My partner Rebecca is an artist in everything, from how she cooks to her
murals on the walls of our house.
Whats this? I said yesterday, checking a pot on the stove and
closing my eyes as I inhaled all sorts of delicious smells.
Thats a glaze for the wall in our bedroom, Rebecca said.
Do you think its too purple?
I dont know why she always asks me these questions. Like I can
imagine what a pot of boiling liquid is going to look like once its on
One day Rebecca will be famous. Her fine art, the stuff that
museums will fight over in the future like prints and batiques, bring
wonderful color and life to our home. No flea market
paint-by-numbers masterpieces here. Rebecca gets an idea, treks on
down to her studio, and creates the exact perfect piece we need for over
the fireplace. Either that or shell swap with one of her talented
artist friends and suddenly Ill find a pedestal in the living room
underscoring an amazing piece of luggage in the shape of a greyhound.
Most of Rebeccas art is positive and uplifting, ideas and images that
we want to surround ourselves with day after day. She does have her
emotionally tortured images, such as Resulka based on the operatic version
of the Little Mermaid in which everyone dies, but most of her effort goes
into making our home a brighter place. For example, Skylars room,
in Rebeccas own words, is insanely happy. Animals from our
favorite stories, including a huge Grandfather Frog eating foolish flies,
watch over Skylar as he sleeps. Two mirrors, one cut into the shape
of a bird, the other a fish, entertain him while he lays on the changing
table. The ceiling fan is painted like a giant sun against a ceiling
of sky blue with fluffy clouds and glow-in-the-dark stars. And
Rebeccas first quilt graces the bed, next to matching curtains.
What blows my mind is that she does all this as well as keep the house
warm, comfortable, and clean while raising a child. I can already
hear the art critics of the future: Imagine, theyll say with
regret, how much more Art she could have done if she hadnt had to
clean toilets and change diapers.
Its a thought that haunts me. What masterpieces have not been
created because of her mundane responsibilities? I see the daily
challenges she faces as she tries to work on her 4 kaleidoscope while
the house calls out to her for cleaning. How many other wondrous
ideas have to lie dormant as she struggles to scrape together any kind of
time for art?
Observing Rebeccas innovation and creativity inspire me to consider
what art really is all about. Its kind of ironic that cooking is
generally held to be an art one where the art necessarily disappears
as we eat it while washing a kitchen floor isnt. For Rebecca
doesnt look at art as requiring a fancy frame. She views taking
care of ones home as an art, as part of the whole package of life. For
just as a smudge on the edge of a print ruins the whole look, for Rebecca
a kitchen counter covered in dirty dishes makes the entire house
And then, of course, there is our greatest reason for neglecting
art, our son Skylar, a veritable black hole that consumes all of our free
time and energy. Im afraid to calculate the number of hours
weve spent just dressing, changing, and feeding him. Yet, in
spite of this and because of it, he is our greatest act of creation, our
greatest work of art, not as a ball of clay to shape as we please but a
person to support and build up through our love. He is also one of
Rebeccas greatest inspirations, and much of the art she has done
recently is because of him.
When Rebecca is long dead and her work with frames hang in renowned
museums, everything the art critics will bother to learn about Skylar will
be able to be summed up in a single sentence on a white placard taped to
the wall. Hell be listed as her son if they bother to
acknowledge him at all. Thats because you wont find Skylar
hanging in the museum next to her more important paintings.
But the truth is, he is worth more to Rebecca and I than every bit of art
in our home.
The rest is but a reflection.