Family · June's stupid life

The terrible art from my childhood

This morning Henry was restless. He kept pace-pace-pacing from room to room.

“You certainly are pacing this morning, Henry,” I told him. “You are Trova at Pace, Columbus.”


Now, usually Marvin ignores me. We have been married a long time. And you guys know me. Often I make no sense. But today he came right into the room. “What?” he said.


“Trova at Pace, Columbus” was written on this stupid framed poster in my living room throughout my entire childhood. 


Manscapes215-2s



I cannot believe I found this poster just now. Hello, entire childhood. Hello, miracle of Google.  This is just like the poster from my childhood, except across the top it read “Trova.” At the bottom was “at Pace, Columbus.”


Hours I sat there in my living room, hours, thinking, “What in the Sam Hill does ‘Trova at Pace, Columbus’ mean?”


I don’t think I even knew Columbus was a city, so I was really baffled. I guess Trova was an artist, and he appeared at some gallery called Pace, in Columbus. I have only recently figured this out. I wish I could go back in time and tell my eight-year-old self this, because it really detracted from my reading of Strawberry Girl or whatever.


We had this poster until the mid-80s, by the way. My mother kept it like it was good. You can see how I went the other way with my tastes. I went all ’50s and over the top and pink and such.


My mother gets mad at me, but really all the art we had in our house was incredibly depressing to me. We had this collection of crisis-inducing clown stuff, most of which I am sorry to tell you I cannot find online. There was this one sort of sad vampire clown against a gray background who was clutching his throat, and in a terse phone call with my mother just now, she assures me he was not a vampire clown at all but some kind of saint.


Whatever.


There was also a terrible white fluffy clown against a red background that I cannot find on Google, because no one on earth bought this painting other than my masochistic family.


We similarly had a charcoal drawing of an almond-headed maudlin-looking trio of people hanging at the end of the hallway right near my bedroom, and my mother had to rip that one up because I was unable to enter my bedroom due to the terror I had at getting too near the drawing.


My mother says I had an overactive imagination.


But I was able to find the other charming artwork we had around the house. Feast your eyes, won’t you?


Dali-last-supper
Salvador Dali’s The Last Supper. This was in my parents’ bedroom. It’s like they’re having the last supper in the lobby of the Ramada.


I am not into the minimalism. News flash.


Scimmia-picasso

Oh. Oh somebody save me. I cannot even remember where we had this nightmarish thing, but had it we did. That baby with the twisted neck, old Napoleon hat and his leggings, there, everybody’s eating disorder, and that MONKEY. This whole painting plummets me into a lifelong depression.


Swing


This is one of my all-time favorite paintings. I know. I am ridiculous. But isn’t it pretty? No one is sad. No one is a monkey. No one is clutching his throat or having a last meal at the Ramada. Why can’t things be happy and swingy and puffy in art? Why can’t we all look up each other’s skirts?

And you know what’s funny? Art history was far and away my favorite subject in college. It just turns out my parents and I have POLAR OPPOSITE tastes. Give me some rococo and we are all set. A little art nouveau. Something pretty and flowery and curlicue-y. If I didn’t look like my dad in drag you’d think I wasn’t related to my parents at all, given our tastes in the art.


And by the way, when my father, you know, goes to that great art gallery in the sky, I am due to inherit all kinds of not-my-style art. Won’t I have blog fodder then?

85 thoughts on “The terrible art from my childhood

  1. Wish I had pics of the “groovy” 70s style house I grew up in. The shag carpet (everywhere!). The beads hung in the doorways. And the kitchen…remember the color palette of avocado, burnt orange, and whatever they called that weird yellow color. Well the kitchen had all three of these lovely shades – including the ceiling. Which was wallpapered.
    *shudder*

    Like

  2. THAT’S IT!!! I am booking a trip to visit Furry and Terra. I have told people stories of my youth and of my family and they have sat there, stunned, with their mouths gaping open. When they ask if I am telling the truth, I tell them I could not make this stuff up if they paid me. One of the best stories? The time my FEMALE cousin went to the ER because she was sure she had “grown a testicle”. I would love to swap stories.
    And… I am a sober child of a RAGING alcoholic. Terra’s theory proved right in my case.

