Archive for the 'the art business' Category

the varnished truth

Woman:  “Are you…are you the artist?”  here we go again

Me:  “No.”

Woman: [quietly, pointing to my father at his desk]  “Is he the artist?”

Me:  “No.  No, we’re just dealers.”  

[FACT: all paintings hung on the walls have tags stating the artist’s name.  There are many artists.]

Woman:  “Oh.  Oh—well, do you know anything about paintings?”  no, I sell Volkswagens.  maybe try next door?

Me:  “Yes.  Sure.”

Woman:  “Oh great, well, I have—I just have a quick question…” [walks into back room]

Woman:  “I’m an artist and I—I was just wondering…what are all these wavy lines on the surface of the painting?”  wavy lines? 

[FACT: there are no wavy lines on the surface of the painting.]

artist?

[FACT: artists never buy anything.]

expletive.

Me:  “I think that’s just…I think that’s the weave of the canvas.”

Woman:  “Really?”  

Me:  “Yeah, see, it’s—uh—painted really thin, right, and he’s varnished it heavily, so it doesn’t look thin and brushy but you can still see the texture.”

[FACT: there are no wavy lines.  This is bullshit.]

Woman:  “Oh, yeah—I guess.”

Woman:  “So—varnish—is that a common thing?”

[FACT: most oil paintings are varnished.]

Me:  “Yes.”

Woman:  “Do all artists do it?  I mean—is it just supposed to make the painting glossy or—”

Me: 

Woman: “So, do they varnish watercolors too, or—”  dear woman you are stupid please get out of my store love—

Me:  “No.  No, watercolor paint soaks into the paper.  You have to keep them under glass.”

Woman:  “Right.  Yes, I know that.”  right.

Woman:  “Well, thank you.  It’s such an inspiration to come in here—it’s great to see what other artists blah blah blah blah blah blah [implication that other artists’ work inspires one’s own, which, by implication, is at least as good as, or better than, theirs.]”

[Exeunt]

[MORAL: Volkswagens might be simpler.]

Once again…

Today we bring you a special encore excerpt of a blog entry from last month. The same man visited the gallery today, and had essentially the same conversation with me. Thus, I feel justified in re-posting essentially the same blog entry. I hope you enjoy your second encounter as much as I did.

Well I used to work in the New York State Juvenile Corrections Department for thirty years and I was working with the worst kids in New York City so that means I was working with the worst kids in the world murderers drug dealers rapists and my dad he had this painting by blahblahblah and he gave it to me in 1978 and it was worth only five thousand dollars but I got it reappraised in 1990 for eight but then my lawyer said he seen one of these for ten times that so I took it to this other guy who appraised it for eighty thousand and offered me seventy and I said no but then in 1997 I got in this car accident and almost got killed and had serious brain trauma see here’s the scar and I had two daughters to put through college and so I sold it for ninety-five thousand but I wish I hadn’t because now it’s worth like four hundred thousand yeah I like buying and selling paintings blahblahblahblahblah…

The Penis Dialogues

How the conversation actually began:

Woman: “Is that a penis?”

Me: “Huh? Uh, where…do you mean?”

Woman: “Right there. It looks like he tried to draw a penis.”

Me: “That? I…uh, I think that’s her leg.”

Woman: “This? Right here?” points “But it kind of looks…I don’t know, I think it looks like…”

Me: “Let me move it where you can see it better” removes painting and leans it on a chair “Yeah, I think that’s just the shadow where her leg is foreshortened.”

Woman: pause “Weird.” pause “It kind of looked like a penis.”

Me: polite pause “Yeah, I…uh…I see what you mean, but I think it’s just…uh, you know—perspective.”

Woman: “Yeah. I thought he just tried to stick a penis on her or something.”

Me: “Heh, yeah, I don’t know.”

Woman: “It’s like he wanted to make her a transvestite or something like that.”

Me: “Heh heh, wow yeah” politely joking “Jeez I can’t look at this any more.” lifts painting and re-hangs it

Woman exits to browse back room.

 
 

Several alternate responses suggest themselves.

Alternate Response Number One:

Me: “Yep, that’s a penis all right. It’s not a complete penis, you see, but it is a penis all the same. The painter’s just trying to show it’s all part of God’s creation, and that, like all penises, it’s a thing of beauty, even if by some weird twisted freak of nature or closet pervert culture it’s become attached to what is otherwise an anatomically normal and even downright buxom-looking female body. It’s a beautiful, bold statement about the aesthetics of the hermaphroditic physical form.”

