Knowing what we should do is very often just as important as knowing why we should do it.
A few weeks ago the Redhead and I, along with friends Joe and Mary Lou, made an excursion to the former, turn of the century, Connecticut Impressionistic art colony in Old Lyme – the Florence Griswold Museum. Situated on the Lieutenant River, the museum consists mainly of a modern gallery building and the original mansion that served as the incubator for the Connecticut School of Impressionistic Art starting in 1900.
Art and beauty take many forms. The natural beauty of the Griswold riverfront property served as the inspiration for the beauty created by the many artists that took up residence there for a season – or longer. The mansion provided both inexpensive lodging and facilitated camaraderie for the artists. The hospitality shown by Florence Griswold to her guests was legendary and at some point each decided to return something to her – a piece of art, most often painted on the very walls and doors of the home. While touring the home one can view these paintings and stand in the rooms, largely furnished as they were in 1900, and imagine the conversations that those rooms once held.
History. The history of a time, a place and the people that made it surrounds you. In the dining room a piece of furniture caught my eye: a sideboard/server, made of mahogany. Nice enough, but what really caught my eye was what should not have been there. A large, black water mark, most likely caused by placing a water pitcher on the furniture and leaving it there for a while, was very prominent. And it’s been there for one hundred years. Who would have done such a thing to a beautiful piece of furniture? Was it the landscape artist Henry Ward Ranger? Or perhaps William Chadwick or Matilda Browne? Maybe it was Florence Griswold herself or one of her kitchen helpers. No one now knows. But what fired my imagination was thinking of who it might have been and how it had happened. This imperfection, this mistake, told a story. And thankfully, I think, no one “fixed” it. Which brings me to The Twisted Sister.
This past Spring I found two sisters in an upstate Connecticut junk shop. One was rather tall, slender, dark complected and had borne her years with grace. The other was shorter, a bit stout and with a ruddy complexion. But, she had great legs. Two sisters. Close in age, but having very different looks. The taller one required only short stay at the Redeux Spa. The other had had a life of some misfortune - certainly with a few hard knocks. Her legs, once elegant, were now all askew – twisted. Her top was stained with age and water spots. What to do, what to do? Setting her straight was, of course, the first thing. Giving her a new protective coat of varnish and some color highlights (I’m told girls really like these!) were also easy decisions. But what about the stains? Some would sand her until not a trace remained of her blemishes. This was probably the best way to make this sister new again. But, she isn’t new, I kept thinking. What to do?
Thanks to an afternoon with dear friends, in the company of the spirit of Florence Griswold and her artist house guests, the answer came. History is often told through the wear and tear on both people and things. How each bears its scars, blemishes and imperfections helps determine its true value. I think Twisted Sister looks just beautiful. Spend a few minutes with her and you’ll likely agree – and maybe invite her to your home.
Redeux has added to its vintage paintings collection with a charming still life of fruit and also a pair of small landscapes. One is reminiscent of the Griswold river estate. Also available is a vintage bird cage that would make a great plant holder, especially an ivy that would wind its way through the wire cage grill work. We have, too, some very handsome floor lamps each having touches of Bakelite and fancy metal work.
With the Fall season now approaching, the Redeux Spa is in high gear. Lots of goodies are queuing up for their turn in the Spa. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by during the summer. Your encouragement, appreciation for what Redeux does and your suggestions have been wonderful. Thank you!
Looking forward to seeing you soon.