Art History


Recently, I posted an photo of me, my parents, Florence and Frank, and my siblings, Glenn and Pat in the living room of the house I grew up in. That room was the center of my universe from the time we moved there in 1952 until I went off to college. When family … grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins … visited, we sat in the living room. Dad would often move the table from our smallish kitchen to the living room to give us more room for Thanksgiving. Christmas trees were decorated and presents opened there. I told my parents that I had proposed to my college sweetheart there. Dad took countless naps while reading the paper in the chair by the door and I learned my love of classical music listening to Mom’s records on the stereo under the picture window. In my college years, Mom and I would sit up watching Johnny Carson and talking on the sofa under “Dad’s mirror” (he never walked by it without a little gavotte). More than once, he’d call from their bedroom at the end of the hall, Would you two keep it down out there?

There were four paintings hanging in the living room. On one wall over the flowered wing chair in the corner there two watercolors by my father’s uncle, whose name I never quite caught. They were very nice and I’d always hoped to have one of them someday. They followed my Dad to assisted living to make his new room feel more like home and went who knows where from there. On the other wall over the flowered chair was an oil painting of a sailing ship in the fog. I painted that one in the late nineteen fifties using my mother’s oil paints, which she generously shared with me. In the family photo, above, taken in the corner by the phone and Mom’s tier table of African violets, you can see an oil painting of two kittens, also mine. The fact that my paintings made it to the walls instead of my Mom’s tells you the kind of mother she was. I regret that I never took the time to ask for one of her paintings but it would take many years for me to become as free of ego as she was.

Recently, digging through our storage bin, I did find my paintings from the living room. The paint has faded some and the paint is cracked in a few places. I value them not because they are by any means masterpieces but as a reminder that I was an artist long before I was an engineer. But it took a very long time for me to call myself one.

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