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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Trash and thrift store art show profiles the tastefully tacky

    Rebecca Noble

    Patrons wander throughout the Maker House on Saturday during the one night exhibit of Tales From The Trash – A Thrift Store Art Show, an exhibition curated by Steve Purdy, Mark Bloom and Tim Beard. The gallery features a collection of amateur art from local thrift stores and garage sales.

    The odd, eccentric and amateur stole the spotlight at the Maker House on Saturday during Tales From The Trash – A Thrift Store Art Show.

    For one night only, artwork found at yard sales, thrift shops, flea markets and dumpsters was put on display for the public to enjoy and purchase while live music was provided by local musicians. Throughout the two gallery rooms, coffeehouse area and backyard, show visitors could be seen finding amusement at the strange collection of paintings.

    “Most thrift store art, the artists don’t intend it to be bad art or unusual,” said Steve Purdy, co-curator and creator of Tales from the Trash.

    The typical art gallery tends to be a quiet, insightful place where those with a love of sophisticated artwork can discuss a piece’s hidden messages or the specific techniques an artist used to elicit a certain effect.

    Tales of the Trash’s genre of art and subject matter make it a bit different.

    The skill level of the unknown artists featured in the show ranged from an 8-year-old child attending summer art classes to a hobbyist painter whose paintings just weren’t good enough to make a career out of.

    The co-curators titled each piece with names such as “Jesus and his New Dentures,” “Nun with a Gun” or “Metamorphosis of the Dragons of Capitalistic Ruin,” earning laughs from gallery visitors.

    Purdy, also the owner of Lysergic Sound Distributors record company, otherwise known as L.S.D. Records, has been collecting thrift store art for many years. His love of this odd genre began on a trip to Santa Fe, N.M., with his wife. While they were perusing a thrift store looking for vinyl records, a painting caught his wife’s eye.

    “My wife comes up to me with this picture of this puffy-cheeked, fat baby, and I said, ‘That’s ridiculous. I’m buying it,’” Purdy said. From then on, Purdy continued searching thrift shops, garage sales and the like for more art of the sort.

    After collecting a significant amount of thrift-store artwork, a local artist and friend of Purdy’s offered to host an event to showcase Purdy’s collection at his gallery in downtown Tucson. Purdy then assembled his collection and held the first-ever Tales from the Trash in September 2012.

    The event was a huge hit with several hundred people attending, Purdy said, so he decided to make the gallery an annual event. However, when the owner of the original venue sold his gallery, Purdy had trouble trying to find a place to host the event.

    Because of these planning difficulties, there was no show in 2013. But when Purdy discovered the Maker House earlier this year, he found his new venue and was able to resurrect Tales of the Trash.

    Mark Bloom, another collector of thrift store art, attended the first Tales of the Trash. After meeting Purdy, Bloom decided to work with him on this year’s art show as a co-curator.

    “You can definitely argue that some of it is bad,” Bloom said, “but there’s still some quality that it has that I find attractive.”Along with Purdy and Bloom, Tim Beard is also a co-curator for Tales of the Trash.

    “It’s just a fun event,” Purdy said, “where you can look at some goofy art, see a bunch of our friends, laugh; that’s really what it’s all about.”


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