Uptairs at the White House

Details of the New Decor Chosen by the Clintons
NEW YORK NEWSDAY, Home Section Thursday, December 2, 1993 Making A Perfect Picture
By Nancy A. Ruhling

ELI WILNER has a new claim to frame: His work is hanging in the White House, and the President looks at it everyday. When the Manhattan framer found out that President Clinton was putting "The Avenue in the Rain," a 1917 flag-filled painting by Childe Hassam, in the Oval Office, it inspired a patriotic donation.

Wilner couldn't stand to see Clinton's favorite picture - a quintessential symbol of America - surrounded by a "horrible French reproduction frame with a linen liner." Wilner believed that Hassam, America's leading impressionist, probably had a frame designed especially for it.

So Wilner, who had been called upon by the White House last year to survey the picture frames in its collection, made a replica of an original Hassam frame, which is in his shop, and presented it to Clinton.

For the 37-year old Wilner, whose parents were forced to flee Poland during the Holocaust, the gift symbolizes the newfound freedom his family found in America. "I was born in Israel and came to America when I was six," he says. "I couldn't speak any English, and I didn't become a citizen until I was eleven."

Wilner, along with nearly 200 others who contributed to the White House redecoration, chatted with the Clintons during a special White House reception in September. The President, he says, "was very impressed with the difference the frame made. The picture is to the right of Clinton's desk in the Oval Office; it's only about ten feet from him."