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The Museum Of Bad Art (MOBA) Newsletter, Issue #45

The MOBA Kazoo Choir rehearsing, above
The MOBA parade through the Dedham Mall, above
The opening bid for "King Kong Versus the Biplane", above
The Esteemed Curator and Guest Auctioneer take bids on Vanna White's "Hearts", above

The Museum Of Bad Art has always prided itself on constantly exploring bold new methods of bringing the art to the people... and in December that can only mean one thing: Shopping Malls.

The Museum took over a storefront in the Dedham Mall for the gala event, that included a parade through the mall, a concert by the newly formed MOBA Kazoo Choir, the unveiling of a new exhibition entitled "More Bad Art". Without a doubt though, the highlight of the evening was the MOBA Affordable Art Auction. Never before has any major art museum auctioned off its entire reject pile to the general public. The entire celebration was a held as a benefit for the Salvation Army.

The museum owes a great debt to the Salvation Army. In addition to their more well known good works, The Salvation Army, through their chain of thrift stores, has saved untold thousands of priceless masterpieces from certain destruction in the landfills across the nation. In gratitude, the museum took the unprecedented step of auctioning off its rejected paintings in a Bad Art Auction.

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The MOBA Bad Art Auction and Extravaganza to benefit the Salvation Army, on Wednesday December 4th, at the Dedham Mall in Dedham MA. surpassed the expectations of even this organization.

Parade Wows Mall -- The evening commenced at the south entrance of the Dedham Mall, as the newly recruited members of the MOBA Kazoo Choir and Marching Band gathered for a full three or four minutes of exhaustive rehearsal. Minutes before the march was to begin, Musical Director Mike Frank put the fifty strong Kazoo Choir through their paces, rehearsing a dramatic arrangement of Jingle Bells in the foyer of the Mall adjacent to the pet store. Ferrets frolicked in the window, pressing their cute, if a trifle vicious looking snouts against the glass, climbing over one another to watch the proceedings.

Production Manager Jim Howard, meanwhile, selected from the assembled throng thirty Art Bearers, and entrusted each of the chosen with a work from MOBA's Permanent Collection. In a particularly moving gesture, Donna Sullivan who was to carry "Swamette's Secret", came dressed as Swamette, in red lurex dress and tasteful matching shoes. Captain Wilfred Samuel of the Salvation Army indicated that his four musicians were ready and the parade began.

Stores emptied as shoppers and store-clerks raced to join the celebration. On the seventh verse and chorus of Jingle bells, the parade completed a lap around Santa's Grotto. Without missing a beat, the hundred strong group aligned itself in front of the grotto and fell silent. After brief introductory remarks by MOBA's Executive Director, every mouth in the crowd dropped open in awe as Mr. Reilly introduced the surprise musical guest -- Matt Welch, America's #1 Kazoo Stylist.

The hushed crowd held its breath as Mr. Welch raised the kazoo to his lips, closed his eyes, and let loose with the opening soulful notes of his solo. As Mr. Welch rocked slowly side-to-side, the other-worldly notes poured forth from a bullhorn mounted on a hard hat worn proudly by Kent Christman, MOBA's human speaker stand for the evening.

Slowly, dramatically, painfully the solo began to take shape. Mr. Welch's trademark wildly interpretive kazoo stylings slowly converged into the hint of a melody that began to resonate with the crowd. One by one, the audience began to hear the thread of a recognizable tune. The notes, the honks, the buzzes and Mr. Welch's relentless rocking came faster and faster before exploding into the chorus of Jingle Bells.

The crowd, the Salvation Army horn players, the Christmas shoppers, the ferrets in the pet shop -- nobody had ever heard anything like it. On the closing note of the emotional solo, the entire MOBA Kazoo Choir and the Salvation Army Band came to life, began to march, and led the assembled multitudes down the mall to MOBA's Gallery For The Night to the tune of one final and spectacular chorus of Jingle Bells.

Once inside the storefront gallery, MOBA's marching Art Bearers hung the new exhibition on the right side wall, while Michael Reilly, guest auctioneer for the night took to the stage along the left wall, along with MOBA's Executive Director and the Esteemed Curator. Behind them, hung floor to ceiling along the sixty foot long wall, was the entire MOBA Reject Pile - ready for auction.

