Tuesday, January 17, 2012

art snobbery

I have a friend who grew up in Woodstock, NY in the 60's and 70's.  He has incredible stories about Dylan and Joplin and those nutty 60's artists who lived in the colonies up there.  I'd like to tell some here.  He has art he bought or traded for done by artists who now have fairly successful sales records.  His mother recently bought a Larry Rivers at  a garage sale and his parents house is full to the brim with "really, good art."  

I'm angling to get one of his John Ernst's watercolors.   My friend bought a trash bag full of Ernst's rolled up watercolors when John had fallen on hard times and could be found selling his stuff on the streets of Woodstock for cigarette money.  They are crazy looking.

I love getting stoned and listening to his stories and rummaging through his attic and basement -- he has a photograph by Mapplethorpe that he mustered out of a basement in Provincetown twenty years ago among massive stacks of stuff he's traded for, collected over the years.   I ask him for the story behind every thing he shows me.  I sometimes think the story makes the art that much better.

Last night I traded him a 19th C still life exhibited at the World's Columbine Exhibition in 1893 for some local modern art by Victor Candell, an unsigned but authenticated Matisse litho, an Edward Gorey Mystery Theater Poster (Sweeney Todd) from 1982 (for my son) an unbelievably gorgeous Nantucket basket and two original oils by other local, now deceased artists.   There's another I want to trade for -- he just dug it out last night but I have to come up with some goods.  It's really_good.

I am becoming a bit of an art snob.  I think.  Soon I will want to take down anything hanging in the house that isn't "good."  I will be a jerk about it all.  And people will start to think I'm stealing from my clients.  But I almost never exchange money in my gathering up of these treasures.  The world of stuff is weird.  The world of art stuff maybe weirder.  I plan to put all the stories down and in envelopes so that when I'm gone my kids will have the provenance of these things.  Will it matter to them?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Maybe they'll just want the stuff from their grandparents -- those old dutch paintings, the maritime paintings, the portrait of their great-grandfather painted by a Dutchess.  Will their husbands/wives allow them to hang the outlandish modern art in their homes?  What about the growing nude collection and will the even bother to fight over the still life supposedly painted by a kid who new Van Gogh and brought to the states by a serviceman?

Am I an art snob if I don't pay money for the stuff?  I would hate to think I am an art snob.  I can't ever be a real art snob probably.  I don't even have a pension or paid vacation.  I don't have golden handcuffs or a trust fund.

I tell my Woodstock friend it is really all about karma -- give good and get good back.

I was up all night.  Too much stuff laying on my brain.  Going to have a nap.  I hope I dream something good to give.

No comments: