Minor Art curated by the REASONABILISTS

1st Prize winner Nora Hartlaub on Minor Art Exhibit

I copied the picture very slowly, and oh-so-carefully.  Line for line, form for form, the magazine picture guided my eyes and hand in a pencil and water-color replica of the published photograph.  My selected subject was a crumb-ling two-story farmhouse with cows milling around about it.  Trying as hard as I could to reproduce perfectly each shabby shingle, every stamped down blade of grass, I fulfilled my high school art assignment in a concentrated effort of unfamiliar enthusiasm.  At sixteen, (or was it fifteen) I realized that art school was beginning to creep around the corners.

I believe it may have taken me a few weeks of allocated art class time to complete the painting.  I was quite proud of it, as it really did look just like the photograph, which, of course, was really the only goal with art at that point.  Upon finishing, I handed it in to my “browns-fan-turned-art-teacher” for grading.  Unbeknownst to me, he tucked it under his arm and carted it straight away to the AV room.  There he hacked off the bottom portion of the painting in the paper cutter, and then proceeded to feed it through the laminator.

I was devastated.  He had ruined the composition, cut off the best cow I had done, and had thrown out the remains with no remorse.  Butcher!  So effected was I by it, that I couldn’t even begin to entertain the thought of confronting him, I just went home and cried.

About or around this same time, a friend of my Fathers introduced me to the idea of showing some work in a public venue of some sort.  Somehow, within some period of time (this is fuzzy), my Mother ended up driving me towards down town into this neighborhood with close set houses and older cars.  The name of the neighborhood rolled around in my mouth as I peered out the window at houses, a park, and old storefronts moving by,…Tremont.

Although I had never associated artists with lawyers before, that’s where I was heading, towards both, simultaneously. We were heading for Jean Brandt’s law office slash gallery.

The only thing I remember well at all was the chicken.  Walking into the store front, you were confronted by a maze work of two by fours and chicken coup, complete with the cock himself.  I could tell my Mom was confused.  I, on the other hand, loved it.  The art people were some kind of secret organization.  They were hip, using words that my teachers would have deemed worth fifty cents.  They weren’t like my parents, or any other adults I had ever had contact with.   And so I left them two pictures, one being the massacerred watercolor of that old farm house copied form a photograph ripped from a magazine. (one might actually want to explore this idea seriously at this point), and the other, a linolium block print of my Dad’s head, also laminated.

Now things become almost dark as I strain to remember the order of events…I suppose it was a Friday night possibly that I received a call from an unknown man.  He was one of the secret society of art people.  He was calling to tell me that I had actually won the Minor Art show with my watercolor, that they had thought it was good, and that I should come down to receive my prize.  Unfortunately, no one was home to drive me, so I just had to accept over the phone.  I guess I really didn’t know what to think.  I recall that some amount of money was given as the prize, but whether it was twenty dollars or fifty dollars I cannot tell.

I think I was almost embarrassed about winning with a picture I knew had been ruined by a middle-aged man who was definitely a teacher before an artist.  But regardless, I’m sure I was thrilled to tell my parents when they got home.  And I’m sure that without realizing it at the moment, the experience of opening myself to a small public was seminal in my young development.

Later, my Mom had the painting framed, which is probably what saved it from getting ruined somewhere along the line.  It now hangs in the back spare bedroom where a visitor every few years might glance upon it…. and where I can savor a few memories of high school, my first show, and the mess that has happened since.

Nora Hartlaub
Minor Art
1st prize winner
June 20 – July 19, 1992

raku sculpture (in pieces) - Victoria Semarjian

Minor Art words from Victoria Semarjian

Pot after pot, sculpture after sculpture. In the kiln carefully, but never making it past a first was, my face sculpture, all in one piece, sitting alone and proud in the kiln. Now for a few coats of glaze and out to the gas kiln to perform the ritualistic raku firing. Despite my lack of Asian-ness, I prayed to my Asian gods with hopes that phase two would leave my sculpture unscathed. Low & behold, someone heard my cries. It made it through. For weeks, I coveted my little sculpture like it was the Hope Diamond.

A month or two later, I was asked to participate in a show of young artists at Southside Gallery. Immediately, I knew my masterpiece would finally be seen by someone other than my mom and dad. I eagerly submitted it along with a painting. As Minor Art neared, I could barely contain my excitement.

As a frequenter of the pre-renaissance Tremont, I thought I’d pop into the gallery to see how the installation was going. To my dismay or rather to my horror. There it was the piece de resistance in several (4 to be exact) pieces atop a pedestal. Now, I was pretty sure I hadn’t delivered it that way, but perhaps it really had blown up in the kiln and my in tact sculpture was just a fantasy. Jean Brandt broke it to me gently. There had been an accident, while hanging the show someone had bumped the…and everything seemed to go silent. I could see Jean’s mouth moving, but couldn’t hear a word. All I could hear is the sound of my heart and sculpture shattering.   After a moment of silence and a bit of regrouping, we all decided it was worth showing anyhow.  My paintings at that time were of a deconstructed theme, so it seemed appropriate.

By the time the show had closed, I was at peace with the death of my sculpture. In fact, I had already planned for it’s rebirth as a part of something far greater. When I went to pick up my work, it became apparent that someone liked my sculpture as much as I did. One of the faces of my sculpture was missing. Yes, gone. Lifted straight from it’s pedestal and pocketed by someone other than it’s rightful owner. It was at that moment in time that I learned a few very important life philosophies that I practice to this day.  First, never get too attached to anything material. Easy come, easy go. And second, if someone loves something you have created and it will bring them pleasure from day to day, give it to them…  for free.  Prosperity can be measured in more ways than just money.

Minor Art
June 20 – July 19, 1992
curated by
Reasonabilists David Madigan and Terry Durst
featuring works by individuals between the ages of 13 and 21 years of age.
Three cash prizes awarded on REASONABILIST response to the meaning and feeling of the pieces.

Reasonabilist Statement

If there isn’t a title card, the piece is untitled and the artist’s name appears on the piece.  If there isn’t an artist, or a title card, then you don’t exist.

That poignant moment when the piece fell from your pedestal and crashed to the floor.
No more piece, just pieces – we could commit suicide – and make no more mistakes, or continue to live and fuck-up.  WE ARE MORE THAN VERY SORRY.

I couldn’t give a shit about the stupid incident.  All’s I know’s that we were measuring and reacted to something else and WHAM!, down it went and I am coming to dinner.  I know Terry must feel real bad, I do.  Or maybe it’s awkwardness he feels.  I think I am a professional sometimes but when something like this happens it makes you question your own position, and respect other’s more, in respect to your own.

“We’re not sure yet” is a common expression of ours, and “Maybe you should stick to vodka” really stuck.

P.S.  It’s well-hung, isn’t it? Donations from winners to Church of REASONABILISM are accepted kindly.

David Madigan

Every time you drill a hole you fuck.

Terry Durst

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