We don't have to turn out a masterpiece everyday. To paint is the thing, not to make masterpieces. -Henry Miller
In 1998 I made a video documentary for a college video course about my friend Michael Caskenette -- artist, filmmaker, junk collector extraordinaire. Michael Caskenette: The Art of Trash documented Michael's "Trash Art" show held in the small gallery he maintains next to his studio. He displayed his fabulous collection of paintings found in charity shops, flea markets and dumpsters. There have been several people that have mined the fertile field of discarded art (Jim Shaw et al.), but Michael's Trash Art show was unique in the way it encouraged a dialogue between the art and the viewer. Read more about the Trash Art show here.
After making my video I tried to resist the urge to collect thrift store paintings -- partly out of deference to Michael and partly because I have other collecting habits (records, mostly) and don't need another monkey on my back -- but suddenly it seemed that canvases were speaking to me from thrift store walls, begging me to rescue them like sad, homeless puppies. I can't remember which piece it was that got me hooked -- I think it may have been Marcia Yurchuk's exquisitely rich portrait of Pierre Trudeau, lovingly executed with real gold leaf.
This isn't a "bad" art gallery. While it's true that some of the paintings in the collection owe their uniqueness to the stunning ineptitude of the artist, I wouldn't characterize any of the canvases here as bad. To me bad art is boring art, the kind of painting you ignore at the dentist's office. I guarantee you that when people come to my house, no one ignores Wiener Child.
A note on painting titles:
Non-italicized titles were provided by the artist, italicized titles were provided by me.
If you are the creator of any of the paintings pictured on these pages, I'd be pleased to buy you a beer (you must be able to prove your authorship of the work in question).
"Thrifty" Art Links
Eddie's Head (Eddie Breen's "Piggyback" art)