elf hill

Honour Your Inner Magpie

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class background stuff and living room walls
elf hill
elisem
So I'm reading READING CLASSES, as I said in the last entry, by Barbara Jensen, and I'm taking yet another look at my own history, and for one reason and another that usually ends up involving asking people I know what was on their living room walls when they were growing up.

So I'm asking.

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The only thing attached to the living room walls (I'm assuming you don't mean the oak bookcase and the piano) for years was a set of three black and white artworks (paintings?) of lighthouses and things, which I think were done by a blind artist and bought by my mother on a road trip she took with friends before her marriage.

Eventually, they were taken down and a framed family portrait taken by a photographer was substituted.

We may be atypical because my father was extremely reluctant to make holes in plaster for any reason. Our family had more education (both parents with degrees) and less money (one teacher's salary for seven people) than our neighbours.

My own living room walls have lots of holes in the drywall: three quilted hangings of my original creation, 24 of Dad's photos all in handmade frames, two of my photos framed by me, and one watercolour painting I bought at a charity auction.

Watercolors by local artists, and a couple of paintings that my grandfather did. Also a Frida Kahlo print, I think. A bunch of small framed postcards over the woodbox, mostly landscape photographs.

S has a similar answer (paintings by her grandfather, and by a friend of the family who's very good), but the effect, she points out, is different. After some discussion, we think this is because 1) everything in her parents living room is chosen carefully to go together, and there's a limited amount of it, and 2) her parents have everything professionally matted and framed, while mine either have cheap store frames or whatever my grandfather stuck the canvas in 40 years ago.

A painting by a family friend, a painting by my dad's sister (my godmother), and a print they picked up somewhere because they liked it. That was when I was little. When I got a little older there was some stuff my mom made and some stuff we got in Sweden when we were visiting family there.

A few good quality reproductions, Renoir, mostly. A couple of original landscape paintings made by an artist friend of the family, a few rather depressing charcoal sketches by another artist friend. A couple of watercolours of unknown origin, four tiny portraits of grandparents in identical oval frames (very very victorian looking) and a gigantic foto portrait of me,in a dress, three years old with golden curls (ew!)

My family's living room had wallpaper that would appeal to upper-middle-class German tastes, two wall sconces, and the thermostat. There were no portraits or artwork hung anywhere in the house other than the refrigerator until after I graduated from high school (three years after my father passed away).

My parents moved their art around on a semi-regular basis so of the art in the house when I was a kid, I can't remember for certain what was on the walls of the living room and what was elsewhere. I know for SURE that the following hung on the living room walls for much of my childhood:

1. A still life of fruit with a peach in it.
2. Two paintings of the same brick house, one from the front and one from the back. We lived in a brick house, but this was a different brick house.

The following may have also rotated through:

1. An artsily framed poster advertising a production of the Mikado done in Stratford.
2. A batik of a mama cat with kittens.

The still life was painted by my Great-Uncle Aaron, who was one of my paternal grandfather's siblings. Grandaddy's parents were immigrants from a shtetl in what is now Ukraine; they came to New York City around 1900 and had seven kids, six of whom lived to adulthood. Aaron became a painter, which was sort of an unusual choice for a kid from an immigrant family, growing up during the Great Depression. He died young, so I never met him or even heard very many stories.

(We were from the academic subculture of the middle class. The overall class history of my family is complex.)

yeah, there wasn't any wall art in the living room growing up, heck, I had more posters on my walls than there was in the house

tho my mother did put an alpaca rug on the wall right outside the master bedroom.

timeframe: SoCal 70's

Various art that a friend of Dad's left us when he died.

A painting that my parents picked up in the 70s, that was all photos of people who had actually lived in the house that it was a painting of.

Some sort of dried sea plant thing

Eventually, some prints that I made in art class in high school. (One of the options for art was a specifically print making class. It was awesome.)

Some matched paintings of nature scenes that were all in the blue-green spectrum.

Other than the bookcases, Victrola that my grandparent's gave my parents, a piano, and the TV.

Oh, also an abstract bird that was all yellows and oranges and really long feathers like a peacock might be if the colors and feather shape were different.

And the post with the Victrola was me. Sorry about that.

Books. And a big mirror, and maybe a painting (van Gogh's self-portrait, or was that somewhere else?). But lotsa books.

Raphael's Madonna of the Chair; a stern ancestor of the "eyes follow you around" variety, nicknamed "Foxy Grandpa" (in the early sense of 'foxy', not the 1970s sense!); and a portrait of an 18th-c. lady, I think by Ingres.

Bookcases, and a baby zebra.

The bookcases really were the dominant feature of the room, although they contained almost as many photographs and small Wedgewood pieces as they did books (Will and Ariel Durant, the Interpreter's Bible, a set of leatherbound Classics from which I read only Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice but never Lorna Doone or David Copperfield...)

