Bad Art Auction

<img src="" alt=" " />Art bad & good combined forces to raise money for charity thanks to Judah Friedlander, Xiu Xiu, and <em>NY Magazine</em>....

Judah Friedlander 

Art bad & good combined forces to raise money for charity thanks to Judah Friedlander, Xiu Xiu, and NY Magazine.  All this year (and last), NY Magazine has held a series of events, with TV personalities and indie music bands, including ‘Highbrow BBQ’ (with Islands – QRO photos – and fan-favorite CJ from Top Chef) and ‘Indie Rock Trivia Night’ (with host Zack Galifianakis – Comedians of Comedy – and Les Savy Fav – QRO photos) earlier this year, plus the upcoming (QRO Concert Calendar listing) ‘Indie Rock Karaoke’ (with Andrew W.K. and Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – QRO photos).  But at New York’s (le) Poisson Rouge on Wednesday, November 19th, it was host Judah Friedlander and band Xiu Xiu that got together to raise money and spirits.

However, the first things to be raised were glasses, thanks to the free Cape North Vodka on offer for the first hour of the event.  Of course, that did bring everyone there early – creating a massive line around the block outside in the all-too-suddenly cold November night.  And the venue didn’t help itself by advertising ‘Viking Mojitos’ – which take far longer to make than any ‘vodka & X’ drink.  Of course, the relatively full-of-themselves (le) Poisson Rouge (QRO venue review) cut the free booze off almost directly after an hour, no matter how long one had been waiting in line, outside at the door and/or inside at the bar.  But people still managed to get a drink or two in, to carry them to Judah Friedlander’s ‘Bad Art Auction’.

The recognizable comic (30 Rock, Best Week Ever) said he had been collecting ‘bad art’ for twenty years now, and was emptying his closets for New York Cares, a local charity.  And so he held an auction for his gaudy wares, egging on bidders even as he degraded his items up for bidding:

A queen-sized fake mink blanket.  “Don’t worry – I haven’t slept in it.”  $40  the eagle
Original print bought from a man who claimed he saw Bigfoot in 1978.  “How huge is that seagull?”  $70  Bigfoot
An oil painting of two tigers that “I think are on Mars – that’s Earth, and that’s the moon, in the background.”  $160  tiger-Life on Mars
1984 print from the original of either a guy who “showed up five years too late to audition for The Warriors” or “auditioned for Breakin’ and didn’t make it.”  $60  Warriors-meets-Breakin'
“The ugliest birthday candle I’ve ever seen.”  $100 (jumped up to that from $21 in one bid)  happy birthday?
Plays a variety of Christmas songs.  Batteries not included (had to borrow a pair of AA from a photographer in the crowd – QRO photo).  $30  batteries not included
Original charcoal drawing of “the most hated President of all time.”  “Normally, I’m against destroying art, but this piece never had a chance.”  $75 (stamped on, chewed on, and finally thrown into the crowd to be destroyed)  W.
Original print of a guy with his penis out.  “The necktie is pointing directly to his dick…”  $100  the necktie points...
Print of Dawson’s Creek’s Katie Holmes and James Van Der Beek.  “Pre-9/11, pre-Tom Cruise.”  $80  'Dawson's Creek'
Poster for the fantasy movie Sorceress.  Includes bootleg VHS copy of the movie, from the writer/director of Beastmaster.  “The poster had a bigger budget than the movie.”  $110  from the maker of 'Beastmaster'
Pencil portrait, 1963, of what appears to be two brothers.  “I can’t tell if they’re five or fifty-three – but they’ve definitely been molested.”  $130  5 or 53?
Macramé owl.  “I grew up in California in the seventies…”  $150  California in the seventies
Yarn painting/canvas of a forest.  “The best part is, you can comb it.”  $200  comb-able art!
Original print, which includes a three-piece set of this man flexing for Jesus.  $175  triptych
Original pencil drawing that’s “supposed to be of Alanis Morissette.”  $30  Isn't it ironic?
Another Bigfoot original print.  Many hidden Bigfoots: on the waves, under the sea, on the moon, drawn on the rocks…  $140  Where's Bigfoot?
“In the spirit of dogs playing poker, here are dogs playing basketball.”  “That’s clearly Michael Jordan’s body, with a dog head on it.”  $120  dogs playing basketball
Laminated picture of a man getting kicked in the head in mixed martial arts.  “And remember – it’s laminated.”  “I think the Smithsonian is going to be laminating everything soon.”  $110  remember - it's laminated
Print of 1985 original of a Florida family.  $70  We Are Family
Print of original, man with jaguar.  “The jaguar was from local Florida television commercials, and the man went to prison for dealing coke.”  $110  TV + coke
Menudo record – includes the vinyl.  “I think that’s Ricki Martin – They’re all Ricki Martin…”  $100  Menudo!
Huge, ugly plate.  $110  for huge, ugly meals...
Three pictures of unicorns, including a disco one.  $235 (“The unicorns have outsold Bigfoot – unbelievable…”)  can never have enough unicorns
Original art, in three pieces.  “This reminds me of the eighties.  If you were a hot-shot Wall Street guy in the eighties, you’d have this in your apartment to get laid.”  $200  for 80's assholes
John Wayne clock that may or may not work.  $110  Beat Jon Voight in 'Midnight Cowboy' for an Oscar
Print from a picture from a calendar given out by a Polish deli.  “These boys are naked … and the horses are into it.”  $100  horses watching naked boys
Original paint-by-numbers of a pair of drunken monks.  $130  drunk on the body of Christ
Another Bigfoot piece.  Man “has the shittiest gun, and looks one quarter Bigfoot himself.”  $165  huntin' Bigfoot
“The Mount Rushmore of Bigfoots”  $140  even more Bigfoot
“This, I might have to actually call bad art.”  “If you like bad art, this is for you.”  $90  if you like bad art...
“It’s Thanksgiving next week, guys…”  $90  gobble-gobble
Sneakers painted by Caralee McElroy of Xiu Xiu.  $100  designed by Xiu Xiu

While the preference for Bigfoot material and males with their shirts (and more) unbuttoned was the most obvious, it was unusual to note how much of the bad art came from Florida.  With many of the nation’s retirees, Florida is sort of a magnet for yard sale/flea market-level goods, and bad art is clearly no exception.  Also notable is that the winning bids most definitely went up as time went on, no matter the ‘quality’ of the item up for auction – clear steals were early items like the ‘tigers on Mars’ painting and whatever that was that played Christmas songs, while the late-entry unicorns and shitty eighties art oversold.

Xiu XiuAfter Friedlander’s hilarious and extended auction, it was kind of no surprise that Xiu Xiu’s performance was a bit of an add-on.  The unusual band is very much on the artistic end of things on Women As Lovers (QRO review), with a wide and unusual array of instruments (especially percussion, as well as flute & melodica).  Clearly not for everyone, there was a smaller crowd.  But, between Friedlander’s auction, his sale of the rest of his bad art to anyone who’d buy it later, and the raffle for a Gibson guitar (not to mention the fact that New York Cares took credit cards & checks – and this was all held after an open bar…), money was raised for charity, good times were had, and art was brought to the masses.

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