Turning Point

LIFE’S LESSONS CAN TAKE ON SURPRISING NEW PERSPECTIVES when you leave the culture of your upbringing—even more so when you find yourself living in another time and loving it.

When a good job moved away I decided to continue my education by moving to Europe. Europe was hiring in the early ‘60s and I found a job in the century-old art director’s studio of a respected metal poster company that once employed more than 50 artists who apparently subscribed to every magazine they wanted, all of which ended up bulging from cabinets in my small studio. They were magazines from the late-19th and early-
20th centuries: The Studio; Jugend; Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration; The Saturday Evening Post; Ver Sacrum and other yellowed, fragile pages offering undiluted Arts and Crafts ambrosia, straight from the source.

Looking through them you could see the way styles moved between artists and nations and continents. But it was the spirit of arts and crafts work that was so alluring. It all linked together somehow and it was honest. It had heart. On every page a new discovery introduced its creator. During work breaks I escaped the ‘60s to obsess in the images and messages of that pivotal time in the world of art.

Enlightenment was everywhere in that studio, but the room itself was drab. The only decoration was a huge black and white photo of a statue of a Roman boy watching me from the wall opposite my drawing board with the eyes of an adult watching a child on an Easter egg hunt.

Then one winter day while adjusting the heater I noticed that the photo was signed. Close up, I saw it was not a photo at all, but an original art-school pencil drawing by the company’s founder, about 40 inches tall and realistic beyond belief. The rendering, along with other hyper-realistic original art lurking inside old project files like toys in Happy Meals, was evidence of the incredible skill levels of classically trained artists.

The advent of photography put a lot of those artists out of work. But it also freed some to reach inside themselves for vision and create what they saw. When you have their skills and you’re freed to connect with your insight, Irises can happen. For many of us, the paintings and graphic art of that period represent a crescendo in the symphony of artistic achievement. The best of it instantly communicates in a refreshing way with young and old, of any culture, regardless of the viewer’s training or education. Painting reached a pinnacle about that time, as I see it, and then sort of wandered off to find itself. The studio with its magazines was an opportunity to reach back to that magical period and relive it. My time in Europe was well spent.

So imagine what it was like to discover, 20 years later, that the humble little bungalow you grew up in was the darling of that beautiful, vital movement. I should have suspected the relationship. For months I danced and sang with Arts and Crafts by day; then laid down each night to dream of a little house back home with a welcoming front porch, a hearth between bookcases holding up a mantle that changed with the seasons, a garage with a workbench in the back garden—all centered on a warm kitchen where everything tasted better. The relationship needed to be shared. High art and home. The two go well together.

Looking forward to hearing from you,




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