I am on a long-running mission to get more artwork in the house; there are so many large blank walls around begging for adornments. However, it is also important to me that the work have some meaning. Granted, that is not always necessary as sometimes I will just run across something and am like, “hey, that’s neat”. Otherwise it is slow-going.
However sometimes there is a gem. For example, take the newest editions over the fireplace. In the middle is some inexpensive thing I came across at a Target or Meijer or Bed Bath and Beyond. Something like that anyway. But flanking it are the real stories.
Several years ago I obtained a couple dingy metal filing cabinets from (I think) my mom. They’re still in use today. (My home office is a strange hodgepodge of hi-tech and old/inexpensive yet functional items. Two of my desks are plastic fold-out things and the third is some cheap wood something. It’s not the most elegant, but they get the job done which is more important to me than aesthetics.)
A few years ago I was rearranging my office, (something that happens every once in a while in every area of the house), and decided to move the filing cabinets. To make this easier as they are quite heavy metal things, I removed the drawers. In doing so I found a print of a watercolor that somehow fell behind the drawers and lodged itself into a lip at the rear-end of the cabinet.
When I found this my heart skipped a beat or two because it looked like the Point Betsie lighthouse which has special meaning to me and something that I had shared with my kids. But it was a signed and numbered print that clearly identified it as the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse by artist Bill Hamilton.
I asked my parents if they knew anything about this print and there were blank looks. So without an owner I decided to frame and hang it somewhere. Unfortunately it was a size that did not really lend itself to hanging on a wall in the house without feeling too small and out of place. Therefore I started to look for a companion print with which to marry it.
Now if you look up “Bill Hamilton watercolor” (or did when I first searched a few years ago) I received a bunch of entries about a gentleman who was like me an employee of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who (now?) lives in Oregon. (He left a few years before I interned there.) No Michigan ties that I could find, though.
This was not the right guy.
I continued to look for a print of a Michigan lighthouse to match for a while, but over time things sort of fizzled out and were forgotten.
But a few weeks ago when again rearranging things I ran across this print in a closet and started a new search. This time I found the Bill Hamilton I wanted with an online presence in a small shop in Northern Michigan. There were several Michigan lighthouse prints available from a website that looked like it was made in the 90’s. I didn’t expect much, but reached out to the email address listed on the site. An answer came soon after and I ordered a print of another Michigan lighthouse that was the same size as the print I had.
Now they both are framed and have a home in my living room around the cheap metal thing. (One day I’ll build a hearth, but that’s for another time.) Hey, I like the cheap metal thing for some reason, but now there is a story about how it all came to be other than a purchase on a whim. Plus the framer found some material that is wood but matches the banged metal look—I was just going to go with some black frame, but really like the result.