From the desk of Willie Delwiche.
I’m now into my second year of working from home.
Moving to my home office began as a temporary situation during the height of COVID uncertainty. But a day at home turned into a week, which turned into a month. You know the rest.
I was fortunate that I had an office of sorts set up in my basement prior to the pandemic. If ever a basement room could be cozy, this might be the one — wood plank floor, brick walls, south and east-facing windows that provide some natural light and the opportunity for the dogs to look in on me while they play in the backyard.
Of course, I had to make some changes to my permanent basement headquarters. I’ve rearranged the room several times to accommodate a growing array of equipment and an always increasing supply of books. I’m on my fifth or sixth iteration of a desk setup as I’ve moved from sitting on a couch hunched over a laptop to standing at a desktop of salvaged planks and looking at a couple of monitors.
I am thankful for what I have at home, but there definitely are a few things I appreciated about working downtown…
I treasured the drive (and on some Summer days, the bike ride) on city streets through historic Milwaukee neighborhoods. It helped me feel rooted in and connected to the community.
A local restaurant group ran the cafeteria in my old office. Heading downstairs to get the breakfast special (scrambled eggs, hash browns & bacon) and bump into colleagues & friends was always an enjoyable start to the workday.
But what I miss most about working downtown is sitting just a few blocks away from the Milwaukee Art Museum. I occasionally slipped out of my office for a quick walk to the museum for some mid-day refreshment and inspiration.
One of my favorite spots to linger was in front of Claude Monet’s “Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect” (1903). As I would stare at the painting, absorbing the colors and brushstrokes, I would inevitably start to lean in, losing all sense of perspective. I appreciated the painting even more by stepping back and taking off my glasses. The brush strokes that make it a Monet became noisy abstractions when observed on their own…
Whether in art, life, or the market, details provide incredible richness of experience. Sunrises are beautiful because night turns to day, but also because of the endless colors that accompany the transition.
A narrow focus on details can obscure perspective and prevent us from recognizing the big picture. But if we keep the big picture in mind, we can understand how the details support and enrich our view.
I think about this often as I work from my basement office — and I’m looking forward to heading back to the art museum soon.
One more thought…
There is a piece of art in one of the upper galleries of the museum that I dismissed as utterly unremarkable. I remember where it is located, but not the name of the work or the artist who created it. While trying to make sense of its presence one day, I noticed it was more than 100 years old and was struck with the realization that there is nothing I will do that will be saved and on display (let alone admired) a century from now. This is a reminder of my need for more humility about my work and, even more so, respect for the work of others.