    Like

  3. OMG, I never knew about St. Beatrice and her breasts on a platter…..I guess I am not such a good lapsed Catholic after all. I’ll have to look her up.
    And Carl, the babysitting Rottweiler. I CANNOT read those books. Who leaves a baby alone with any dog, let alone a Rottweiler?
    And to the Mother, aw, shucks, thanks for being so nice!

    Like

  4. Strawberry Girl. Bayou Suzette. Oh, how I loved Lois Lenski. She illustrated Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy-Tib books. I loved those books. I love reading your blog and remembering all these things from my childhood, like Love’s Baby Soft and Bonne Bell Lip Smackers (Dr Pepper, please) and that deoderant you mentioned awhile back with the funny mushroom kind of shape, and Faberge Organics shampoo and Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific and Body on Tap etc. You rock, June.

    Like

  5. I had pinky and blue boy in my room when I was in 3rd grade. I remember their eyes followed you. who puts this in a childs room???? at least I now have an excuse for my behavior.

    Like

  6. As the Furry One just said, as we debriefed this conversation thread, “Life can be really interesting when you live with a bunch of nutjobs.” This is why we gave up having family dinners some 7 or so years ago. Mom married this guy who was a real loser (yes, that seemed to be a special talent she had) who liked to come to family dinner, tell racially insensitive jokes (yes, we are pretty liberal democrats here and have many black and gay friends)and take Furry aside and make lewd comments to her. He really jumped the shark the year he dropped a shrimp on the oriental rug and ground it in with his shoe before doing pushups on the 200 year old chairs to prove that he was still quite physically robust.
    Again, I am not making this stuff up; in this family, I don’t have to. Like the Energizer bunny, it keeps going on and on and on.
    Love you people. Thanks for the love today.

    Like

  7. OMG!!! Terraplane has won the Comment of the Year! Did that really happen? Your mom is good. I can’t imagine how she kept that a secret. What I remember about decoupage is that it takes a LOT of time what with varnishing, then drying, then sanding, then varnishing, etc. for layers and layers. That means your mom was being shady and she KNEW for a long, long time and planned. She is good.
    Can you give us any follow-up? I imagine there was some shit hitting the fan that Christmas dinner!

    Like

  8. OMG!!! Terraplane has won the Comment of the Year! Did that really happen? Your mom is good. I can’t imagine how she kept that a secret. What I remember about decoupage is that it takes a LOT of time what with varnishing, then drying, then sanding, then varnishing, etc. for layers and layers. That means your mom was being shady and she KNEW for a long, long time and planned. She is good.
    Can you give us any follow-up? I imagine there was some shit hitting the fan that Christmas dinner!

    Like

  9. OMG!!! Terraplane has won the Comment of the Year! Did that really happen? Your mom is good. I can’t imagine how she kept that a secret. What I remember about decoupage is that it takes a LOT of time what with varnishing, then drying, then sanding, then varnishing, etc. for layers and layers. That means your mom was being shady and she KNEW for a long, long time and planned. She is good.
    Can you give us any follow-up? I imagine there was some shit hitting the fan that Christmas dinner!

    Like

  10. I’m actually developing quite an enemies list today. I do want to clarify that Gina in fact can make many beautiful things, drawing, sewing, decorating, cooking. She is very talented. She’s also an actress and stage manager and artsy in every way which is a good thing.

    Like

  11. June, it sounds to me that you grew up in MOMA in comparison to me. My mom’s idea of art was a copy of Rembrandt’s “The Man With the Golden Helmet” decoupaged to a piece of wood and hung grandly over the couch in the den.
    It confirms what I have always said: “The best way to have a sober child is to be a raging alcoholic.” Mom’s deplorable taste in art set me on a path of appreciation of beautiful things.
    She went on to decoupage many other wonderful things. Once, when I was about college age, we were sitting around the tree opening gifts on Christmas morning. Dad opened his gift from Mom, which was a motel room key decoupaged to a lovely board. It seems Dad had taken a souvenir from one of his trysts and Mom had found it. Nice, huh?
    I am not making this stuff up.

