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In the Galleries: "Love and Relationships"

By Christine Lee

Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.

In one of Tennessee Williams’s early writings in which he interviews himself, he identifies his audience as “the wild at heart kept in cages.” He also notes that the play Battle of Angels is a prayer for “more tolerance and respect for the wild and lyric impulses that the human heart feels and so often is forced to repress in order to avoid social censure and worse.”

The human heart and its freedom becomes a theme in both of the current exhibitions, whether about the personal life and work of Tennessee Williams, as seen in Becoming Tennessee Williams, or in the characters and novels featured in Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century.

Williams’s draft of The Glass Menagerie, when it was still titled The Gentleman Caller, represents Williams’s personal and professional life. You see him working through what will become his iconic play, but you also see doodles and a dedication to his grandma Rose, who “perforated the lid of my own particular cubicle, thus preventing suffocation and allowing me to continue certain activities inside.” Another important Rose in his life was his sister, whose correspondence to her brother demonstrates their close bond. She writes: “The memory of your gentle, sleepy, sick body and face are such a comfort to me… if I die you will know that I miss you 24 hours a day.”

A more tempestuous relationship is brought to a close in an elegantly written letter from Williams to former lover Pancho Rodriguez. Williams writes: “One thing for which I don’t pity myself is the two years we spent together… You were you, wild, wonderful, a poem.” He caringly instructs Rodriguez to “keep faith with all the beautiful things in your heart… Walk tall, walk proud through this world.”

The exhibition demonstrates how film adaptations modified relationships in Williams’s written work. In Sweet Bird of Youth, the ending was changed to achieve a happy Hollywood resolution, and in A Streetcar Named Desire, the dialog about Blanche’s first love was heavily revised to appease the censors.

Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century reiterates the topic of love and relationships, specifically in writings by Tim O’Brien, Don DeLillo, and James Salter. In Tim O’Brien’s typescript from The Things They Carried for the chapter “Stockings,” love supersedes borders and war zones. Henry Dobbins uses his girlfriend’s pantyhose as a talisman, and we see O’Brien crafting the passage, crossing through lines and adding a large handwritten section of notes. The story ends with the girlfriend breaking up with Henry, but the power of the remembered love keeps him, and his fellow soldiers, going.

A strong marriage bond connects Jack Gladney and his current wife Babette in Don DeLillo’s White Noise. Gladney muses: “Sometimes I think our love is inexperienced. The question of dying becomes a wise reminder. It cures us of our innocence of the future. Simple things are doomed, or is that a superstition?” He continues: “Babette and I tell each other everything… turned our lives for each other’s thoughtful regard, turned them in the moonlight in our pale hands, spoken deep into the night… In these night recitations we create a space between things as we felt them at the time and as we speak them now.” DeLillo’s handwritten notes for the novel are featured in the exhibition.

James Salter’s novel The Light Years charts the trajectory of another marriage. At the start, the husband, Viri, “wants to enter the aura surrounding her [his wife], to be accepted… [but] soon after they were married, perhaps an hour after… the desperate, unbearable affection vanished, and in its place was a young woman of twenty condemned to live with him… the mistake she knew she would have to make was made at last… She had accepted the limitations of her life.” Later in the novel Nedra explains how impossible it is to live with her husband and summarizes it as “what turns you to powder, being ground between what you can’t do and what you must do. You just turn to dust.” The novel portrays what happens when one’s heart’s passion is not pursued, as Williams seems to warn against in his “prayer for the wild at heart kept in cages.”

The exhibitions are rich with original materials that give glimpses into human emotion, fictional and personal. Becoming Tennessee Williams and Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century are on view through July 31, 2011.

View photos from "Wild at Heart" event

By Christine Lee

Actors from Different Stages Theater Company perform scenes from 'Night of the Iguana' by Tennessee Williams at the 'Wild at Heart' exhibition opening.
Actors from Different Stages Theater Company perform scenes from 'Night of the Iguana' by Tennessee Williams at the 'Wild at Heart' exhibition opening.

