'd meet, but he remained elusive. So I just gave myself up to the moment and began perusing all the tables of auction items. It was wonderful. Engravings which used to hang on Gorey's walls, Thoughtful Alphabet posters, his jewelry, the fur jackets, a yellow sweater I knew was his, new etchings with the official estate signature blind stamp, all at my finger tips. Relaxing, I was beginning to feel drunk with joy and anticipation, surrounded by dozens of others drunk with joy. Three and a half hours later it was over. I hadn't won a thing.
Later, sitting with a small group of Gorey maniacs - this day we called ourselves aficionados - after dinner, we went over the day's events. We laughed at some of them, like the skit of 'The Curious Sofa' by Lé Théâtricule Stoïque - the players still reading from scripts - only seemed to lend an immediacy and spontaneity, to the completely engaging Alison Lurie and the snapshot of her past life with the man we call 'a genius'. Who would've guessed that she, in her snow-white hair stiffly cut in an attractive bob, might have been the curious Alice, transported to new heights of pleasure and goodness-knows-what-else in 'The Curious Sofa'. We already knew that her son was the model for the Doubtful Guest, but did you know she called her son [an understanding one I hope] 'the beastly baby' when they still chummed around in the halcyon days of post-war Harvard? I hope to bring you a full transcript of the talk, pending all permissions. We all marveled how well the auction came off, apparently all because of Rick Jones. Not only is Mr Jones head curator at the Edward Gorey House, but he [and Tom Michalak and Duncan Gibson and many others] managed to make the auction a night to remember. We all agreed - Rick did an amazing, well-planned job.
I met many collectors, one of whom tenaciously outbid everything I laid eyes on. We promised to talk about things to do with our collections. A new Gorey bibliography was shown to me, by yet another collector, who was now an author and bibliographer. Andreas Brown talked about an upcoming publication and the exhibition attached to it. All this delicious Gorey gossip, hearty red wines, and great company all taking place right behind Gorey's house and steps away from the auction venue. All that was missing was good music. I began missing it before it was over.
Having come up empty-handed from the auction, I was determined to right that un-rightable wrong by spending some quality time at the Gorey House and a little money at the gift shop the next morning. But I'll say more about that, another day. A door had opened that day. It was like the door that brought me to Gorey's house years earlier, but now it's a new door, going to a different place. I hope it's to a space I can stay a while.
Oct 4, 2008
A Special Thanks to Rick Jones, Tom Michalak, and Andreas Brown for their kind assistance.
©2008 Goreyography+WZP. All rights reserved.
Rick Jones examines a silent auction bid sheet
One of Gorey's Lands End sweaters awaiting silent bidders
A very pleased Russian sable fur coat winner