    Like

  12. Ohhhh, Gina. What about St. Beatrice with her breasts on a platter? Love me the saint depictions.
    BTW. Love me some (Surrealist, Not Minimalist!) Dali, too. But my favorite things he ever produced were jewels. He did this life size heart of rubies that actually beat and a large reliquary clock of large quartz with saints. His diaries are a hot mess, though. He used to spit on Gala, his wife’s forehead in greeting.
    My mom loved the old botanical prints. Snore. I would have killed for something that had some personality. It was all so white bread without crusts boring. Which is why my home is crowded with everything from my Bad Hares to African weavings and contemporary paintings. One of my friends calls it the ADD House.
    ‘Cause she feels like she has ADD every time she visits.

    Like

  13. Ohhhh, Gina. What about St. Beatrice with her breasts on a platter? Love me the saint depictions.
    BTW. Love me some (Surrealist, Not Minimalist!) Dali, too. But my favorite things he ever produced were jewels. He did this life size heart of rubies that actually beat and a large reliquary clock of large quartz with saints. His diaries are a hot mess, though. He used to spit on Gala, his wife’s forehead in greeting.
    My mom loved the old botanical prints. Snore. I would have killed for something that had some personality. It was all so white bread without crusts boring. Which is why my home is crowded with everything from my Bad Hares to African weavings and contemporary paintings. One of my friends calls it the ADD House.
    ‘Cause she feels like she has ADD every time she visits.

    Like

  14. Ohhhh, Gina. What about St. Beatrice with her breasts on a platter? Love me the saint depictions.
    BTW. Love me some (Surrealist, Not Minimalist!) Dali, too. But my favorite things he ever produced were jewels. He did this life size heart of rubies that actually beat and a large reliquary clock of large quartz with saints. His diaries are a hot mess, though. He used to spit on Gala, his wife’s forehead in greeting.
    My mom loved the old botanical prints. Snore. I would have killed for something that had some personality. It was all so white bread without crusts boring. Which is why my home is crowded with everything from my Bad Hares to African weavings and contemporary paintings. One of my friends calls it the ADD House.
    ‘Cause she feels like she has ADD every time she visits.

    Like

  15. My dad’s parents had this terrifying portrait of some old guy with a really red nose in their dining room, and they had to cover it up every time I went over there because when I was little it made me cry (that dude was WATCHING me, I tell you). Finally they just left it covered, and I totally forgot about it until one day after they had both died and I went to my parents’ house for dinner (I was probably 25 at the time), and my mom asked me to go get my dad from his basement workroom. So I thundered on down into the dark basement to get him, and when I got to the bottom of the stairs, there was that creepy old man painting, sitting there in the slice of light from the workroom, STARING at me. I screamed, my dad came running out, my mom came running down, and when they realized what had scared me, they both laughed their mean little heads off.
    And they STILL have that dang painting, and I live in constant fear that it’s going to show up in my own house one day. I should make them give the key to my front door back.

    Like

  16. Gina should look at a copy of “Good Dog, Carl” – it’s all about a human baby left in the care of a rottweiler, of all things, by its very excellent mother. It’s both charming and horrifying at the same time!

    Like

  17. The “vampire clown” was St. Martin de Porres and it was a real oil painting and a gift from my lifelong friend, Mari Ann. The rest were all things your father picked out or other people, for instance, the terrifying charcoal trio on the wall near your bedroom was a gift to us because we were a three person family. Don’t you and your pal from ma. remember our sunny windows and pretty rooms and shady yard and all your Fisher-Price toys? Jeesh. And also, the sculpture you are standing by is in Washington, DC in the sculpture gardern. Sorry to have exposed you to such useless drivel. And by the way, is Paula from New York the new Deborah/Carin?

