Archive for July, 2011

Almost twenty years ago, a young man walked into my father’s Main Street business. His name was David Bonner, and he was going door to door, business to business, selling audio cassettes of his comedy routine. He told my dad that he was going to be the next Eddie Murphy, so Dad, always willing to help up-and-comers, paid David the $10 he was asking for the cassette.

I found the cassette, called THE BIG CUP and credited to a “Maddog Bonner,” lying on Mom and Dad’s kitchen counter a few days later. I asked Dad what it was, and he told me the story outlined above. He asked me if I wanted it, and I told him that I’d listen to it, but that I didn’t want to take it from him. He told me that he really didn’t mind, as he planned to never listen to it again. I asked him why, and he said that I should just listen to it and let him know what I thought. So I listened to it, and I thought that it was the most god-awfully unfunny “comedy” album that I’d ever heard. I threw it into a box and forgot about it.

A few years later I found it, and I listened to it again, wondering if it was still as unfunny as I remembered it being. Yup, it was. I played it for my youngest brother, who absolutely hated it. So, it went back into the box from whence it came.

I found the tape again three years ago. I forced my mom, my brother, and his fiancee to listen to it. They made it to the end of the first side before they rebelled and forced me to turn it off. They still hated it (or in the case of my brother’s fiancee, hated it for the first time), but my reaction was different this time. I actually appreciated it on an entirely previously-undiscovered level. It was so incredibly unfunny that it wrapped around the continuum, becoming funny in the process. I started mentioning it to co-workers, and they were intrigued enough to want to hear it. So I converted the tape to .wav files and burned four copies onto CD.

I passed out three (keeping one for myself) and waited for my co-workers’ comments.  They all agreed with me that Mr. Bonner was decidedly unfunny, and yet we couldn’t stop talking about him.  In fact, one of my co-workers started coming up with new routines that Maddog could use, if he were ever to record another “comedy” album.

If Maddog’s comedy springs from his life experiences (as it most certainly seems to), Mr. Bonner has led a very, very uneventful life indeed.  It’s as if Billy, the tyke from “The Family Circus” comic panel, has decided to do stand-up based upon his rather limited worldview.

Just so that you can decide for yourself, here’s a transcription of the last cut on Maddog’s cassette, a little something he calls “Stickman’s First Funeral” (Stickman is the family nickname for Maddog’s brother, Randy).  Please note that any time I’ve used an ellipsis (…), it merely means that there’s a pause in Maddog’s delivery; I don’t want to give the impression that I’ve omitted even one word of Mr. Bonner’s unique comedic offering:

You know, about a year ago, I was living with my brother Stickman and his wife Michelle.  My dad had left New Hope and was pastoring a church at Stone Memorial in Tuscaloosa, and Stickman was elected to be the interim pastor there at New Hope Baptist—it was a great honor, and he enjoyed it.  But living with my brother Stickman was…had some funny moments.  I remember I had my own bedroom in the back of that house, and him and his wife had a bedroom, and it was in front of the house.

Well, I remember one morning—remember it well—Randy, Stickman, being a young…young preacher and just starting out in the ministry—this is before he went to Seminary—he was inexperienced in a lot of things.  But I remember one morning ‘bout 5:30, he come into my room and shook my door, knocked the door down just about it, shook me, and he said, “David… Maddog…Maddog….”  I said “What?” He said “Man, you ain’t gone believe it, you ain’t gone believe it!”

I said, “What, Stickman?  Have you got a church?  Have you got a full-time church?  Have you got…what have you got, son, did somebody give you some money?  What’s goin’ on?  Have you got a wedding?  Did somebody get saved?  What’s goin’ on, son?”

He said, “You ain’t gone believe it, you ain’t g…”—and he was excited. I’d never seen him excited as much before…you know, just a few times, but he was excited.  I said, “What’s…what is it?”  He said, “Maddog, I got my first funeral!”

