Dear Kelsey…

Dear Kelsey,

You and I have never met but yesterday I saw your incredible artwork at a thrift shop in downtown Seattle. I loved your use of color and, of course, I’m a big fan of any painting that includes a dog! But I was in a bit of a hurry and left the store without buying anything.

Then, last night as I was lying in bed scrolling through Twitter I saw a Tweet from Lin-Manual Miranda:

Instantly, your pieces came back to mind and I wished I had purchased them.

This morning I thought, “Hmmm…maybe after I run my errands I’ll swing back by and see if they are still there.” But as I had feared, I completed three full laps around the store and couldn’t find them anywhere. I was about to give up and surrender to the golden rule of thrift shopping: If you don’t buy it when you see it, someone else will. But just as I was about to leave, I decided to check the front corner one last time – perhaps the guy who had been blocking the bottom shelf while looking at the assortment of vinyl’s had finally moved on and I could make sure they weren’t accidentally mixed in with the stacks of records. 

YAHTZEE!

I couldn’t believe it, there they were…

I grabbed them and triumphantly marched up to the register where I learned that all pictures were 50% off – which meant I got both of your pieces for $3.30. Should you ever stumble upon this blog post and decide you want them back, let me know and maybe we can cut a deal 🙂

I have no idea when you did these, how old you were then, or are now…but I sincerely hope you are still painting because they are fantastic and I think you are extremely talented. I am a big fan of your work, Kelsey!

Sincerely,

Megan

Once Upon a Time in Barcelona…

In 2017 I left North America for the first time. With the exception of Canada and Mexico, I had never been anywhere outside of the United States. I was long overdue to get lost in a foreign city, wandering down unfamiliar streets and imagining what my life would be like if I lived there. I had set-up a few “fare alerts” through various travel sites and when a cheap flight to Barcelona popped up late night, I booked it on a whim.

Upon learning that I was FINALLY taking the trip I had been talking about for years, my best friend from high school bought a ticket as well. (Side note: nothing can test a 20-year friendship quite like spending a week together in a foreign country…but don’t worry, we made it).

Barcelona was everything I had dreamed of and more. As this isn’t a travel blog I will spare you the details of experiencing the sights, sounds and tastes of La Boqueria or enumerating our afternoon at the mountainside monastery of Montserrat but I will say that I definitely left a piece of my heart in that city.

Before I left, I bought this little painting off an artist on Las Rambla.

For about $15 U.S. dollars, I brought back my own little slice of Spain and every time I look at this painting I am right back in Barcelona.

The Thrift Shop Obsession…

I know I’ve mentioned Goodwill once already, but this piece is where my obsession with buying thrift shop art started. Up until this point, I was very selective. I would not give my hard-earned dollars away without certificates of authenticity or hand-written stories. But that all changed when I saw something that I couldn’t take my eyes off of. It was an odd trio that looked like an Expressionist/Fauvism/Cubism hybrid – if that’s even a real thing (which it probably isn’t). But anyways, there it was on the shelf and I knew I had to have it…

In Seattle, you will find a Goodwill flagship store on S. Lane St. and I am not exaggerating when I say that, on a good day, I could spend hours there. This is one of the first thrift shop pieces of art I bought when I moved here in 2012; and it is safe to say that it has become one of my favorites.

No idea who the artist is/was and probably paid about $3 for it…


The Needle…

In early October of 2015 I went to the Goodwill in Bellevue, WA looking for part of my Halloween costume. As I wandered around the store, my eyes locked on a very large painting learning up against a wall. After some brief negotiations, I was able to secure a final price of $20. I brought the canvas home and spent many hours trying to figure out what I wanted to do with it. Finally, I decided to go buy some gesso (white Italian chalk paint) and make it a blank canvas again, thinking maybe that would inspire me. Still nothing.

Randomly, an idea popped into my head: maybe a mosaic?

“Hmmm, that could be cool,” I thought. I watched a couple of YouTube videos and decided that’s what I was going to do. While all of this contemplation was going on, I also happened to buy a condo in downtown Seattle. A sweet “little” spot on First Hill (and I use “little” in air-quotes because it is literally very small).

The idea was coming together…I would make something for my new house; a housewarming gift to myself, if you will. The vision started coming together and pretty soon I was making progress.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but long story-short here is what the finished product looked like:

Yes, that’s correct: I don’t just buy things I like, I also make them. This is one of the pieces I am probably most proud of ❤

Welcome, Huichols…

The Huichol Indians (pronounced Wee-shol) are descendants of the the Aztecs. They are a Shamanic tribe who live in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. Their art was first documented in the late 1800’s and is an exploration of their culture.

Recently, my best friend was visiting Seattle and we wandered into a shop at Pike Place Market owned, for the past 28 years, by a woman who travels to Mexico every 6 weeks looking for pieces to bring back to America.

This is a yarn painting, which is made by pressing yarn into bees wax. The Huichols use bold colors, imagery and symbolism; like The Deer Spirit, Paritzica. I love that there is a hand-written story on the back. That’s not something you can get from buying a piece of art from Target.

My BFF bought me this as my Christmas present this year and it is probably one of the best gifts I have ever received in my entire life.


The Fridas…

Even if you don’t know much about her, you’ve probably at least heard her name. Frida Kahlo was self-taught, which is probably what I love most about her.

“Kahlo’s paintings often feature root imagery with roots growing out of her body to tie her to the ground, reflecting in a positive sense the theme of personal growth; in a negative sense of being trapped in a particular place, time and situation; and finally in an ambiguous sense of how memories of the past influence the present for either good and/or ill.” -Wikipedia

While I have yet to see any of her works in real life, I bought these four prints because, inexplicably, I feel drawn to everything about her. Having them in my house makes me smile. That’s why I bought them.

As these are reproductions, I have no idea who the original artist is/was. I paid $40 for all 4 of them. Zero regrets.

The piece that started it all…

The first original painting I ever bought was at an art festival in Palo Alto, CA. I had moved west for my first full-time job out of college in the spring of 2005 and, at the time, a friend from high school was living in neighboring Mountain View while her boyfriend was getting his PhD at Stanford (total underachiever). I’m not entirely sure what drew me to this piece – which, I assure you, will be a very common theme here – but I have held on to it as I’ve moved around the country over the past 10+ years. I remember how excited I was that it came with a real certificate of authenticity and perhaps in that moment, the Idiot Art Collector was born.

“Absolut Starry Nite” by David Schwartz: http://www.artzworks.com