Friday, November 5, 2010

Weekly Reflection (weeks 40 & 41): My walls

I didn't forget my weekly reflection, I just was busy celebrating. And what was on my mind last week, has continued into this week. It is more of an observation and a realization of how words, ideas, and values can forge deep roots over time while we stay distracted by the details of our days.

series of prints by Sarah Ahearn

When I was in graduate school, I wrote a paper for a seminar on Women and the Arts about a local gallery owner who was a pioneer of sorts bringing International art to the region and forging a career in a field dominated by men. I had a number of interviews with her and to be honest, what I wrote in my paper I cannot remember. The only thing that stuck with me was when she talked about the impact of her career upon her family. She said "My kids grew up in a home where we had little furniture, but we always had art upon the walls." I have carried that image with me for over 20 years. It excited me to think we do have those kinds of choices: what is essential to one person - a coordinated set of living room furniture - would be unimportant to another and that owning art could be seen not so much as a privilege, but a necessity.

"flying free" and "pink buddha" by Kristen Walker

Then last year I read this inspired piece on supporting local artists by fellow artist & blogger Kristen which got me really thinking about how support is a two-way street. So I jumped aboard the Etsy bandwagon if you will, and have tried to purchase gifts whose makers I had a face I could identify or at the very least, work that showed the touch of an individual's hand upon it. All of which led me to making this year a Artful birthday. And as I looked around my home for the perfect spot to hang my new pieces, I happily realized supporting artists and surrounding myself with art has been a life-long habit.

I think back to my college dorm rooms where I hung art posters chronicling my visits to the blockbuster Museum shows. My walls were covered by Van Gogh, O'keefe, Monet, and Picasso (I've come to realize, I've always been eclectic). But my first purchase of real art was a gift to myself (see the seeds of a theme developing here?) after I graduated from college. My adviser's husband was a print maker and I had seen this piece hanging in their home when I decided to buy it for myself.

detail of "Fractured Mirror" by Sandy Kinnee

I knew all about the piece: how it was made while their were living in Paris and my adviser was researching and writing about Toulouse Lautrec. Her husband explained how he wanted to explore the challenge of creating a balanced composition within the shape of an oval. He was also inspired by oval mirrors they had seen hanging at Versailles and there is a segment of the piece that replicates the look of antiqued glass.

sideboard by Elizabeth Eckel

This piece now hangs over a side board that my husband had his cousin make for us. She was a master of faux finishes and this piece reminds me of the years we all lived in Boston and she was first learning these techniques. We also have a print by her mother, depicting a scene in Telluride, Colorado where we all have vacationed. I got this piece for my husband's 40th birthday. Sadly, his aunt now has alzheimer's and the piece I bought was one of her last works.

Whenever we travel, we bring home something to remind us of our time abroad: cheap papyrus prints with our names in hieroglyphs from Egypt;

Florence Duomo by street artist

watercolors purchased by artists working outside the Uffizi in Florence; a batik image inspired by the Book of Kells from our honeymoon in Ireland; as well as works from galleries in New York.

Our home is a wonderful mixture of high and low art. I have pieces Cowgirl made hanging in her room; I have pieces made by myself and my brother from years ago framed and hanging. We have a pair of nineteenth century portraits of a rather severe looking Yankee couple hanging across from a playful Andy Warhol piece; I have a framed poster of Krishna and Radha in my yoga room along with a watercolor series of Cape Cod. And I now have my art scattered throughout the house.

I will be curious to see what the impact of living in a home filled with art will have upon Cowgirl. At the very least, our home is rich with stories and with memories. It is filled with the spirit of all these people who live by creating. I know that inspires me to get up and spill the world inside my mind onto the page in some fashion every day. And if nothing else, the art in my home speaks of a life well lived, people and places and moments savored and who could ask for anything better than that?


  1. Thank you for the tour! How wonderful!

    It will certainly add richness and spice to her life growing up in a house of art. :)

  2. oh this is so wonderful!! and YES..I'm all for more art, less

    it's long been my goal to fill our house with beautiful pieces of art - not necessarily fancy - just 'stuff we like', books...they're all the set decoration you really need...:)

  3. Wonderful post! Thanks for giving us a glimpse of your home & art collection. I grew up in homes filled mainly with family photos (on every wall and table!) and inexpensive yet sweet little knick knacks cluttering up all available surfaces but there wasn't really any art. I spent a lot of years mimicking that style of decorating myself but lately I feel a need for more art and things that truly connect with my soul. Now I'm downsizing all the knick knacks and 'clutter' scattered about on shelves and dreaming of adding more art. I'm particularly drawn to "useful" art such as the beautiful table you've pictured. I want to create a home that's not just pretty but has a heart & soul.

  4. I love going to small art shows and I look for new artists. I have artwork from every place I have visited, even if it is only a Christmas ornament. I really believe we have to support the arts and we can do that by buying and displaying art we enjoy and love.
    Great post!

  5. I agree wholeheartedly. My son's room has some framed pictures but mostly it's a gallery of his own work. Our art studio is full, full full of both of our work. Our shared space with his father is a little more conservative, but we are always finding corners and nooks and crannies to put up original work. I never thought about the long term effects of this, we just enjoy it, but now there's an added bonus!

  6. How lovely to have a peek at your art collection! We've spent WAY more money or art than furniture or other 'necessities.' I guess it helps that hubs used to be an artist and we traded for lots of stuff. Even so, I consider art to be equally as necessary as a chair or couch.
    Nice collection! S.

  7. love that you fill your home with all types of art and love a glimpse into your home.


  8. Dear Lis-thanks for sharing your collection with us; art feeds our good books do. I also can relate regarding the furniture...before I met my hubby, my place had the bare minimum but tons of art and was amazing!
    thanks for all your kind comments on my blog lately...things have been so hectic over here, I am having a difficult time posting on my blog! WE leave here in about 2 weeks. I love your description of "psychic excavation". Yes, that's exactly what it very difficult but oh! the treasures to be found. Hugs Lis...I hope we meet in person one day...even though we have already met in heart and spirit. xxx

  9. Don't you love living with original art? I feel like they're old friends, yet I see something new all the time. Such a treat to get a glimpse of your beautiful collection!

  10. I was just catching up on my blog reading after being out of town and so glad I didn't miss this post! I am still on my art adventure and love the pieces I have purchased. Being surrounded by heart and soul is good for one's well-being, I think :)


    Loved seeing the framed prints! That just makes me feel good down to my toes. Can I hire you to take product pics???? :)