The Life of Stuff…

Is the story of people. Working with art and artists tells the story of their time, and because I’ve generally worked with living artists, it’s all still being written, being made. Lately I’ve been working with antique dealers and shopping at estate and garage sales and seeing a bit more of the past. Estate sales in particular are like a museum exhibit about a person or family.

When I worked at a school and collaborated with two teachers to do a special “Integrated Projects Week” class on museums, the very first thing we did was talk about items that might give someone insight into who you are as a person. Working at a vintage & antique store has given me insight into our crowd of regular customers. I might not know their names, but three months in, I do know what they like. There is the clock guy, the photos guy, the woman who shops every time we are open (which is sporadically) and buys lots of sweet little things. The young woman who I hadn’t met before but had a clear aesthetic and for whom I was able to pick out quite a few pieces of jewelry.

It’s a fascinating industry, estates and antiques. The “Appraisal and Valuation” lecturer in grad school highlighted early in the class how appraisal comes at a hard time in someone’s life, with the three D’s: Death, Debt, and Divorce.

And all of this because I decided in April, for environmental reasons, that I would not buy anything new if it is something that can safely be purchased used. So far I’ve had great success and have ended up with so many other things that were items I couldn’t pass up. Hence the new venture, Gifted, Thrifted, Bartered, and Grown. I started cultivating plants (mostly succulents) and I plant them in unusual containers that I find all around. In seeking containers, I come across fabulous or interesting things. Many of those things make me really think! Where did they come from, who donated this, what was that used for? So now I suppose I’m an entrepreneur/freelancer. I always wanted the security of a full time job with benefits but events of my last few jobs of that variety & of the last two years (pandemic and ADHD diagnosis included) have led me elsewhere. It all boils down to my love of visual culture, and of the people who create and use beautiful and functional design. Doing this on my own–with the experience I’ve already had, and the considerable experience of a few mentors–feels right, if scary. Off we go, eh?!

Also being real about what life really looks like, not just “instagram ready.

black and white photo of 5 people in age order- very elderly woman/great-great-grandmother, senior woman/great grandmother, late middle-age woman/grandmother, young adult woman/mother, child of 2 or 3 years/daughter.

How Will Art Change in the Now-Times?

Something I loved about studying art history in college was learning about history-history through it. I mostly glazed over in history classes in high school and college but art really does make events come alive. visual, music, theatre. How did art change during the Renaissance? Industrial revolution? Great depression?

How will art change in the 2020s? We’ve been through an incredible rupture in the way we approach each other, things, politics, life! I’m really, really looking forward to watching art evolve before my eyes as we experience big events in what will become history. Some day an art historian will tell a person who did not live through the Coronavirus COVID 19 pandemic about how much we touched each other before, how our concepts of cleanliness changed, and representations of groups of people took on whole new meaning for people who were very, very isolated. Let’s see what other ways art can bring us together, whether physically or spanning the internet and world.