The Museum of Bad Art
by Chad Van Wagner
The whole “outsider art” thing is getting tiring. Once upon a time, the dividing lines between “good” and “bad” were clearer, and reveling in “bad” art was a pretty amusing thing. At the time, it worked, and wasn’t just a pointless elitist hipster exercise, because everyone was on the same page. The laughs were genuinely shared, post modernism be damned.
Well, with the current deluge of readily available ANYTHING (music, fiction, TV, whatever), we’re approaching the real life manifestation of a truism: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The ability to find the like-minded, or simply submerge yourself in whatever FEELS right, means that while everyone may not be on the same page anymore, the likes and dislikes of the public at large are becoming more personalized, and that much more genuine. And it’s looking like that might be the way things go from now on.
Throwing Muses’ Kristin Hersh once mentioned that she believed there was no bad music, just bad listeners. Time may well prove her right. It’s also worth mentioning that Irwin Chusid, the Godfather of outsider music, always showed genuine respect for the artists he uncovered, even if many of his listeners snickered more often than not. So where, after that protracted and slightly (?) over academic intro, does that leave The Museum of Bad Art?
Intentionally ironic, and a bit over the top with its faux art snob descriptions of the pieces, browsing this museum can still be a rewarding experience in the right frame of mind. Yeah, OK, the technical skills on display can be charitably called “poor,” but unless you’re willing to dismiss 90% of punk rock (the good stuff, not just the Oi! of the World,) you can take that criticism and stick it where the sun don’t shine. What’s important is the reaction the works inspire in you. Laughter? OK. But dammit, I wonder about the people that painted this stuff, and that’s interesting. Interesting, which is more than I can say for the last, “respectable,” Arcade Fire album (to name but one example.)
OK, this review focuses more on the culture around the site, and not the site itself. And who gives a shit about the deeper implications of looking at thrift store art? Well, someone does, because this review got published. All of which is an elaborate (and, I must admit, slightly inebriated) way of saying that The Museum of Bad Art is a good time, even if it runs counter to the intentions of its creators. Go to this site to see paintings that may intrigue, repulse, bore, or, yes, ironically amuse you. Anything goes, mang.