Saturday, March 17, 2007

"Being around great things makes life a little more pleasant"

Raymond Nasher has passed.

When I first moved to Dallas, NorthPark -- the shopping center he famously developed -- was my favorite place in the city. Then it seemed more like a private garden that just happened to be lined with stores. And a Neiman's! But there was always sculpture on display and Frank Stella paintings right outside Joske's (although maybe that kind of thing is not to everyone's taste).

Clearly, Nasher and his wife Patsy always wanted NorthPart to be more than a mall: "Spaces for art were built into the design, and works by such great names as Jonathan Borofsky, Mark di Suvero, Henry Moore and George Segal have long been staples. Asked why he invested so much time and effort in creating an art-friendly environment, Mr. Nasher said, 'Well, I must satisfy my own desire to contribute to society on a creative level.'"

And there's the wisdom. It's a special man who can blend what he loves to do with what he needs to do. NorhtPark was a commercial venture but I like to think it was also a prototype for downtown's Nasher Sculpture Center. One made the other possible.

I especially liked this bit from today's Morning News article:

"'This is very important as a role model,' former National Gallery of Art director J. Carter Brown said when Mr. Nasher announced his intention to build a downtown garden in 1997. 'I for one have been very disturbed that some of our new fortune-makers have not been in the league with the older ones – the Mellons and Fricks and Carnegies. A sort of "me generation" attitude has seeped in. Ray Nasher has stepped forward on behalf of this generation and taken a leadership position.'

"'Nothing like this exists anywhere in the world,' said Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz. 'There's the Henry Moore Foundation in England, but it's only about his work. This is like a return to the Renaissance; it will concern the creative process of everybody, everywhere.'"

Rest in peace.

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