 

Alternate Response Number Two:

Me: “Actually, you’re half right. The artist is trying to fool you by making the woman’s foreshortened thigh look like a penis. He’s making a statement about male domination and the objectification of women. In fact, if you squint a little, you can see that the figure’s entire body is nothing more than a collage of penis-shaped blobs of paint.”

 

Alternate Response Number Three:

Me: “No, it’s not a penis. It’s a leg, not a penis. It doesn’t even look like a penis. Do you even know what a penis looks like? Have you ever SEEN a penis? Doesn’t look like it.”

 

Alternate Response Number Four:

Me: “No that’s not a penis dummy THIS is a penis HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA just kidding get the fuck out of my store.”

 

How the conversation actually ended:

Woman: Turning to leave “Is there a liquor store in this place?”

Me: “Uh… Well, your best bet would probably be the supermarket, I guess.”

Woman: “What, you mean there’s a supermarket?”

Me: “Yeah…just a mile that way…”

Woman: “Wow. Thanks. I need a drink after looking at that photograph.”

Me: “Heh heh” it’s a painting not a photograph what’s wrong with you

Woman: “Ha just kidding.”

Me: more awkward laughter until woman leaves

wrist-slashing prompt #4,796

Potential customers #497 and #498: Tall-ish man wearing cross around neck and possibly in need of a shave; short-ish woman, sun-tanned/burned complexion, long black hair, denim mini-skirt.

Words spoken by couple during their entrance to, and traverse of the first room of, the gallery (in response to “hello”):

“Hello.”

Words spoken by couple during their traverse of the gallery’s second room, in which I sit:

(no words)

Words spoken by couple during their traverse of gallery’s third room, which, to reach, requires walking past three to four dozen paintings, many of which possess visible brush-strokes, impasto, and signatures, and many of which bear prices in the mid- to upper five figures, and most of which, in fact, are so obviously original works of art as to make the following statement border on the farcical and indicate that said couple either a.) are both partially blind, or b.) have seen only a miniscule number of actual paintings in their lives:

Woman: “Do you think these are originals?”

Remaining words spoken by couple during their traverse of gallery’s fourth room, their return through the first three rooms, and their exit through the front entrance (quietly):

“Thank you.”

Emotions felt by gallery staff in the aftermath of couple’s brief perusal of inventory, especially considering they were two of only a very meager handful of customers to enter the premises that day:

Annoyance, frustration, incredulity, despair.

a sense of hummer

My heart flooded with optimism at the sight of its gleaming blue-gray flanks—the color of the early morning sky over the Rockies. The word “Independence,” emblazoned on the passenger-side door, glinted even in the dim afternoon. The mass of it overwhelmed me; its ingenuity awed me. These rhino bars, this trailer hitch, those massive wheels rolling impassively over the pavement—surely here stood the glittering epitome of America’s technological success; surely this was the worthy capstone of the past century’s automotive progress.

And how could this vehicle—which neither mountain crags, nor gulches, nor barren dunes can constrain—how could it allow itself to be bullied by bureaucrats, planners, construction workers, and parking enforcement officers who saw fit to delineate the frontier—to pave it and draw lines on it, and thereby circumscribe that freedom that our forefathers fought so hard to protect—the freedom that this very vehicle celebrates? The answer is: It could not. It did not. In parking it—in posing it on the street corner to impress the world—she placed it in not one parking space, but two.

She! That icon of womanhood! That princess of automotive freedom! When she immerged from her metal steed, it became clear to me that she represented not the dowdy, downtrodden driveresses that populate our tattered byways, but some higher ideal—some butter-haired icon of driverly beauty—some all-American vision of the freedom of the roads!

Imagine my surprise at her entrance to my humble place of business. Imagine the joy I felt at upon realizing that hers was no paltry natural beauty, no improbable exception of age and physique, but a shrine to the triumph of science! Her hair golden long past its natural ability; her skin suntanned and smoothed in no way even nature could devise; her figure girlish years—decades—beyond any deservance on her own part to be called so: I marveled at these, even blessed myself that I should live in an age, in a nation, where such miracles transpire.

That the first words to flit from her lips should ask, “Do you buy old frames?” transported my delight to ecstasy. Here, embodied before me, stood the American Spirit in toto. Not content in her evident riches—not content in her mighty wheels and meticulous bod—she yet felt within her the American yearning to achieve wealth—nay, glory!—to market, to barter, to dicker, yea—to vend!

