One summer several years ago, when my husband and I were under-employed graduate students with too much time on our hands, we bought a painting. Since we both love art and were bored, we got cracked on the idea that we should have more art in our house. Given our under-employed status, we weren’t in a position to head to a gallery or even an art fair to buy something. So, in a flash of genius we turned to Craigslist, and I can’t recommend highly enough that you do the same thing. It’s the garage sale of the Internet!
We found a lot of fascinating junk. My husband’s sense of irony is better developed than mine, and he argued for several Thomas Kinkade-esque works. Then we stumbled upon an ad for several oil paintings by a Ukranian man. They had been brought back to Minnesota (our home at the time) by a friend who was selling them on his behalf. We settled on a painting of a Neoclassical church in Kiev, the name of which I can’t recall. I can’t recall the artist’s name either, though it’s written on the back of the painting, which we are still yet to frame. It’s nothing special. I don’t pretend that I own an impressive work of art. But it’s a pleasant scene that speaks to me for its vaguely Slavic subject matter. It also reminds me of the halcyon days of that summer in Minneapolis. The painting sits modestly on my wall, in its unframed nakedness, and makes me happy every day.
In our new home in Seattle we have a problematic wall near our dining table that needs to be covered up, but we don’t have anything that will fit in that spot. So, remembering our success in Minnesota, we decided to look on Craigslist again. Man was it fun! Some of the delights I stumbled upon in my search: really good/really creepy paintings by a man who claimed God told him to paint, an oil painting of two Chihuahuas, a framed painting of Shrek and his girlfriend (forgive me for not knowing the character’s name) admiring a sunset, and a “beautiful” male (?) nude seen from behind. These are just a few standout examples of some of the stuff Craigslist has to offer.
But I also found several paintings I’d be tempted to buy if I weren’t so busy/lazy. A simple, but interesting composition of pink flowers in a vase against a dark background. (It looks like it might have come from a Home Goods or an IKEA, but out of context it seems one-of-a-kind!) A strange, surrealist landscape with bare trees in an unearthly golden-hued setting. (By a Ukrainian!) An intriguing snow scene. These were only the things in my price range. If you’re willing to shell out $40,000, there’s a Garri Dadyan dagger for sale. As well as other serious works of art.
I am fully convinced that the most interesting and beautiful things in the world are found in unexpected places. Also: Hooray for the wacky stuff you’d never want to buy! It’s fun to look at and fascinating in its own right.