Monday, December 7, 2009

Thrift Art

Last Saturday was Chris Blay's 9th Annual Thrift Art Show and Auction! He buys art all year at thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets. He then presents them in a gallery, complete with fictional titles and back stories, for an auction where bids begin at 50 cents.

About 30 people were in attendance, bundled in coats and scarves at the drafty warehouse. The larger room was where we first sat to watch a short video: an interview with the "collector" that was clever and funny. The gallery was a cute, smaller room adorned with industrial lighting, brushed stainless steel tables, and rusty remnants of heavy machinery in the corners.

I clutched my hot cocoa as I mingled and admired the artwork. Some memorable pieces included:
  • A portrait of a man wearing a cowboy hat, featuring a garish yellow and black background, and the phrase, "Aaaah Jeff!" painted in one corner
  • A painting of a wide-eyed puppy in the back pocket of blue jeans
  • A matador on black velvet
  • A pair of portraits with Modigliani-esque facial features. The man was wearing a pinstripe suit. The woman, nothing.

For $13, I took home this lovely rendering of a vase of flowers. The signature reads, "Cisarik '66." However, it was accompanied by a card that read:

Boquet[sic] for Your Thoughts: Through the use of groundbreaking technology, x-rays reveal an underpainting of three popular breakfast cereals from the early 70's. Experts believe the original artwork was done by the artist Ad Reinhardt.

This is such a great concept, and a very fun event. Accumulating "bad" art, giving it a new, if fabricated, context, and presenting it as such does wonders for changing a viewer's perspective. (I discovered this when I raised my hand to bid on a much-larger-than-life painting of a scorpion!?) I am definitely marking my calendar for next year's auction!


  1. I love your vase of flowers. It looks like something that might have hung in a bedroom at my grandma's house. Possibly paint in an artr class by a grandchild. The auction is a fun idea and could be done on a larger scale as a fun fund raisng event.

  2. Hmmmm! No post this week? No party pics, teaching antecdotes...? Sounds like a busy girl!