Monday, 24 February 2014

The painted chair

In 1970 MGM held its infamous auction offering the contents of their prop houses to the public. Amongst other items my grandparents were taken with a needlepoint chair used in the the Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby film High Society. It was only when they picked up their purchase that they were close enough to see that the "needlepoint" was actually a brilliant piece of prop painting.  When I look at the chair it seems symbolic of so much. A move to California as a sign of success and the necessity to showcase that success by furnishing with European antiques.  Like so much of Los Angeles (with its Mock-Tudor, Spanish Revival and Moorish Fantasy architectures) though it is only a facsimile of the old world -a very beautiful land of make-believe. Whomever painted this chair was incredibly skilled and in my mind perhaps more skilled than a needlepointed original. It seems a fitting tribute to a city that came into its own by borrowing, appropriation and imitation by extraordinary people who didn't belong in the old world and thus created a new one.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

begin here.

In 2012 I began the process of sorting through and packing up my grandparent’s home after the death of my grandmother. It was a very large house with an attic, a basement and many closets –full of souvenirs of lives no longer lived. I sorted through most of the house alone late into the night. As I sifted through old grocery lists sandwiched between private detective reports and old Christmas cards I realized that I was actually sorting through a veritable time capsule decades in the making. A snapshot of the two of them but also a snapshot of an era and a way of life that would not be repeated. As I unearthed mementos that become useless in death it struck me again and again how fitting it was that my grandfather’s favorite film was Frank Capra’s You Can’t Take It With You. My grandparent’s had truly lived the American Dream born into rural Mid-Western and Southern working-class lives and dying in a mansion in Beverly Hills. All the money in the world though couldn’t have prolonged their living and shortened their dying. The happiest of lives and love stories all end tragically as the Hollywood Ending always ends long before the actual end. Afterwards someone else comes along and decides what of your life is worth saving and what souvenirs will fabricate your history.