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The Art That Owns Me

Updated on December 30, 2011

Some people own and collect art. The art in my house, however, found, collected, and owns me. Come take a peek into one part of a private mini-art museum's captive visual mind.

As Light As A Feather

Facing my side of the bed, each day, I can't escape thinking about the weight of married love. Several times a day, it asks me:

"Is the weight of your marriage as light as a feather, or a ring of love weighing you down?"

Even after forty years of married life (and three different husbands), the answer changes -- sometimes daily, sometimes almost hourly. I wouldn't have it any other way in terms of keeping it real.

Black on white, with shades of gray, just seems more appropriate, than had the artist painted the subject matter in color. While marriages can be rich and colorful, the details of a relationship, always fall in the reality of black, white, and shades of gray. Framed under glass, the glint of sunshine at certain times of the day, plays with my detained mind

The relatively unknown artist to the rest of the world, from the Hebei Province in China, gained control of my purse strings the moment I saw this drawing.

Broken Hearted Piano

In our formal dining room, hanging out above Mam'maw's antique buffet and my little hoard of murano and venetian glass, that I made my husband hand carry from Venice, Italy -- is a bitter sweet oil canvas painting. It's arrested my heart, even though it's no great work of art, just an adequate rendition of one central great life-truth:

"Addictions can rob people of dreams and talent from the admiring world, and those who love them anyway."

I've lost quite a few people I loved the most to some of life's addictions. They'll never be who they were meant to be, or perhaps never know what they missed. The message of the oil painting will forever encapsulate the sadness that I feel for them. We who shared their world, or continue to walk with them, still miss the real person hiding behind the facade. Perhaps, the piano knows what I mean and all the names of those I'm talking about?

A Dream of Harmony

If it's possible that reincarnation exists, or that some dreams can be real events that happened to you in another life, then my Charles Lee's oil painting that dominates our informal dining room, taunts me with such thoughts.

This heart arresting abstract with a hint of traditional and neo-classical, combines a opulently gold foil textured wording, sheet music from Ludwig van Beethoven's Bagatelle Opus 126 and Ernst Christoph Dressler's Nine Variations on a March, with scenes from 19th century Pierre Auguste Renoir classics -- like Dance at Bougival, Country Dance, and City Dance.

A lifetime ago, I had the most vivid dream of being the woman in each of those dances and the wife of the artist. No dream, before or since then, has been remembered in my awake hours in such detail ensnaring detail. I awoke, not as if recalling a dream, but as though I'd finally found something dear that I had lost a long long time ago. The painting seized control of my bank account and was worth every penny I paid for it.

Even The Poorest of Us Has Sweet Dreams

Sometimes a subject in an oil painting can grab ahold of you, this is how I felt the day I came across a young Chinese street artist, who was painting the little girl with the smile while she slept on the street.

Having traveled to some of the poorest of poor neighborhoods in several countries, I can not help but look at that painting, and know a universal truth -- that even the poorest of us own sweet needful dreams.

I walk down our entrance hall and glance at the sleeping babe and wonder:

"What do you dream of little girl? Is it a pantry full of food? A home for you and your family? Do you dream of a toy?  A way out of poverty? Where are you today, little one?"

By Alen J. Fox (Disney Pleasure Island artist)
By Alen J. Fox (Disney Pleasure Island artist)

My Butterflies Are Always Blue!

They wail not for me, but for your mother and you.
Indigo voices
Breathing a dialect
Of a cryptic
Mother tongue
Your twenty-first century
May not detect.
Clamoring for the
Nature of things that can only
Be felt Knowing you may
Look and know not
The name of all quintessence
That came before you.

The secret is out, I'm crazy about blue butterflies, as this early poem I wrote years ago indicates, and the painting by Alen J. Fox testifies. I've only met the artist once, at Pleasure Island -- but without a prelude of conversation, he looked me up and down, and to my shock said:

"Do what you love . . . .love what you do."

While his statement may not be an original thought, one that we haven't all heard many times before, it stopped me in my tracks.  I was wrestling that very day with what I should be doing in life. What could I do, but shell out the price of his painting? Again, the art collected me, not the other way around, as I had gone there to go to escape reality at the movies, not buy art.

By Ginn Navarre
By Ginn Navarre

Where's Your Earthly Heaven

Sometimes this painting mocks me:

"Just where is home? Is it where you live? Where you come from? Maybe, it's where you've been? Or,is it just someplace in your heart that you'll never go back to again?"

Well, I've lived in and been to so many places, it's hard to know the answer. I guess for me, home is where the people I love are, so that may be many places -- all at the same time. Since I am only one person, that certainly presents a dilemma.