I said, “Well, congratulations!”  I’d never seen a boy fired up about a funeral!  I didn’t know what to say to him.  I just said, ”Son, ‘at’ll be the first of many funerals you’ll have in your lifetime,” and he went on and preached a great funeral, and he was excited about it.

So there you have it—the inimitable comedy stylings of David “Maddog” Bonner.  And yes, that’s the end of the “joke.”  Kinda makes Andy Griffith seem edgy, doesn’t he?

What’s really funny about the cassette is that, while it strives very hard to make you believe that it was recorded in front of a live audience that was apparently having the time of its collective lives, a somewhat close listen reveals that the entire thing was done in a studio, with Maddog’s mike on slight reverb and the audience guffaws coming from what was probably a vinyl LP.  Yet, instead of being infuriating, it comes across as rather endearing in a low-rent kind of way…and I guess that sums up the magic of Maddog Bonner.

A web search has turned up a few places that Maddog has been in the last few years:

According to an on-site report from an event called “Holy Smoke” in Americus, Georgia (which, as far as I can ascertain, is a sort of Southern Baptist barbecue contest), the following occurred in March of 2006, whilst folks were getting their ribs on:  “The entertainment started at noon and continued until 6 p.m. There was a variety of great music, drama and comedy going on every hour beginning with Deena Grimsley and Friends, William Herndon, David “Mad Dog” Bonner, Southern Glory, Forgiven, and Jeff Henry and Living Water.”

In 2007, a band called “Woods” listed Maddog Bonner’s “The Big Cup” as one of the albums they listened to in their van as they went on a tour of the East Coast.  Also heard in the van on that tour:  Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” and Jandek’s “Rocks Crumble.”

On July 12, 2008, a note appeared in the Tuscaloosa News that said, and I quote, “New Haven Baptist Church…will have James David ‘Maddog’ Bonner, Southern humorist with a live recording of his new CD ‘Southland’ at 7 tonight.”

A quick search of didn’t turn up a CD called “Southland,” but it DID uncover a listing for a cassette from one Mad-Dog Bonner (note the odd hyphenation) called “Just Starting Out on the Road,” which has all the same tracks as “The Big Cup,” but in a different order.  Unfortunately, it’s not currently available.

So, Maddog vanishes again into the mists of time.

Well, barring an incredible thrift store find that could happen before I post again, this should be the last post about my bad art collection for a while.  With this post, I’ve now shared all my bad art with you; so, you’re up-to-date on the collection.

This last one, though…it’s a doozy.  I have noticed that the few people who have already seen it don’t think it’s as bad as I think it is; but as this post’s title says, I think that it’s ghastly (and very, very shiny indeed).

So, without further delay, here’s the latest addition to my collection:

"Collared Greens"

I have no idea who these people are; I used the last name “Green” because that way I could make a funny.  And, you have to admit, those collars are both, in 70s parlance, right on and dy-no-mite!

I feel that to really, truly appreciate this piece of mall-art portraiture, you need to be listening to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, preferably “More Than a Woman” by the Bee Gees.

I should probably apologize for the flash reflection, but it was the only way that I could show the absolute and utter shiny nature of the piece.  I had a photo that didn’t show the flash reflection, but it ended up giving the piece the look of a well-circulated penny, and that’s not the impression this piece gives.  No, this is one brand-new hot-out-of-the-coin-press shiny object here!  I have a feeling that crows and blackbirds would be inordinately drawn to this piece.

I can just imagine this portrait in metal hanging above a fireplace mantel, with the two subjects reclining on the thick green shag carpet below, listening to Side Two of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album, glasses of wine on the hearth.  Total 70s bliss.  She’s telling him of her afternoon at the make-your-own-pottery shop, topped off by a visit to the yogurt place, and he’s telling her the joke his hair stylist told him as he was getting his sideburns trimmed so that they’re even.

And, wow, is this piece shiny.

