In Dad's Chair - Angelo Merendino
shown June - August 2017
Angelo's parents bought this chair and a matching couch not long after they were married in 1951. Six decades later, Angelo has enlivened this chair with the presence of people who have had an impact on who he is as an artist, a citizen, a family member, and a friend. Using this unique family heirloom combined with a caring eye and a magical talent (and some home-brewed coffee), Angelo has created an intimate serial portrait of friends, his father's chair, and himself in relationship to the world he shares with those he cares about.
Angelo explains: "This was my dad’s chair. If you were sitting in it when he walked into the room he gave you the friendly thumb twist—which simply meant, 'get up.'
"My dad was the first born and only son of Italian immigrant parents. He grew up during The Depression. He started working young, selling groceries off the back of a huckster truck. Dad picked up the accordion at the same time and he made a nice living performing and teaching music lessons. Dad landed a job at DuPont and spent nearly forty years with the company. In that time, he never missed a day of work. I’m not exaggerating, he never missed a day.
"When dad came home to his chair, that was his time. It was his time to read the newspaper, to watch a ballgame, a movie, or to take a nap. Whether or not the world and his responsibilities were on his mind, this was his place to unwind.
"Dad always seemed at peace when he sat in his chair.
"After my parents passed, I inherited my dad’s chair—I sit in it often. I think about my daily challenges. I worry about my next job and where it will come from. I think about mortality. I think about myself as a person. Will I be a good partner for Liz? I wonder what my dad’s thoughts were when he was my age, sitting in this chair, the father of ten, with another one (me) on the way soon.
"As I grow older I recognize more of my dad in myself. I look for my dad’s values in the people I surround myself with. Everyone in these photographs has had an impact on my life, whether through their love, their belief in me, or the way they live their lives; and each photograph has been realized during shared time and conversation. This chair has been witness to my mom, 11 children, 17 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren, spouses, and nearly 63 years of marriage. This chair has been present for children growing up and making their own families; it has seen both love and loss. No doubt my dad sat in this chair and watched The Beatles on Ed Sullivan; Walter Cronkite broadcasting Kennedy’s death; The Vietnam War; the falling of The Berlin Wall and the arrival of a new millennium.
"This chair has become much more than just a chair, even more than just my father's chair. It has become a host to conversations, reconciliations, and recollections. In the span of lifetimes and a few months I have reconnected with friends, shared vulnerabilities and laughter, created new memories, and found peace and acceptance in my parents passing."
~ Angelo Merendino, 2017
Each image from In Dad's Chair is available for purchase. Please contact Michael Weil (216-287-3064) for more information.