Copyright © 1998 All Rights Reserved.
by FFWD Staff
The Museum of Bad Art
Sept 18 - 27
125 - 8 Ave S.W. (formerly the Banke)
10 am - 6 pm
What is bad art anyway?
When I was studying art at university, there was a guy doing western paintings, i.e., pictures of cowboys, horses and so on. Although he was no Remington, he didn't deserve the terrible marks he kept getting.
I believe his painting professor simply thought all western art was bad, and the student was being judged not on how he painted, but what he painted.
Then again, I'm sure that many western art aficionados feel the same way about the postmodern and conceptual art we see in public museums. (And, at times, who can blame them?)
Or what about Boris Vallejo, who paints those buxom warrior women and longhaired muscular louts whacking the heads off large lizards with their scimitars. Vallejo is obviously a talented artist, but what about his art?
And that brings to mind a whole slew of bad-good artists like Adolphe W. Bouguereau and his cronies from 19th century Paris and their phony mythological pictures of scantily-clad nymphs prancing about in the woods.
Of course art needs to be viewed in context, and there's usually good and bad in every genre. One summer I accompanied a friend of mine, who was born and raised on a ranch in Southern Alberta, to the annual Calgary Stampede art exhibit. She had a great time pointing out paintings done by artists who didn't seem to know a heck of a lot about horses.
Nor is there a shortage of Vallejo-imitators out there. The other day I saw the work of one on the side of a van - a Viking woman with melon-sized breasts, but no hands or face to speak of.
And yet, even these Heavy Metal wannabes may find a place of honor at The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA). Since it's inception in 1993 - when a Boston antique dealer chanced upon its first painting protruding between two trash cans on a curb - MOBA has put together the world's finest collection of crudely-rendered, illogically-conceived, tacky, weird and just plain lousy paintings and sculptures (each piece purchased for under $6.50 U.S. - a fact that Canadian customs officials had difficulty believing when the exhibit arrived in town).
Located in a movie theatre basement near Boston, the museum is on a mission to "bring the worst of art to the widest of audiences."
Fortunately for Calgarians, over 25 works of art from MOBA's permanent collection are coming our way, and can be seen at the old Banke nightclub during ArtWeek. The exhibit includes recent additions to the collection such as "Morning Breath," the Canadian piece "Under the Rainbow," and a painting with the intriguing title "Dog Was Spotted at the Copenhagen Tugboat Personnel Union Head Quarters in Amsterdam."
The frightening thing about MOBA art is that although it looks like junk, it also reminds me of works I've seen at art school and even galleries (certain abstract paintings spring to mind) - and, in fact, most of it is thoroughly entertaining.
It's sort of like watching an Edward D. Wood Jr. movie. Even though Wood has been dubbed the world's worst director (if you think he's bad, try watching Robert Berry's House of Dreams), his low-budget classics like Glen or Glenda - a semi-autobiographical paean to transvestitism - are unintentionally hilarious. Wood's films promote a witless joie de vivre that just can't be replicated in slick Hollywood productions.
Similarly, MOBA's artworks combine the naive spontaneous sensibilities of folk art and children's art and revive the human element often missing from the overintellectualized world of contemporary art.
(Marie Jackson, MOBA's "director of aesthetic interpretation" and Leslie Dawn, professor of art history at U of L, will discuss "What is good and what is bad art?" at the Glenbow Museum Theatre at 7 p.m. Saturday, September 26.)
Back To This Issue Table of Contents
Back To Main Index