Up next: Maddog Bonner–An Appreciation

Okay, I’ve got a Master’s Degree in English.  I know the language.  Occasionally I choose to ignore certain grammar rules, but I’m ignoring them (usually to make a point and/or joke), not ignorant of them.

Because of my background in English, I get extraordinarily bent out of shape when I encounter people using English incorrectly.  It’s one thing for someone who is coming to English as a second language to make a mistake, but it’s another thing entirely when an adult who has lived in the US since birth can’t figure out the difference between their, they’re, and there.  I’ve pretty much had to give up reading comments on news stories online because I end up hypertensive and grouchy.

So, you may be asking yourself, what does any of this have to do with bad art?  I’m so glad you asked.  At the end of the last post, I wrote: “Up next: Conversating about my bad art quadrilogy.”  If none of you noticed anything wrong with that, well, shame on you.  Conversating?  Conversating?  Really?  In my former life as a high school English teacher, I actually had students use this word.  I find it rather difficult to believe that none of them had ever heard the word “conversing” before.

Now, don’t get me wrong–I love playing around with language, and I think that “conversating” is a funny term, but I don’t think that it should ever be used without being accompanied by a wink and/or a snicker.  It’s like a Peanuts comic strip I once saw–Violet (or Patty) was, if I’m remembering correctly, jumping rope and wanted Charlie Brown to watch.  She kept saying “Lookit, Charlie Brown, lookit!”  After several more “lookit”s from her, Charlie Brown finally yelled out, “I’m lookiting!”

And then there’s the word “quadrilogy.”  If you look it up in the dictionary…IT’S NOT THERE.  And yet it’s been used, mainly (perhaps only) by the folks at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.  Here’s proof:

Now, I understand why the the marketing guys wouldn’t use the word “tetralogy,” since most people wouldn’t understand it.  Of course, if they had used it, maybe more people would know the word.  I almost also can see why they chose not to use the word “quartet,” as quite a few people might have thought that the box set was a set of movie soundtrack CDs.  When Fox first released the four Alien films in a box set, they called it the Alien Legacy.  Why didn’t they stick with that?  I have no idea.

So, we’re left with conversating about my bad art quadrilogy.  I bought this quartet of paintings all at the same time, from the same place, so if their style wasn’t clue enough, simple logistics tells me that they’re all from the same artist.  Here’s the first one (and I apologize for leaning them against the wall to take the pictures, but I’m out of wall space at the moment):

So, this one’s not too bad.  It’s got some Bob Ross trees going on, and the sunlight splotches on the water are a little bit too harsh, but overall it’s not really bad art.  The only thing that keeps it in the collection is that it’s part of a tetralogy.   Here’s the second painting:

I like this one even more, since the Bob Ross trees have been denuded of their leaves.  I also like the brush strokes used for the snow.  Again, this isn’t really bad art; it’s just fallen in with bad companions (and that’s a Bright Lights, Big City reference for you movie buffs and/or literary types).

Now, after seeing the first two paintings, you may get the impression that this is one of those deals where we have a painting for each season of a year.  That thought occurred to me as well, but try as I might, there’s no way these paintings fit that pattern.  See for yourself as you gaze upon the third painting:

There are a few things I want to say about this painting.  The first is that I love the way “Smith” has painted the sky.  The colors are impressive.  The second is that this is the only painting that the artist deemed worthy of his (or her–I don’t want to assume things) signature.  Thirdly, please note that this painting kicks the “season cycle” idea in the head.  This painting and the second one are both obviously meant to evoke winter.  And the last thing that I want to say is…ladies and gentlemen, we’ve entered the realm of bad art with this one.

If you think that it’s not so bad, click on the painting and zoom in on the deer in the lower right portion of the canvas.  Look at it long and hard.  I hold this truth to be self-evident.

As for the last painting in the quartet, again there are several good points that can be made about it.  I, however, choose not to make those points but to focus instead on one key detail:

Oh, you know what I’m about to discuss.  It’s that bridge/dam/thing in the middle of the painting.  To say that it looks like crap would be redundant, but indeed, it looks like crap.  Literally.  Like crap.  (And for those of you wondering, no, I don’t own any pets.)

