Missing Something

Every now and again, I get the greatest idea ever. When I was a kid, inspiration came from nature, food, and Raffi. Now I seem to get my ideas the way most modern folks do. Thank you, internet.

I stumbled across a slideshow this afternoon on Slate magazine, which is an online publication I read most days. The slideshow features the paintings of three (brilliant) artists who renew paintings. This is not the kind of fussy, uptight, q-tip and white glove restoration a person might associate with fancy-pants museums of fine art. Not even close. Thryza Segal, Chris McMahon, and Todd Webb rework tacky paintings they find at second-hand stores by adding creatures to the scenes.

Did you catch that? These artists paint a shaggy critter or a flying cephalopod into old scenes from artists no one ever cared about. They add monsters. My mind is blown. Imagine a landscape the family of a recently-deceased old person donates to Goodwill, perked back up with some sort of fearsome beast. I’m convinced no one ever actually donates a good painting to charity stores. Most of the pieces of “art” that end up there, with the exception of the ever-popular velvet Elvis, are so painfully bad or just depressingly blah that no one ever buys them and they exist there for years on end. The good paintings from Grandpa’s house go to his nephew, or get passed to a different relative every six months in some complex custody agreement. Crummy paintings end up in Goodwill because folks just can’t stand to throw them out.

Just because that picture of the mill on the creek has hung in your great-aunt Virginia’s laundry room for fifty years does not mean it’s antique. The best thing about it might be that it gives off whiffs of Gain, since I’m sure there are kids’ drawings on refrigerators in your neighbourhood that demonstrate better composition. The painting of spaniel puppies in a basket from your Grandma’s kitchen, the one that is slightly confusing because you can’t tell where the light is actually coming from–that painting has nothing but sentimental value. Chances are, the sentiment is as weak as the composition anyway. Since folks can’t stand to throw these things out, because actually tossing them seems like more of a crime than painting them was, they end up in thrift stores.

Maybe life needs more creatures. I think these additive artist are really onto something. How many crummy old things can be brought back to life with some glinting claws or a snazzy pair of googly eyes? Most of them. As a dinosaur lover, I would probably start adding terrible lizards to second-hand paintings. This summer, I just might do that. Thrift stores are fun anyway, even if they tend to smell a little funky.

copyright 2012: http://bluespeckledpup.com

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