OFF THE WALL
So, I walk past this lawn statue the other day and think, “Is that the guy from the Morton Salt round box? or is that the chick from the Gorton’s Fish packages?” Not only did I get my guys and chicks mis-confused but in the salt situation, somehow an umbrella became a sailor hat in my mind.
It made me wonder. I’m sure the statue I saw was more about sailing the seas… and the logo icon for Gorton’s fish came from that, rather than the other way around, but still, with all the frozen fish promotion out there, it looked like the guy had put the frozen fish logo on his lawn.
I started to think about how people adorn their homes with art. Sometimes it’s just a single solitary lawn statue that may be dressed up on Christmas.
Sometimes it’s a picture on the wall, with great care taken to have each single, solitary picture be the right scale and format to fit that one wall. Or in my case, absolutely nothing on any walls, though there are rows and stacks of pictures on the floor destined to go up on my virgin walls someday.
In a more traditional sense, one’s interior decor could be as simple as having the picture frame match some of the furnishings in that room, as a show of good taste. And then one could get into the whole clutter/balance Feng Shui thing if they wanted to.
Well, after obsessing about this for a while, I went to see a house that I had heard about. It was more like a legend than an actual tourist destination. The tale told of a place where there was not just one single, solitary lawn statue in front of this humble home, but countless ornaments of indescribable shapes, sizes and colors.
Fantastic fabrications of art of every form, stuffed into every nook and cranny of every corner of every room. I imagined a cartoon-like house busting at the seams like the image of a giant in diapers or the vision of a wobbly water balloon too heavy to hold and too fluid to contain.
I couldn’t imagine what a house like that would actually look like, so I had to see for myself. To my delight, once I got there, there seemed to be a party going on. I found the hosts, introduced me and my camera to them and got their permission to shoot around.
There was a dominant theme of recycled materials or up-cycling where useless trash had been converted to extraordinary art.
There was also a theme where any flat surface… or any surface for that matter, could become a canvas awaiting some artistic inspiration. On one hand the owners of this home could be seen as fundamental folk artists… but on the other hand I got the feeling they were shooting to build a phenomenal creative environment from which to work around, inside and all about.
On the inside, every view and every space was filled with a potential masterpiece.
Sometimes it was just color on color, somewhere near some color. At other times there seemed to be a collection forming; maybe a collection of deviated musical instruments, religious artifacts or just the usual amazing marionettes dancing from the ceiling.
Bottle caps covered the walls in dotted patterns while other items got hung never realizing they would ever be hung. Collections turned into patterns which turned into themes which turned into painted walls and trim which turned into rooms that got filled with like items or just those that would fit in those spaces.
Ceilings covered with Happy Meal toys brought me back to that one lone statue on the lawn, just for a moment, by comparison. Then I returned to the awe of looking around. I found my mind shouting, “I could do that” or “I never thought of that” or “that’s just plain crazy… but I like it.”
Overwhelming clusters of color and shape poured out of every pore of this house. On one hand an irritating mass-produced toy was designed to add value to a worthless meal but on the other hand it has now become a link in a chain, a thread in a cloth, a single ripple in a tsunami of art. Individually each piece was disposable… but together they are indispensable.
It made me think about this couple’s relationship; you know… the couple who own the home… the couple who did all this.
Legend tells of them being together since high school… but never having gotten married. Folk lore continues to tout how they travel constantly and collect all the time and how they have houses all around the country, that are equally dedicated to reincarnated disposables and just as thoroughly covered with color.
I imagined that their world, their lives together could never contain conversations verging on conflict such as, “I didn’t like what you said to her” or “please remember to put the cap back on the tooth paste”. I see their world more consumed with a much bigger mission that would diminish any trivial conflict to a ridiculous insignificance.
Some more traditional couples might argue about the color a wall should be painted or the size of the TV or which couch to purchase. These guys probably argue if one or the other is not expressing their own individuality enough! Can you imagine? A relationship where it’s the opposite of “be the way I want you to be” and instead it’s more like “please go explode with your bad self… frequently and often.”
