Monday, October 20, 2008

The Purge




Many of you know that Tuffy P and I are painters. We've been at it for about 25 years now. You might say it's our vocation, or maybe our folly. The problem is that we have created a lot of painting over the years, way way more than we have found homes for. In fact, painting sales are rare enough I would call one an event. This adds up to a serious storage problem. We've had 250 square feet of storage space in two units, and we both have had about enough of paying for storage space.

Here at Anchovy World Headquarters, we are devoting a bedroom to painting storage plus a portion of Tuffy P's studio. We have to take into account the reality that our folly continues, so we need to save some of that space for new works (which we will might also end up storing for a few years).

We made the decision to kill quite a lot of paintings. Some of these are paintings which, in the fullness of time, we don't think really hold up. Some of these are very good paintings, if I can be immodest enough to say so myself. We spent most of yesterday loading two storage bins of paintings into a cube van (it took two trips), driving them to Anchovy World Headquarters, unloading, and deciding which we were going to keep. It was carnage as painting after painting was carried back to the killing fields in our backyard, where today, I will cut them up with a reciprocating saw, into smaller chunks of dead painting. Still we kept quite a lot of paintings.

It was a sad day in many ways as those paintings represent to us ideas we struggled with, hope that we might find an audience, and as well, they bring to mind the times in which we made them, where we were, what we were going through, exhibitions, friends and so on. I wish I could have found homes for many of these paintings, but I suppose it is my folly to be passionately interested in activities which do not exactly capture the popular imagination.

In fact, I know a number of people, outside of my friends in the art scene, who not only find painting uninteresting, honestly believe us artists are some kind of tricksters, trying to pull the wool over their eyes. Mister Anchovy, why don't you paint a nice pastoral cottage in a mountain landscape. Now that's painting. Get with the program, man. I'll bet if you ask the next 10 or 20 or 100 people you see how many of them aquired a painting by living artist in the last year, very few of them would say, yes of course I did...I'm committed to supporting cultural activities in my community. To put it in perspective, ask the same group if they own a tv set bigger than 40 inches, and compare the response.

Even the use of the word artist has changed in my time. Today the word has been successfully co-opted by the entertainment industry. If you don't believe me, turn on the television to one of those entertainment gossip shows, and you will find out that all the popular recording stars are artists, even those who don't write their music, or even choose their music, even those who depend of pitch correction software to stay in tune. When I realized this, I pretty much stopped using the "a" word, and when asked, I say, I'm a painter. "I didn't know you painted houses Mister Anchovy." "Not that kind of painter." "You mean you make paintings?" "fraid so." "I was thinking I'd like a nice beach scene down in the rec room...you know, behind the bar.""Not that kind of painter, either." "I may not know art, but I know what I like".


While yesterday was a sad day, at the same time, I feel freed from the tyranny of my past, freed from carrying the baggage of the past around with me. Curiously, I feel like getting right back to it. These next paintings, they're really going to be great.

8 comments:

Candy Minx said...

Oh it is always difficult to see another artist cull their storage...but I am always leaving art work in alleys and in the garbage...and usually someone picks it up before the waste management crew comes along.

I wish you knew someone to adopt it...but I also know it's difficult to even give away.

I bet you do feel freed up from paying storage fees though!!!!

The term artist doesn't bug me. I love it that we consider Maceo Parker, Billie Holiday, The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Howling Wolf, Nick Cave, Beyonce "recording artists". It's not that the musicians have co-opted a term for our work...but rather they often don't incl;ude the word "recording"...it's just artist now.

I'd like to believe that the protection of their art and interest in their art work will continue and lead to a renewed interest in their peers...visual artists...recording artists and visual artists aren't competing...we are on the same team!

Candy Minx said...

Hey...I'm going to phone you...I just remembered I think I have some space!!!!!

Eugene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mister anchovy said...

thanks Candy, but we're not looking for more storage space. These paintings have been stored exactly long enough.

zydeco fish said...

That must have been cathartic and sad. I can't imagine doing it though. I still have some profoundly embarrassing poetry hanging around...

mister anchovy said...

Yes, both those things, fish. Curiously enough though, I now feel ready to get going on another group of paintings. The other curious thing, to me at least, is that some of the paintings I saved are ones I didn't feel so confident about when I made them.

sp said...

It was quite brave of you two to purge the artwork. That must be a very difficult thing to do.

Anonymous said...

uppet says don't chainsaw PB270002 because it's the one he wants and asks, "How much?"

It's competing with the email he just got from Air Miles:

"THIS IS BIG, Robert
The wait is over. Get what you want RIGHT NOW.
We’re pleased to introduce Cash + Miles™ Rewards
— a brand new way to reward yourself at airmiles.ca
From now on you can use a combination of cash plus
reward miles to purchase many rewards.

14650 points + $399.99 for a 47" LG LCD TV."

Muppie