Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Crossed Lines

 Crossed Lines
18" x 24"
oil on panel

I have spent a lot of time with these wonderful phones. 
I must have had them lined up on top of my cabinet for over a year.
Sometimes I need to spend that time with a toy before
 I ultimately decided what I wanted them to say in an image.

detail from painting
I love these toy phones colors, 
their well loved surfaces showing their age.
The sounds of the bells when you turn their dials 
to make your calls
add a whole level of sensory excitement.
I kept thinking about how telephones are used 
as a means of communication.
One toy phone, with its cord not attached anymore, 
is out of the communication game.

detail from painting
I believe we all at some point have felt in the middle,
between two people (or groups of people)
who are trying to communicate,
but it is not working out too well for them.
Crossed lines of communication.
That is what led to my own vision for
"Crossed Lines".
 detail from painting
I had quite a few friends tell me that the image 
reminded them of party lines.
Party lines were where more than one 
telephone customer were connected in one loop. 
Basically everyone had to take turns. There would be a switch
operator who helped make the line connections.

 Here Sigrid Gellerstedt mans the Cotton telephone 
exchange switchboard at her home in January 1975. 
I found a wonderful blog post about Mrs. Gellerstedt
describing one of Minnesota's last party-line phone systems. 
A link to the article is here: Minnesota's Last Party-Lines

The three toy phones in my painting
are made by The Gong Bell Mfg Co from 1942-1954.
The company began in 1866 in Easthampton, CT.
It is believed that with the introduction of plastics
in toy making, the Gong Bell Mfg Co could not compete
since their toys were mostly made of 
wood and metal, thus closing the company in the 1960's.
To learn more about the Gong Bell Mfg Co please visit

Here is a short video showing my phones,
and the sounds they make.
And yes, a whiskered friend,
who seems to always show up in my little videos,
makes an appearance. 
Such a curious fellow he is.

Crossed Lines 
will be showing at
Principle Gallery Charleston
"These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things"
Annual Still Life Show
May2nd- May 31st, 2014

125 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC

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