    Like

  18. Gina who went to art school but really isn’t very good at it said:
    June: My folks hung a picture of a baby sitting on the floor in a crappy looking house (OK, how I knew it was crappy from the vantage point of a crawling child I don’t know but I did)with a collie dog in my room when I was a child. I was scarred for life because I thought the baby had been abandoned and left in the care of the dog. I didn’t like dogs until I was, oh, 35 or something like that. I have to agree on the Dali thing and the clown thing but I am partial to old depictions of the saints, especially the one walking around with her own eyes on a platter. Or Salome with the head of St. John the Baptist. I know, some of the old Catholic in me just won’t die. Now don’t say anything bad about the decor in Pam and Harry’s old kitchen because I did that….. OK?

    Like

  19. Hulk (Who used to draw football helmets and hang them on his wall as a kid…) said:
    I used to listen to Genesis’ “Three Sides Live” in my art history class at CMU. From 6-9PM every Wednesday, looking at slides of stupid paintings and statues. I absolutely could not tell you the difference from a Monet and a Manet, but I know ALL the words to “In The Cage”…

    Like

  20. Mother said:
    I can see that this topic is losing the ratings war with the vampire novel posts. I didn’t pick any of that stuff out. I like your girl on a swing, but it takes a really grand room to hang it in I think.

    Like

  21. I used to listen to Genesis’ “Three Sides Live” in my art history class at CMU. From 6-9PM every Wednesday, looking at slides of stupid paintings and statues. I absolutely could not tell you the difference from a Monet and a Manet, but I know ALL the words to “In The Cage”…

    Like

  22. June: My folks hung a picture of a baby sitting on the floor in a crappy looking house (OK, how I knew it was crappy from the vantage point of a crawling child I don’t know but I did)with a collie dog in my room when I was a child. I was scarred for life because I thought the baby had been abandoned and left in the care of the dog. I didn’t like dogs until I was, oh, 35 or something like that. I have to agree on the Dali thing and the clown thing but I am partial to old depictions of the saints, especially the one walking around with her own eyes on a platter. Or Salome with the head of St. John the Baptist. I know, some of the old Catholic in me just won’t die.
    Now don’t say anything bad about the decor in Pam and Harry’s old kitchen because I did that….. OK?

    Like

  23. Another stellar post today June! I was laughing out loud again.
    “…in a terse phone call with my mother just now…” giggle,snort.
    When we moved into our bigger house when I was 5, my mom HAD to have this clock for the family room. It was a large rectangle, probably 3-4 feet long and 2-2.5 feet tall. It needed to be big to “hold” the big wall of the family room. It was a box, not flat, and it had a photo of a sunset over the ocean on it. The clock face was brass and small and in the lower right hand corner. How I wish I could find a picture of it to e-mail you. It was horrendous. I don’t even know how to begin to google “Bad rectangle sunset over ocean clock circa 1970’s”. Because I googled just that and got nothing!

    Like

  24. Those damn clown pictures are etched into my memory forever, Junie. I SO remember that damn vampire clown thingy. Scary as SH*T!
    Sorry, June’s mom. Those were nightmare-ish!
    Especially coming from my house with all the flowers and bunnies and birdies and tra-laaa-laaaaaa!!!!

    Like

  25. Scary vampire clown and twisted monkey neck aside, I like the Trova print. I looked him up and thought some of his stuff was pretty good. But I’m all over Art Nouveau too so I think we could still get along. Art-wise, I mean.

    Like

  26. Pal from MA, who remembers NOTHING from our childhood, can you actually recall the vampire clown clutching his throat? Please tell me you remember the quote/unquote saint clutching his throat.

    Like

  27. Oh, Junie…You brought back memories of going over to your house and I’d be SOOO scared of those damn clowns. To this day I have a terrible, deep-rooted fear of clowns and it’s all because I played at your house!! I don’t remember the drawing next to your room. I probably had to block in order to function!
    Yeesch!

