Still Life with Grandma

Mike Boyle
Jan 16, 2013 2:16AM

I just love old still life paintings. They remind me of my dear old grandma, who was born in the middle of nowhere and lived her entire life as a dairy farmer's wife until she taught herself oil painting in her old age. She specialized in two subjects: paintings of her neighbors' cars, which she did on commission for $20 each, and still lifes of fruit. I still fondly remember a still life she painted of a watermelon that looked even more delicious than the one you see here in John F. Francis's An Abundance of Fruit.

Grandma was the sweetest lady there ever was, but she was also more than a little old fashioned. She forbade my father and his siblings from watching the original Superman TV series because "only Jesus" was faster than a speeding bullet. So I'm not sure she would have approved of any of the objects in this 1890 still life by Nicholas Alden Brooks, except possibly the radishes. Even so, I just love looking at this painting and imagining that Brooks actually spent his evenings in 1890 puffing on a cigar while putting away an entire carafe of wine and a whole tin of sardines, and for some reason also munching on raw whole radishes, all alone in a farmhouse somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

Mike Boyle
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019