Category Archives: Alexander Calder

Bad Art!

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I am fascinated by this story about an art museum that

displays ‘bad art!’ As my Grandmother Oldrieve had an

uncle, so he would be my Great Grand Uncle, with the

well known name of Alexander Calder. I am often asked

about this truly simple, huge, ‘numbered print’ on one

of my apartment walls. I mean, it takes up a lot of

space. It is the size of a movie theater poster.

Almost everyone thinks,

“A child could have drawn that!”

or

“Why on earth, Robin, do you have that ugly thing on

your wall?”

If you will please imagine six circles, black, red and

blue, with long straight lines coming from each of them,

some straight and a couple crooked. That is the fine

art print, worth over $1000.00 (at last checking in the

70’s) of my distant relative, Alexander Calder. It is

the size of a movie theater poster. Huge!

You may know that Calder ‘invented’ or ‘created’ the

idea or concept of statues and mobiles blended together

to become, ‘stabiles.’

Many famous examples of this are displayed outside of

museums and in downtowns in cities across America and

internationally. The cities of Stuttgard, Germany and

the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art have fine

examples of these combination statues and mobiles.

The other international museums that feature Calder

are in Venezuela, the Netherlands, Paris, France,

and Madrid, Spain.

Closer to home, can be found in the city of Grand

Rapids, Michigan and Montreal, Quebec. Our National

Gallery of Art, in Washington D.C., has a whole room

of Calder’s creations. I don’t feel his paintings or

prints are really interesting but the larger pieces

are very exciting and unique. My family saw the one

in Chicago, Illinois when I was in middle school. My

artist brother, Randy Oldrieve, has made a living

creating sculptures, paintings, murals, logos and

prints.

My oldest daughter, Carrie Crain, is also a gifted

artist.

I have my own style of ‘dinky art,’ which I am hoping

would not make it into the MOBA.

The idea or thought behind the Calder print, I have no

clue.

I have told people that my numbered print may increase

in value or not. I think it looks like circular balloons.

I wish they were ovals. I wish there were squiggly

lines instead of those odd straight lines! If it has

to be simple, let it be ‘cute,’ I think!

Anyway, the Museum of Bad Art, or MOBA, may have wished

to include this print, since unless you saw the ‘Calder’

signature at the bottom, you would think it was ready to

go into a dumpster.

Which the curator, Michael Frank, of MOBA, says many of

their displays came about from trash pickers saving the

homemade art pieces. Others came from donations, garage

and yard sales and thrift stores. The critique or type

of verification for ‘bad art’ is all rather depending

on the viewer. After all, “Beauty is in the eye of the

beholder.”

Where is this MOBA to be found? In a sunny-sounding

place called, Summerville, Massachusetts. There is a

movie theatre on top of this museum of art. Yes, makes

sense to delegate the artworks considered ‘bad’ or ugly,

to the basement!

Most people would not want to buy or look at these

paintings or other pieces of artwork regularly.

In fact, the museum’s reason for existing, since 1994,

is given as:

“To celebrate the labor of artists whose work would be

displayed or appreciated in no other forum.”

A tour guide or ‘docent’ gives further explanation:

“Bad art is still art. It is sincere. It is one of a

kind.”

They will not accept the mass-produced artwork, such

as paintings on black velvet, no attempts to reproduce

famous artists’ pieces, and no dogs playing poker!

There is a display of diverse subject matters, unique

perspectives and really strange depictions.

Why do they feel this art is valid? Because artists

are trying to communicate. This MOBA is to celebrate

the expression of people who are yearning to be artists.

They may even pour their hearts out on their creations,

not realizing they are not attractive.

Sometimes: Not to anyone!

When people try to donate paintings or pieces to the

museum, the ones who are in charge, including Michael

Frank, determine whether it is a ‘fake.’ If it is

intentionally produced to be ‘bad,’ they feel they can

‘see right through those.’

Interestingly, their stored art pieces are quite large,

enough to share the wealth of bad art, sending exhibits

as farflung as Taipei, Taiwan. The circulating exhibits

are quite popular. Murals, collages, some that need

repaired, adding Christmas lights that have burned out,

all can be part of someone’s idea of a fun day at a

museum.

In my own mind, I came up with an explanation for why

I would be interested in going to Summerville, or if

a visiting exhibit came to the Columbus Museum of Art.

I think we all are like ‘deers in the headlights’ or

viewers of accidents on the side of the road, we just

cannot tear our eyes away. The art may be like a “train

wreck” but we may still be curious to see the contents.

The bad products of sincere people, may just be your

‘cup of tea.’

At the very least, you may wish to view the strange

and imaginative pieces online…