Crazy Stuff Stumpy Thinks About #47: One man's artsy is another man's fartsy...

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Blog entry by StumpyNubs posted 10-07-2014 04:47 PM 3712 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 46: Big Oil? For get that- what about BIG GLUE! It's out of control!!!! Part 47 of Crazy Stuff Stumpy Thinks About series Part 48: Black Friday 2014: The Legend of Pappy Nubs »

A closely watched internet auction ended this morning. And by closely watched, I mean a total of five people, including myself, noticed it a few minutes before the end and checked back from time to time to see if it attracted any bids. It didn’t. Maybe it was the thousand dollar starting price that turned away prospective buyers. Or it could have been that the item was a worn out wooden hand plane with an old TV antenna stuck in the end. To be fair, it wasn’t ONLY a worn out wooden hand plane with an old TV antenna stuck in the end. It also included a video game controller with a matching antenna. Why, you ask, would someone even possess such a set? One word: Art.


A Bulgarian genius (and I use that term loosely) developed the “remote controlled hand plane”. I imagine his process was simple, find a few bits of junk, stick them together and see who falls for it. Of course he couldn’t have expected anyone to actually believe he was selling a genuine woodworking tool. Woodworkers are far too smart for that. No, his target was obviously the more discerning buyer. You know the type, they live in big city apartments full of uncomfortable European furniture made from stainless steel and plexi-glass. Their walls are covered in large canvasses with one tiny spot of paint in the center and a dirty soup can carefully mounted in a shadow box rests upon the mantle. They drink cappuccino from tiny cups, they eat only kale and hummus spread on leafs of kale. An evening out always includes a visit to a gallery where they look past their upturned noses, reading some hidden meaning into a particularly breathtaking modern piece. Then the janitor comes and empties it because it’s really nothing more than a waste bin, but even that is somehow daring and audacious. Someone taps on a wine glass to smugly announce the opening of the newest exhibit, and everyone crowds around the remote controlled wooden plane. Whispers float about the room.

“Intrepidly bold!”
“See how the batteries speak to the hidden power of the underclasses…” “Rash and insolent, yet wonderfully cheeky!”
“I heard this same artist also made a plug-in hammer!”
“Recklessly daring!”
“Clearly a statement about the social plight of sociological society…”
“Really, aren’t we all just old TV antennas in the grand scheme of things…”
“What the heck is this crap?”
“Who let that simpleton in here? Call security and get me another Bordeaux.”

Meanwhile the “artist” is counting his fat stacks and looking through the bathroom trash for his next inspiring piece.

Perhaps I go too far. After all, art is in the eye of the beholder. But I was an artist before I became a woodworker. I painted portraits in oil that actually included two eyes, a nose and a mouth. I sculpted in wax and clay and alabaster, and when I was finished you didn’t have to spend an hour gazing thoughtfully in order to interpret its hidden meaning. If I wanted to paint a bowl of fruit, I painted a bowl of stinking fruit. I didn’t haphazardly fling pigment onto an old ceiling tile and call it fruit with a hidden message about Darfur. Perhaps my work wasn’t very good, after all nobody ever called it “edgy”. But I believe it took some amount of talent to create, and that’s what made it art. When you start calling anything art, everybody becomes an artist. I’m sorry, but if anybody can create it, where’s the value?

It’s the same in the woodworking world. Some woodworkers are artists because they can do things few others can. Others, myself included, are craftsmen- and there’s no shame in that. If I build a chair, it’s a chair. It’s not art. If I create a truly unique design that nobody else has tried before, or if I build something flawless and inspiring, then I would call it art. I don’t know, maybe I’m old fashioned. I just believe that putting something in a jar of urine or letting my bed sheets stagnate for a year (both are recent exhibits in NY), or even gluing a power cord and a USB stick to a yard sale find and calling it a wifi-level is something else entirely. It’s a con, an April fool’s joke, and those who consider it otherwise are the biggest fools around.

...Oh, and for those that were asking to see some of my past “art”, here’s one of the few I still have. It’s a pointillism version of the famous “Migrant Mother” portrait from the great depression era dust bowl. It’s made up entirely of tiny black dots. It took me over a year and a dozen black pens to create. It may not be the most beautiful thing in the world, but at least nobody will mistake it for a garbage can.

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11 comments so far

View dho's profile


1 post in 2497 days

#1 posted 10-07-2014 06:51 PM

well said and a very impressive piece of “ART”, thank you for sharing.

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3891 days

#2 posted 10-07-2014 08:00 PM

I agree Sir Stumpalot.
I have seen some artist’s work, even here (jethro comes to mind).
What passes as art in some circles though, I do wonder if the “artist” secretly heads back to his studio after a showing and laughs until he cries that anyone fell for it.


View MadJester's profile


2065 posts in 3479 days

#3 posted 10-07-2014 09:23 PM

I’ve been watching this little gem for nearly two years now…it started out originally at well over $400….I have been controlling myself by not sending a message, partly out of curiosity to see if it ever sells, and partly because I am dumbfounded that the guy thinks he has something so ‘unique’ can buy the whole set of them (with the glass balls…) for around $35-50 or so on eBay….the man is a moron….but that’s just my humble opinion….

-- Sue~ Mad Jester Woodworks, "Not what I have, but what I do is my kingdom" Thomas Carlyle

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4417 days

#4 posted 10-07-2014 09:48 PM

Sue, I let a set of 4 table legs go at an online auction last night for $32. All 4 had the 3” diameter glass balls in the brass claws. That guy is nuts.

View MadJester's profile


2065 posts in 3479 days

#5 posted 10-07-2014 10:08 PM

You said it papadan…..I’ve left it in my watchlist for the longest time…I’m just fascinated by it, while at the same time I’m just doing a facepalm….

 photo face-palm-meme_zps30885334.jpg

-- Sue~ Mad Jester Woodworks, "Not what I have, but what I do is my kingdom" Thomas Carlyle

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3724 days

#6 posted 10-07-2014 10:11 PM

” is in the eye of the beholder….”
Shouldn’t that be “beerholder”, err “wine holder”?

With what passes as “art” these days….
There is no accounting for taste…. or lack there of!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4511 posts in 4158 days

#7 posted 10-08-2014 12:48 AM

MadJester- Best face palm pic ever!

Stumpy- For that kind of money, I’d expect a caterpillar tread on the plane so that it would motor over the wood and leave a .0001” thick shaving. OK, I’m a little optimistic… .0003” thick. That should be doable.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View MadJester's profile


2065 posts in 3479 days

#8 posted 10-08-2014 01:45 AM


-- Sue~ Mad Jester Woodworks, "Not what I have, but what I do is my kingdom" Thomas Carlyle

View tomd's profile


2222 posts in 4819 days

#9 posted 10-08-2014 04:03 AM

Gee, I’m really sorry I missed that auction.

-- Tom D

View handsawgeek's profile


663 posts in 2445 days

#10 posted 10-09-2014 03:50 PM

Nice dissertation on modern art, there, Mr. Stumpy. I couldn’t agree more.

“Bitingly satirical, yet irreverently profound…”

Also, you appear to be a very fine artist in your own right. Very nice dot rendition.

As for me…I do cartoons….

-- Ed

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3588 days

#11 posted 10-12-2014 11:50 AM

Wow, Stumpy is really a refined artist…who knew?!

In the words of my friend Pablo: art is a lie that makes us realize the truth

-- I never finish anyth

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