Some years ago at the Reston Art festival I found myself in front of two pieces I couldn’t leave without: Phill Singer’s Anger Management and Tiger by the Tale. Luckily they fit perfectly in my home office where I saw them daily, and they frequently appeared on conference calls and webinars for several years. They were poised to live a long life there, until renovations following a leaking chimney cap forced them from the wall.
The art was fine, the walls were not. Renovation efforts expanded, as they often do. Furniture moved around, too, as you can imagine it might against a completely blank canvas. When it was time to rehang, the previous location of the two early pieces was no longer available. And by now I’d bought a third: Night Moves.
For a long time, Phill’s work lived in my closet while I tried to find its new “perfect place”. I wanted it to be a trafficked area, or at least a space I used frequently. But most of those spaces held other things that meant something to me. Botanicals I’d gotten as a gift. Photos and other works with sentimental value. Reproductions of Audubons I’d fallen for and decorated around. And while I wasn’t treating these three works as interior design pieces to blend with anything else, I wanted the colors and style of the space to enhance rather than detract from the viewing.
About once every few weeks, usually around the time of a morning shower or long hair-drying experience, it would cross my mind that they would be at home in the master bath. I quickly eschewed the thought, because a) I didn’t want to risk humidity damage even though it’s a pretty big room that never fogs up, b) they should be where others could see them besides me, and c) I didn’t even like the idea of having something so amazing stuck in the bathroom. I felt they were better than that. Surely it would be some kind of slight to put them in a bathroom.
So Phill’s work continued to live in my closet for more months, supporting my “better than that” prejudices. Now, anyone who has spent a minute perusing the Houzz website has likely seen palatial bathrooms bearing unique art all over their walls. Finally, I accepted that, as much as I would’ve liked them to go somewhere else more fitting, putting this art in the master bath was the best chance I had of actually enjoying it each day. I had to get over my idea that a bathroom was somehow less deserving of artwork than other rooms. I told myself I could take them down if it didn’t work out. And let’s face it, that’s better than having them stuck in a closet where I felt remorseful each time I saw them living in their interim-soon-to-be-permanent space.
So into the bathroom my Phill Singers went. To my surprise, this turned out to be the perfect place. Not only do they glam up the room, but I frequently find myself stopping to look at them more closely, or just appreciating them generally. Another wonderful surprise was that, after hanging them, I found I had enough room for a piece I’d wanted but couldn’t fit before: Fatal Attraction. Guess what I’ve asked for this Christmas?
High expectations and high standards are good, and they can help us improve in many ways. Still, if your search for perfection stops you from experiencing things that bring you joy, send those expectations on vacation for awhile. Make some choices that bring happiness today. Now Phill Singer is in my bathroom, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Note: Anger Management image used with limited permission from the artist.