Part of the fun of claiming the title for yourself of “artist” is that you get to get away with a lot of things that “regular” people don’t allow themselves once they become grown-ups. The child-like enthusiasm for things just because they amuse you quickly gets socialized out of most children by the time they’re five….sigh! I’ve always had the habit of picking up things off the street that catch my eye, simply because I like the way that they look.What catches my eye, however, is …well…quirky.
I had a beloved grandmother, and even though she didn’t have much money, she would get up every morning in the 50s and 60s, put on a fake pearl necklace, and mop the kitchen floors or whatever house work needed to be done. For her, and during that time period, that bit of adornment was considered to be quite quirky. I credit her with my flair for the dramatic and attraction for unusual things. While she never would have chosen many of the things that I do, she did like the gusto with which I pursued life and enthusiastically encouraged me to be my own self.
In the photo above, in the upper right, is an assortment of pins that I’ve worn throughout my life. The one in the upper right is one that I bought my mother after visiting Washington, DC with the safety patrols when I was in the 6th grade. The word “Mother” covers the pin clasp, and underneath it hangs a heart with the outline of the Capitol building. I think she wore it once, just to be polite, as she always “loved” the presents I bought her, even if it was a bouquet of dandelions. Years later, I found the pin in her jewelry drawer, and she was more than happy to give it back to me. In the middle of the bottom row, is another heart with flames on it that I bought much later in life. So it was hearts when I was little and hearts when I got older. Some things, you just have to own!
The piece of scrap metal in the photo on the left (4″ tall or 10.5cm x 3″ total width or 7.5cm) I found out in the Albany Landfill near Berkley, California. After the site was filled with trash, it was turned into a dog walking park. Many of the homeless and street artists have created amazing sculptures and other art forms from scrap metal that surfaces as the weather and nature reclaim what’s there. I found this tiny piece of scrap metal squashed in a muddy pool while walking around in the park. It reminded me of the girders that remained after the devastation at the World Trade Centers, so I kept the piece to honor those who had died in that tragedy. For me, the more memorable scenes from that disaster were the photos taken of the huge piles of rubble, with metal sticking out in all directions, so this little mini version is as close as I hope to come to devastation on that scale.
At the head of my stairs is a large planter that has been decorated with a variety of additions over the years. One of the more distinctive pieces is an embellished hub cap. (Round… like a giant button…like the ones I use in my art quilts…see the connection?) There used to be an old house on a road near me that sold hub caps. The outside of the place was covered with hundreds of them, and one day, while driving by, I happened to see this one. I quickly made a U-turn and went in to buy it. The owner was quite surprised when I only wanted to purchase one and was even more dumbfounded when he heard that I wanted to make a piece of sculpture with it. I painted most of the outer rim and the curves with metallic gold paint, and then blackened the inner circle with paint for contrast. In the center, there’s glued one of the remnants of a soldered piece I made years ago when I was taking a metal sculpture class. While it took nearly 20 years later to find a use for that little remnant, it now sits proudly in the center of my hub cap sculpture.
In the film, “Forrest Gump”, his mother offers him the advice at an early age that “Stupid is as stupid does”. My take on that adage was that if he didn’t act stupid, people wouldn’t treat him that way. I however, in the title of this piece, invite like-minded souls out there to reclaim their inner child-like curiosity and go forth and be quirky. The world is too homogenized as it is with its cookie cutter approach for the masses on how to fit in and be just like every body else. I’m here to wave my magic wand, (and I have several) proclaiming that you don’t have to be an artist to be quirky!
How do you let your inner child out to play?
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