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Posts tagged ‘People and places’

The Pianist, The Painter, The Singer, The Statesman

Periodically, my mother’s interior design class toured Chicago area properties.

On one, day-long tour, they visited three luxury homes that set on Evanston’s high bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan.

One home featured fine examples of classic contemporary design: simple lines, solid colors, smooth finishes, subtle textures, geometric patterns, and sleek woods, tiles, glass, and chrome.

From its trimly landscaped and broadly sweeping circle driveway, to the double set of solid red lacquer front doors, to the nine-foot main hallway that trailed through the house, to the four glass doors at the rear, that overlooked the lake.

The sprawling, one-story structure suited its owners: a concert pianist and conductor, and his wife, an artist and author.

The music room stood out. Its two most striking amenities: the magnificent black lacquer Steinway concert piano and the 12-inch square, black and white marble tiles that covered the floor.

Features also included the following:

1. dome ceiling with a huge globular skylight;
2. solid black marble fireplace;
3. two walls lined with white-enameled bookcases, stuffed with books, bound volumes of sheet music, also wood and ivory artifacts;
4. couches and easy chairs upholstered in matching white-on-white striped damask.

All of the other sixteen rooms featured equally elegant, yet comfortable appointments. It was a home that clearly represented the personalities of the owners, and met their needs perfectly.

Shortly before the design school students’ visit, the owners had decided to retire in that house. And, they’d put their South Florida home up for sale.

Nearly twenty years after touring that home, my mother was led into the luxury apartment of a former opera star, Adeline Arrigo. Interestingly, she had performed with the concert pianist on philharmonic stages throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

Madame Arrigo resided on the second story of a red brick, three-story walk-up built in the early 1900s by her husband’s Sicilian family. The South Racine Avenue building, located on the southeast side of Chicago, set across the street from University of Illinois’s Chicago campus. And, the three-story building had five large apartments – all occupied by “Arrigos.”

The focal points of the two bedroom apartment were the portraits of Adeline and her husband, the late Victor Arrigo. On every wall, every shelf and every table top were representations of the owners famous lives. Adeline, the opera star. Victor, the Illinois statesman that drafted, then championed the Federal Fair Credit and Collection Act. (Note: A stronger version of the law is in effect today.)

The traditional apartment also featured:

1. 12-foot high, white-sponged stucco ceilings;
2. white plaster, also deep red painted, walls;
3. tall wood-paned windows in each of the eight rooms;
4. white marble, wood-burning fireplaces in three rooms;
5. crystal chandeliers;
6. lustrous hardwood floors; and,
7. large oriental area rugs depicting eighteenth century country scenes.

The apartment was appointed with elegant, yet comfortable seating in every room. In the living room: deep red velvet-upholstered sofas, and black leather fireside chairs. In the bedrooms: European-designed settees and chairs, covered in deeper pink or soft rose moiré. Plush velvet upholstery covered the dining room chairs. And hand-sewn satin, moiré, and crushed velvet pillows set on every piece of seating.

The two distinctive period homes – the sprawling contemporary house of the 1960s-1970s, and the large traditional apartment of the 1940s-1950s – provided a very similar peak into elegant yet understated living. In their respective spaces, the owners and residents had created environments that supported their need for creative thought, good taste, peace and contentment. All had surrounded themselves with meaningful symbols of who they were as persons. And, what they represented.

The Chicago area featured many architectural and design masterpieces. I never had the privilege to visit the residences described above. Yet, I have had the opportunity to work on many similar homes. In doing so, the greatest pleasure has been in meeting the unique persons that have lived there.

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Fine design deserves to be preserved with the hand of a fine painter-craftsperson.
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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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Painting It: While Trump and Clinton Talked about Eradicating Gang High-Crime Rates in Chicago…

I shared this true story with Celebrating Chicago Cubs Friends…

 

Friday Morning, Northwest Chicago – My mother was trying to convince an inventor client on the image benefits to his business in getting the exterior of his shop painted. The building looked like an abandoned barn in the middle of another bankrupted farm’s field.

 

Mom and Jerry stood at the open overhead doorway of his loading dock. It faced the alley. Walking in that alley were eight or nine members of a notorious gang. They wore black leather jackets with a dragon emblem on the back, tight blue jeans, knee-high black leather boots with noisy cleats, also bandanas and black leather caps.

 

To Mom’s surprise, her client called the group over as they passed the loading dock. He offered them the job of painting the barn-like, two-story building. Bigger surprise: They took him up on the offer.

 

Promptly, Jerry jotted down a list of the materials and supplies they’d need. He handed the leader 2-one-hundred dollar bills. And, he sent them to the nearest paint store, located three blocks west on West Grand Boulevard. He offered them his car keys to bring everything back; but they refused.

