Remember when every grocery store was outfitted with a lobster tank? Do you remember when the same grocery stores ran perpetual coloring contests for prizes so spectacular that you often took multiple copies of the coloring page in the event of a mess-up, neurotically over-thought your crayon choices, and stayed within the printed lines like your very life depended on it? Do you remember when the facades of theses supermarkets were nothing more than great, gleaming, glass canvases just waiting for the deft hand of a skilled artist to anoint them with something far more sophisticated and substantial than posters advertising discounts on canned peas and frozen/defrosted ham hocks? At Christmastime it was these very grocery stores that transformed into veritable winter wonderlands with a just few strokes of the master's brush.
|Welcome to the wonderful world of window painting!|
It always seemed to me that holiday window painting ushered in the Christmas season; after Thanksgiving, one would be hard pressed to find a supermarket, a hardware store, a bank, or a coffee shop whose window panes hadn't been visited by a skillful "Jack Frost." It appears, however, as monolithic, windowless grocery stores, and political correctness have taken their jackbooted foothold, that window painting has taken a backseat to dispassionate displays of joyless, holiday-neutral consumerism. On my first venture out to look for holiday window art, I was disheartened to drive for miles and miles without a single example to document. It was as if, in unison, retailers were joined in singing a chorus of "Little Jack Frost, Get Lost." Just when I thought hope was lost, I began to see a few holiday holdouts - with all of the usual suspects present and accounted for.
|A Southern California sleigh ride|
There is no shortage of evergreen varietals in our neck of the woods; we have spongey, blobby, stack-y, and zig-zaggy.
|REINDEER & WREATHS|
I really like the white wreath with the ornaments of primary colors
but it pales in comparison to Santa's long-lost reindeer, Bootsie!
I can't be the only one who used to whittle down one end of
the candy cane into what can only be described as a shiv, can I?
The reason for the season is surprised to find Himself
on the window of Northgate Market in Santa Ana, CA -
one grocery store committed to making their windows
work for them at Christmastime.
For all of the regular Christmas characters that were represented, there were one or two "misfit toys"
to round out the bunch.
|"'Buon Natale' means Merry Christmas to you. |
Buon Natale and lots of fun; Happy New Year to everyone."
This is the window of one of our new favorite places, Claro's Italian Market.
|Apparently, for some folks, Christmas has a lot to do with steaming bowls of tripe |
soup and seafood; a fan of neither, I can wholeheartedly get behind the custom
of Christmas tamales but I definitely draw the line at rooster eggs...
It is worthy of note, sociologically-speaking, to recognize that every single example of holiday window painting that I encountered was in a neighborhood marked by predominantly-minority populations. I'm thrilled to know that even if "Main Street, USA" isn't painting its windows this holiday season, that Southern California's diverse communities are keeping a wacky tacky art movement and holiday tradition alive!
"Little Jack Frost, Get Lost" - Frankie Carle & His Orchestra
I may not agree with the sentiment where holiday window
painting is concerned, but it's got a good beat and I can dance to it.
Have you ever made like Jack Frost and painted some winter wonder on a window? Do shops in your hometown deck their windows with boughs of temporary, tempera holly?