Have you ever been to an art show or art auction? I have been to a handful of art shows and exhibitions in recent years. Though I have never been to a professional auction. On the other hand I have been to four art auctions at my children’s school. A little over seven days ago a special annual art event was held at my son’s school. It was somewhat pleasant even though the kids made a ruckus. Dozens of families attended to see what their little artists had provided in what was indeed a treat of artistic expression. Now you have to remember these temperamental artists were aged between six and twelve, so if you thought you were going to see a Raphael or Monet I am afraid you are sadly mistaken. It’s not to say these kids can’t be the next great modern artist, you just have to set your expectation a little lower to start. However, there were definitely some wonderful paintings, collages, and textiles on display.
On the night my wife feverishly walked around avoiding that kid in school that everyone dislikes, who constantly picks their nose or shrieks with excitement. At the same time she was obliged to humour our son, parents and teachers about the wonderful job the children did this year. Armed with a ‘sold’ sticker in her hand, we were also required to find our son’s art work and buy it! Yes, a gold coin donation pretty much did it. Our first experience as art buyers! (I boycotted buying art work in all of my previously attended shows. The reason being because firstly you have to pay a family fee to get into the school art show, then you have to buy the ‘sold’ stickers, then there is food and drink on offer to buy, in order to stop your own child from nagging you to death, whom by the way you already fed at home. Apologies I needed to get that off my chest.)
After we slapped on the ‘sold’ sticker I began to reminisce about the only other time I came very close to purchasing ‘real’ art (and not your framed prints) by Australian artist Pro Hart. Then I wondered whether art critics would ‘love to hate’ this crop of would-be artists at my son’s school, as much as they ‘love to hate’ Pro Hart? Critics should tell aspiring artists that “If you are looking to be successful and make a career out of art, don’t bother. We will tear you down and compare you to the greats !” I guess being a commercial success is a no-no? The exception to the rule has to be Andy Warhol, right? By the way Andy Warhol art is up for grabs in November this year at Christies auctions. Portraits of Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando are expected to fetch a combined $US 130 million. Absolutely insane!
Nonetheless, I have transgressed off topic and must tell you that after we found our son’s artwork, we were pleasantly surprised. Wonderful I thought ! At the risk of sounding like an idiot, I asked my son what did his painting represent? He looked at me with a hint of contempt and said whatever dad. Ah, spoken like a true ten-year old artist.
I love art but I am not always a good judge at knowing the difference between good and bad art in the strictest sense. However I know what I do and I don’t like. I definitely appreciate the effort that my son and his peers put into their artwork. Some other people may disagree, as might those pretentious art experts. I always say that you can’t trust an art expert for their opinion when it is often hard enough understanding them. Art is (to me) a means of expression and communication. If it is interesting, haunting, disturbing or beautiful, then anyone including my son has achieved as an artist.
By the way, I enquired overnight whether I could get my son’s art work onto the ‘for sale’ list at one of those professional auction houses. They politely frowned at me. They must have sensed my disappointment and decided to offer to buy my son’s artwork at double the price for what I payed for it. By now I had come to my senses and passed on their offer. “Come on” I said, “It’s priceless!”
All photographs by Robert Horvat