is everywhere around us. It ranges from large installations that can fill up Central Park to inspired graffiti that can be funny, political, or even both. Heck I have even seen performance art where a woman was wrapped in cellophane lights, with a bushel of apples on fire, and started to cry hysterically as they burned. But this isn’t about that kind of art; this is about some of the art that enters our homes.
To put it simply there seems to be two kinds of art that makes it into the suburban house, good and bad. I have to start with the stuff that your kids make while in school. This most definitely qualifies as “good” art, and most of the time it gets a prominent place of honor right on your refrigerator door. It makes you wonder why people spend so much money for new high-tech stainless steel fridges when all you are going to do is cover them up with finger paintings and wood cuts.
The only real dilemma with children’s artwork is what to do once it comes down from display. We have some large Tupperware trunks that are holding prime examples of our children’s talents. Neither my wife nor I have the heart to throw ANY of it out, and I guess it will stay in these bins until we get to show it off to our grandchildren, or when our boys have there retrospective at the Guggenheim!
Other forms of “good” art is the stuff that we show with pride and hang on the walls of our homes, but even that can be a little too subjective. So lets just move on to something more fun, bad art!
The other art, the “bad” art shall we say, is the stuff that for some reason enters our home and for one reason or another we can’t seem to get rid of it. For example, there can be a painting that used to hang on the wall right above your grandmother's bed, and because none of your siblings wanted it, it made its way to you. By the way, not only did none of your siblings want it, neither did any of your aunts, uncles or cousins. Now granny’s sailboat haunts your basement powder room.
More ugly stuff that you may have lying around probably came in the form of a gift. I have more ugly judaica than I know what to do with. A lot of this stuff showed up disguised as wedding gifts, but I swear that I don’t remember schlepping to Brooklyn just to register at the shop that sells menorahs and ugly-ass Seder plates!
Another gifted horse that I’d like to punch in the mouth is some of the (well intentioned) tchotchkes that my parents have sent over the years. As world travelers, no trip was complete without a piece of something being sent to us from an exotic port of call. There are things that are carved out of wood, things that were assembled out of found objects, and even stinky things made of some type of hopefully not-human hide. But of all the stuff, my favorite not-to-be thrown out piece of ugly art is the “Atomic Fruit”. This quirky glass sculpture was supposedly created by a disciple of the legendary Dale Chihuly and has long resided with a place of prominence…in my closet.
I imagine that the artist parted ways with Mr. Chihuly because he felt that glass should be dangerously inhaled instead of blown! At every chance encounter with it, a smile appears on my face.
Not to be so negative towards others who regardless of my own negativity meant well with their gifts, I too have purchased some clunker art. While in Alaska, after a long day of canoeing with my family, my wife and I purchased a beautiful antique hand carved totem pole. I guess we were caught up in the moment or felt connected to the indigenous Eskimos, but we had it shipped back home to New York. A few weeks after our trip, the UPS man dropped off a nicely packaged parcel with our artwork inside. After unpacking it and finding a nice spot for it, I found a little gold sticker inside that read “Made in China”.