Luckily, the painting doesn’t have a stench to it, and it’s resolutely flat, so that rules out ONE possibility.  Still, I have to wonder how an artist who does relatively well at painting landscapes can mess up a bridge (or whatever it is) and a deer so badly.  Still, I’m glad that they were messed up, since it allowed me to add them to my collection.

One last thing today…you may have noticed that I haven’t named these paintings yet.  To be honest, since they’re not up on the walls, I don’t see them enough for apt names to present themselves to me.  So, if you come up with what you feel is a good name for any or all of them, leave me a comment.

Next up: Ghastly and oh-so-shiny

To the uninitiated, all bad art may look alike.  But for those who have a feel for bad art (okay, actually, I’m talking about me here), all bad art is not created equal.

I’ve bought several works that, when viewed in the thrift shop, seemed awful enough to add to my collection; when I got them home, however, they just didn’t measure up to the other pieces I owned.

The thing I find most odd about this strange hobby of mine is that there is an identifiable bad art aesthetic going on.  I’m still trying to define what that aesthetic is, but I can certainly tell when it’s absent.  So let me show you the pieces that I’ve bought that didn’t make the cut.  (Please make note of excuse the fine background which I carefully hurriedly chose for these pieces: a hand-me-down recliner that my folks originally bought something like thirty years ago, which sits in front of the vertical blinds that help block the blinding mid-morning sunlight coming in from the east.)

Exhibit A:  Let’s talk about this clown piece that I bought two years ago.  When I found it, I thought that it was pretty bad, and the price was right, so I bought it without really weighing the merits of its non-artistry.  Once I got it home and studied it, I realized that it had no real merits.  It’s a cartoonish painting of a clownish jack-in-the-box; nothing more, nothing less.  There’s no artistry involved at all, so there can’t be any disconnect between intention and talent level, between what was imagined and what was portrayed.  To sum it up in one word, it’s boring.  So it sits in the back of a closet, waiting until I have a yard sale so that I can try to make my $1.50 back.

Exhibit B:  There’s no denying that this still life is bad.  The drape upon which the vase and flowers sit is not really recognizable as a piece of cloth at all (if, indeed, that’s what it is).  In fact, if you were to show this to a person who somehow had never seen a still life before,  they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you what was going on in the painting.  They might guess that a giant pot of flowers was washing down a mountainside in a cascading stream filled with extra-large eels…and I don’t think that they’d be incorrect.  When I saw this in the store, I thought that I had hit the jackpot.  It was so egregiously bad that there was no way it wouldn’t be the crown jewel in my collection.  But now it’s in the same closet as the clown.  I think that the problem with this piece is that the disconnect between ambition and talent level was just too, too wide.  I get the feeling that if this artist had tried to paint a simple rectangle,  that might even have been beyond his talent level.  So now I’ve learned that, for me at least, bad art must have a gap between the artist’s levels of proficiency and ambition, but not a chasm.

Exhibit C:  This is by the same artist as Exhibit B.  You may note that I’ve not named these pieces as I have the works in my permanent collection; since they’re never going to make it in, I’m not wasting the fifteen-to-twenty seconds each that it would take me to name ’em.  So we’ll just go with calling it Exhibit C.

The question of whether this work should be placed in the permanent collection was a thorny one for me.  On the one hand, I’m very fond of the bold lines and colors that the artist used to show what appears to be a herd of buildings nestled near a bridge.  On the other hand, most any first-grader could have cranked out this piece in about ten minutes.  In the end, the artist’s lack of any trace of discernible talent has kept this one from gracing my walls.

