Art Eyes Peeled

article by Erika Sampson

Last August I read a book titled, The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild. Since then I have been scouting for meaningful art to take home, despite having a bedroom arguably flooded with it. Her book was not the most eloquently written, but it has stuck with me for almost a year, which is impressive. The basic premise of the book (without spoiling) is a woman unknowingly purchases a painting from an obscure vintage shop, and it turns out to be an original worth millions of dollars. She bought it because it stuck out and not because she thought it ought to stick out. The irony was that buying a piece that was seemingly worth nothing ended up being worth the most. It was her authentic appreciation for an otherwise unremarkable piece of art that attracted me to Rothschild’s story. 

I suppose Rothschild would be proud; as similar to her protagonist I journeyed into a vintage shop last week and purchased a piece that genuinely resonated with me. However, I doubt it is worth millions. The store I went to is on Bank Street, and after a deep Google Maps search I discovered the shop is called Value Hunter’s Corner, if, dearest reader, you are so inclined to visit. It was incredibly jam packed with dishes, 50s suitcases, fabulous clothing, and beat up copies of Twilight like all thrift stores (hehe). However, for the purpose of this article the shop’s art section is where we will zero in on. 

Let us begin with some photos that sum up the art inventory quite nicely:

Ladies and gentlemen, there is so much art here. I offhandedly spent close to an hour sifting through the literal piles of art with my friend. Both of us walked away with pieces, and here is the one I snagged:

Screen Shot 2019-08-03 at 8.57.39 PM

I have been trying to discover information about the artist and the girl in the painting with no such luck. But truthfully, I almost like the mystery better; the artist and subject matter could therefore be anything, and that leaves my imagination free to run wild. Maybe this print is the last of its kind, and it’s priceless? But maybe it is actually worth less than the fifteen dollars that I paid for it. But that is the cool part is it not? I want this painting despite not knowing its value, because I simply enjoy it. 

Going into Value Hunter’s Corner was a great experience. I did have to wash my hands immediately after leaving the store because of dirt and dust, but that is how you know it is legit. I do recommend Rothschild’s book not necessarily for its content, but the messages surrounding mainstream art and media. Mainstream art is exhausting, and really quite over referenced. How many times have you seen Monet, Van Gogh, and/or Da Vinci? The answer is likely a lot.That is not to say you cannot enjoy mainstream art or artists; rather that with access to excess art you should perhaps widen your horizon. Pick and invest in art that speaks to you, and not to the world.

If you do not know what art speaks to you yet, then use the ‘world’s art’ as a starting point. Visit art galleries without knowing the artists you are looking at, and make decisions from there. Research, read, and be mindful of the art you are calling your favourite. 

One thing I consciously do when visiting family and friends’ houses, is observe the art they choose to showcase. It always leaves me wondering; did you hang these paintings for yourself or your guests? Are your artistic choices truly your own? How can you prove that the art you love or like is really your favourite and not what we are programmed to like? This got slightly more ‘matrix-y’ than I had intended, but my point still stands. Be wary and cognizant of the artistic decisions you make, because art is supposed to be personal (right?).

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