Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On the Unintended Consequences of Buying Art

As this year's Ann Arbor Art Fair draws near, I feel it is my duty to share an experience that began last year, with no less of a purchase than a small painting from one John Whipple. I don't know what *exactly* it was that drew me to the painting of a somewhat woeful looking man within the larger square of an antique ceiling tile, but I gazed at him and thought,"Yes, I could have that, Yes." And it was so. The boyish man's face filled most of the frame, with only a tiny bit of darkness on either side; the flesh tone was russetty, with flecks which echoed the tile's rust. His dark eyes were at disturbingly different levels.  The artist wasn't around when I made my decision, so I asked his lovely wife and fellow artist Lynn Whipple to set it aside for me. I wandered beyond my stamina, before trudging back to the appropriate row of tents. I talked with John for a few minutes, though honestly now I don't remember very much. But what was the title?

"Ohhhhh, I don't think he really has a title. You should just name it, I'd call it something corny like 'Tinny.'"

So with that I was off, wrapping my sweaty self around the bagged up art. It seemed like hours before I got home, but most likely I did something self-indulgent like stop at Washtenaw Dairy for a towering single scoop of Mackinaw Island Fudge or some such.

Within the next day or so, I decided on hanging him near my dresser. I felt ridiculously pleased with myself for pounding yet another nail into my wall. A couple days passed before the first time I heard a voice. "Judging from appearances, you're old enough to put your clothes away properly."

I shot a glance at the running clothes far beneath him on the floor. "...Well. They need to air out."


I shot a glance around the room, though there was no one to share my look of outraged irritation. WTH? And with his ocular orbits, how could he even see properly? I mean, really? It hadn't occurred to me that I'd need to live up to my art. His image certainly didn't seem like he would be the demanding type. And it's true, clothes have a habit of getting tossed. Perhaps they take a little siesta before reaching the laundry basket. I knew I should be better, but had not quite gotten my habits on board. Hmmm.

"Perhaps you have another less messy room that I could live in. You may want to consider that. Or change your habits, which, frankly, could stand to be changed."

"You know what? I think I like you there." Which maybe I wouldn't, if this mouthiness was going to keep up. But damned if I was going to ferry him around and encourage his pettishness.

There was a silence.

"I didn't have to come home with you."

I waited.

"There are others who would have bought me."

I exhaled noisily. And then gave in: "It's true. You're right, you definitely would have been bought. But *I* am the one who bought you. And I think that's a good amount of wall space, and it goes nicely with your coloring."


"Yes, the robin's egg brings out the rust and those red accent lines you have."


So, we tip-toed around each other for the next few days, or rather, I tip-toed around him. Sometimes I'm good about the clothes, other times, not so much. And he has issues with the Mexican Madonna, who is too colorful and shiny for his taste. But it works. The point is, your new art will become a part of your life, and sometimes in ways you hadn't anticipated. Look well and choose wisely.

1 comment:

  1. I see, a two-way conversation. So art consultants have only had half the story all these years. 'The piece that speaks to you...' The somewhat less promoted side of what you "speak" back being something to consider - and possibly the side conversations from art to art that may or may not include you?

    Two pieces from same artist in proximity... 'So... you again? At least it's smells nicer here than in the studio' Possibly a sorrowful exclamation? 'What am I doing here? ' Or more likely in my dwelling: 'It's a bit crowded', 'I was destined for the bright lights - sigh', 'I was saved from a trip to the trash'... 'I'm well-heeled', 'I'm a blue stocking'... 'Yo Punk... who says I'm not art?'

    Yes, generally a good heed about having to "live" with it... I haven't always been so good about choosing wisely - I actually find this to be rather difficult and challenging. What I "love" at any given moment includes so many variables: the company I'm with, the setting, the light, the likability of the artist, my alter-ego stepping out for the day, etc.