Exhibit D:  This is the fourth and last piece sitting in the back of my hall closet.  All things considered, it’s really not bad at all.  If it were to be placed in a decorative frame, it would probably look okay in a Mexican restaurant, or perhaps in a rent-to-own furniture store, or even in a bail bondsman’s office.  My home being none of those establishments, however, keeps this one off my walls for the time being.  If I ever add that Machu Pichu-inspired wing to my house, though, this one’s getting dusted off and hauled back out of the closet.

Next up: Conversating about my bad art quadrilogy

Since I seem to be on a roll discussing my bad art collection, I might as well give you a peek at a few more of my pieces.  Admittedly, the works highlighted today are not as life-altering as the others have been, but each has its own charms, for lack of a more precise word.

Today’s first piece is brought to you by the letters K and A and the number 2.  Why the obscure Sesame Street reference?  Because I can only hope and pray that this piece was done by a child:

"All Mimsy Were the Borogoves"

Even though you can’t tell from the photograph, the wall in the guest bedroom where this piece hangs is light blue.  I have no idea why my phone camera is not accurately reproducing the blue of the wall.  If this were a REAL art site, I’d be concerned.

This piece makes me really happy, mainly because the horses seem to be absolutely at peace with just being horses.  They’re not worried about the pink-eyed beast (which, I’ve got to note, is easily as large as them) lurking in the copse ahead.  And what are the white things on the beast’s face?  Teeth?  Whiskers?  Foamy slobber? (Yeah, ugh.)  I’d love to ask the artist about it.  But, alas, I don’t know who created this semi-wonderful work.

In fact, other than “The Centurion,” “It’s My Tern” (which I’ll show you in just a few moments), and one other piece that I’m saving to reveal later due to its utter ghastliness, none of the pieces in my collection are signed.  In a way, this is a good thing, in that nobody can actually be held responsible for creating these artworks.  But it’s also a little disappointing, in that I’m not able to promote the work of these artisans who, in most cases, put a lot of misplaced energy and passion in creating these objects d’art that now decorate my home.

The next piece is really not all that awful.  My mom came to visit one day, and she remarked that this next piece wasn’t really bad…it was just a bit primitive.  I see her point, but I also think that the piece is a rather poor primitive.  Judge for yourself:

"The Old Homeplace"

The artist of “The Old Homeplace” seems to have seen Bob Ross make some happy little trees before, and that lesson seems to have been learned pretty well.  Unfortunately, the artist seems unfamiliar with how steps work, and he or she has also apparently forgotten that most houses have doors to let their inhabitants in and out.  Other than that, though, it’s not too bad of a painting.  I also like that there’s a fence but no walkway nor even a path to the missing door.  Of course, that may explain both the missing door AND the missing walkway/path.  This piece just gets curiouser and curiouser.

The third item in my gallery showing today is another painting that’s not horribly bad, but there’s something about it that’s just not right:

"It's My Tern"

As you can see, it’s certainly not the worst piece in my collection, but there’s something about it that’s just…off.  I think that it has something to do with the bird, which looks a lot more like a chicken than the artist probably intended.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, this piece, while not signed, has some pertinent information on the back of the painting.  Here’s a photo of what’s written there (click on the photo for a larger image…and please forgive me my lack of photographic skill):

So, that explains the who, when, where, and what, but it doesn’t explain the most important question–why?  Something else interesting about the back of this piece is that it has a selling price written on it.  As to whether this piece sold at that price, or whether that was wishful thinking on the artist’s part, I’ll never know.  But here’s what’s written in the top-left corner on the back (or the bottom-left corner if you’re looking at the back from the…oh, you don’t care, do you?):

Wow!  That may not seem like a lot of money for a painting of this caliber, but that’s 1973 dollars.  Adjusted for inflation (thanks to The Inflation Calculator), this painting would sell today for $169.81!  Not that I’d be able to get that for it, but, then again, I doubt that the artist would either.

