Meet the great-great-great-grandparents. This is Erastus Granger, and his gloomy visage, in its battered frame, has reigned over the front hallway of the Crazy Stable for ages. I first propped him up there as a Lemony-Snickety Hallowe'en goof. I also confess to a shameful whiff of preppie pride at having such an obviously ancient glowering ancestor, and one who was Protestant and English to boot. (He's from my Dad's side, long before popery spread like wildfire through the clan via my Irish-American mother.)
Over the weekend, however, an artist friend in a rush of generosity gave me this beautiful painting. Karen Friedland, its creator, is an accomplished painter whose work hangs in collectors' homes, galleries and, now, here. (Well, it will be hung.) On a whim, I swapped out this flamboyant acrylic bouquet for old Erastus, and lo, the hallway was transfigured. The painting serendipitously echoed the faux Easter posies I'd tossed in the dough-bowl thingie. It bounced light around instead of sucking it into a gothic abyss. The brushstrokes even manage to party happily with the rather ghastly colors we painted the hall and its trim (respectively, peach and a hue I've dubbed "Shrimp Bisque Bordello." This photo doesn't show the walls' true color, for which you should be grateful.)
A gift of art from a friend is magical on many levels. Creativity is an absolute mystery, and it's a share of that mystery. Karen's work ranges from riotously color-drenched landscapes to vibrant abstractions, but all of them spring straight from her vision; thus, in a sense, they are all gifts. To see more of them (along with nifty homes), come this weekend to the Flatbush Artists Spring Studio Tour, which Karen founded to showcase, not just her own work, but that of many other talented artists in our neck of the woods. It's this weekend, May 19 and 20, from noon to 6 p.m., and it's free. Like a gift.