I would have any of his people over at my house for dinner!
- Lois Gries, ASID, Chicago
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Beyond Wood and Stone: An Insight into Relationship

Many years ago, a painting contractor colleague who was visiting me from the East Coast made a comment after seeing my office: “You are deep” he said. I think that what he meant was that when I look at something, I seem to naturally uncover deeper meanings and connections. Sometime, without realizing it consciously, I begin to put things together and the meaning is later revealed. Read on for a vivid example: a montage of stones and wood with, indeed, a deeper meaning.

Stone and Wood Montage

Stone and Wood Montage

Once in a while, I go to my favorite lumbar yard. It carries a wide array of the most awesome exotic woods in the Chicago area. On a visit, several months ago, I stumbled upon a piece of figured, burled walnut. In my eyes, the obvious defects of this piece of wood added to its beauty. I had to buy it!

A few months later, I had the opportunity to visit Taliesin West outside of Phoenix, the former working studio of one of my heroes, Frank Lloyd Wright. Walking around in the fields surrounding the property, I came across four stones. Two of those stones had triangular shapes, which attracted me because of the triangle theme at Taliesin West. The fourth stone was totally black and was perfectly smooth. This was indeed a one-of-a-kind stone in this arid landscape!

The final element of my montage was given to me many years ago by a carpenter. He had cut red hearts out of a plastic material for a class he was teaching. For some reason, I hung on to this heart. I placed it next to my montage. One day, in passing, my wife suggested inserting the heart in the upper cavity of the wood block. I said OK.

What first attracted me to that piece of wood were the natural wounds inflicted upon this tree. Somehow, those same wounds added unique character and beauty to the wood piece. One day, my I.T. person was over to work on my desktop. Having told him about my montage, he said: “There is a man and a women kissing!” Can you see the two profiles in the wood grain? Then, the full meaning of my montage was revealed.

How can I find a deeper meaning in this assembly of stone and wood? Well, here it is! Man and woman are attracted to one another. With love (the heart) and a strong dose of God’s help (triangles), the wounds inflicted by life that challenge relationship can be overcome and help produce true and beautiful relationship. To stay in balance (black stone) is not easy. Sometime, when things get “rocky”, one loses balance and falls to the ground. With God’s help and the help of others, balance is regained anew, until the next fall. True relationship is God’s intent for all of us.

As a person and as a painting contractor, depth is a quality I bring to my conversations with clients, employees and how I view situations and opportunities in the painting industry.