Sunday, February 12, 2012

Having A Moment

It all started with this painting that I found at Habitat for Humanity ReStore last week. Since unemployed, I go there weekly which isn't hardly enough to scoop up the amazingly priced treasure that lurk there. My baby brother and his wife are currently in the midst of adding a 2nd level to their home as their 2nd child will be arriving in about two months. My sister in law Meghan is an artist by talent and college degree and one of the craftiest people I know. Lucky for all of you, she has agreed to let me photograph and feature her home on the blog when it is done, because let me tell you all...she has unbelievable taste and an uncanny ability for DIY projects. We will all swoon our dying swoons when we see what she comes up with. 
We went there with the sole purpose of finding her some pieces of furniture to refinish and repurpose for their new space. As we made our way through the maze of rooms I spotted this painting leaning in a corner. Light attached, white washed frame and lovely oil on thrift finds get any better than this? At $35.00 I knew I couldn't leave it behind and knew it would go perfectly in my dining room.
The husband and I hung it today. Due to a combination of hearing Meghan's ideas and having spent entirely too much time in this house the past months I am itching to repaint and redo. I started removing artwork and mirrors from walls and having my saintly husband follow me from room to room with them. Maybe this should move here....maybe that should move there....I had him pouring a whiskey on the rocks by 3pm.
As he was in the kitchen fixing his much needed cocktail, it dawned on me that I indeed had some artwork stored in the attic that might just be the "refresh" I was looking for! My father, as the last living member of his immediate family, gave me all of his family's oil paintings quite a few years ago. These are the paintings of my childhood, always hung in my grandparents home, they both intrigued and haunted me when I was young. I have kept them stored in my attic since receiving them and decided it was time to dig them out!

My Great, Great Grandfather on my father's maternal side. This glorious painting scared the Bee-Jeezus out of us kids as we always felt like his eyes were following us. It hung above the buffet in my grandparents dining room  until my ailing grandmother had to move in with my father. My grandmother and her mother were both amazing at documenting EVERYTHING as you can see. Inside the envelope is a newspaper clipping about Rugby, Tennessee! Do you want to know a secret too? We are related to Zachary Taylor, the 12th President of the United States!

My Great Grandmother, Laura Taylor Johnston. She died at almost 100 years old in 1972. Wasn't she lovely? I sure think so. I know in my heart that had we met we would have been kindred spirits. I love hearing my father tell stories about her. He simply adored her and she adored him.She was truly the matriarch of my grandmother's family. She loved to write and document and thanks to her, I have the background on many items I have inherited.

My Great Grandfather, Alexander Lee Don. His life span is marked in the back of the frame ~ 1885-1959
He emigrated with his family to the US from Aberdeen, Scotland and owned a business in NYC for many years.

This is the only item I have that is not documented. It is obviously a school picture. I wish I know who was in it and when and where it was taken.

This was my Great Grandfather's store in NYC. Called Weber & Don the back of the picture has the old address which is four blocks from the World Trade Center site. The kids and I are spending the day in New York on Friday and I think we should find where it was. I reframed this in a Pottery Barn frame I had laying around and now just need to figure out where to hang it.

The frames on the oil painting are pretty beat up, so I removed the canvases of my Great, Great Grandfather and my Great Grandmother. I would like to have them reframed, but it's not in the budget at this time. Instead, I hung the photo of great, great Grandfather in my formal living room just as is.

 Of course it would look pretty spectacular with a gorgeous frame, but for now, I think it looks just right.

What are you having a "moment" with?


  1. Eleanor - just taking a moment to de-lurk and leave you a comment. I stumbled on your blog through another one I read and am amazed how much we have in common (live on different coasts though) with our retail backgrounds. I have been through a similar journey since December when I gave my notice and walked away (first time I have ever done that in 25 retail yrs) and have stumbled around trying to figure out where I go from here. I wish you luck in your next steps and will be checking back in as I love your fashion sense and humor. Have a great next few weeks with your family. Chris

    1. Chris,
      I am so happy you de-lurked! An old retail comrade of mine texted me today and said, "It's amazing how things work out when you follow your true bliss". And it couldn't be more true.
      I have felt as if I stumbled a bit too through these past months, trying to get used to being home after never having been. I swore I wouldn't go back into retail unless it was a position like the one I am starting. Non retail folk don't usually understand what it is REALLY like out there.
      I wish you all the best in your "soul search" and feel free to drop me an email if you ever want to "talk shop"!

  2. What incredible photos and painting, I really love seeing even that old hand writing, noone writes like that anymore...That top painting is gorgeous, very warming with a whiskey.

    1. Husband finds EVERYTHING warming with a whiskey... ;)
      I agree about the handwriting too..lucky for me it is scribed on notes attached to almost everything my great grandmother left us!

  3. Ooh, those paintings are fabulous and they deserve to be displayed. It always makes me sad when I see portraits like those being sold at rummage sales or resale stores.

    I absolutely LOVE the photo of the family store and the grade school picture. WE have several Wisconsin sports team photos hung in a room in the house and I just love the look of old pictures. If you find the location of the family store, please take a picture and post! I would love what is in the area now!

    1. Pamela,
      I google zoomed it the other day and the shop is now a Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins!!!
      Oh, the sacriledge..... :(
      I think we will still take a stroll down Chambers St as we will be right there at the 9/11 Memorial first thing in the morning.
      Then it's off to the Ralph Lauren Women's Collection store on Madison for some champagne with an old friend!

  4. Wauw... Fantastic that you have this in your family :-) Great paintings and I also love your new picture in your header. Ciao Bisou Anna

    1. Thank you! My necklace came today as well and I am head over heels for it!

  5. Fabulous paintings! As a museum professional, I recommend that you keep the pictures with the original frames. A lot of the history and value of oil portraits is often in the frame. Glad that you're hanging the pictures where your family can enjoy them!

    1. Oooops! The frames were literally crumbling apart that is why I removed them and I even threw them away! Now I feel nothing but purgers remorse! :(

      P.S. Thanks for stopping by, btw!

  6. Too much convo...we didn't even get to chat about these amazing oil paintings..what history here...sometimes old school is amazing as it is to store photos on my phone and IPAD I think it is time that I get an amazing oil painting done of Connor...maybe at the beach this have forever and pass down as your family has done for you! LOVE THIS POST!!!!

    1. I really do love oil paintings and am trying to figure out a way to work them into the room as I told you yesterday, is now ripped apart to shreds and being repainted. Definitely get a painting done of Connor...what a treasure it will be!
      Had such an amazing time with you yesterday...the conversation never lags...always something to chat about...the best kind of lunch date there is! :)


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