What happens to all the lonely art?

June 5, 2008 at 1:27 am | Posted in art | Leave a comment
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Think of all the paintings that have been made over the years, all the collages and quilts, all the woodcuts and watercolors, all the found-object sculptures, all the handsewn clothes, all the one-of-a-kind ceramic teapots, all the portraits and little twists of wire and beads that somebody made for somebody else, colored pencils, crayola crayons. A few of these things end up in museums, but most of them float through the world of use and re-use, first a gift and then a yard sale and then time in the back of a closet and then a thrift store and then perhaps another closet. Perhaps they’re displayed and worn and utilized between shufflings, or perhaps these items just get passed on and on until they reach some end in a garbage bin. Thinking about this makes me sad. Of course.

There have been plenty of hats and scarves and such things that I’ve knitted or crocheted and worn for a little while that I ended up donating to a thrift store. I always hope that somebody finds these bits of my handiwork and wears them and enjoys them. But I have no way of knowing. And there have been times that I’ve purchased something at a thrift store that was obviously handcrafted, and I’ve unraveled it to re-use the yarn. I feel a little bad about that. But I still do it. I’m playing the role of death, I guess. The end of one thing allows the beginning of something new.

But anyway, I’m thinking about this subject, and writing about it, because I found this lovely little painting at a thrift store today for only three dollars. And I kind of want to know its history, how it ended up there. It’s an act of rejection to decide you don’t want something and to bring it to a thrift store. It’s not as much a rejection as throwing something into the trash, because at least with the store you’re assuming that somebody still could possibly want and use whatever you’re donating. But still, you don’t want it. Rejection. And somebody sat or stood next to an easel and mixed colors and glanced up at his or her subject and then back to the canvas. It takes time to make a painting. And concentration. And skill and practice. So where did this one start? And where has it been? And how many hands have rejected it before I fell in love with it this afternoon?

It’s hanging at the bottom of my stairs now.
picture on the wall


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