Living with Giants
A letter from East Fork founder, Alex Matisse
Tiny Alex with his father, artist-inventor Paul Matisse
I grew up in a large, converted, New England Baptist church. The kind with a steeple and a bell and white clapboards. We didn’t have a typical fireplace, so on Christmas mornings, our stockings were hung from the clapper under the bell. We’d make our way up the many ladders, past the creaking and whiring clock, and, there, find our stockings hanging under the great cast bell. I remember being in awe of its massive weight and beautiful tooled inscriptions and the fact that it had been perched there—80 feet above the street—atop an intricate frame of hand-hewn joints and beams for almost 150 years.
Below the bell, on the walls of our home were works of 20th-century masters—Miro, Picasso, Giacometti, Chagall and, of course, Henri Matisse. We rarely spoke their names but lived in their beautiful shadows nonetheless. Despite being surrounded by so much capital A Art the objects I remember most vividly were those I touched, tossed in the sink, and carried through the house: a teapot my mother had bought in Japan while studying Noh theater, a nutcracker invented and made by my father that he designed around the golden ratio, and hand-blown wine glasses from Simon Pearce inscribed with my parent’s wedding date.
In each of these objects, utility and beauty combined. Craft. I was enamored from the start. And so it makes sense that years later East Fork is my own realization of that pursuit.