Picture of Vera Jane Cook

Vera Jane Cook

Chatter Creek Cottage: A Haunting

No ghosts yet that I’m aware of, I’m referring to the beautifully haunting painting on the wall. I got it many, many years ago in an antique store on Broadway, some obscure little hole in the wall on the upper west side of Manhattan The store had the most distasteful odor of too many cats, but cats in an antique store sort of go together, like dogs in a backyard.

The painting comes from the Victorian era and doesn’t smell at all like too many cats, it’s very delicate, the frame is oh, so fragile but the painting, if you can see it well, speaks to me. I never look at that painting without hearing the artist’s voice, without feeling the vision at that precise moment of time that the artist captured, and captured so magically. The painting is unsigned so I can’t put a face to the communication, though it’s there. The artist and I are communicating and I am moved, made more serene. I’m aware of some mystery in our world of which we know nothing. There’s sadness to it because the moment of time is gone, its been encapsulated. And yet, there is more than sorrow to death even though I can’t speak its language – yet. I don’t know that what is missing isn’t found anew in art, as something transformed and even more fulfilling.

I am fascinated by landscapes and portraits. My grandfather was a painter but I don’t have any of his paintings and maybe he was as good as the painting on my wall in Chatter Creek Cottage. I have a book coming out that is actually a trilogy, The Fourniers, Book one (When Hannah Played Ragtime), Book two (Glamor Girl) and Book three (At the End of a Whisper). The books are about three generations of women and how they were influenced by the times in which they lived. In the second book (Glamor Girl) one of the characters runs an art and antique scam in which false appraisals puts a lot of money in someone’s pocket when the work is resold. I also write about an upscale organization of art thieves in my book, Marybeth, Hollister & Jane and interestingly, in the book I’m presently writing, Dead to Me, there is a haunting landscape by the artist Johnson Heade which is stolen by a neighbor.

So I love art and I’m fascinated by it and the whole concept of time that art and photography captures. Finding a beautiful landscape to put up on the wall of Chatter Creek Cottage makes me happy, as if I’m giving Chatter Creek more secrets to whisper when the lights go down and the creek runs like a wayward child, and the souls of the gifted are still.