I’m predictable. It’s my affinity for black and white art and symmetrical architectural design – the more monotone and classic, the better. Over the years, I’ve filled my head, heart and home with imagery reflecting that aesthetic. Destined? Unavoidable? Genetic?
I’ll explain with a photo tour.
Top Left: A cryptic, archival rendering of a 16th century home. See the architectural details? Peaked pediment, symmetry in the placement of windows? Last year I was wowed to learn of distant ancestry in France. The trail goes back 10 generations to a grandfather who painstakingly built this home. News to me! My father’s patched together family history was like many immigrant stories: He’d say ‘We’re a mix of this and that’ anytime I asked about heritage and homelands. Family roots in France? Unexpected. When I tripped over this nugget of family history I began to wonder if my love of antiques, Renaissance design and black and white images are snippets of my genetic code. Why else would I – unknowingly and on repeat for decades – make choices that mimic and align with this tidbit of family history?
Top Right: As a teenager, I bought this pen and ink drawing from an artist named Bruno in Montmartre. I was captivated by the whimsy of the street scenes, the cozy homes and cafés and the fact that Bruno sketched himself into every nook and cranny. In a long story I’ll tell another time, I was nearly stranded in Paris when I ditched my travel group so I could circle back to Bruno to negotiate a price low enough to take this piece home. It was an altogether epic adventure involving an angry chaperone, a lost passport and a sprint through the airport to board the flight, but I did it. I got it. And it came home with me.
Bottom Left: At a flea market, maybe 20 years ago, I nearly tackled a lady who was perusing a stack of mis-matched plates and crockery. Why? Scanning the teetering piles, I spied ONE lone black and white piece that I needed to examine more closely. The plate had a hand-painted image of a house. A house that looked familiar and I gravitated to it. Not pricey at all and because it was woefully out of place with all the floral and pastel plates, I figured I did the vendor a favor by buying the oddball item. For years, it’s migrated around the house as a favorite object. It’s been used as a landing pad for remote controls, a serving dish for small bites and occasionally a candle rests upon it. I love it.
Bottom Right: Mind you, as I give you this chronological overview, I’m building to something. What’s this last pic? It’s the fixer upper house my husband and I bought several years ago. Notice anything – despite the snow that’s in the mix? The style of the house – design, placement of the windows – the symmetry. We bought it – and that’s a story, too – because the house waited for us, languishing on the market until we were ready for the challenge. We’ll be the weary couple remodeling for years to come, but we don’t mind. Cue the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young music: “Our house, is a very, very, very fine house….” Or it will be one day. Between now and then, it’s still HOME.
Patterns repeating. I wonder if the things I love are a mix of “me” plus ancestral roots still pulsing across the generations? Hard to say but worth pondering.