Thursday, November 19, 2009

Over the tracks and through downtown . . .

. . . to Grandmother's house we go. The Dodge Dart (or perhaps the Charger) knows the way to carry the . . .

So, it's Thanksgiving somewhere back in the early 70s and we are on our way to my mother's parents house for Thanksgiving. Yes we did go over the tracks and through downtown. My grandparent's neighborhood was a grouping of somewhat rundown frame houses built mostly in the early 1900's. Their house was a lovely golden color. I've had a certain color of paint that I've loved to use for the last several years and I'm now just figuring out why I love it. It reminds me of that house!

Upon entering, we are enveloped in a stew of scents that, well, made us thankful. My grandparents would be in the kitchen cooking up a storm. Since I was not a fan of turkey, my grandfather would go out and get me a ham. He would have a slice ready for me as soon as I appeared in the kitchen door. My grandmother would be hovering over an oven stuffed with bubbling casseroles. Staples of the South. Sweet potatoes (still hate 'em), scalloped potatoes, green beans, dressing. None of it good for you.

The table was set with my grandparent's best. Lace tablecloth, freshly polished silver, gold rimmed plates, cut-glass goblets. Even as a little child, I used all of these fine things. No little kid treatment for me.

I never seem to remember going home after the feast. No doubt comatose from all of the fat.

I can't imagine the amount of money I would be willing to spend to have another Thanksgiving dinner there.

Recently, I have been doing a few more of my house-shaped pieces.

I began selecting pieces from boxes of fall-colored fabric scraps.

I soon had a selection that reminded me of my grandparents' home.
I lightly spread on some brown paint to "age" a few of my paper beads (buttons?)

How to represent my grandparents? Birds, of course. And I wanted to include my grandparents initials. I carved a "T" stamp for Theresa and one of my map beads just happened to have the letter "G" for Guy. Why the little red square? I'm thinking that it represents two things. The first is me -- the energy I have left behind in that house. The second is the red dinette set that was in the kitchen when I was very young.

Now I am adding the filler. Trees. MUST have trees. The moon is there to pull up some of the lighter colors from the bottom of the quilt. I made the small "T" into a little house all unto itself. As a child, I never considered my grandparents as individuals. They were just Teddy and Guy. They just went together and I never gave it another thought. As an adult, I know differently. After my grandmother died, many of her belongings ended up at my parents' house. I found her diaries in the basement. Through a brief reading of one, I discovered my grandmother did indeed have her own thoughts -- not always bright, happy, pretty ones. Like an idiot, I told my mother I found them. The next time I went to visit and look for them I found that she had thrown them away. So there are all of my grandmother's thoughts. In a little dark house by themselves, never to be discovered again.

I really wanted to include a representation of their house and its beautiful dark wood door. Since I have become a big fan of text and numbers, I wanted to include the house number. Instead of carving my own, I made a trip to one of those big box craft stores and bought myself some numbers. I felt some other little dark houses were in order. My father used to live around the corner from my mother when she lived in this house. My father's house has since been condemned and torn down. His father, who left his family when my dad was young also had a house in the neighborhood. Always a dark house for me.
And I could not resist placing a paper house on this piece. So there it is on top. Like it is in my memory.

I'm hoping I did not give out too much information. Usually, I like to put up a piece and let others fill in the information for themselves. I'm not sure what to do with this piece yet. I'll just let it hang around here for a while (along with loads of other pieces).

I am putting Thanksgiving House II on Etsy.
Thanksgiving House II, 15 x 10", now on Etsy.

What's it going to be at your house this year? Turkey? Tofurkey? Lentils?


paula said...

kim this is a heartbreakingly beautiful post. the numbers on the house...the disappearing diary pages...your memories of the food and colors. i feel slowed down and sober just taking it all in. wonderful work and writing.

Chris said...

I love this post. The only way to respond if to make a similar post up myself. Maybe later? Soon.

Susan (Wiggy) said...


I truely enjoyed reading this. Sometimes I wish I had so many fond memories like you. Now which set of grandparents lived on Carter? I remember going over there with you and swinging on the tree swing in the back.

Also I love the pieces! Very inspirational!

Nellie's Needles said...

Kim, thank you for sharing your memories and how they came to appear in that particular piece of house art.

Our T-Day will be an extended time in Elvisland. No, I won't be doing the Graceland thing, but I will enjoy Beale Street and the mighty Mississippi River.

Karen said...

It's amazing that two sisters can share the exact same experiences and have such different memories and such different twists on those memories. I loved reading the post and love the piece SO MUCH! I can't wait until next week when we can make memories for our girls!

lori vliegen said...

i loved reading about your thanksgiving memories with your grandparents! and i especially love how you transformed them into such a fabulous art piece! and i wanted to mention that my grandfather's name was Guy, too! and to honor him, my son's middle name is Guy.... :))

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

Your grandparents home and neighborhood is filled with little girl memories...some mysteries still in dark corners, others light with the holiday. It's good to sit with a piece for awhile. Lovely!

jason said...

Beautiful! The post...and the work both.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

I love this story of your work. It is especially poignant at this time of year.
Happy Thanksgiving.

ArtPropelled said...

Kim, this is the most delightful post.... and very touching. Your houses positively glow. Really beautifull!

Ellen said...

lovely post, memories of childhood celebrations around family and feasting are wonderful. I LOVE both art pieces, and it's not just because they include blackbirds, they really invoke such a warm, comforting feeling.