Monday, May 17, 2010

The object of art is to give life a shape. -A Midsummer Night's Dream

I've started packing things in anticipation of my move in a month. One of the things I've done is to start taking down the pictures and paintings on the walls.

And it struck me what the things we hang on our walls say about us....

As you enter my apartment, there is a short hallway; there is a closet to the immediate left, then a recessed door to the bathroom and a linen closet. Opposite these is an 8 foot wall. I decided to hang my theatrical history there--my art, as it were. The only way to commemorate my live/in the moment performances: the first show I did after high school in a local community theatre, me as Laura in The Glass Menagerie, my "comeback" after marriage and babies, as the title character in Educating Rita; photos from the shows I've directed, sketches I've done of the sets... I mostly breeze past them on my way in and out, but it's a reminder of how I've shared the talents God blessed me with.

The main wall in the living room is devoted to my family. My parents, my brothers, my nieces and nephews.... The dominant piece is a beautiful 12x18 color photo of my grandson as an infant--he had such happy eyes. Gathered around that are pictures of my kids throughout the years--it's seems like many lifetimes ago that they were blond-haired, freckled-faced tykes. One of the pieces is a long narrow frame with five matted openings--I placed a couple of photos of my husband's grandparents when they were first married in this--along with some vintage German postcards we found when we cleaned out their house. My husband's family were of German decent and I have some German blood on my dad's side [hence the blond-haired kids]. Also among these is an 8x10 my husband took of me when I was a fresh-faced 19 year old hippie girl. I had hair down to my waist and the requisite bell-bottoms. It reminds me what my natural hair color is....

The wall behind my kitchen table is a mish-mosh of things: a bunch of dried flowers from an arrangement I got many years ago, a small watercolor of a pastoral scene that a friend of my parents painted onto my wedding invitation, a print of a ripe red tomato that the kids gave me the first Christmas I was living here and a small hand-painted wooden screen door that reminds me of many vacations at the Jersey shore [and, no, I'm not Snooky--we had classier times than that!]

At the other end of the living room--on top of a credenza is a very large, ornately framed photo of my maternal grandparents on their honeymoon--I believe it was 1912. They are posed on a large fake rock, in front of a painted backdrop of Niagara Falls [let's face it, you couldn't get too close the the real thing without getting soaked]. After the photo was developed, someone painstakingly hand painted in colors on their clothes and the foliage, etc. It's very faded now [as are some of my memories of them] but I cherish it. I found it in the attic of their house when I was a little girl and became fascinated with it. When we had to put them in a nursing home and sell their house, I asked if I could have the photo. It has had an honored place in my homes all of my adult life.

Yes, art has given my life shape. In more ways than I can count. It will be interesting to see how my mom and I blend her mementos and mine......


  1. What a lovely journey you have taken me on and it was delightful. I enjoyed it very much. It is fun to view old photos and remember!
    Sorry if this posts twice. Blogger was re-setting itself!! Sigh!

  2. I mostly have art on my walls. Never really went in for the whole family pictures thing. although in the new house, I have a hall which I never had before so I'm thinking I'm going to put all the pictures I have collected over the years of family up there.

  3. They all sound wonderful Ellen, I am sure you and your Mom will find a way to make it work. take care, hope you are feeling well. I have been thinking of you. all the best.