When I was a boy I collected coffee mugs. And comic books. And trading cards. And seashells, and legos, and coins, and costumes, and when I’m not careful that tendency to hoard invades my adult life and I find myself living with dust covered shame. I knew, as I set out on the Flashdance tour, that I would inadvertently accumulate things along the road. I figured there was no stopping the addiction, but there might be salvation in setting goals.
Instead of eschewing collecting altogether, I gave my greedy brain a purpose: find art for my walls. I’ve spent so many years hopping from apartment to apartment that I’ve become accustomed to blank walls, to clutter as decoration. I vowed to end that rut.
While we performed in Seattle, I spent a number of days eating and wandering Pike Place Market. Much of the art was either not to my liking, or so cheap it exclaimed mass production, but on an inspection of the Market’s lower level, I found a store selling reprints of old advertising posters. I sifted through the pile of food adverts, setting aside those I thought would fit my sensibilities or hopeful color scheme. Just as I had settled on a trio I peaked into the corner of the store and found a collection of unsorted paper junk that was being sold for mere dollars.
Bargain-hound that I am, I set forth flipping through the trash. And then I found gold. A box of Betty Crocker recipe cards from the early ‘70’s, as tacky and tasteless as you might imagine. An odd thing then happened, my new brain kicked in and instead of insisting that I march to the cashier and purchase the entire stack, it suggested that I curate the collection, give it direction and scope.
And so, with a mission in mind, I separated the cards into piles, looking for some ellusive theme. I picked cards with funny titles, “Man Pleasing Appetizers,” “Nutty Nibblers,” but pressed for something more art-worthy. Then, as I laid out my colelction of silly recipes, I saw it. The revolting food styling of the collection oftentimes made for photos that were nearly monochromatic. A strawberry cobbler against a red background, a bowl of snap peas on a green placemat. It was perfect. My fingers flew, flipping the cards, hunting for colors.
I would frame them and spread the colors of the rainbow on my dining wall. From afar, it would be a color piece, up close a hysterical look at how far we’ve come in the kitchen. Once home I wanted to frame the cards individually (far too expensive for such a kitschy collection), but went to Ikea in search of some more affordable plan.
I found a large frame, the Norrlida, perfect for mounting the cards in long lines. I bought four, scrambled home to find some photo-corners and set to work. A little bit of math made straight lines and good spacing, and now the placards to bad cooking hang over my dinner table. Thank you, dear brain, for sticking to the plan these past 6 months and coming home with art, not clutter.
Starting out in a new apartment? Living on a budget? Art doesn’t have to come from galleries, frame things you like, find magazine images, newspaper clippings with meaning. A cheap frame elevates even the slightest scrap. Curate your walls!