The Harry Ransom Center celebrated the opening of its exhibitions, Becoming Tennessee Williams and Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century, with the “Wild at Heart” event on Friday, February 11. Guests enjoyed informal tours of the exhibition, readings of “Night of the Iguana” by Different Stages Theater Company, cocktails courtesy of Balcones Distilling, hors d’oeuvres, and more.

Pam Berry was the lucky winner of the “Wild at Heart” Prize. Congrats, Pam!

View photos in front of the streetcar.

View photos from the reception.

Become a member to receive complimentary admission and valet parking at exhibition opening parties. Members of the Harry Ransom Center receive advance notice and invitations to lectures, programs, exhibition previews, and other exclusive members-only events throughout the year, including opportunities for behind-the-scenes glimpses into the Center and its holdings.  Join or learn more.

Attendee Pam Berry won the 'Wild at Heart' Prize.
Attendee Pam Berry won the 'Wild at Heart' Prize.

Thank you to "Wild at Heart" sponsors

By Christine Lee

The Harry Ransom Center extends a thank you to the many generous sponsors who are helping us turn Friday evening’s opening party, “Wild at Heart,” into a memorable event.

Guests will enjoy a New Orleans-inspired specialty cocktail created by Balcones Distilling and readings of Williams’s “Night of the Iguana” performed by Different Stages Theater Company.

Guests will receive gift bags compliments of Casa Brasil Coffees; Dr. Kracker Texas Whole Grain Specialists; Grove/Atlantic; Little, Brown and Company; Harper Perennial; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Picador; Random House Publishing Group; Roman Candle Company; Simon & Schuster; and Sweet Leaf Tea.*

One lucky guest will also win a “Wild at Heart Prize.” Guests at the opening may enter to win a two-night stay at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, a panel pass to the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, four tickets to Different Stage Theater Company’s performance of Night of the Iguana, and a set of magnets inspired by the Becoming Tennessee Williams exhibition.

*While supplies last.

Upcoming member events offer greater access to Ransom Center treasures

By Christine Lee

“Wild at Heart,” the opening party for the spring exhibitions, is just one of the many exciting events that the Ransom Center has planned for members. View full calendar featuring a curator tour, mixology class, Magnum Photos presentation, and more. We invite you to join, upgrade, or renew today to experience all that the Ransom Center has to offer. Below, view the new membership video, featuring members speaking about what they enjoy most about their involvement with the Harry Ransom Center.

One-day discount on membership

By Christine Lee

Join today for 50% off an Individual membership to the Harry Ransom Center!

Through Groupon, purchase a one-year Individual membership for $25 (regularly $50) or buy two Groupons for a one-year Dual membership (regularly $90).

Join now on Thursday, October 7.

Members of the Harry Ransom Center enjoy exhibition openings, events with the Director, complimentary parking at select events, private exhibition and collection tours, and the latest news of acquisitions, programs, and more. Our members receive a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the cultural wonders we keep secure for the future.

We invite you to join today to experience all that the Ransom Center has to offer.

Restrictions: Offer valid on Thursday, October 7. Only valid for individual and dual level memberships. Once purchased, you must redeem the Groupon online by Friday, January 14, 2011. Members will receive benefits for one year, starting from the date of activation. Current or lapsed members may not use to renew. For new memberships only.

View photos of the "Picture Perfect Evening"

By Christine Lee

An exhibition opening to celebrate 'Discovering the Language of Photography: The Gernsheim Collection' for Harry Ransom Center members and guests.
An exhibition opening to celebrate 'Discovering the Language of Photography: The Gernsheim Collection' for Harry Ransom Center members and guests.
The Harry Ransom Center celebrated the opening of its exhibition, Discovering the Language of Photography: The Gernsheim Collection, with a “Picture Perfect Evening” on Friday, September 10. Guests enjoyed informal tours of the exhibition, photo-inspired screenings, “make-and-take” photo keepsakes with The WonderCraft, cocktails courtesy of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, hors d’oeuvres, and more.