The official program began with a recitation by Ilene Weinberg, MOBA's Poet Laureate of her specially composed poem -- "Salvation Through An Auction" -- which lulled even the most acquisitive auction goer into the spirit of the season and inspired wild applause, whistles, screaming and pandemonium reminscent of the kickoff at a SuperBowl game.

The Auctioneer raised his gavel to bring to a close the tumultuous applause and to begin the bidding on the first piece, "King Kong Versus The Biplanes". "Who will give me six dollars and fifty cents for this work of art?" Reilly sang. The bidding fast and furious, $10, $15, $20... until the hammer finally came down. "Sold for $32" to Linda Neschenke, a collector, artist and professor of art at Regis College.

From the opening bid to the closing "sold" of the evening, the action was relentless. Paintings and sculptures of every style, shape, size, and media were sold in a feverish blur of bidding -- portaits, abstracts, landscapes -- in oils, pastels, charcoal, crayon.

The paintings were being snapped up not only by those in attendance at the gallery but also by bad art lovers from around the world bidding by telephone. Some of the most dramatic action of the night came as out-of-town bidders, patched into the auction sound system, went up against determined local collectors in fierce bidding wars.

Zini Lardieri, a producer of the "America's Most Wanted" television show called her bids in from New York City. After a quick ratcheting of the bids on an elegant portrait, Ms. Lardieri dropped out at $50.

Susan Sowle, a collector in Chicago, was also pipped at the post for a miniature sea scape.

Attending members of the Press Corps clamored to interview the successful bidders. Jim Stevens acquired both the largest and the smallest piece in the auction. Ollie Hallowell, a Cambridge collector snapped up a Higgins clown portrait for $55, in a fierce duel with an English collector Bob Jackson, who bid by telephone link from Manchester, England. In a somewhat politically incorrect outburst, the auctioneer urged the assembled multitude not to let the no-good Limey take it out of the country. Hallowell, a former guest exhibitor at MOBA's Gallery In the Woods was delighted with his purchase and informed a reporter from Spain's national daily newspaper "El Mondo" that he felt the Esteemed Curator had made a terrible err of judgment in rejecting the piece.

Guest Auctioneer, Dean Nimmer from Mass College of Art took over the microphone at mid-auction to begin the bidding on "Hearts", a simple rendition in red on white, by Vanna White, America's favorite spokesmodel. In an inspiring example of cooperation between neighboring art institutions, the college contacted the museum upon hearing of the MOBA Reject Auction. The Vanna White painting "Hearts" had been the only painting at last year's Mass College of Art Celebrity Auction that had failed to draw a single bid. Professor Nimmer opened the bidding at the required $6.50 price and within moments the lovely "Hearts" was sold for $35.00 to the lucky winning bidder.

At the entrance to the gallery, the MOBA Gift shop did a booming business. Marie Jackson, Director of Aesthetic Interpretation and Tom Stankowicz, Director of Imaging and Reproduction were inundated by requests to sign copies of the Museum Of Bad Art Book.

Over the course of the evening the crowd sported many and varied balloon hats, made on the spot by Mike the Hat Man. During a ten minute break, acapella entertainment was provided by Hip Eponymous. Refreshments were available throughout the vast area, as Matt Welch and Kristen Jurkoic, MOBA's Hospitality Associates moved deftly through the throng and out into the mall with platters of Ritz Crackers and Cheese Wiz. Disappointed bidders tried their hand at the "I Can't Draw A Straight Line Contest", curated by Mr. Wilson himself.

A hush fell over the vast when artist Alan Collins introduced his carved Ostrich Egg Clock, engraved with the history of evolution and the Energizer Bunny. The amazing work was snapped up at $115. The Ostrich had laid the golden egg of the evening.

As the mall closed, shoppers trundled happily home with one or six fabulous works, each authentically certified. A record 69 pieces of art, certified not bad enough for MOBA had been auctioned off in less than two hours. A total of nineteen hundred and two dollars and fifty-nine cents was raised for the Salvation Army.

The MOBA Auction Committee and Museum staff extend their thanks to the Dedham Mall and to Mall Manager Mary Ellen Manning for supporting this unique fund-raiser.

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Admission to MOBA is always free, with significant discounts to anyone who has published a book or article that mentions MOBA. | All contents ©2004 The Museum Of Bad Art. All rights reserved. | Updated 03.15.2004 | Contact MOBA