 

TWO FRIDAYS LATER…

 

My mother had an appointment to deliver the draft of a project contract proposal to Jerry. She pulled her auto up to the curb in front of his property. As she walked past the side of the house, toward the job, his wife darted out of the back door.

 

“What do you think?” She smiled. “They did a terrific job, even on the carved trim around the dormers and porches. This house hasn’t looked this good since it was built in the 1950s…”

 

Come to find out: The infamous gang had painted the exteriors of both the large, 2-story house, and the shop. And, they looked superb!

 

MOTHER’S BIGGEST SURPRISE…

 

Upstairs, in Jerry’s shop, worked nine black leather jacketed young-young adults. Members of a different notorious Chicago gang, associated with the Hells Angels. (Remember hearing about them?)

 

The group was busy packing shipping boxes with plastic-wrapped, soft-fabric insulated hot/cold tote bags for foods and beverages. Jerry’s inventions in the 1970s. Note: Most of the prototypes were stolen away, initially, by a woman to whom he’d given a job to help her get back on her feet. Talk about crime!

 

Anyway, Jerry had given temporary jobs to the “teen hoods. “ The scourge of society. “The no good hoods.” They’d been on the job three previous days that week, putting in seven hours. Free pizza lunches and two “junk food” breaks included each day.

 

That scene in his shop was not a new one. The man was just as well known for his giving jobs to notorious gang members, as they were for robbing, stealing and threatening every other business place in the area.

 

Frankly, both Trump’s and Clinton’s camps could have learned a lot from people like Jerry, about eradicating major gangland crime in big cities like Chicago.

 

Gutsy people that put themselves out there. Inventive people who offer doable alternatives, not ineffective and stupid threats to well-connected gang members.

 

Before the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians game on November 2,  2016, I was watching “campaign clips” for both Trump and Clinton.

 

“Bob,” my mother commented, “high gangland crime in cities gets derailed by people like Jerry. Not by politicians, laws and the courts.”

 

I agreed. An image of a black leather jacketed gang member in Osceola County, Florida, flashed in and out of my brain. We “met” when I spotted him making a drug sale directly outside the men’s restroom inside the local public library. He still completed the sale, then casually walked upstairs and sat in front of a public computer.

 

People on the front lines – on the streets – almost always know the better solutions to problems that politicians tend to talk a lot about. During presidential campaigns especially. Why is that?

 

Are we paying the wrong people to eradicate high level, gangland crime?

 

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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob” – especially as we head into a new, and unprecedented, leadership and constituency relationship!
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s View: Father/Don Matteo of Gubbio

Father/Don Matteo, played by Terence Hill,* is the caring Italian priest of a small Italian parish in the quaint Italian village of Gubbio, in the Umbria region.

 

His home functions more like a revolving inn, or “halfway house.” A sanctuary for an abandoned boy, a pregnant 18-year old, ex-cons, and lonely widows. It’s the official residence of a hyperactive and “aspiring” cook/housekeeper, and a double bi-focaled handyman.

 

Through it all, the good, over 6 feet 4 inches priest serves communion, marries, and presides over funeral masses. And, he discreetly helps his chess buddy, Marshal Cecchini (Nino Frassica) – a police sergeant – help his captain solve local crimes.

 

Between his pasturing and sleuthing, Father Matteo also finds time to maintain the chapel and the residence.

 

He sands and repairs, then re-stains and re-varnishes the church pews, altar railings, lectern, etc. He preps and repaints bedrooms as one temporary resident leaves and another arrives. He repairs and refinishes the worn kitchen table and chairs, much older than he. He re-varnishes woodwork and baseboard. He patches holes in hallway and bathroom walls, then repaints them in the parish’s signature soft gold, cinnamon or olive green paint.

 

Clearly, painting and refinishing parts of the chapel and residence are labors of love. And respect. All tasks pursued and performed with the same sense of calm, wry humor, skill, and service that he shows for his parish duties. The people. And, his unsolicited detective assistance.

 

Exasperated at times by the antics of villagers, and visitors, Father Matteo always takes life in stride. Skillfully speeding through the community and countryside on his trusted old bicycle.

 

If you’re looking for good, clean humor – and you enjoy a little sleuthing, check out Father Matteo.* By the way, the show airs in Italienne, with an English subtitle. On regular tv, it airs on Wednesdays 10 pm central/9 eastern , also 11 pm central/10 eastern time.

 

* Terrence Hill (Mario Girotti), a native of Venice, Italy, plays Father Matteo. He is an award-winning actor both in front of a camera and on stage. He has paired with notable actor and friend, Bud Spencer, on many films and special projects. Hill received his education at University of Rome and Actors Studio. Since 1971, he and his wife, Lori Zwickbauer, have resided on a ranch in Massachusetts.

 

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Father Matteo proves that everyone, even a sharp police captain, can use a little help.

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Enjoy your off time. And, thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

 

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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