We now have more art than we have wall space. We could make the Louvre look like an annex.
A painting on canvas of a big red barn with a blue sky leans against my desk. A bright orange pumpkin caps my towering “to do” pile, and a family portrait, in which one of the grands drew herself, her mom and dad, and omitted her siblings, is tucked behind the buffet in the dining room.
The pieces are fine art in that they are fine considering the ages of the children who created them.
We have masterpieces in crayon, pencil, tempera and ballpoint pen. We have pictures of babies, unicorns, tulips, turtles, heavy machinery, tall buildings, vases of flowers, spaceships, aliens, trees, parks, wild animals, night skies and all four seasons.
We also have a lot of, ahem, modern art, if you get my drift.
“Can you tell me about this drawing? What is happening here? I like the way these lines look like a giant ball of tangled string.”
When conversations with the artists do little to bring clarity, we classify these as “postmodern, untitled.”
This is every parent and grandparent’s dilemma, what to do with your art surplus when you’re related to the artists.
It would be easier to throw away a Rembrandt. I’m not related to Rembrandt. I didn’t monitor his mother’s labor and delivery by text. I wasn’t there moments after he was delivered. I never changed his diaper, rocked him to sleep, burped him or made him chocolate chip cookies.
Swoosh! There’s goes a Rembrandt into the trash.
The thing about budding artists is that they like their work displayed, which is why we have refrigerator doors. Alas, the refrigerator only holds so much.
Where do we store all these treasures? What do we do when we are finally overtaken by pictures of unicorns?
“Where’s my painting, Grandma?” is followed by Grandma suffering sharp pangs of guilt.
A friend has a large basement filled with huge plastic tubs holding every scrap of artwork her children created in school. Late at night, she goes downstairs, sits on the cold, concrete floor and spends hours going through the tubs, pulling out drawings and paintings, reminiscing, clutching the artwork to her chest, shedding tears over days gone by.
No she doesn’t. She never opens any of the tubs. They sit there untouched, collecting dust.
On the upside, if her kids ask where a drawing is of a caterpillar one of them made at age 6, she can honestly say, “It’s in here somewhere.”
I’d rather say the caterpillar became a butterfly and took flight.
Our present Microwave to Oblivion system works fairly well. We pile art on top of art on top of the microwave. They see corners of their work when they visit. We slowly eliminate from the bottom of the pile and, by that time, the artists have added new masterpieces to the top of the pile.
I don’t know how we live with ourselves.
I wonder what Rembrandt’s mother did.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at email@example.com.