If I’ve seen it once…

My first car is hardly worth mention. My second car, however, was the car that propelled me into young manhood and carried me through what might arguably be the most tumultuous period of my life. It was a dark blue 1985 Ford Escort with two doors, a passenger side seat belt that only worked half of the time and a mosaic of punk rock stickers holding it all together.

I loved that damn car.

That car meant freedom. It meant independence. It meant individuality. Even with the giant dent in the side left by my grandpa who should have quit driving years before, it was the most beautiful thing in the world. But, once the keys were in my hand I looked around and realized that I was not unique. I was one of about a bazillion Ford Escort owners. As it happened, those modestly priced freedom machines were everywhere.

Once your eyes are opened they can never be shut again.

A few months back my eyes were opened once again by the Lost Art Press blog when Chris started posting about staked furniture and his current work in vernacular furniture from 15th century onward. When I first saw the staked trestles and odd numbered legs I must admit I thought “what rabbit hole has he gone down?”  But I followed along because as alien as the pieces seemed, in another light it felt like they had been there all along.

Yesterday I finally figured out why, and I feel like a dullard for not recognizing this sooner. It was the bench in this post and that really caught my attention. I couldn’t shake it. Where had I seen this before?

I was visiting a small country church and quite by chance I happened to look at the wall and see this:

For those of you unfamiliar with this glorious masterpiece, it is the hooked rug version of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous portrayal of Christ and the last supper.

Setting the artistic value of the medium aside for a moment, a few things are apparent here. First is that this end of the table is the rowdy section of the party. The wine has perhaps been flowing all too freely and now Matthew, Jude and Simon the Zealot are arguing. Either that or Simon can’t hear well which would also explain the close talking and the cross faces.

The second thing is that wonderful 15th century trestle. Look at it there in all of it’s cotton/poly blend glory.

We had one of these at my church growing up and a similar, smaller version in my house. I must have walked by this scene a thousand times seeing but never perceiving.

But what about the man himself? What about the original painting by da Vinci? Turns out the hook rug version makes Jesus look a little tougher and manlier, but the trestles are pretty accurate although difficult to see.

What I also learned is that the version I’m more familiar with is this later copy by Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli ( ca. 1520). I’m not an art historian and I didn’t read the da Vinci Code, so perhaps you can cut me some slack here.

Either way, glorious trestles abound.

Even here in this statue an effort has been made to keep this detail:

“It’s right here Ray. It’s looking at me…”

These things are everywhere, but if I have ever paid attention to such trestles before, it has just been to see them as things that work and not as things that work beautifully. 

My eyes have been opened and my opinion, it seems, is changing.


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