"Earth’s distant orb appeared the smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; whilst round the chariot’s way innumerable systems rolled and countless spheres diffused an ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some were hornèd like the crescent moon; some shed a mild and silver beam like Hesperus o'er the western sea; some dashed athwart with trains of flame, like worlds to death and ruin driven; some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, eclipsed all other light." From "Queen Mab" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Museum Memories

Here are a few cool moments and highlights from The Smith & Jones Museum of Folk Art.

A lovely woman called Lou from the second hand clothes shop next door came in a few times. She gets to see all the exhibitions at Room 212 and she said ours was easily one of the best she had seen there. Lou recommended the exhibition to a number of people who then came to check it out, including her partner who also really liked the show. I think he particularly liked The Dolls Have Eyes exhibits, and showed a lot of interest in Mrs Kitsch’s brilliant but bonkers Barbie picture.
Lou liked the atheist aspect of my work as did someone she brought to see the show who purchased one of the atheisticks. I need to make more of those.
I’d had a chat with one bloke who liked my work and he told me that he had a friend in Arizona and he went out there at least once a year for a visit. Apparently, he also has a massive Arizona state flag which he puts out when his friend comes over here to stay. Anyway, this man came back to the gallery later in the week with this amazing thing as a gift for me.
It’s the dried up innards of a cacti and will look great next time I do a shrine display. How sweet that he came back to give that to me. The most gob smacking moment of the week though was when on the Wednesday, just 15 minutes before we closed the gallery for the day, I sold this painting “BANG! BANG!” for £300.
It was bought by a couple who chose it after deciding between it and this one, “Helldorado Cantina”.
I was stunned when they bought it. Having taken the painting over to their house after the exhibition I’ve also seen where it’s going to hang. It’s going in their living room over the dining room table. It’s going to be hard to miss.

My favourite moment though was when a guy called Valentine came in and bought a small painting. He had a good look round first and told me that he was driving to work taking a different route to normal. He saw the exhibition as he was driving by, stopped his car, parked up and came in to check it out. I think it might be stretching a point to say I stopped traffic but it’s one thing to pop in for a look as you are walking by and quite another to stop your car on the way to work. He also enjoyed hearing “Ace of Spades” being played in the gallery.

I think it’s fair to say that I connected with some people through the art, or at least differing aspects of it mean something to some people, and that’s something I hadn’t even considered. I thought some people might like it and others would hate it, but I hadn’t thought about it in terms other than that.

Not everyone connected with the work though. When we were setting up one man stuck his head into the gallery and asked why I had so many of the same cacti books. “It’s part of the display” I told him. “Oh right. Well, I’ll have one of those then” he said. “Er, no, they’re not for sale, they’re part of the display”. “Oh right. Are you getting any more books in?” “Well, I’m going to be using some other books in another part of the display but they’re not for sale either, this is a gallery not a book shop.” “Oh right, OK.” Not a word about the art.
A little later someone else asked how much the cacti candles in the window were and another person wanted to buy one of the plastic display flowers but I suppose it’s a compliment that my choice of display items was popular. Oh yes, one bloke with a dog told me he thought the art was a bit morbid. I tried to explain that the Day of the Dead was a celebration of life but I’m pretty sure he didn’t know what I was talking about. I thought I was going to get more comments like that but he was the only one who said anything to me.

I was really apprehensive about showing the work when I was setting up on the Sunday but now that I’ve had a week at a gallery, I can’t wait to show it some more.

Finally, with some of the many peppers and chillis I used in the shrines, I made a chilli for dinner.
As you can see we also used up the last of the tequila too.

You can see a video of the gallery at http://smithandjonesmuseum.blogspot.com/

Suggested listening: “Left Bank Two” by The Noveltones


  1. Gary - you know I love you.....BUT.....

    ...don't you think that saying "Mrs Kitsch’s brilliant but bonkers Barbie picture" is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black ?

    ( and as it goes, I LOVE the Barbie picture !! )

    x x

  2. I take it as a given that my own stuff fits neatly into the "bonkers" genre. I love the Barbie sticker picture too.