“My family used to own an antique shop,” quoth she—but how she spoke! With a disinterested nasality that murmured a frustration with the present, suserrated a desire to run free, to seek the future, whatever be its forms. So overcome was I, nary a word could I speak, not even in the interest of the frames, for verily they seemed hideous.

My eye watched her with patriotic zeal
As she walked out and climbed behind the wheel;
And I looked on from stodgy world of art
As she and Hummer boldy did depart!

In defense of culture

Oh my god is this really what I think it is? Oh please. Realist photo paintings are bad enough, but of GOLF COURSES? Where's my…I have a barf bag somewhere…

She sells them for WHAT? Oh my god. I mean, it's one thing to sell to tourists—sure. And it would be OK—acceptable, I guess—to make prints of these and maybe sell them to motels, provided they hung the same prints in every room.

But TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS? For THOSE? Jesus F. Christ. Do you know what you could buy with two hundred thousand dollars? Never mind HOUSING THE HOMELESS or SAVING THE RAINFOREST. For two hundred thousand dollars you could buy real art—decent paintings by the Impressionists, the Ashcan school, the Regionalists, the expressionists—not their best works, maybe, but a bloody great deal better than "8th Hole Pebble Beach" could ever be in its wildest, wettest dreams.

How can we possibly take anyone seriously whose patrons say things like:

"I don't think you can be an abstract painter or a painter with abstract tendencies and paint a golf hole," Mr. _______ explained. "You simply can't get that level of detail."

I mean—these people need help! They need counseling, education, therapy! No of bloody course you can't paint an abstract golf hole. And that's too bad because I can't think of anything any self-respecting abstractionist should want to paint more!

We must do something. Intelligent people have an obligation to defend the world against this sort of thing. Wait—wait—did you feel it? Just then? That's it, baby—that's what it feels like when civilization crumbles!

Today I have been

1. A sympathetic art lover. I tried to explain to her about Canadian painters—about how they're as good as American Impressionists and Group of Eight but cheaper. And then she started on about this lovely show she'd just been to at the Florence Griswold by this artist whom you've obviously heard of. She was always so busy and ran her own business for many years and never had time to go. And her mother wanted to go too but always had something wrong. Anyways she finally got around to going but they were renovating the museum so there was only one room open with maybe ten paintings and she was disappointed. But she bought the book anyway, and she'll be going back. When she has time.

2. A cowboy. She was a gangly doll with strawb'ry blond hair an' blue jeans pulled up way too high. He was a crusty ol' critter with one a them fancy blazers 'n prob'ly some kinda yacht club pin-doohickey 'tatched to it. He said 'howdy' as they passed through. Jus lookin, seemed. Had to squint awful hard.

3. A helpful local. I just reserved rooms for August at the Millpond Inn—have you stayed there before? Well of course not because you LIVE here! Well, I'm looking forward to canoeing but I'm really a sailor at heart. What do I sail? Nothing much—used to have a thirty-six foot Catalina, but when you live in Amherst like I do it's too hard to drive two hours to Narraganset just to go out for the day. Is there anywhere around here to go sailing? Really? Where's that?

4. An interested businessman. Well I used to work in the New York State Juvenile Corrections Department for thirty years and I was working with the worst kids in New York City so that means I was working with the worst kids in the world murderers drug dealers rapists and my dad he had this painting by blahblahblah and he gave it to me in 1978 and it was worth only five thousand dollars but I got it reappraised in 1990 for eight but then my lawyer said he seen one of these for ten times that so I took it to this other guy who appraised it for eighty thousand and offered me seventy and I said no but then in 1997 I got in this car accident and almost got killed and had serious brain trauma see here's the scar and I had two daughters to put through college and so I sold it for ninety-five thousand but I wish I hadn't because now it's worth like four hundred thousand yeah I like buying and selling paintings sold some to blahblahblah down the way he's got a blahblahblah that's really nice I live outside of Portland yeah got a nice view of back bay and everything but my wife won't let me hang my science fiction illustrations in my old house I had a room for them but this one's too small and I got this nice big canvas by blahblahblah that I got down in wherever and he was painting things like this all his well nice talking to you bye.

5. A bloggist.

6. Asleep?

heard in the art world

This just in:

Q: What do Cher and the coast of Maine have in common?

A: They're not fucking sonny any more.

(NOTE: This is only funny if said out loud.)