Appreciating the Lost Art of…Art!

One of the only constants in my routine is walking our Lab Penny. I love having the downtime of zoning out (That is, when she’s not breaking off her leash to run after a squirrel!)

We like to walk around the middle school neighborhood side streets and coming from a family of carpentry and architecture, one of the things I’m always noticing is how beautiful the older houses are. Not necessarily the biggest houses, but the oldest and most beautiful. They always have so much character in the accents of their roof lines or porches or pop out windows (can you tell I have no architectural experience?!). Even their window panes are beautiful.

I was talking to my Uncle Mark, who appreciates history and carpentry, about this. Our conclusion was that art is kind of a lost art. Just 100 years ago, when someone wanted to build a house or add a room, the carpenters (usually a family member or small family business), had the time. Unfortunately, today builders are under a lot of pressure to put out many houses quickly and they just don’t have the time to put in all of the hand work required for some of these features.

In the past, art was a part of almost everything. It was required for advertising before computer graphics. Think about old billboards or pick up an old newspaper and look at the hand drawn advertisements. As Mark mentioned, even the birth certificates, marriage certificates etc. all had hand drawn scrolling, painting or decorating on them. Old black and white pictures had water painted “touch ups” of rosy cheeks or colored dresses. They’re beautiful. Much prettier than the massively photo-shopped and filtered pictures of today, in my opinion.

So just a thought. Next time you take a walk or look at old documents, take time to appreciate the art that was involved in the process. Look at the detailing (again, don’t know the right architectural word for this) on the upper half of the house or the crown molding design under the roof lines. Take a walk around any older part of any small town or even downtown St. Paul. If you want to go bigger, make it to the Garden District in New Orleans.

When you think about the amount of time put into these buildings and the high quality, heavy wood used, you’ll understand how these homes are often the ones to withstand time and the variable of weather throughout the years. And each one has several generations of stories buried within their beams and walls, waiting to be uncovered.