May 31, 2013

Message from the gods

Gabriella's birthday was two weeks ago, and she received a twin message from the gods. Personally delivered by Hermes, the Greek stud with little wings on his shoes. Her first gift is becoming an annual classic: her mom gets her a scarf from Parisian fashion house Hermes. That's quite a process actually, going to the local store in downtown Chicago, and exposing yourself to oddly unsocial personnel who are reluctant to showcase the scarves as if they are the queen's crown jewels. Not uncommon for these high end fashion houses, I guess that's intended to be their interpretation of "exclusivity". Nonetheless, Hermes makes beautiful scarves, and Gabriella got a particularly awesome one with black, lime green, fuchsia, bright pink patterns.

The second message was already on notice when we were in Holland last month. During that trip, we visited our favorite art gallery, an old farm in the countryside only a few miles away from the southern border with Belgium. It's also close to Breda, the city where Gabri spent most of her young years, and where her mom still lives. At the gallery Jeroen got Gabriella's birthday present, a picture by Dutch artist Margriet Smulders. Margriet Smulders is a photographer who takes her inspiration from stills by the 16th and 17th century Dutch masters, and attempts to reproduce the colors and vibe of those iconic paintings of flowers and fruits. For GABROEN that creates a link to our roots and history, but the piece is turning out to be more multidimensional to us, and it's evolving even after the decision to buy it.
Interestingly, we both fell in love with it for a number of reasons, some of which only came to bare after we bought it. It is a Ciba chrome print of 13 dye containing polyester layers, which is no longer used because it is too labor intensive, but is as vibrant as nature itself. It has lavender in it, the flower and herb forever associated to our sister-in-law Marjolein, who we buried just two days before by leaving beautifully fragrant lavender twines on her coffin. It has a reflection of clouds and blue skies in it, reminding us of the valuable lessons we learned last month, of celebrating the beauty of life, of the little cloud from which we're sure Marjolein is watching us. And we only found out its title after we bought it. It's called "Hermes". No kidding. It's colorful, powerful, inspiring. Just like the birthday girl.

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