This gilded mirror once hung above the buffet of the dining room in my yia yia's house. It was a small room full of dark wood, china, crystal, and cigarette smoke. Fantastic feasts were also enjoyed in that little room. All day she would cook delights from the old country, and the many would gather to enjoy her offerings. My favorite was avgolemono soup, a simple dish; and she always made it extra lemony for her granddaughters.
After she passed away in 2006, the contents of her little house went into the basement of the business that she once owned before she gave it to her sons: The Albany Restaurant. The basement over time had become a collection of artifacts and remains of former lives. The "furniture graveyard" consisted of two deaths, one divorce, and one remarriage. For many years these objects sat undisturbed, until one winter's day, Yia Yia's mirror was found.
The Albany was undergoing an image refresh. Over many decades of operation, the restaurant had acquired an abundance of authentic and vintage items that were once again going to be incorporated into its unique decor. Yia Yia's mirror was the perfect way to spread light around a dim section of the south dining room that had previously been occupied by a buzzing beer neon.
It was my first time painting a mirror. It is a bit different than clear glass because the reflection makes it difficult to see if your line work it correct. The red rose is symbolic for Magdaline "Kay" Kallas (my yia yia) because she loved to grow roses. The dice are symbolic for James "Blackie" Kallas (my papou) who was a gambler and played a lot of barboot. The dice also show 17, for the year the mirror was completed. The tootsie roll with wings is a bit of a joke because it was Yia Yia's favorite candy.
We revealed the mirror to the public on Yia Yia's birthday: January 16th, 2017. That same day, a man who was dining for lunch, wanted to show us an old photograph he had with him: it was a picture of Yia Yia from when she was young and had newly arrived from Greece. We had never before seen this picture of her. What a fabulous synchronicity! My uncle was freaked out--but we both knew that she was sending us her approval from the other side. The mirror is indeed an acknowledgement that keeps their memory alive in our hearts and minds.
First picture: The one we had never seen of Yia Yia peeking out between the two men on the far left.
Second picture: Magdaline and James Kallas, a.k.a. Kay and Blackie.