The last piece in our mini-tour today is my favorite of the batch.  It’s not currently on display in my house, as I can’t find the perfect (or an even vaguely adequate) spot for it.  I call it “Fearful Symmetry,” for reasons which I feel are painfully obvious:

"Fearful Symmetry"

My best guess as to how this piece came to be is that the artist had learned about symmetry and wanted to put it to use.  While the background is not entirely symmetrical, pretty much everything else about the piece IS.  Two deer, posing for the viewer, both with the same coloration and markings (even down to their antlers), each standing both in front of and behind three examples of some sort of winter-flowering vegetation.  It really is breathtaking, in the way that causes your lips to turn blue and your vision to go splotchy.

But, for me, there’s an even more exciting aspect to the painting than its symmetry, and that aspect would be the material on which it’s been painted.  When I first saw this piece, I thought, “Surely this hasn’t been painted on a cabinet door!  Who would be so desperately in need of expressing himself through art [N.B.:  In this case, I’ve got to assume that the artist is a guy] that he would use a cast-off cabinet door?”  The answer to that question is, well, this guy, for one.  Still hoping that I was wrong, I turned the piece over to check for tell-tale cabinetry clues, and this is what I found:

If you’re saying to yourself, “Hey, that looks like a felt pad that’s used to keep cabinet doors from being so loud when they’re shut,” you’d be absolutely right.  That there were two of these on the back, both on one side, one each at the top and the bottom, cemented my case.  But there was yet another clue to be discerned, and I found this one while admiring the unique form of picture hooks that the artist used:

For the moment, ignore the pull-tab ring at the bottom of the photo, and direct your gaze to the top right corner.  What’s that?  Why, it looks like three holes that are in a formation such as one might use to affix a HINGE to a CABINET DOOR!  I rest my case.

Oh, yeah, the pull-tab rings.  Genius, and perfectly fitting with the tone of the piece.

Next up:  Some art that I’ve bought that didn’t end up in the collection.

After my chance finding of “The Centurion” (see my previous post if you don’t know what I’m talking about), I started actively seeking out new pieces of bad art to add to my collection.  The only way for me to do this was (and still is) to hit up every thrift store within easy driving distance as often as possible.  Still, it was several weeks before I found some new pieces to add to my collection.

Amazingly (well, at least to me, anyway) I found my next three additions to the collection in the same day.  I found the first two sitting together at a thrift shop, and it’s obvious that they were done by the same artist.  Unfortunately, this artist neither signed his work nor plastered his name anywhere and everywhere on the back and/or sides of the piece (unlike J.D. Weston, the “Centurion” artist), so I have no idea who painted them.  Here they are:

"Yacht Girl"

“Yacht Girl” is now hanging over the toilet in my guest bathroom.  The yellow of the wall seems to go well with the yellow of the painting.  What I like about “Yacht Girl” is that the guy steering the yacht has no forearms.  (This seems to be a recurring motif with this artist.)  I’m also fond of the way the wind is whipping his clothes and hair around.  The yacht girl herself is just too awesome for words.  The frosted hair, the ginormous sunglasses, and her seeming lack of arms are all sterling qualities that put this piece miles ahead of most any other bathroom art I’ve ever seen.  In fact, I’d be willing to wager that this piece is the best bathroom art within a 30-mile radius, although I’m not going door-to-door to find out.  “Hi!” I’d say, when someone responded to my knocking at their door, “Can I look at your bathroom art?”  Nope, that’d take too long, and possibly get me arrested.

“Yacht Girl,” while incredible on its own, takes on an even more illustrious quality when paired with its companion piece, “Beach Girl”:

"Beach Girl"

It’s immediately obvious that the same artist painted both “Yacht Girl” and “Beach Girl.”  I appreciate having more than one work by an artist in my home–I feel almost like a patron of sorts.  Of course, since the artist donated these pieces to a thrift shop, I’m not really his (or her) patron, but I can pretend, can’t I?

