This week the curiosity hit harder than usual. Who does buy art at an airport hotel? And how in the world are they producing this art so cheaply to begin with? I have to admit, I entertained some fantasies of how this would be groundbreaking investigative journalism and I would win a blogging Pulitzer for freeing the poor artists shackled to their sofa-size paintings.
What I found at the airport-area hotel was a room full of shoddy canvases propped up on tables and chairs. There were a lot of families and middle-aged couples picking through the selection. By “selection” I mean vaguely impressionist images of Parisian-like streets, Italian-esque villas, cozy disproportionate cottages and completely bizarre abstract art.
It was quickly no longer a mystery as to how they sold art so cheaply. Exhibit A:
Most of the paintings looked like prints that had been touched up with acrylic gel medium or some random daubs of paint to give them some texture. The plasticky canvas was harshly stapled to half-inch-thick frames, and the images usually carried well over the edges. I spotted a few pictures that were available in both the sofa size and a smaller size. I think one was of a roly-poly French chef on a unicycle. He may have been juggling baguettes, but that might just be wishful thinking on my part. Another popular style was Kinkade-esque:
I had kind of been hoping to find shady-looking men in overcoats with pencil mustaches. But I guess I found just what was advertised: cheap art for undiscerning audiences. There was no promise made of high-quality originals. Just art big enough to put over your couch.