Sometimes, however, a little painting is more than what you see with your eyes. This small picture is eye candy to me, in part because I see one of the most peaceful places I've ever lived in. To me, it's just a common scene of a typical West Virginia stream, with nothing to distract you from the older-than-dirt mountain sounds of forest and stream. There are some days when I wish I was in just such a place, even if it's just for a little while.

I'm also sure it's a statement about missing our West Virginia farm, a feeling which occasionally surfaces for this country girl gone city. True to my Pisces birth sign, I'm a fish swimming in both directions, because I love both the wild outdoors and city life, and understand that I can never be wholly content in either.

The artist is well known to me, as she is Ginn Navarre, here on hubpages, and writing great hubs is not her only talent. However, I might be prejudiced, because after all, she is my, and my brother Den, and my sister Ryanobie's mother.


Pink Roses on Red

When my son, living over twenty thousand miles away in Hong Kong, first married, there was a dream that he, his lovely wife, and I all shared -- when they announced their engagement in a visit -- the future babies they'd bring to the family.

Both the large oil paintings above and below, were a daily reminder of what possibilities the future would hold. For me, back then, they represented some questions:

"What kind of life would my future grandchild have in a world split between two cultures? What would that child look like, considering the dramatic differences between my six-foot-four angular blond son, and our not even five-foot tall exceptional beauty of a daughter-in-law?

From the beginning, the seed of knowing that I wanted to commission a painting using the same theme of the pink roses on red blanket, for any children born to them, took me into custody. Now, that Afia Maxine Elizabeth has arrived last year -- that seems more a possibility, than just a grandmother's wishful dream.

So, the paintings have taken on new meaning.  They are now a daily reminder of why I need to continue plodding on in learning to speak Chinese, which is no easy task. The other grandmother, who lives there speaks only Mandarin.  With Afia's birth, we are tied together for generations to come. Being the older and better educated, it is my responsibility to learn to speak her language.


The End of the Rubber - 1934

The newest painting to take custody of my mind and heart, is an unlikely one, that I found for a couple of bucks being sold on the roadside. It was sitting outside of a pickup truck being sold by a woman who was destitute, trying to sell off personal possessions to make her rent for the month.

It was so dirty, that it was almost impossible to distinguish the subject matter. There were two things that spoke to me in making the purchase -- the fact that the frame appeared to be as old as the painting, and the fact that beside the author's signature was the date -- 1934. For two dollars, knowing nothing about the artist, the oil painting gained control of my day.

The artist appeared to be Frank Moss Bennett, an artist of considerable note, whose paintings can fetch several thousand dollars. However, after researching it, in reality, I believe it now to be the genius of a Timothy Eaton Company reproduction.

In order to verify that fact, I would have to separate it from the original frame, as below the fake copies, on the rim of the painting I should find the words, "Printed in England." These are really good and old reproductions from the mid-1900s (worth about $300.00). It makes perfect sense that one would have made it's way to Florida, as they were widely sold in Canada, and we have a tremendous number of French Canadians who winter here.

The painting to me represents the fun I have lugging home art from odd places, researching them and the artists. You never know what you'll find, and along the way you learn a lot -- sort of how life should be lived -- open to the possibilities of new surprises and new knowledge.

By Frank Moss Bennett - 1934 -- Titled: The End of the Rubber
By Frank Moss Bennett - 1934 -- Titled: The End of the Rubber

Art Collections

Collecting art doesn't have to be expensive. The least I've paid for a painting was a mere twenty-five cents, for a fishing scene, that someone unknown painted on the back of a piece of throw-away cardboard.

Of the paintings I've featured here in this glimpse inside my thoughts and art collecting world, most of which are of museum size -- I've only paid a few hundred dollars for only one of them. In fact, in most cases, I've got more invested in the frames, than I do the actual paintings. In all, the art that owns me right now, consists of about thirty pieces, all clamoring for my attention to their ever changing inspirations.

I look at art as an investment that may not pay off in my life time. It's also about investing in the artists, who may not be well-known, but deserve the encouragement of a patron. I rather like the idea of having an art collection, knowing that once home, the art makes our family's world a lot more colorful and thoughtful.


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    • milkfrother profile image


      7 years ago

      I love the way you write about your paintings, about what they mean to you and how they came to be hanging in your home. I wonder if you have your new 'Afia with Roses' yet?

    • Zabbella profile image


      7 years ago from NJ-USA

      Simply beautiful. As I was reading I noticed how lovely and poetic you writing style is...that was before I got to the actual poem! Now THAT is is artwork in itself!

    • profile image


      7 years ago from USA Pacific Northwest

      Welcome. Glad you found it interesting.


    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks stoneyy! Interesting.

    • profile image


      7 years ago from USA Pacific Northwest

      Lots of 'stories' in the works you have. Its interesting how that occurs.

      I know what you mean about paintings 'grabbing' you. Three paintings 'grabbed' me. Two were in acrylics and one in pastel.

