Posts Tagged ‘mystery’

The other day I was hauling trash out of my grandmother’s basement, helping the mighty effort to clean up a space that hasn’t seen a good tidying in decades. The amount of absolute, pure trash that one couple can purposefully accumulate is inconceivable. But if you’ve lived through the Depression, as probably none of us here have, then you can easily find it in your heart to stash away every egg carton, every plastic gallon ice cream tub, every single scrap and whatnot you come across that could ever possibly come in handy some unknown day in the future.

Among the things I hauled out were some warped and moldy picture frames, some with kitschy “art” still in place, just begging, positively groveling for a chance to be displayed. Now, hopelessly ruined, they would never grace the walls of any house. Too bad.

As I chucked one in the trash can, it caught my eye and I pulled it back out. It was a simple little countryside illustration of a house and some rolling hills. I can’t remember the details much, but the style of the image was alluring, almost Hopper-esque in its contrast and color use.

(in case you forgot what a Hopper looks like…)

I decided the print wasn’t a keeper but wrote down the name of the artist, Irv Wyner, before I put it back in the trash with the others. It didn’t occur to me that, in this day and age, something noteworthy might not be available at my fingertips as soon as I got online at home to look it up.

And that I did. I googled Irv Wyner, and came up with a paltry amount of information and a painfully small collection of images.

It turns out that Irv Wyner was a background artist for all sorts of great animated movies and television shows. His work sets the stage for such big-time stars as Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, Sylvester, Porky, Elmer Fudd, you name it.

These are the only two images I could find online that look anything remotely similar to the print that I found..

Irv Wyner died in 2002, leaving behind basically no information about his personal life and very few marketable works of art, but a wealth of visual beauty that is regularly overlooked in some of the most classic animations ever created.

I kinda wish I had held on to that musty little piece of cardboard that led me to discover him.

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Spending time at Grandma and Grandpa’s house was something that I always took for granted. It seemed that the house would always be there, my grandparents would always be there, we would always have another holiday to gather as one big, happy, extended family. Thanksgiving would be turkey, Christmas would be ham and presents. Easter would involve epic egg coloring, and Fourth of July grilled black hot dogs. The coming of August would bring hot air balloon races flying overhead, and hoards of cyclists passing through the neighborhood. Halloween meant chili and trick-or-treating as far and as fast as our little legs would carry us. There would always be many reasons to visit Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

With time came the inevitable changes. Family events became fewer and further between, and never seemed to last all day and all night like they used to. Eventually, the house emptied itself of living souls completely, leaving behind only a lifetime of collections that crowded each room and stood as colorful relics of days gone forever.

I brought my camera to Grandma and Grandpa’s house today, to try to capture a bit of the dwindling spirit that made this home such a vibrant place, teeming with life on countless occasions. My goal was to focus on those details that may have stood out to me twenty years ago. I wanted to capture the feel of leaning over the upstairs banister looking down, and the hesitation of a child peering down the basement stairwell, looking for monsters.

I couldn’t capture the scents of the place: yew, Irish Spring, musty carpet, freshly popped popcorn. But if you stare at the images long enough the memory of it might come back to you. You may even begin to remember the feel of knees burnished by orange carpet that was plush and bright long before I ever crawled across it. You might begin to feel the impossible heft of the door, inseparable from the squeak of the hinge and the beep of the alarm at ready. You might hear my grandfather’s laugh, and footsteps receding in the hallway, stepping down two steps, then immediately stepping back up two steps to the kitchen. You might rediscover a long lost part of yourself in those red tiled floors and brown striped upholstery. It’s worth a look to see.

I began writing this blog with long drawn out captions, attempting to describe the significance of each scene I had chosen to capture. I decided instead that the photographs could speak for themselves, or silently hold their mysteries forever.

Before long these images will be mere reminders.


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Let the Musings Begin

I’m sitting here pondering, trying to conjure up an idea of just what has compelled me to begin this blog. Here, now, at this point in my life when everything seems poised in a beautifully delicate balancing act. I suppose it has something to do with my need for self-expression. Since graduating from art school over a year ago I have lost something that I had readily available for six years. I still draw occasionally, I still think about art constantly. But I no longer show my art to the world (or some very small part of it). That fire of creativity still burns within me, and affects everything I see and do in life. It’s time to reclaim my ability and my privilege to show what I see and tell what I know.

Because I find I have a lot to say. Because I see the world in a unique way and because my solitary nature renders it unlikely that you will ever know these things I write of unless I put it here for you to see. Because I’m a good writer, and I want to be better with practice. Because I could improve my ability to be open and honest. Because, after perusing the blog of someone I hardly know, I find that openness is appealing, and healthy, and a way to connect with other people in unpredicted ways.

Because my life as I know it hangs in this delicate web; balanced for the moment, full of promise, but never a promised thing. I feel the need to capture what I can of it, not for the sake of looking back but for the sake of seeing it NOW. Of knowing, realizing, that it’s there and I am here and I am spinning, suspended in a spinning universe.

Because I am easily amazed by Big Thoughts and Little Things. Because the way a flower transforms into a compact living packet of seeds within the course of a summer can render me speechless. Because my terrible mood can be transformed by a momentary sighting of local wildlife. Because ideas move me, and art moves me, and music moves me, and writing causes me to be shockingly aware of everything I have inside of me.


So, being unreligious in the conventional sense, and certainly not a Christian, it may seem strange that my blog name includes the word “Christmas”. I have mulled over whether or not to let this remain a mystery, but then I remind myself that one purpose of this blog of mine is to pull back that shroud of mystery that I so often clasp about myself. The truth is, I came up with the phrase a couple of years back while working on a project for an art class. It is something of a personal philosophy: this idea that spectacular things happen every day; that I have an obligation and a sheer need to notice and grasp every moment that causes each day to be special. Christmas time is a time of thoughtfulness, awareness, love and gratitude, reflection, gift-giving and receiving, and looking forward to a new year a clean slate. I know people who say that they don’t believe in Christmas, but rather they believe that any day is it’s own excuse to give a gift, receive a gift, visit someone you haven’t seen in a long time, send a card, give to charity….all of these ideas and more are summed up in my belief that Christmas is all around us. But when it comes down to it, I just want to be aware and appreciative of every pleasant surprise, no matter how small, that may happen across my path on any given day.

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