Posts Tagged ‘Garage sale finds’

I’ve been a fan of VICTORIA magazine (now called BLISS VICTORIA), since its inception in the 1980s.  The focus of the magazine is gracious living—as reflected in homes, hobbies, places to visit, and creative lifestyles.

I especially savor this gem of a publication because it has always featured fine writing.  VICTORIA has a “Writer-in-Residence” who changes (I think) yearly.  This week I bought the latest issue, and was treated to a poignantly lovely essay by the current Writer-in-Residence, Catherine Calvert—a piece titled, “The Culture of Collecting”.

While reading the essay, I was struck by the following statement:  “I am an emotional as well as intellectual collector.  I have been purchasing paintings of other people’s relatives when I am attracted to their faces, although again, it is the humor and personality that less-talented artists bring to their subjects that win me.”  Catherine Calvert

How that statement resonates with me.  I frequently foray among the garage sales and curbsides, looking for amateur art—especially portraits.  Pictured above are two of my favorite finds. 

The soldier was unearthed from a garage sale box of odds and ends.  Is he Union or Johnny Reb?  The intense blue background infers Union, but Joe tells me that the Confederates had the longer beards such as the one in the painting. 

Whichever the case may be, this warrior appears reflective and reluctant.  If he were Union, he might have been one of my great-great uncles from Wisconsin or Michigan.  But perhaps he was an overwhelmed Johnny Reb, as indicated by his surround of Union blue.

And the elegant lady!  We found her on a Waukesha curbside, on a pile of refuse waiting for the garbage pick-up.  Incredible, to think that anyone would have put her there.  If she was not wanted on someone’s wall, at least she could have been deposited with dignity at St. Vincent’s or a Salvation Army store!

The lady is truly lovely in her 1950s attire.  Joe and I think she resembles my sister, Ardis—or perhaps my friend, Cindy.  The portrait is hanging kittywampus on a door simply because there is odd hardware on the door which makes things hang that way.  Every time I look at the vintage lady in her gilded frame, I’m thankful that we rescued her from the trash!

Our living room/dining area is host to seven generations of my family—actual photos of family members whose names we know:  great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, my own generation, our children, grand-children, and great-grandchildren.  These relatives span the years from circa 1830 to 2010. 

But along with all the familiar faces, it’s heartwarming to invite some mystery people into our home.  The Civil War soldier and elegant retro lady are no longer strangers to us.

Margaret L. Been, ©2010

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