    Like

  28. Thanks for putting a smile on my face today! I remember there were individually framed paintings of the Three Musketeers on the wall along our stairwell. I guess I subconsciously hated them, because on one of my frequent sleepwalking adventures, I removed every single one of those paintings off of the wall. My mother told me the following day what I did, and when asked while sleepwalking what I was doing, I replied, “I don’t like these pictures.” Paintings are long gone…so I won’t be inheriting them (phew)!

    Like

  29. You have talked about how commenters pick up on stuff from your posts that is completely not the point. Here is another one.
    I won the book Strawberry Girl in a spelling contest in 3rd grade. My teacher inscribed it. It is still in my bookshelf.
    Art is so subjective, I don’t even want to go there, but I think you and I have similar tastes, and a similar aversion to clown paintings.

    Like

  30. I thought Eunice was your father’s? Or your father brought her back from somewhere? I seem to think Eunice and your father are linked somehow.
    Also you’re right about that depiction of The Last Supper. Looks more like The Last Brunch.

    Like

  31. I thought Eunice was your father’s? Or your father brought her back from somewhere? I seem to think Eunice and your father are linked somehow.
    Also you’re right about that depiction of The Last Supper. Looks more like The Last Brunch.

    Like

  32. I thought Eunice was your father’s? Or your father brought her back from somewhere? I seem to think Eunice and your father are linked somehow.
    Also you’re right about that depiction of The Last Supper. Looks more like The Last Brunch.

    Like

  33. Wasnt that at the Smithsonian? I think that was not actually in our house. But seeing as it was black and shriveled and sad, it would have fit right in. Too bad it was not clutching at its own throat.

    Like

  34. Oh, that is the stuff of childhood nightmares! Just Salvador Dali and his freakin’ acid trip art that everyone oohs and ahhs over here, (I’m right around the corner from the Dali museum), and I’m all a-staring at his weirdo trillion dollar paintings, thinking, “Seriously?”
    And now I have exposed my ignoramus art tastes.
    I’m sorry June. That must have been pull the covers over your head at night, creepy.

    Like

  35. Before meeting my MIL for the first time, I was warned that she had a few object de clown art. I walked into her house and it looked like Barnum and Bailey circus had exploded in her living room.

    Like

  36. She does not. I asked her. She does not find this funny AT.ALL. She thinks all of our horrid Sylvia Plath Pink Floyd Lloyd Lloyd all null and void art was lovely and uplifting.

    Like

  37. She doesn’t know the name or the artist or anything? I can understand her not keeping them but I have a morbid curiosity here!
    I weep.

    Like

  38. She doesn’t know the name or the artist or anything? I can understand her not keeping them but I have a morbid curiosity here!
    I weep.

    Like

  39. She doesn’t know the name or the artist or anything? I can understand her not keeping them but I have a morbid curiosity here!
    I weep.

    Like

  40. She doesnt have them anymore, Paula. The almond trio got ripped up, and I tried, oh Lord, I tried, to find the vampire saint. I could not find him. Ask anyone who saw that picture. They all kind of shudder.

    Like

  41. I MUST see the sad vampire clown/saint. And the Maudlin Almond Trio. Call up your mother, tersely or not, your choice, again. Please. I am begging.

    Like

  42. I MUST see the sad vampire clown/saint. And the Maudlin Almond Trio. Call up your mother, tersely or not, your choice, again. Please. I am begging.

    Like

  43. I MUST see the sad vampire clown/saint. And the Maudlin Almond Trio. Call up your mother, tersely or not, your choice, again. Please. I am begging.

    Like

  44. There is a place out here near Boston called the Museum of Bad Art. It’s in the basement of a old-style movie theatre, next to the mens room. And it smells like a basement of an old movie theatre with overtones of mens room. So it just adds so much to the nauseating art experience. There’s a website, so you can see some of the gems of their rotating collection {www.museumofbadart.org}. Don’t plan a trip or anything for it, though. It really is mostly a waste of time, but Dedham has cute shops, and maybe if you were already there and already going to the movies.. don’t go out of your way like I did. You will be sorely disappointed. But anyway, point of this is that you could make a charitable donation of the really awful stuff to them. They’d love it.

    Like

Comments are closed.