January 29, 2023
By Arthur H. Gunther III
Despite the rotation, a doorknob has stillness. You may have gone on a trip, and the handle has not been turned. You will do so, and the great feeling of home will hit, no matter how fine the journey has been. Maybe this isn’t your house, but you are soon to see relatives or friends. Happily. The still knob awaits your hand.
(Of course there are many reasons for approaching a door and not all happy or welcome, but let’s not dwell on those times.)
The photograph of a mid-1850’s composite doorknob here was taken by me at the Edward Hopper House in Nyack, N.Y., where the famed American painter was born in 1882. How many times he must have turned it, his family before him since the house was built in 1858, and how many visitors have touched it after volunteers restored the house in the early 1970s. The home is now a museum and study center.
Edward could not have reached this marbled knob in his childhood bedroom until a few years after birth, but once he began turning at the door, it opened to a lifetime of painting and images that endure, that captivate, that throw you into stories which the viewer has to write.
Turning the doorknob was not always easy for the painter. It was still for many long moments as Hopper grew his vision over decades before connecting with an audience.
We all face still doorknobs one time or another.
The writer is a retired newspaperman reachable at ahgunther.com