Week 8 – Brian Weeks

Posted: May 20, 2011 in Brian Weeks, Week 08

Where do we draw the line on what art actually is? Is it still art if you finish something that someone else started and had not completed? You did not create the project – you only are adding muscle and flesh to the skeleton.

How about if the project was considered finished and you added embellishment to enhance it’s visual impact? I’m not talking about anything rash like Ted Turner colorizing classic black and white films… or am I?

I’ve always been a yard sale/thrift shop junkie. I prefer “pre-loved” to new, and find that there’s a lot more character in vintage goods. As a teenager, I found a beautiful lithograph of a pen-and-ink drawing of an owl at a church rummage sale in Holderness, NH.  The artist simply signed the piece “Beckie ’71”. It was in pretty rough shape – a little yellowed and musty, and part of it was torn and creased. I’ve held on to that drawing for damn near 20 years.  (What can I say? I like owls.)

So I’ve had this piece of art for what seems like an eternity, but I can’t display it because it looks like garbage. I decided a restoration project was in order.

I carefully cut out the owl shape, making sure to keep the artist’s signature. I then scanned it into my computer, saved a digital copy, and printed out one to use for the project.

Using Sharpie-brand markers in a variety of colors to coordinate with my bedroom decor I colored in the design. Afterward, I added a top coat of gold acrylic paint, spread very thinly with a dry brush to create a gold dust effect.

Then, I mounted it on a piece of plain brown cardboard given the same faux-gold dust treatment. To finish it off, I took a black wooden frame and gave it, too, the same finish.

So, I pose the question to my fellow Geekz: Is this truly considered art? I’d like to think so. While Beckie created the skeleton for this piece forty years ago, I customized and reinvented it to suit my personal tastes – adding the  finishing touches.  I’d imagine that this would be a point of debate. If the general consensus is that this piece is a rip-off of another person’s work, then I do have another piece as a backup that I can submit. However, I’m very interested in what others have to say.

Here is the finished product on my bedroom wall. It means a lot to me because I’ve carried it with me for so long, and I finally figured out what to do with it. I’m proud to hang this finished piece on the wall; that’s finally how it looks to me: finished. ❤

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Comments
  1. w.c. pelon says:

    I am certainly of the opinion that your reinvention of this piece (having been long ago discarded, and therefore in the public domain) is indeed art. I think it would be a tad closed-minded to define art with such rigid parameters as to call any piece which builds on another existing work of art a “rip-off”, and such thinking is antithetical to the very soul of artistic expression itself.

    Still, this sort of debate rages on, and probably always will. Case in point: Shepard Fairey, famous for the Andre The Giant “Obey” images, and even more so for the Barack Obama “Hope” posters. Fairey is among my all-time favorite street artists, but other artists often portray him as a thief and consider his art without merit.

    Nice work breathing new life into lost art.

  2. Caron says:

    I agree with Bill and I love how your owl came out.

  3. Be says:

    Didn’t Bill do exactly the same this week?
    Adding extra colour (black and white squares) on the surface of a ready-made. Changing what looked like something finished into a new piece of art.

    I see no difference in adding squares and adding gold.
    Art is whatever you want it to be!

  4. Brian Weeks says:

    I’m happy to see that so far the comments are reinforcing what I already believed. 🙂 That’s always a good thing!

  5. Kevin Contreras says:

    The definition of Art cannot be defined. So, either nothing is Art or everything is Art. I think TGAP is part of the everything is Art. The boundaries of Art is infinite…

    Also, I think your intent is NOT to shamelessly exploit her Art. You gave her the proper recognition. And I am sure Beckie would be flattered that you loved something she created, and made it into something more, and held on to it for so long. I know I would…

    • Be says:

      personally I think that it doesn’t matter what the “original” artist thinks.
      Some might be flattered, some might hate it but still everything that is before our eyes is ours to play with if we want to, as long as we don’t hide the origin
      No need to feel neither guilt nor honor

      enjoy!

  6. Mike Piper says:

    There is no such thing as original art. All ideas are bits and pieces of what we’ve seen in our lives. It’s natural to want to recreate the beauty that we see before us in our own way. We do it with every ounce of info we recieve. I say just keep creating!

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