We’ve been living in our new house about 16 months now, so we figured it was about time we unpacked.
Specifically, what we decided to unpack was our art.
We have enough art to start a museum. Not a very good museum, granted, but…well, let’s call it Mark and Barbara’s Museum of Framed Things (or MaBMoFT). And like a museum, most of our collection was in the basement.
We had rows and rows of what moving companies call “mirror boxes” stored downstairs among dozens of other boxes, most of which contain our daughter Casey’s belongings and which will remain there until such time as she moves out. Not out of this house, mind you, but out of her second or third apartment and into a house large enough to store all of her boxes. Since she has yet to move to her first apartment, the boxes are likely to be with us for some time, perhaps until we move out of this house.
But this is not about Casey. It’s about MaBMoFT.
The reason for the sudden interest in the art in the basement is that we’ve been looking for a large piece to put up in the kitchen.
The reason we’ve been looking for a large piece to put up in the kitchen is that my lovely wife, who will freely admit that she can sometimes have trouble making decisions, finally decided what color to paint the one big blank wall in the kitchen. And once the big blank wall in the kitchen was painted in a color painstakingly selected over a period of eight months, the natural next move would be to cover it with artwork.
So over the last few weeks we’ve been attending the outdoor art festivals that every town in Connecticut seems to put on over the summer. All the mayors must meet in February and assign weekends to each town so that, say, Westport and Norwalk don’t have art fairs on the same weekend, which would likely result in some sort of art war with community boards flinging ceramics at each other. Or maybe a paintball fight.
Anyway, so we’ve been strolling the streets of the local towns, gazing at art, and wondering why every photographer seems to be required to take pictures of multi-colored rowboats. I also can’t help thinking that perhaps being on a sidewalk in blazing sunlight is not the best possible environment for fine works of art (“Pardon me, sir, but your painting seems to be melting. Oh, really? That’s the way it’s supposed to look?”)
Actually, we saw many things that we liked at the art fairs, but nothing that we liked enough.
That was when I suggested that, instead of buying something that we would one day get bored with and store in basement, we might unpack something that we had already gotten bored with and already stored in the basement. Perhaps, I said, the stuff had been in boxes long enough so that we wouldn’t be bored with it anymore. It would be kind of like the song American Pie; when it was a hit, radio stations played it so often you couldn’t stand it anymore and actually hoped this would be the day the music died. But now when you hear it, you get all nostalgic and happily sing along.
Plus, recycling stuff from the basement wouldn’t cost anything, which is always a good feature to look for when investing in art.
And that is why we found ourselves in the basement, unpacking tall, thin boxes.
Just as MoMA’s art can be divided into collections (like “German Expressionism,” or “French Impressionism,” or “What the Hell Is That?”), so can MaBMoFT’s. We have the Casey Collection, with works by our daughter, executed over the years with varying degrees of skill and taste. The highlight here might be “Portrait of My Mother,” a large mixed-media piece using Barbara’s actual hair and eyes cut from a photograph so that it looks extraordinarily creepy. Casey was about 14 when she unveiled this as a birthday present for Barbara. It was during a particularly hormonal period of my wife’s life, and it totally freaked her out.
We have a collection of Barbara’s own work, most of which was done while she was still in school, which would make her a contemporary of Roy Lichtenstein, Willem de Kooning and Jasper Johns, only without all the, you know, hype and, um, monetary value. We hung a few of these, along with a piece by Barbara’s sister Gwen, in the non-public areas of the house, like Barb’s office and the master bedroom.
And then came the really big find: our collection of diner art by renown master diner artist John Baeder, none of which is an original painting, but some of which are signed by the artist. Could there be better art to hang in the kitchen? I think not.
We also found the framed poster for the movie Casey and I wrote together, and which she produced and directed, and which actually was shown at the Temecula Film Festival in California. That’s now up in my office.
But there are still a lot of mirror boxes in the basement, many of which contain our collection of animation cells with images of Disney, Looney Tunes and other cartoon characters. These were once worth quite a bit, and now, not so much.
Perhaps we’ll open another museum called MoOVI, the Museum of Once-Valuable Items.
Because we also have an awful lot of Beanie Babies.
See you soon.