The Place I Call Home
Family togetherness. Sanctuary. Home is where the heart is. This is the story of my house, my home, my marriage, my sons, my family: the loves of my life. Inspired by late Renaissance and early Classical photo-realistic painting, especially the paintings of Vermeer. A painterly exaltation of the ordinary, the quotidian, the overlooked activities and relics that comprise our lifetimes. Informal, daily life captured formally with large format photography: a 4×5 view camera and, now obsolete, Polaroid instant film. High resolution scans printed.
Home is sanctuary. Warm incandescent light resists the cold hues of night.
This picture captures Alistair’s puckish nature. The living room is a place of comfortable disarray. It is lived in. Alistair is barefoot and disheveled. A game of 'Risk' is underway. Papers are strewn on the sofa. The misshapen orange pillow is out of place. A dog-eared screenplay is on the floor.
This view out of my front window brings to mind how, while spiritually 'home' has been a constant, its appearance changes. We have different cars now and the patio furniture has been replaced. The lawn and flower bed has been re-planted, ruts now mark the crushed brick driveway. But the stone pathway leading inside is much the same.
Parties always seem to congregate in the kitchen. We gravitate there, because it is a place of warmth and sustenance and comfort. Here Patsy prepares a pancake breakfast for her boys.
Cut flowers, centerpieces and seasonal décor come and go. But we cherish the sentiments they express and delight in the moments of color and beauty they bring, however short-lived.
This cup encapsulates parenting. Our children transition constantly from one stage to the next, and we do all we can to support them. Like training wheels for liquids, this cup is helping Alistair gain the skill to graduate from bottle to open cup or glass. But he clung to these 'sippy cups' long after he needed them. Emotions follow a different, uneven timeline.
I captured many of these pictures when no one else was home. But I could never feel alone. The evidence of the lives lived around me was so palpable. Patsy, Xavier and Alistair were present, even when they weren’t.
There are so many milestones — and so much anxious attention paid them — in child rearing. And it continuously amazes how an instance of love and passion sparks organic life, then brings forth an autonomous, shockingly realized personality, with all of its likes, dislikes, quirks, talents, curiosities and foibles. A human life is a force of nature. As a father I often felt that my most important job was to keep out of the way.
Technology changes so rapidly. Video and computer games had become a special area of vexation for my generation of parents, especially parents of boys. The instinct was to suppress them. But that would risk making our sons into oddballs, alienating them from their peers. Here Alistair was surely meant to be making his bed and tidying his room, not playing Mario Cart.
It is heart-aching how soft textiles, stitched together and filled with fluff become dear, sometimes lifelong, friends, and form crucial emotional support. What is it about the juvenile psyche that animates these stuffed creatures? How is it that we derive comfort from them?
Archaeological digs always seem to unearth artifacts of adornment, i.e. jewelry. In this photograph Patsy’s costume jewelry makes a pretty still life, but in a thousand years it will have become an inscrutable window into our people and our time.
Madeline is my mother-in-law. I often visited her home in Berkeley with Patsy and the kids. Her mane of curly white hair stood out. Seeing Madeline at the dining room table in the bright afternoon light, with coffee, bent over a crossword or jumble was a familiar sight.
My birthday is in September, and we didn’t visit Madeline’s house often at this time. Here Patsy has lovingly prepared a Meyer lemon cake — from a Chez Panisse recipe — for my birthday.
Patsy has two sisters and three brothers, who adopted me into their family almost as soon as Patsy and I began living together in the Fall of 1984. Sally lives in Cupertino, about an hour south of Berkeley, with her husband and two sons. Here she has come to Berkeley with her dog 'Sparky' to visit.
With so many brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces and nephews the annual Christmas Eve dinner and gift exchange — as celebrated in Catholic families — was chaotic and overwhelming. Here, the dust has begun to settle after our feast.
This still life is Christmas decor in the home of my brother-in-law, Duff, who also lives in Berkeley. Every year Duff, and my co-sister Leda, host a Christmas meal for friends, neighbors and family.
One year, my niece Ashley, who was attending UC Santa Cruz, hosted Thanksgiving in a house she rented with friends. We stayed in the Dream Inn near the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. My brother-in-law, Robert, had come down from Oakland, and also had a room there. We gathered Thanksgiving morning for coffee.
Alistair wants to stay up late, while Patsy is ready for sleep.
One year, my niece Ashley, who was attending UC Santa Cruz, hosted Thanksgiving in a house she rented with friends. It was a beautiful warm day, and we all walked down to Seabright State Beach. The 'girls' have relaxed on the sand.