Artsy Fartsy

My husband and I went to Arti Gras last weekend. Arti Gras is like Mardi Gras except you don’t have to dress like a purple and green jester and you don’t get drunk. And there is no parade and no King. And no beads and no jazz music. OK, so it’s not like Mardi Gras at all, but it’s an art fair and it has a catchy name.

We know shockingly little about art. I think I may have taken an art appreciation class in college, but my 50-year-old brain chucked that memory out a long time ago to make room for important stuff like when I got my last oil change. For all I know I failed the class anyway.

I’d like to say, “I may not know anything about art, but I know what I like.” But I can’t really. I don’t know what I like. And sometimes I think I might like something but I’m not sure if it’s extremely cool or really tacky. Short of dogs playing poker, it all looks pretty good to me, including Elvis on velvet.

So with that going for us, we headed out to Arti Gras last Saturday. It was stinking hot and there were three long aisles to walk up and down to see all that was there. We criss-crossed around looking at and avoiding jewelry, sculptures and pencil drawings, which we are not in the market for. It was hard. I wanted to stay and have lunch with the guy who draws rock stars on burned wood.

Who knew that artists are so cool? And nowadays it’s more than just painting on canvas. These guys can make a beautiful piece of art out of household items like fruit, metal spikes and sheep.

“So this is all on pieces of fabric?” I asked Ken, an artist from Indiana who had pieced together these beautifully painted squares into a frame.

“Not exactly,” he said. “I hand dyed pieces of cotton that I picked from Georgia, pressed it between two pieces of Italian slab marble, pulled it on an 18th century spinning wheel and then, using a Chinese paper printing method, stamped the images on each square. They represent the elements, the planets in the solar system, my move from Beijing to Indianapolis in 1985, and the mystery of the fifth Beatle.”

“So, you don’t know how to draw people?” I said.

Art has become so complicated and so technical. There seems to be a running contest to see which artist can use the weirdest materials and do the most bizarre stuff to them. And if this art fair was any indication, we’ve run out of canvas and are using scrap metal now. Twisted pieces of aluminum, nails, spiky shiny things, license plates - all art and all really expensive.

We bought a series of four long skinny paintings of Picasso-esque musicians. Their price tag warrants little gallery lights above each one, but we’ve decided to ghetto the whole shebang and call it “Chick Band.”

What do I know? They’re not playing poker, so it must be real art.

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