Sunday, December 14, 2008

The chip on my shoulder is covered with a wool scarf

Yes, I do have a chip on my shoulder. It started to form when I was a kid, when I'd go with my father to the homes of clients who had bought paintings. I don't know why he had a policy that he'd hang the paintings for these people, especially since it made him so angry every single time, but he did. Some people would make us come in the back door (the one for servants, if you don't know). Other people would make him stay for hours, unable to make up their minds where the painting would go. Some would argue over whether the painting was indeed straight (and why he didn't bring a level is beyond me). But the single most annoying thing was the people who wanted to return the painting when they discovered it didn't match their sofa.

The chip also widened as I heard about and saw many a fine artist not sell at all, while the worst crap imaginable would be snapped up.

Just now I saw something online that made me want to throw the laptop across the room, but I need my laptop and I'd only be hurting myself. That's the line policemen who talk people down say, isn't it?

What was this horror? A gallery of "scarves". Now, I love plain fabric, so I found the fabric to be quite nice. All the so-called scarves were dyed in shades of gray or light brown. That's great. No problem. But, here's the thing. They were just pieces of cloth. They didn't even have hems. Okay, I get that, too. The unraveling will add a nice touch. It's that post-apocalyptic look, which made watching the Matrix a visual treat (latex and ripped clothes. . .mmmm). But, sorry, I got very angry. A yard of fabric, plainly dyed, does make a scarf, but the idea of selling it, well, it makes my blood boil. It seems like "the emperor has no clothes" indeed.

And I keep thinking, yes, the cloth is beautiful and looks amazing hanging against the white wall of the boutique gallery. But I also can't help thinking of all the craftspeople who can't make a living, who put so much into their work, and then this person just dips some yardage in a pot and calls it a day. I would wear a scarf like this, no problem. I'd make it. And anyone, absolutely everyone, could make this scarf. So, I suppose I wouldn't be all up-in-arms if this "artist" (okay, that irks me too) had given people instructions on how to make one.

This reminds me that I once made the most raggedly look scarf one can imagine and a woman stopped me on the street, asking me if I made it or where I'd gotten it. She offered to buy it off me. I couldn't think of what to ask for it. We were standing in front of a gallery where there was an old lithograph that I liked. I said, "I'd like that for it." So, she bought the lithograph and I gave her my raggedy scarf. The print was almost fifty bucks. I felt like I'd ripped her off, but later that week someone in my knitting group said raggedy scarves were selling in Houston for one hundred and fifty bucks.

Ah, money and art. I have some serious issues with this topic.

Image note: I am not a total jerk, so I'm not posting a picture of said scarves nor providing a link. Instead, here's a labor of love that is quite something, brought to you by the International Fiber Collaborative. The Gas Station Project (hat tip to Mary Jane, knitter extraordinaire).


BitterGrace said...

Is it bad that this post made me laugh? Not about your father being disrespected, but the scarf thing. It's just classic.

When we first bought our house I went through a domestic goddess phase, during which I painted some clay flower pots to use as kitchen utensil holders, etc. My husband told me they were great, I should make some to sell. I thought that was absolutely ridiculous--who's gonna shell out good money for cheap clay pots with some paint slapped on them? A few month later we went into a hip home store, and yep, there were pots that looked just like mine, selling for $30 each. Go figure.

Julie H. Rose said...

No, it's not okay.

Aw, c'mon: The post is "The chip on my shoulder is covered with a wool scarf." Can't be totally serious!

This kind of stuff is not reserved for the art world.

Everyone's had this feeling at some point. "Gab darnit. I had a pet rock and I just picked up off the ground."