On their street, they seemed to own quite a few of the homes on the block and quite a few cars. I guess when one environment became completely filled inside and out, they moved on to the next target in their sites, like creative locusts covering and consuming each next object in their path into a kaleidoscope exhibit of shock and awe.
An ordinary old junk car tuns into a museum artifact that one could walk around, study and giggle at for an eternity. This VW Bug was covered with so many cool and interesting pieces of electronic junk that I almost forgot I had the camera on and just wanted to stop, study and look at everything.
Can you imagine the idea of thinking about recycling or up-cycling an item before it gets disposed of? It’s like a stage of the product life-cycle that no engineer or product designer has ever conceived of. “What should we do with it after it breaks Bob?”
Sure, there are junk czars that pull the metal out of trashed electronics and recycle… but is that not just another expense of energy to bring it through once again, only to reconsider its discard?
Is it possible that monuments of art is the final destination of all things? Permanent tomb stones of mass production designed to delight and entertain for an eternity? I mean really, when you think about it… if that stuff did get tossed in a landfill, would it not remain intact for centuries?
I could actually conceive of entire cities covered in decorative re-purposed trash, as fashion is a trend and if promoted properly and exposed in a sexy way by celebrities, before you know it, everyone will be decorating with tossed colored plastic and painted cut aluminum.
I actually did some research on this phenomena of establishing creative environments. It could start out as simply as just displaying some of your favorite things around your work space, all the way to opening your home to artists for whatever reason, and they offer to give you a piece of their art as a gift.
What begins as a humble exchange between enlightened people evolves and transforms to a location where artists would like their art displayed. And before anyone knows what’s happened, a home is covered in gifts and is transformed to a show place of creative work. Apparently, there are these beautifully barnacled homes all over the country that are covered with art… one just has to be in the know.
Here’s one that I found on a related site and here’s another one on a much less cluttered scale. As a result of this experience… this visit to this home, I find myself wondering if something can be turned into art rather than thrown away. Maybe, I might even start going on hunts to auctions and second-hand stores to find items to add to collections that could be turned into art.
However, there is a risk. In some cases and it is the belief of many people, that some inanimate objects do embody a spirit. Think about a rabbit’s foot or a horseshoe. Think about religious charms around your neck or plastic Mary or plastic Jesus on your dash. Do they not bring good luck? Think about Voodoo Dolls and how some of us might fear a pin going in the wrong place.
Most of the collections seemed to be brightly colored and relatively harmless. Other items gave off a definite disturbing feeling. Dolls, statues and idols designed to ward of evil spirits have been collected and displayed for thousands of years. Similarly, objects of a threatening nature have also been around for eons.
For instance, this mask below scared the crap out of me.
On a lighter note… the joker and the jester have been greeting people with smiles for generations.
And of course the idea of every patch of space having the potential to be transformed into something more than itself, is a delicious concept. I even thought about the relationship to body art and tattoos and how applied graphics are believed to add greater significance to a fundamental and natural-born substrate.
Even the people attending the party were accessorized with marvelous beads, clothing, hats, shoes make up and blinking hair bands. Some even carried their pooches in pouches.
There was a special room called the Bowling Ball Museum where tri-holed spheres once tossed down and thundering wooden lanes are now retired global canvases on display, like giant marbles begging to be rolled in glued or paint.
And everywhere that one would turn, there was color. Colored plastic flowers, cut up cans, painted and turned into flowers, flowers drawn on dull dolls and of course tons of Christmas ornaments from the original holiday of hang stuff all over your house … is also re-purposed.
Lastly, there are the actual flowers that would most certainly wither and die, had they not found an artistic resting place in a bountiful broth.
Sometimes I wonder how much art one needs to be surrounded by, to be inspired or to claim to be artistic. Is one who is not enveloped in strange and bizarre colors, shapes and sparkles not considered creative? Or is every artist entitled to their expression and view no matter how sterile or explosive it might be?
Hmmm… I wonder if that legendary couple who owns that house, would be willing to take those pictures off my hands. You know…the ones that are leaning against my wall, piled on the floor, waiting forever to be hung, because I think I kind of like my walls neat, clean and bare.