Guests received gift bags with items from The Blanton Museum of Art, Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars, CSI Printing, Lip Glosserie, Saks Fifth Avenue, and South Austin People – So.A.P.

View photos from the reception.

View video of "Discovering the Language of Photography: The Gernsheim Collection"

By Christine Lee

The exhibition Discovering the Language of Photography: The Gernsheim Collection opens today at the Ransom Center.

Drawn from the peerless collection of Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, the exhibition features masterpieces from photography’s first 150 years, alongside other images that, while lesser known, are integral to the medium’s history. Highlights include the first photograph (on permanent display at the Ransom Center); works by nineteenth-century masters such as Lewis Carroll, Julia Margaret Cameron, and Henry Peach Robinson; and iconic images by modern photographers such as Man Ray, Edward Weston, Robert Capa, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

The Harry Ransom Center will celebrate the opening of the exhibition with “A Picture Perfect Evening” on Friday, September 10th from 6 to 8 p.m. The event is free for Ransom Center members or $20 for non-members. Tickets can be purchased in advance on the website or at the door. The event will feature exhibition tours, refreshments, a photo booth, and make-and-take photo keepsakes with The Wondercraft.

Discovering the Language of Photography: The Gernsheim Collection
Discovering the Language of Photography: The Gernsheim Collection

Become a member to enjoy access to exclusive events this fall

By Christine Lee

Click on image for more details about 'A Picture Perfect Evening'
Click on image for more details about 'A Picture Perfect Evening'
Members of the Harry Ransom Center enjoy insider access and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the cultural wonders we keep secure for the future. We offer members invitations to exhibition openings and exclusive events; private exhibition and collection tours; complimentary parking at select events; and the latest news of acquisitions, programs, and more.

Here are the additional member events planned for fall.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 13
Enjoy a night of special access to the Ransom Center at this insiders’ open house and reception for new members. Invitation-only; RSVP required.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6
Cathy Henderson, Associate Director of Exhibitions and Education, leads an exclusive tour of restricted-access areas of the building, including the cataloging, technology, and conservation departments, and collection storage. Open to Guild and Director’s Circle members; limited capacity; RSVP required.

We invite you to join, upgrade, or renew today to experience all that the Ransom Center has to offer.

Red Carpet Countdown

By Christine Lee

Red Carpet opening for 'Making Movies'
Red Carpet opening for 'Making Movies'

The Harry Ransom Center extends a big thank you to the many generous sponsors who are helping us turn the Making Movies red carpet premiere into an amazing event. Cornucopia is providing a gourmet popcorn bar full of sweet and salty treats. Guests will also receive gift bags compliments of The University of Texas Press, the Blanton Museum of Art, ROSCAR Chocolates, Austin Monthly, Skin by Anne Webb, I LUV VIDEO, and Téo Gelato.*

One lucky guest will also win a “Hollywood Getaway.” Guests at the opening may enter to win two round-trip tickets on Southwest Airlines to LA and a two-night stay at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, plus a year of free rentals at I LUV VIDEO, two SXSW Film Festival Passes, a year membership to the Austin Film Society, and a year membership to the Harry Ransom Center, along with a Ransom Center hat and sweatshirt.

*While supplies last.

Become a member of the Ransom Center

By Christine Lee

The Harry Ransom Center recently celebrated the opening of its exhibitions From Out That Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe and Other Worlds: Rare Astronomical Works with a reception for members. View photographs from the evening.

As a member, you can enjoy a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the Center with invitations to exhibition previews, lectures, unique film screenings, and private events with Ransom Center Director Thomas F. Staley. Members receive a subscription to the Center’s print newsletter, Ransom Edition, and email notices about the latest happenings. We invite you to learn more about membership.