Bad Art

Yesterday I had a lady date in Fremont with my PEPSers mummies, sans bébé. I walked through the neighborhood feeling very light and free. Meanwhile Michael got to spend some serious quality time with Lake. It was a win-win.

The ladies, we had a painting party at CANVAS. They provided the materials, the loud dance music (Vanilla Ice at one point), and the inspiration/instruction. I arrived with an artistic vision and a plan, my confidence bolstered by my love of painting in the self-identified style of Bad Art. I had a blast; I adore painting!

Proudly showing off my cardboard painters palette.
Bad Art as a genre of “fine art” was essentially created by Scott Wilson and Jerry Riley. In 1994 they founded the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA), thus creating a forum for unique artwork so remarkable it must be shared. The general criteria for Bad Art are:

  1. It must be a piece of original art.
  2. It must be created with sincere intent.
  3. It must be a gift of the artist, be procured for free (rescued from a dumpster) or cost less than 20 bucks (originally $6.50, but has been adjusted for inflation).
  4. It cannot be kitschy (e.g. painting on velvet), or boring. 
  5. There must be something remarkable about it, remarkably bad/significantly wrong either in concept or execution (e.g. the perspective or proportion is off).

I was introduced to this genre in 1999 by my then boss, Rich Olson. Rich was a fierce and sensitive renaissance man, like myself a native of the Olympic Peninsula. He had a sharp wit and a dark sense of humor and had developed a true interest in Bad Art. His appreciation had led him to start his own West Coast private collection which had at least one public showing I am aware of. As he shared his exhibit with us, he was lamenting the paucity of portraits. He had not one portrait. People become attached to portraits since they are real people, and it is extremely difficult to find a portrait for free or on the cheap. My coworker and friend Katie and I took this as a challenge to create some bad art portraits to gift to him for the end of the season party. We had fun modelling for each other to paint, and created some stunning works. We continued this tradition over a period of several years so we had a chance to really develop our signature styles.

This colorful photo portrait will have to stand in lieu of the Bad Art portraits, as their whereabouts are sadly currently unknown.

So, that brings us back to yesterday in the CANVAS painting studio. The group instruction was for painting a butterfly (magnificent results below ***NOT Bad Art***), but I had my own premeditated plan. 

Friends with Butterflies-PEPS Painters 2016

I was determined to create a beautiful portrait of my husband’s beloved cat, Mr. Cat, as a gift for his birthday in a few weeks. I was armed with flowers I’d collected from along the Burke Gilman trail and a photograph of Mr. Cat to work from. In my mind I have a stunning composition; I just fall a bit short in the execution. Perfect for a treasured commemorative portrait of Bad Art. And you surely won’t find it by the side of a dumpster one day. 

[I am currently unable to make my finished piece available to you, my dear reader, as it is a planned birthday surprise for my husband Michael, yet to be unveiled and presented.]

NOT Bad Art. Michael’s birthday present I had commissioned last year. Sarah Pulver 2015.