The zebra was a print of a linotype or something that used black areas with spiky edges for the black stripes of a fuzzy foal, and just negative space for the white stripes. There was also a sepia-toned print that Dad called The Ancestor-- a repro of a 19th Century photograph. The gentleman with the remarkable facial hair wasn't *our* ancestor, but Dad figured he was probably *somebody's* ancestor.

'Tasteful' yet 'modern' (said with the irony of memory) framed watercolors and le prints My father spent some time in advertising-think Mad Men

lots of art, sketches, paintings, some prints.

As I recollect a popular print over the couch when I was a kid, until we moved when I turned 12. Bare walls otherwise. When we moved, the parents bought a piece of 'real' art (a painting) to go over the mantel. Bare walls otherwise.

My mom was into Southwest decorating the whole time I lived at home. So what I remember was a poster of a Georgia O'Keeffe skull painting, a cross wrapped in a serape (though we weren't religious), a Southwestern print rug hanging on the closet door and a coyote and cactus cross-stitch that I made.

Interesting question. And I can see how it would offer some very compelling insights into people. Not sure what this says about me, but for what it's worth, this is what was on the living room walls when I was a child:

A 3-dimensional metal sort of sculpture of leaves with little tealight candle holders strategically placed behind two or three of the leaves. I don't ever remember the candles being lit.

A pair of gigantic (i.e. poster-sized) photos that my mother took, one of me and one of my sister. I hated the one of me and would go out of my way to avoid walking past it if I needed to get from one part of the house to another.

What I found just as interesting was what my mother consigned to the basement walls. It was there that she hung an oil painting done by her brother's wife (in all honesty, it was a pretty awful painting) and portraits of my father that were done when he was serving overseas in WWII. Not surprisingly, my parents divorced when I was a teenager.

And since you mention that this question comes as something of a logical outgrowth of the book you read on class (and I just added another title to my reading list, thank you very much), I'll add that I grew up in a suburban middle-class home with pretensions, if that makes sense.

Not much when I was young. My dad had tiny school photos of my siblings and I and a dragon he'd hand drawn on the cheap wood panelling while drunk. (It was an awesome dragon though.) My mom and stepdad had literally nothing in the living room, but in the kitchen my mom had a small collection of mail order saint plates and along the stairs were, again, school photos. When my mom moved out of my stepdad's house, she got a couple of Waterhouse prints and put those up, along with a pastel drawing and a painting I did in high school, and of course, pictures of my siblings and I.

It sounds really bleak written out, and kind of it was! I have a lot of stuff on my walls now.

I do not remember anything being on the walls of our house when I was young. Not that I have very many memories from that time.

Some wedding photographs, of both my parents' and my grandparents' weddings. An oil painting of some skiers coming down a slope, with evergreens on either side. When I was quite young I thought it was a frozen river and was unhappy when I realized there were people in the painting. A print of a Japanese painting of a cat following an insect across the floor. A reproduction of Van Gogh's sunflowers. A reproduction of a piece of Monet's waterlilies. And a lot of bookcases.

P.

Two watercolor paintings by one of my father's brothers (I believe it was Fred, who went on to be an architect). There was a mirror over the fireplace, too. Later on, there was a far-eastern piece, I think involving embroidery somewhat, over the piano, too. (My parents lived in that house from 1963 until my father's death in 2002 and until my mother moved to assisted living in 2005 I think it was.)

Book and record shelves mostly didn't get above light-switch height, though later on there were two taller corner cabinets, one of which held the stereo except for the speakers, with records (vinyl) below, the other of which held sheet music and music stands, and some miscellaneous stuff.

Let's see...

In my grandmother's house, where I lived for much of my youth, we had a big framed picture of Jesus with the Sacred Heart on the wall over the fireplace. To the right of that was a large framed portrait of my great-grandmother, my grandmother's mother. The corresponding portrait of my great-grandfather hung in the hall, visible from the front door.

I think that's all that was actually hanging on the walls. There were framed pictures on the mantle, and on top of the piano, but the walls were kept pretty clear.

Later on, when my grandmother sold her place and my came to live with us in Tucson, the wall art was original paintings given to my father and mother by artist friends. The ancestral portraits were hung in hallways, and the Sacred Heart was in my grandmother's bedroom.

An extremely large gold and black Chinese painted screen of two herons brought back from China in the 1940s and a sitar which I don't know the history of, but no one ever played it.

The only thing I can remember on the living room walls was a nude sketch of a woman drawn by my grandmother, and a painting of my mother in her twenties. (I've posted the photo it was based on before: http://www.well.com/~wren/Mom.jpg.)

Mostly, we had bookcases against the walls.

There were a handful of lithographs of various Native Americans that belonged to my father. Years later my mother hung a blanket she crocheted. That was it.

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