When last we caught up with Frank Artsmarter, he was pondering the meaning of art and attempting to sell works from Chrisbees Auction House to the Kimball Art Museum.
It seems he has a new gig. Last weekend, Artsmarter (a.k.a. Fort Worth artist Christopher Blay) launched his new art class infomercial at the William Campbell Contemporary Art gallery. The gallery also hosted an auction of work by Artsmarter’s “students”.
The auction was called “How Sorrow and Danger Become Happiness?” which happens also to be the title of one of the works for sale. This was Blay’s 13th annual thrift art auction – a lighthearted evening that still managed to raise questions about who decides what art is, how much it’s worth, and how the crowd-mentality can impact that. Things to reflect on as we head into this week’s Dallas Art Fair and Biennale.
Bidding, which started at 50 cents, became intense, with most pieces going in the $12 to $30 range. The auction highlight, a square painting of a fluffy squirrel (or is it a chipmunk?), went for an astronomical $100. A limited edition catalog shared insight into Artsmarter’s teaching methods and their influence on his students.
I must admit, I got caught up in the frenzy. Unfinished Girl with Mustache (Artsmarter catalog description: “Here the artist started to relinquish his idea of self, and dispense with the notion that a work of art needs to be finished!”) I jumped right in, upping the bids, only to fall back when things got too rich.
Envy set in as KERA’s Jeff Whittington, who appears in the infomercial, and his wife Nicole managed to snag Lucio Fontana’s camping trip, a landscape capturing mountain, lake and forest, as the sun appears to be setting and blazing at the same time. (Artsmarter catalog description: “We teach artists how to imitate other artists, then we have artists e-vite each other to the spectacle. That’s the Smarter Way.”)
Finally, triumph: Dog With Blue Background (though I later discovered the title My Dog Skip as a Fox scrawled across the back of the painting.) Artsmarter catalog description: “Here I said, Steal the idea of the cute dog and own it. Change the background. Naive it up!”
I have always wanted a dog. And a piece of art for my wall. Now I have both.
Thank you, Frank Artsmarter.