Those of us who love old things, ordinary objects that show the wear of many hands, are the curators. We gather and collect and admire our finds. We bring them out for others to admire. We hold onto our treasures. And when those pieces have a family history, we hold them even tighter.
But, for many of us, a time comes when letting it all go is the right thing to do. For Kathleen Cavender, that time has come.
The Art of Collecting
Most people in Spokane have at least heard of Kathleen Cavender. Her paintings hang in some of the most prestigious collections in the city. Her jazz band, The Kathleen Cavender Band, plays the best rooms around town. She is a mover and shaker in the Spokane arts community. For the last 37 years, she has also been a curator, living in a home filled with family history.
“My grandparents migrated to Spokane from London in 1912,” Cavender told me. “The story goes they were supposed to come over on the Titanic, but arrived too late.”
The disappointed - and fortunate - family had to take another ship, accompanying a cargo of the family’s belongings
“This could just be one of those family stories that has become more and more exaggerated with each telling,” she admitted. “But it makes for a good story, don’t you think?”
Eventually, Cavender’s grandmother was no longer able to hold onto the family heirlooms and they were offered up to the rest of the family.
“When my grandmother was moved to a nursing home in the late 70s, my mother said we could go to her apartment and glean what belongings she had left behind,” she said.
Kathleen wasn’t able to go until after everyone else had had their pick.
“I was in a panic, but when I arrived, I found that my brother and sisters took only the practical things: the Corningware dishes, the microwave, flatware and bedding. All of my grandmother’s precious antiques were there waiting for me. “
When Cavender and her husband purchased a turn-of-the-century house in the Canon Hill Addition neighborhood in the late 1980s, her grandmother’s things fit right in.
“The house dictated its need for antiques and we certainly had them,” she said. “Since that time, we have added and added and added to the collection. “
The beautifully restored house is filled with family mementoes and all the things the couple gathered. But things change. Cavender is looking forward to a future that doesn’t include a big house full of big pieces. So, surprising even herself, she has decided to sell most of that collection.
This Saturday, Cavender is holding the first of a series of sales. If you are still hunting and gathering to fill your nest, this is the perfect opportunity. Until, that is, it’s your turn to let it all go.
“Hunting for treasures has been a wonderful hobby for many years,” she told me. "But how many Ansonia clocks does one person need?"
Saturday's sale will include at least one of those clocks.
"The memories will warm the corners of my heart for a very long time," Cavender added. "But I am ready for a change.”
What: Kathleen Cavender sale
When: Saturday, June 26 (Saturday Only. No early sales.)
Time: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Where: 1717 West 10th