Sunday, May 30, 2010

Friday on Sunday...

I look forward to Fridays for many reasons. One in particular is that one of my favorite webpages, New York Social Diary, has a "House" section on its site where they send out a photographer (Jeff Hirsch) and reporter (Sian Ballen) to profile designers and artists in their natural habitats, their homes. Of course, every other day it's great as well, as I find David Patrick Columbia's reflections on Gotham very entertaining. For those of us out in the provinces, there's more to NYC than the Housewives. The interviews are always fascinating, and the photographs are the very personal impressions of the photographer. This past week, the subject was the artist John Woodrow Kelley, and his home in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. While reading the interview and scrolling through the photos, I came across a shot of the kitchen seating area. There in all its glory is a charming bistro table and four mismatched chairs. I thought to myself: this is sublime... even if the extent of service would be a cup of coffee, this was such an inviting space. It got me thinking about what it means to commune around the table. This relatively simple gesture is one of the most ancient customs in which we as a species engage. It feeds our bodies, minds, spirits and time spent at table fortifies us for what may lie ahead. It isn't a real stretch to also think about the Friday night Shabbat dinner, or the ritual of the Mass and the setting of THAT table and the breaking of bread and sharing of wine together as a community. You don't have to be religious to appreciate the similarities. While I appreciate the grand and elegant and everything that goes with that, I understand that the same effect can be had in more simple settings, as well. I can remember one Christmas Eve, my partner Ken and I were at Midnight Mass at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and the former Dean of the cathedral, Alan Jones , said very simply "There is bread and there is wine. There is plenty for everyone. And all are invited." This has stayed with me for many years, and sums up what I strive to be about. Glitz is glamorous, but if that's all you have, then something is missing.


  1. Not very far from Clinton Hill, in a neighboring section of Brooklyn, decades ago there was a factory where my father reported, every day, to spin metal. My father worked for a shop that spun brass and manufactured chandeliers. Above the kitchen and dining room tables in my very modest Brooklyn home hung chandeliers my father had made, with his scarred and bandaged hands (metal spinning was a rough trade), for his family. Although he has passed and my mother has moved to other homes, the chandeliers (and, in fact, the very same tables) have moved with her and someday, they will be mine. Thank you for creating this beautiful blog, reading your post on a quiet Memorial Day morning brought me to thinking about one of the many reasons I have come to value, tremendously, what it means to gather around a table.

  2. What a great story, Amy! Thank you for sharing. I'm kicking around the idea: "home is your history". Not all of us make it into text books, but our homes can share our stories as individuals and families. Family pieces retain the energy of those who have passed them on. Through use, they also elicit stories of who, how, and why they came to be here in the present, which keeps the history (story) living! Happy Memorial Day.