Saturday, October 8, 2011

bare walls.

What makes a house my home is books on the shelves and pictures on the walls. But after getting married and encountering what it is like to decorate in marriage, James and I learned more about compromise that is so essential to marriage. (In fact, what we have to work hardest to compromise about is our decorating aesthetic and music tastes.) We do, however, come to a compromise, because this is about making a home for the both of us.

"The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt
My aesthetic was fairly simple: "If I like it, I'll hang it up." This embodied itself in a vintage ship print of a painting by Gordon Grant, a Gustav Klimt print of "The Kiss," and a black and white diptych of trees in a foggy field. James finds most of it distasteful ("The Kiss" passes because it hangs in our bedroom, and we like to see ourselves in it.)

James's philosophy on decorating our walls is a little more thoughtful: "It needs to make me think of something significant, most likely a person, or a place that I've been. It should trigger memories. Aesthetic taste is completely arbitrary, and I don't often know what it even means to like the look of something." This philosophy is how he makes the judgement of what is valuable and worth using to decorate his house-- what is worth using to make his home a home.

A photo I took from the Grand Canal in Venice. 2003
For now, his philosophy shows up on our walls in the form of meaningful photography (like a photo from our engagement pictures, travel photos of places I have been, and old family photos) as well as an intaglio print from a very close friend.

An engagement picture. Taken by a friend.

There are other things that walk the line, like a silhouette of a lovely girl named Zelma, cut at the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport in October of 1941. I make the case that it is a memento of a city I grew up in, done only a month after my dad was born. The other piece is a reproduction map I bought at the Newberry Library in Chicago, a place I went with one of my best friends during my visit with her during her undergrad. Both of these evoke memories of people dear to me and places I went with them.

Finding pieces of artwork that are aesthetically pleasing to me and also recall memories for James does not happen all the time. For now, as we wait for the art that does all these things we require, we are making memories with bare walls.

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