      An oil painting I came across on the net by Molnar Pal {Paul Miller} of Hungary-Nude by the Window-grabbed me and I had to paint it! The composition yanked me right in.:D

      It was the first painting I've ever had accepted by a gallery which wasn't a student show. The paint was still wet when I delivered it 60 miles away [they had to wait a few days to put it in its simple frame].

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thanks Tapestries!

    • Tapestries profile image


      8 years ago

      Love the 2 paintings with the pink roses on red blanket theme, very cute indeed. And the sleeping dog as well in the picture - gives the room a serene feel!

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thanks suiteorchids!

      Thanks Squidmom!

      Thanks Belle Adelle! Art does have it's say.

    • Belle Adelle profile image

      Belle Adelle 

      8 years ago from Birmingham Alabama

      You have beautiful paintings in your home. i love the fact when you look at one it speaks to you in such a way. the girl who is sleeping on the street is personally my favorite.

      thank you for sharing your wonderful paintings.

    • Squidmom profile image


      8 years ago from Texas

      I had to awesome this hub, I love how your art speaks to you, I think I smiled the whole time I was reading this, thanks

    • suiteorchids profile image


      8 years ago

      Excellent Hub, just beautiful

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Kim Garcia! I remember the song very well.

    • profile image

      Kim Garcia 

      9 years ago

      Simply Beautiful!! Your beginning theme depicting the people you love, and how their lives will never be fulfilled, lost by addictions; reminds me a bit of the song lyrics by Jim Croce from Time In A Bottle. "There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them." I enjoyed this Hub immensely and viewing your unique are collection, and their stories behind each one. Peace n' Blessings!! ~ K

    • santoion profile image


      9 years ago

      I believe that YOU are Great !

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks SEM Pro!

    • SEM Pro profile image

      SEM Pro 

      9 years ago from North America

      Awesome hub! Thank you for caring and sharing in such a beautiful fashion!

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Silverfreak! I know what you mean. Loved your hub on following directions.

      Thanks econsway! I try very hard not to disappoint.

      Thanks ginn navarre! I love you too. I think today more than ever people need to be hanging onto their dreams for dear life.

    • profile image

      ginn navarre 

      9 years ago

      This is a perfect example of why I encouraged all three of you to follow your dreams and never let go. You guys make me so proud. Love ya, MOM

    • eonsaway profile image


      9 years ago from New Mexico, USA

      You take the reader in to your story and do not disappoint them.

    • Silver Freak profile image

      Silver Freak 

      9 years ago from The state of confusion

      Jerilee, I understand completely. If you look at my webpage, the art that owns me is the art I make, my jewelry.

      I have a lot of what I consider art on the walls of my house, mostly bookshelves, but a few paintings by my darling hubby who does it only for a hobby. His work is as good as or better than some I've seen for outrageous prices, and all it costs me is the supplies.

      Great hub!

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Hawkesdream! You're right I had to have them or they had to have me.

      Thanks Aya! I like hearing about other people's art as to me it's an unguarded glimpse into more dimensions of their personality.

      Thanks Jo! Santa doesn't have to, might be busy. It's enough just to brag on my little sister's talents.

      Thanks Rochelle Frank! Seems to me we all enjoyed your sharing your pitcher collection, maybe that inspired me?

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      I enjoyed this, Jerilee, and I can see why you enjoy each of them. I'm almost inspired to do the art I have on my walls-- though most of it comes from family and friends. We have a lot of artists among us.

    • ryanobie profile image


      9 years ago from Washington, DC

      Another great hub sis! (And no, Aya, I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't sent my sister a painting yet). Perhaps Santa will bring one.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Jerilee, thanks for inviting us into your home and sharing the art that hangs on your walls! I thoroughly enjoyed the visit. I may someday follow your example and share mine -- it's tempting -- but not just yet.

      Don't you have a piece by your sister, too?

    • Hawkesdream profile image


      9 years ago from Cornwall

      I quite agree that art chooses you, there are times when they seem to jump off the shelf and you, 'just gotta have it'

      The Blue Butterfly is a painting that I too could live with.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks Teresa McGurk! I wrote it in part because I was hoping to inspire others to talk about the art that owns them.

      Thenks yxhuang! Asian art is my absolute favorite and makes up the most of my collection. Each trip to Asia I try to buy more.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I like the story about how you found Frank Moss Bennett's piece on the sidewalk sale. It is so typical "Antique Roadshow" kind of story. Also, thanks for sharing some very interesting Asian pieces that you have. I found that you have good eyes on Asian art.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Yes -- it is how we interact with art that gives it its value, whether that value be monetary or intellectual or sentimental. I thoroughly enjoyed this hub, and suspect I'll be returning to it again and again. Thank you.


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