(Excerpt from, "The Art of Everyday Joe: A Collector's Journal")
Are you a homebody? I certainly am. Don't get me wrong, I love to travel and see people, sights and art, but as Dorothy learned, there really is no place like home. Not even the best hotel can hold a candle to the house you love.
It's funny ... whenever I spend an extended period of time at home, I remind myself that there's more to life than great sofas, good books, big screen tvs, roaring fireplaces, comfy beds and giant cups of coffee (decaf please!). With that, I run out to do some non-errand to prove to myself that my home doesn't own me, yet back at home I come!
I guess a home is the ultimate object. It's certainly the ultimate objective. What's the first thing that people say they would do if they suddenly hit the lottery? Usually, they say they would buy themselves and their families great houses. Our need for the comfort of home makes us all the same.
Throughout my career, I've had the good fortune of visiting many people in their homes. In a way, if you've seen one home, you've seen them all. Everyone has a sofa and chairs and a refrigerator and so forth, but your home speaks volumes about you. Mine speaks volumes about me.
As I'm writing this, I'm looking at a set of watercolor paintings that I own. They're all done by New England artist Tom Cox. I'm trying to channel them and figure out what they're saying to me. They're simple, lovely and charming scenes mainly of New England. Most of them are tied to home. You know, I like to think of myself as a "sophisticated, urbane art collector," but somehow my collecting always draws me back to Tom's scenes ... houses on a lake, boats in a harbor, people in a park. They're all slices of the simple life. I had a colleague who once told me, "I go to work so that I can have a better life when I'm NOT at work!" Ain't that the truth! A fulfilling career is fantastic, but can it really compare to lots of free time in a cozy house? I don't think so!
Anyway, I love Tom's work because it seems sentimental and well, homespun. Who wouldn't want to live in one of his paintings? I particularly like his "Shady Harbor" piece, which depicts serene, lovely homes by the sea. I emailed him and asked about the whole "sentimental" thing. I was gently rebuked. Here's his response...
"Hi Mike ... As far as your question goes, I am not aware of the sentimental element that goes into a painting. I do like to paint, and I like to paint subjects that interest me. I studied how the modern movement stressed theoretical exercises, but I do not like the modernists or modern architecture. To me there is nothing more beautiful than a Greek Revival house in Wiscasset, Maine. That is just what I like. The modernists threw out the baby with the bathwater by denying the classics. Only when architects began to mimic the classics did they even begin to try to have a soul. Just my opinions." http://tomcoxart.blogspot.com/
That's what happens when you ask an artist a question. You get an education. It's great. Still, for a sentimental softie, not obsessed with artistic technique, doesn't this painting really speak to you? You almost want to just step right into it. I'm so envious of folks who live in Maine. How did they get it so good?
A home by the sea seems like a great idea. It's ideal! It's the ultimate in creature comforts ... or so it seems from this side of the fantasy. Yet, the reality is I don't own a home by the sea. However, I do have a home ... a home filled with art and comfort and joy.
Home is the best possible place for a homebody.