Art and About
Engaging with the creative force in everyday life

January 27th, 2008

Dispensation at the Kitchen Sink

Posted by christina in Web Columns

I am captivated by the newest art statement in my house. When I’m in the room with it, I’m mesmerized by it. When I’m out of the room, I contemplate its color, composition and form. It is my new kitchen soap dispenser.

Most everything that goes in public view around our house gets over-thought by our personal design review committee co-chaired by my husband and myself. Heck, even the stuff in our private spaces is placed and displayed with great intention. It is Marshall McLuhan’s “The medium is the message” to the hilt. We’re overeducated control freaks striving to control the messages we’re sending through our art, our furniture, our accessories and even our utilitarian products. We buy handsome things, however we don’t go out of our way to make a full-fledged art statement with a simple spoon or a coffee maker or a vacuum. We like these items to be functional and within budget, and hopefully fit into our aesthetic ideals as well.

The soap dispenser was a quickie purchase made to replace our broken soap dispenser. I can’t say I didn’t think about my choice at all, but I certainly wasn’t looking to make an art statement. In fact, I didn’t want to draw attention to the soap dispenser at all. The one I was replacing was an oil-rubbed bronze that melded discreetly into our chocolate-brown Zodiac countertop. I doubt anyone looked twice at it, which was the goal.

The new dispenser is shouting for attention. It is a clear glass jar adorned with hand-painted red apples and variegated green leaves. It is probably more suitable in a country style kitchen than in our contemporary home. I like folk art, which is why it caught my eye, but I initially rejected it because of its country-ish flair. But the red and the green matched the color of our kitchen and the adjacent room, and like I said, I do like folk art, so I thought I would give it a try. Thematically, it sits within a few feet of a garden window in which I have three large glass bowls constantly filled with fruit, and I thought the motif might work. Still, with all this thought, I didn’t consider this an art purchase as I put it in my cart.

The magical moment occurred when I filled it with soap. We use a fairly standard anti-bacterial orange hand soap, which I actually find to be an unsettling color. But it is the one brand that our whole family agrees doesn’t smell too much like perfume and doesn’t feel too much like lotion. I have always bought opaque soap dispenser to hide the color. I knew I had made a big exception because of those apples on a clear jar.

But as that liquid soap filled the dispenser, it was transformed into glorious amber nectar creating a stunning backdrop to the apples and leaves. It looks like mango honey with the light shining through it. The color picks up on our copper backsplash and the array of autumn-hued flecks in the countertop. The vibrancy of the amber, red and green combination play off the bowls of tomatoes, oranges and lemons I currently have in the garden window. The scene buzzes with the energy of a successful still life.

Now, when I come out in the morning and flip on the kitchen light, I am greeted by this stunning display. In the afternoon, as I zip through the kitchen preparing meals and snacks, I take a moment to appreciate the dispenser. At night, when the dishwasher is filled and I shut down the kitchen for another day, I take one last look at the scenic sink area. I feel giddy from such an unexpected artistic interaction. It’s good to be out of control for a change.

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