This is the sixteenth in a series of guest posts written by some of my favorite bloggers. To understand what this is about, you can read this post: 

This one in particular was written by the hilarious Madame Sunday. She is a freshly thirty textile designer with a saucy mouth who loves inspired living and fancy things. She would say she is cheap, lazy and easily distracted and that you should watch as mediocrity ensues, but I´ll just say she is fabulous! She may also be found on Twitter @ModernSauce .

When Ana asked me to write for her I was surprised, honored and a little nauseated because I had just thrown up in my mouth from sheer terror. I’m vastly underqualified to write intelligently about Harmony with a capital H. She might as well have asked me to explain the color of pi or write a 5 paragraph essay about the history of God as it relates to pudding (they’re both heavenly?) because they are all equally impossible for me. But she didn’t ask me to write intelligently so I’m free to talk about whatever I want and embarrass myself as I see fit. DONE!!!!!

To me harmony is about balance specifically using that balance (whether it is perfect or not) to create something greater than the sum of its parts. I don’t know how to do that which is why I leave creating harmony to the experts and other guest posters. In my under qualified (and over-puddinged) state the one thing I DO know something about is disharmony. I like disharmony because it is never boring and exceptionally easy to accomplish. I’m a master of it really. Rather than delight you with pictures of my poorly decorated home or dazzle you with my 8th grade flute skills, I thought I’d illustrate my thoughts on balance (or lack thereof) using a building in my hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The Hunter Museum of Art was built in 1904 and was a private residence until 1952 when it was donated to the city to become our art museum. Fun fact: one of the previous owners started the world’s first Coca-Cola bottling plant so you can thank Chattanooga for all your Coke cavities and caffeine addictions. You’re welcome.

An addition was added in the 70’s to handle the museum’s growing needs because this city is totally hot for art and stuff. The new wing is a bunch of grey concrete and corners and not a single piece of egg and dart trim.

I’m sure the intent of the addition was to drag the original building kicking and screaming into the “future” by offering a delightful architectural contrast, however without context each building seems to just exist in uneasy discord with its neighbor.

They’re like two mismatched people on an awkward blind date for life. And so the tension begins…  Literally. In addition to the competing architectural styles legend says the local townsfolk were rather upset. But that was in the 70’s which was technically ancient times and I wasn’t even alive then because I’m totally young and hip. The legend also says the primitive world back then didn’t even have blogs and werewolves roamed the grounds looking for victims but that’s crazy talk. Everyone knows that werewolves are super sophisticated and gentle art lovers so I think we all know the real truth about that part.

In the early 2000’s the locals (and possibly werewolves…) were so bananas for art they needed a third addition to handle the museum’s growing needs. Townsfolk were all aflutter with possibilities. They got this:

BAM.  Built to mimic the rocky cliffs below the new space is a big step into the 21st century for a small town. Word on the street is that the werewolves thought it was stunning. I agreed after my first visit when, after a few martinis, I decided to crash a black tie fundraiser there wearing only jeans and flip flops but in my defense there were free appetizers, shiny new architectural things to ogle and the possibility I might see a werewolf so it’s not really my fault they didn’t monitor the entrance properly.

The only thing that ties all these building together (other than lax security) is their shared purpose and actual physical proximity to each other. However, the latest addition adds another dimension – even MORE disharmony. Whheeeeee!!   This new wing seems to balance the entire campus and makes the previous tension necessary instead of an unfortunate byproduct. It tells a story of a museum’s evolution through time illustrated through the apparent disharmony of its components. Now we have a trifecta of discord and the locals seem pleased and have put down their pitchforks. Whether or not you feel any of these buildings are independently successful is irrelevant. There really isn’t another style the latest addition could have been that would have properly balanced the museum’s existing spaces. If there is then you figure it out and let me know because we’ve already discussed that I don’t know how to make harmony happen. Although maybe that’s changing because one time I decided to put bacon crumbles on my orange and maple syrup flavored cupcakes and it was like eating a delicious salty rainbow cake of pure pleasure. I just HAD to do it and now I’m (in)famous for them. Harmony through discord. And salty cured meats.

I think werewolves would agree.


First four images from the Hunter Museum’s flickr photostream and the fifth image from MSW Photography.