“Beach Girl” hangs above the computer in my office at home, and she inspires me on a daily basis.  It’s obvious that she’s on a beach, yet there’s nothing in the piece that tangibly places her on a beach.  Sand?  Nope, unless it’s alarmingly white.  Sea?  Nope, unless it’s alarmingly black.  I like the odd angle that her neck is at.  I like that her bikini top and bottom are two different colors, and I like the way that her bikini bottom blends into the background so that you can’t tell where one stops and the other starts, and I like that her bikini top has no visible way of attaching to her body.  I like the traits that she shares with her sister in “Yacht Girl,” namely the glasses, the frosted hair, and, again, a lack of forearms.  About those glasses…hey, Beach Girl, George Romero called.  He wants his glasses back.

You would think that I would have been satisfied with getting both of these amazing pieces of art in one day.  You would be right.  But as fate would have it, there was one more piece of bad art out there waiting for me that day.  I found it at a second thrift store in town.  And it, too, features women:

"Three Sisters"

Wow.  Just wow.  After I bought these three pieces, I took them to work and asked for opinions.  I really didn’t know where I was going to hang this one, so I asked my co-workers for suggestions.  Among the display options they came up with were “in your garage” and “on any wall that is made of corrugated tin.”  “Three Sisters” now hangs in my living room, and it looks (I guess alarmingly) like it was made specifically for the space in which it hangs.

So, now I was up to four pieces of exquisitely bad art.  All were hung around the house.  Was there room for more?  Oh, yes, there was.

Most of you reading this will NOT know this about me, so I’ll tell the world now:  I collect bad art.

I was first turned on to bad art when I was given a link to the Museum of Bad Art’s webpage.  Since it’s done so much for me, I would be remiss not to share it with you.  Take a while to peruse it.  I’ll wait:

MOBA site

Man, but I love me some “Peter the Kitty”!

So, now that you know where I’m coming from, a little history is in order.

I picked up my first piece of bad art about four years ago at the Salvation Army Thrift Store in a nearby town.  At first I thought that, since it was art and it was relatively big (approximately 20″ by 24″), I couldn’t afford it, as I had only brought a few dollars with me.  Luckily, I took the time to look on the back of the canvas for a price and found one: $2.50.   The piece itself is quite remarkable in its own way, and as an added bonus, it’s not only signed, but it also has the artist’s name written in red ballpoint ink on the frame on the back and again on the top of the canvas, between staples.  Score!  (By the way, the artist’s name is J.D. [Jarmarcus Donta] Weston, in case you know him.)

So, here’s the first piece I ever bought (click on any picture in my blog for a bigger image):

"The Centurion"

It now proudly hangs on the wall of my dining nook.  As you can probably tell, this was a major find for me, and now all other pieces that I add to my collection must be at least as bad as this one.  I like that the artist attempted a religious theme–but I like it even more that his talent level wasn’t up to his aspirations.  And that’s really what bad art’s all about, isn’t it?

A co-worker pointed out that it might have had a bit more power if the artist hadn’t apparently used Scooby-Doo as his model for the demons on the left side of the piece.  I’m also really fond of the messed-up perspective on the cross, and the way that it appears that it’s being pushed by the centurion with his left shoulder.  One would think that the cross would be leaving 15-inch furrows in the road, but I guess that’s the power of the cross.

The blue angel, the plummeting albatross, the centurion’s bulging physique…there’s much to be admired and ridiculed here.

Although I haven’t contacted MOBA about starting a Southern branch here in Mississippi (I’ve certainly been meaning to, however), I feel sure that they’d be rather jealous of this piece if they were to see it.

So, that’s the piece that started it all. You do love it, don’t you?  Admit it.

I hope with this blog to bring to light some of my pop culture obsessions, most of which are decidedly unpopular with the majority of people.  If you like it (or even if you don’t like it), tell your friends about it, and don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed if you’re so inclined.  Besides, like John Belushi said in Animal House, it don’t cost nothin’.  While you’re at it, check out this blog’s sister blog, Psychotronica Redux, for movie reviews from the golden age of exploitation.

Next up: my biggest daily score EVER–three incredible pieces in one afternoon!