What Does It Mean?

spiller twoblondes 600When my children were younger, I co-owned an art gallery called Spiller Vincenty on King Street in San Marco. I won’t deny my kids had an avant-garde upbringing, with artists coming and going, performance pieces being enacted on makeshift stages (and once in a blow-up baby pool), and the aspect of our home ever-changing as paintings were recycled and works of art were sold off of the living room walls like gewgaws at a church bazaar.
There were times when one of my children’s friends would titter at a Laurie Hitzig nude, or startle at a realistic Jeff Whipple sculpture, but for the most part, our lives and the lives of our friends and family were simultaneously enriched and desensitized by the barrage of  artistic expression that surrounded us.
Spiller Vincenty Gallery is long gone, but I still do some consulting and I had the good fortune to place art in a fabulous beach house recently with curious result. We were in the middle of renovations and there was a surfeit of workmen, designers and technicians scurrying about, the air rife with the dramatic sturm und drang of missed deadlines and impending renters.
I’m blithely hanging a Jim Draper oil on canvas portrait over a banquette, minding my own business, whenspiller draperIMG_0210 600 the job foreman says, “What is that? That guy’s eye is poked out. You can’t put that up there. It’s disgusting. It’s not even beachy.”
The painting has a robin’s egg blue background. There is a swan involved. There is also a man looking distressed, with a shadowy eye that might be a bit gouged and disturbing. The painting is gorgeous to my eyes, but it would never be described as “beachy”.
I ignore the critique and walk down the hall with a Kurt Polkey oil on canvas. The painting is divided into three sections; the largest image is of two blondes who appear to be smiling or sneering, depending upon how you see the glass of water. The other images are an incongruous light bulb and a motorcycle. l begin to measure sixty inches to the center of the painting; as I measure to the center of the wall, someone says, “That’s gonna be too high. It should be lower – and are those Siamese twins?” A couple of people have gathered and another guy says, “I think that’s supposed to be blood slashed across the front.”
Oh for heaven’s sake. Is everybody Vito Schnabel on this job?

Read More By Marilyn Spiller

Author: Arbus

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