My mother loved to shop. Her conquests in the bargain arena were well known in our neighborhood. Tired of trying to find something? Just ask Rose. The hunt thrilled her and she pursued her quarry with determination and tenacity. It could be said that she had too much time on her hands, but I prefer to think that her obsession was a karmic holdover from a former life as a bloodhound.
While the bloodhound’s hunt might wind up as dinner, the bulk of my mother’s conquests were relegated to shelves, closets and “that room off of my brother’s room”. When she died, I was faced with the grueling task of sorting through her booty. I promised myself that I would bring as little as possible back to my own home, but more often than not I fell prey to the warmth of her memory and rationalized the bulk of my artifact gathering by designating them as props for future art projects.
In her bedroom stood a four foot high armoire dedicated to housing her extensive collection of jewelry. Finding only a few valuable pieces in the chest, I was faced with a mound of costume necklaces, bracelets and earrings with which I could not bear to part. They were her treasures, after all, and I decided that I should keep them in her honor.
I can’t remember how or why I embarked upon the “Material Girl” series. Gracie had established herself as a patient and willing model and I imagined a series of photographs in which the jewelry would be progressively piled on her. We began with a few trinkets, and over the course of about 25 minutes, I covered her in a rainbow of beads, crystals and faux pearls that cascaded onto the floor. I was rewarded with an unlikely homage to my mother. Grace took her pay in treats.
Initially I envisioned “You Can Count On Grace” as literally counting on Gracie. I would create a one through ten series with a variety of items cleverly placed on my canine canvas. While the idea intrigued me and I had the perfect accomplice, it became apparent to me that the concept might lose steam at about number three. Bouts of brainstorming and fielding suggestions eventually led to the eleven scenarios that would become the book.
A childlike love of shiny objects and a dose of dysfunction built a mountain of bling from which “You Can Count On Gracie” emerged. Thanks Mom, there really was gold in them thar hills.