But …Is It Art?

Hey, guys, guess who has two thumbs and lives with an art critic?

His credentials rivaled only by his timing; it took a scant seventeen years in our last house before Mike offered up this pithy appraisal of our modest collection:

“I don’t know how we ended up with so many girls on our walls.”

Man, I don’t know how it happened either, okay? But, over the years, we had somehow amassed a fair number of framed images of girls. Girls on a Victorian porch, a girl and her horse, a girl lolling around on the side of a pond. Nothing creepy, just … consistent in a kind of weird way.

I’d never thought about it really, and I don’t think he had either at least until that very moment, since he’d made no comment whatsoever about the content of our walls for the almost two full decades we lived there until nearly the eve of our departure.

I don’t know how we ended up with so many girls on our walls

– Mike the freaking art critic
Midlife Sentence | Copenhagen, Christiania
This isn’t on our wall. It’s on a building near the entrance to Freetown of Christiania, Copenhagen

While I’ll admit to a fairly pedestrian taste in art, it’s not dogs-playing-poker lowbrow. Most of the pieces we owned were either examples of altered-state decision-making, or stuff someone gave to us, left to us, or hid in our house to be found later (does this happen to anyone else? People ever stealthily leave their objets d’crap in your house? No? Just us? What kind of special curse is that?).

Midlife Sentence | Denmark Aarhus
This isn’t on our wall either. It’s an exhibit at the Arhus Art Museum, Denmark, made of signs the artist purchased from homeless people

This collection included three prints by one local artist in particular. The first one of these we bought at an art show because we loved it (still do, and it doesn’t include any girls, by the way). The other two each came to us via charity auctions with hosted bars wherein at at some point, someone must have become indignant that pieces by said artist were being underbid.

… Which happens to be the story of how we get invited to so many charity auctions, and also how we ended up with a haunted piece of furniture, which is a whole ‘nother story.

We had one print which was ours as a result of a trip East to visit Mike’s family. I found it in an Amish country store and thought it would be charming reminder of the traffic jam-causing horse-drawn buggies we’d seen along the way.

It was only after I’d paid for the thing that the proprietor, with his bobbing Lincoln beard, told me they’d have to have a copy of it shipped from the warehouse in California. I was too embarrassed by my own naiveté on the subject of Amish art to cancel the sale.

midlife sentence • a mural in San Juan de Laguna, Guatemala
This isn’t an Amish print, either. It’s a mural in San Juan de Laguna, Guatemala

We are also in possession of a couple of Thomas Kinkaid pieces my grandmother cross-stitched and subsequently left for us to deal with … er, bequeathed to us when she moved out. As much as I want to adore something my grandmother made with her own, two hands … it’s Thomas Kinkaid. I think I’d rather consider why dogs might be playing poker than ponder quaint cobblestone walkways and cottages that looked like they’ve been barfed on by a Metallic Shimmer Edition™ Pantone® Fairy Princess.

Speaking of left-behind art, we have a bunch of hand-crafted pottery by foreign exchange students who took the ceramics course whilst in pursuit of their American education, perhaps under the impression they wouldn’t be overly challenged in that class. As to the efficacy (or lack thereof) of that strategy, I would offer up several colorful pieces of unidentifiable kiln-fired lumps of something I found in the back of the downstairs closet.

Midlife Sentence • A window display at the historic Carapan Mexican Folk Art Gallery, Monterrey, Mexico
A window display at the historic Carapan Mexican Folk Art Gallery, Monterrey, Mexico

We’re also in possession of a couple of antique tin ceiling tiles from some Idaho City bar someone had mounted as art and then later sold to me at a craft fair for probably way too much money.

In any case, we’re being more selective with what we hang in our new home, and Mike has become an active part of this decision-making process, which is good since he has way better taste in most things than I do. Usually.

He has always talked about having a collection we could change out on a regular basis; kind of like people do with Christmas pillows and throws and candles. I couldn’t figure out how this would work since most decisions we make together on subjective things like this tend to be either argument inducing, or unaffordable. Imagine having those kinds of conversations every couple of months.

But then Mike suggested this thing:

Midlife Sentence • Trees, Colin Markley
This is actually on our wall, and the image is one I think we have permission to post, since our kid painted it.

It’s like a big digital photo frame.

You can buy individual pieces to display or entire themed collections or upload your own stuff.

At first, I was skeptical. The thing kind of invoked a dentist office vibe for me.

(Psst! The fact that I’m not a copyright attorney should be news to exactly no one, but I can’t figure out whether it’s okay for me to post photos of the artwork we’ve subscribed to on the frame thing. In its place, I’ll include some photos of art from our travels, which I’m not sure is legal either. If I disappear without a trace at some point, it’s probably because artists can be [justifiably] crabby at people stealing their stuff which is why this blogging thing is fraught with peril …)

Midlife Sentence | Sonic Bloom, at the Pacific Science Center
This is in Seattle. Sonic Bloom, at the Pacific Science Center

I have to admit it’s growing on me, to have our own little art marque in our own home. I can pick out stuff I like too, uploading new collections from my phone when I feel like it, so if I happen to get a whimsical notion to look at giant penguins in New York, I can look at giant penguins in New York – and I guess the artist gets a smidge of a cut, and I get a little art appreciation education. When something pops up that’s interesting, with a swipe, I can find out the name of the artist, the medium, and date it was created.

Midlife Sentence | Nyhavn Art Installation for World Refugee Day
This would not fit on our wall. It’s a display of of 3,500 life jackets collected from refugees in Lesbos in the waterfront district of Nyhavn, Copenhagen by ai weiwei

Okay, it’s more than growing on me, I really like it. Even if I think it sounds kind of dumb when I’m explaining it to people.

Not like now. I mean you guys get it, right?

Anyway, when the holidays roll around, we can switch to a holiday theme. If we have guests we want to impress, we can upload something classic or something contemporary, whatever fits the evening.

Midlife Sentence • Jaemiro Street in Seoul, South Korea
This wouldn’t fit on our wall either. It’s a retaining wall along Jaemiro Street in Seoul, South Korea

If neither of those things sound like us to you (they don’t to me either), that’s because they’re not, but I have to tell you we’ve taken to browsing the app on our phone evenings and uploading stuff that looks interesting.

This is what people do who don’t have to navigate online school with their kids.

Midlife Sentence • Maximon, Santiago, Guatemala
This smells too much like cigarettes to have in our house. It’s a shrine to Maximon in Santiago, Guatemala

As for our old art, it’s going away, except the original print we both loved. Maybe it will go to charity auctions, sort of a circle of life thing. I’m not sure about the Thomas Kincaid cross stitching … I may just take the “excess zucchini approach” and leave it on my neighbor’s doorstep late one evening.

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