Taste Matters, 2008, "found" pictures project


"Taste Matters" at Future Tenant Gallery, Pittsburgh, in 2008 played upon the lack of a clear distinction between amateur and professional artists, increased the audience’s involvement with the art through the possibility that they might end up owning some of it (for free), and recognized that anything that has been created can be subjected to analysis and interpretation. I took the exhibit budget, bought art in thrift stores, and made the exhibit out of that art along with “scholarly” labels I wrote.

This exhibit was not meant ironically. I like some thrift store pictures as much as old masters, sometimes more.


a selection of the artwork in Taste Matters

Here are some sample labels:
Char A.. Mikush
far left
Jennifer’s Dream, 1978
acrylic on canvasboard
While it appears to be an ordinary genre scene, perhaps a nurse with her 2 children, the title points to a different intention. Apparently painted without benefit of models, the flatness, the distortions (note the child’s hand on the left as well as the nurse’s disk-like eyes), and the unconvincing space are probably results of the artist’s limitations and not stylistic choices. Is Jennifer, the nurse depicted, dreaming of having children—which raises the question of why she would be represented in her work clothes? Or did Jennifer, a person known by the artist, have a dream in which a nurse appeared with children? The nurse’s uniform might be linked to the idea that childbirth is properly hospital-based..

3rd from left
Tex P.
Prince, 1985
ink and magic marker on shaped wood
Prince is the kind of performer to incite idolatry—supremely talented, mercurial, and elusive. The shaped wood panel with scalloped cuts and charred edges appears to derive from decoupage, though here the figure has been drawn with ink (probably a regular pen) and magic marker, which was then varnished to seal the wood. The large knot at the bottom and the streak running lengthwise are curiously not at odds with the drawing. While the mouth is relaxed, the eyes are piercing, almost hypnotic, and the combination of ink and magic marker has been put to particularly good effect in the tousled hair.

4th from left
[Dreamgirl], possibly 1950s
oil on canvas
The clarity and economy with which the facial features were painted suggests the skilled hand of a professional illustrator or art teacher. While artistic expression is always individual, the small head and large breasts would seem to represent the stereotypical ideals of a generation of American men, though one suspects that those ideals were not entirely uniform.

a few more pictures in the exhibit

At the conclusion of the exhibit I gave the art to the audience on a first-come basis.

Lining up for the art giveaway on a cold Pittsburgh Saturday