If art is meant to provoke ideas and discussion, mass-produced ‘home decor’ wall art brings any thoughts to a grinding halt.
The only value in those made-in-China cheapos is that they tie a room together. That works if the room is a display suite or it’s where you wait for the dentist to call you. But if that room is in your own living space, you’re going to quickly tire of that $29.95 cherry blossoms-Buddha montage or black-and-white Eiffel Tower from Ikea. There’s no soul, no back story to these works of artlessness.
However, I do get to thinking when I come across yet another trio of ‘original’ oil paintings of droopy tulips in a vase, or the billowed-curtain, open-window view of some anonymous ocean. I think of the first scene in Manufactured Landscapes, and imagine one of those cavernous factories full of lowly-paid workers mechanically daubing thick paint onto an endless line of identical ink-jet-printed stretched canvases.
Not the kind of thoughts one likes to have when one kicks off her shoes and sinks into the sofa at the end of the day.
But I’m not here to condemn someone’s choice to buy fake art; I’m hoping to promote a special group of gifted innovators whose highly original artworks don’t get the respect they deserve. I’m talking about those people whose unrestrained creativity inspires even the most successful artists.
I’m talking about your kids. Or your kids’ kids. Or your friends’ kids. Or your kids’ friends.
They might select colour according to how much they like that colour, subject according to their own inner universe. And unlike the likes of Matisse, Picasso or Cezanne, they do not strive to break the rules because they haven’t learned them yet.
The fridge door might be fine for a spontaneous scribble, but a drawing or painting that a child has created with passion deserves to be set in a mat, framed and situated in a place of honour, like the living room.
For best results, smooth the picture with tack spray onto foamcore trimmed to fit a purchased frame, with or without a mat.
I like the idea of dedicating one large frame per kid, updated as the young artist creates, with earlier artworks filed into a binder or rolled up into a poster tube labelled with his or her name. What a gift for them when they’re 30.
Carlyn Yandle is a Vancouver journalist with her own room-planning business, Home Reworks; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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