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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Artwork in the Bathroom

It's been a little over a year since the big bathroom reveal, and I still had a blank wall.

I'm a big fan of artwork in the bathroom. Well, of artwork everywhere, really. And for many years, the bathroom was the place where I'd hang some of my lesser favorites or framed posters, thinking any moisture damage wouldn't bother me so much. But I've spent so much time designing this bathroom that I couldn't put just anything in here. I've been holding out for the right thing.

At first, I looked at oversized photos on canvas or behind glass, such as the large photographic treatments of Etsy photographer Katherine Gendreau:


This scene reminds me very much of our local beach at Rocky Point on the Long Island Sound. And that got me thinking how cool it would be if the photo actually was our beach. Or at least a beach we'd been to. A place with personal significance.

I was pretty sure that I wanted a nature theme, and likely something that evoked the ocean.

Looking at bathroom art on Houzz, the trend seems to fall into three categories: nature, nudes, and humor - or some combination of.

THE END: A still from a Hollywood film - clever!                                                               Houzz

Art that reminds you where you are                                                                Houzz
A tasteful nude is always at home in the bath                                                       Houzz
And I was coming around to preferring an oil on canvas. As an artist recently pointed out to me, oil paintings are probably safest to hang, as the paint is similar to marine paint. A painting would likely withstand the rigors of a damp room more readily than paper between two sheets of glass or plexiglass, which both require some care.

This past fall Ross and I came across a painting we liked at the Dumbo Arts Festival. The subject was the boardwalk at Coney Island - scene of some of our early first dates - and the treatment was a unique collage composed of oil on canvas, vintage photographs, advertisements, and newsprint. It wasn't being shown in any of the numerous gallery open houses that day, but by the artist himself right on the sidewalk under the Brooklyn Bridge. So, the price was right. But the proportions were way way off. The piece measured about 8 feet wide and 4 feet high. We couldn't imagine how we'd get it home in the Mini Cooper, even with the top down. And that's what stopped me. We walked on. But I somehow never got that painting out of my mind. Eventually I was kicking myself for not buying it. It was a canvas, so in hindsight, I could have removed it from its frame, then once I got it home stretched it across a smaller frame. At one point, I tried a google search for the artist but no luck.

The one that got away.

Well, I can finally let that one go. Because this weekend we found the perfect piece.

Isn't it lovely? It was painted by Northfork artist Isabelle Haran-Leonardi, who does large-scale landscapes of the beaches and vineyards of Eastern Long Island.

Mary and I met Isabelle in her studio Nova Constellatio on Main Street in Greenport this weekend when we were staying at the cottage. We stopped in after a morning of antiquing and had such a nice chat with her about her work and her daughter who is studying ornithology (Isabelle has some lovely paintings of birds) and about nature walks on the Northfork. This painting caught my eye and I commented that it reminded me of a beach near us, by the Soundview Inn. Isabelle said that's exactly what it is - that stretch of The Sound, where a friend of hers has a house.

There are so many beautiful paintings of The Sound in Isabelle's shop that I knew I wasn't leaving without one. And this one I just love. The movement of the waves, that tidal vacuum created as water is sucked off the sand and rushes back out to sea is so evocative of this place.

When you think about it, hanging art in a bathroom makes perfect sense. The bath is the very time and place one has the leisure to really gaze at a painting.  

I can imagine looking at this one for the next 50 years - summer, winter, spring or fall, rain or shine - and being brought right back to The Sound. Like the roiling tide being sucked off the sand and swept back out to sea.