Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Of Bar Mitzvahs and Oil on Canvas

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We respect your religion -- will you respect ours? Or are you the kind of person who says, "It's my way or hell, there's no other option."? If the latter, I suspect you might stain my furniture or steal a can of my Tab cola. Or stain my furniture with my Tab cola. Oh me oh my.

Here at "The Gods Are Bored," we say "Everything is, nothing is." Our either-or is, well, all gods and goddesses exist, or none of them do. Why is one person's deity a dud, while another person's rocks on? That hardly seems sportsmanlike.
And so it is with open mind and open heart that I send my daughter The Spare to yet another Bar Mitzvah. She has many, many Jewish friends.

This particular Bar Mitzvah comes at an opportune moment.

You know you always have to give a gift to the kid. And a check in a card seems so crass to me. On any occasion. So if you get married, expect a toaster in the mail.

Earlier I wrote about the Thomas Eakins masterpiece The Gross Clinic, painted by a Philadelphia native and housed in the Philadelphia hospital it depicts since 1878. Until now, when it was bought for $68 million by Alice Walton, heiress to the Wal-Mart fortune. $68 million is chump change to Ms. Walton, who is worth billions -- $11 billion, I think.

Exhibit A: "The Gross Clinic," Thomas Eakins, either oil on canvas or diamond on platinum, can't decide.

Do you see the prices set to these paintings? This is just my opinion, but I think it's obscene. Millions and millions for a Picasso or a Van Gogh. For the love of fruit flies, they're paintings! Unique, yes, but are they more valuable than schoolbooks and vaccinations, or even pet shelters? Some dude flings paint at a big canvas, and that's worth millions? Sorry. That dough could buy a lot of oatmeal.

So, as much as I wanted to stick it to Ms. Walton, the Marie Antoinette of the 21st century, I decided not to participate in Philadelphia's "Save the Gross Clinic" campaign.

Until now.

Along comes a worthy young man requiring a gift. His Bar Mitzvah card will read: "Congratulations, X, on your blessed day. A donation has been made in your name to 'Save the Gross Clinic': Fund for Eakins' Masterpiece."

Take that, Alice Walton! I fling my phlegm in your general direction!

It helps that the boy's mom is a painter. In case he really wanted a savage video game.

I'm wondering if I should take painting lessons.



Anonymous said...

Artist normally can't get enough money from their paintings to buy shelter and food. It is later when crafty dealers/collectors put a sales spin on it that the price soars.

Athana said...

anne, I'm on my way to Thanksgiving dinner, but just wanted to stop by and say Happy Turkey Day. I think Jewish mothers are the best, frankly. If your daughters have lots of Jewish friends, that must make you a great mother. Or something like that. Hmmmm.

Well anyway, Happy Thanksgiving!

Morgaine said...

I paint, but my stuff won't even be worth buying when I die. I can understand paying that much for a Van Gogh if everything else is alright, but big ticket purchases like that bother me when there are kids with no homes and schools with no books.