Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., and one of my sons. Talk about a full menu of things to see and do! When I’m there for any stretch of time, there are a few places that I enjoy visiting time and time again, and this includes the National Gallery of Art. (The Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park is also a favorite of mine.)
Viewing a particular work of art is not a one-time exercise. For me, repeated exposure to a piece always yields layered perspectives, revealing elements that I missed, or, perhaps, my personal circumstances have opened up new lines of thinking or levels of appreciation.
At the time of my last visit, I was already planning this issue, which is devoted to Art, and one of the features, which is about The Abundant Kitchen and its inclusion of original still life paintings by Patricia Riley in the Excelsior and Buffalo locations. The National Gallery has an exquisite collection of still lifes by the likes of Pieter Claesz, Willem Kalf and Luis Meléndez and many, many others. And viewing them only further ignited my excitement about writing the feature.
Not everyone appreciates still life pieces, and that’s understandable. My mother, who I’ve written about before in this space, was a talented painter. Her brushes and acrylics were nestled in among our crayons, coloring books and construction paper supplies in a kitchen cabinet. She loved to paint all sorts of subjects, but still lifes seemed to draw her in. Perhaps, that’s why I feel such a connection to them, and when I visited The Abundant Kitchen and saw Riley’s artwork, I felt like I found a little piece of home.
One of Riley’s paintings, Resting Rhubarb, reminds me so much of my childhood. Our backyard had an expansive rhubarb plant, and my mom would make pies and sauces from the deep pinky-red stalks. Not my favorite flavor, I’ll admit. But Riley’s painting? Now, that’s my cup of tea.
Until next month,