Breaking Convention: Modernism Museum Mount Dora (3MD)

Spiral Library Ladder and Library Ladders by Wharton Esherick

Spiral Library Ladder and Library Ladders by Wharton Esherick

Tucked away between shops and restaurants in a sleepy town 30 miles north of Orlando, sits the Modernism Museum Mount Dora. Comprised of a relatively small, single-room gallery space which mimics the quaintness of the rest of Mount Dora, the Modernism Museum packs quite a bit of history, art, and design into the modest space. The current exhibition, esherick to NAKASHIMA, introduces the work of American woodworker and furniture maker, George Nakashima, and juxtaposes it with the works of previously exhibited sculptor and furniture designer Wharton Esherick.

Spiral Staircase by Wharton Esherick, image provided by 3MD

Spiral Staircase by Wharton Esherick, image provided by 3MD

An admirer of design myself–particularly gravitating toward iconic designs like Eames chairs and Noguchi coffee tables–I was a bit remiss as a midcentury design enthusiast having never heard of either name. Ready to sate the hunger to expand my modernist palate, I dug into the exhibition. While the majority of the works echo the “form follows function” sentiment of modernist designers, woodblock prints, and sculptures as art objects are also included in the collection.

Particularly enamored with the works of Nakashima, I admired the way he wanted to honor the organic material sacrificed for his creations. The juxtaposition of regimented geometry with the natural, free edges of wood perfectly symbolizes the harmony and balance of Japanese culture. Out of a desire to connect with his Japanese heritage and create works inspired by the understanding of his familial roots, Nakashima wrote, “I longed to find and touch the creative roots of tradition, to trace my fingers through the white sand and feel its essence, to focus on a tree and experience its meaning, to join its karma, its destiny, with mine in order to search out the reason why my people look on nature with reverence as they do.”

Echoing this Japanese concept of harmony and simplicity, and channeling the rebellious spirit of the Modernist movement, I’m breaking journalistic conventions and responding to esherick to NAKASHIMA with a series of original haiku poems.

installation by George Nakashima

installation by George Nakashima

installation by George Nakashima-2

installation by George Nakashima


sandpaper digits

the craftsman’s hands devise shape

smoothing grit and grain


raw edges of trees

remain when cut from their roots

living through design


form follows function

well-contemplated facets

are necessity


a bipedal chair

where art meets mathematics

nascence of balance



of the spirit of a tree

remains in its grain



an unwelcome idea

contradicts nature


nine parallel lines

a symmetrical intent

curve out into space


a congruous bond

the east juxtaposed with west

seamlessly melding


polished and rugged

though seemingly conflicting

harmonize in form


a thin form ascends

cutting upward and outward

a new life, same soul


repeating pattern

a subtle geometry

order in chaos


circular sequence

death yields to fertility



perennial glow

a surface expands its arms

inviting respite


collectively still

unyielding relics cross paths

transfixed in movement

Screen Shot of 2  Page Spread for 3MD Review

Screen Shot of 2 Page Spread for 3MD Review


esherick to NAKASHIMA will be on display at the Modernism Museum until late 2016

visit for more information

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *