Unseen Forces

ILLUSION OR CONFUSION
Steve Whitehurst (c.1967)
24” x 11”, oil on canvas
Donated by Shirley Whitehurst
March 2017

The artist depicted floating aquatic daisies surrounding the reflection of the sun in a pool of rippling water. The viewer is left to ponder who is lurking in the foliage.

VANISHING WOMAN
Hannah Hamilton
18” x 24", acrylic on canvas
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA
September 2011
MOBA #533

The artist combined disparate techniques such as the "vanishing point" (a perspective device developed in the fifteenth century Renaissance) and "Pollockian drips" (a mid-twentieth century abstract paint application method) to portray a womanly apparition in a tulip field.

Watch the MOBA Curator Talk about this painting.

The artist combined disparate techniques such as the vanishing point, a perspective device developed in the fifteenth century Renaissance by masters such as Pietro Perugino, and Pollockian drips (a mid-twentieth century abstract paint application method explored by Jackson Pollock), to portray a womanly apparition in a tulip field.

CHRIST GIVING THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM TO ST. PETER
Pietro Perugino (1481)
CONVERGENCE
Jackson Pollock (1952)
BABY ATLAS
Anonymous
5' x 5', acrylic on canvas (9 20" x 20" paintings glued together)
Found in a hallway at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and donated by Mark Troia
September, 2009
MOBA #501

"I believe that children are our future . . ."

Who can disagree with Whitney Houston?

The Greatest Love Of All
Words by Linda Creed, Music by Michael Masser 
©1977 Gold Horizon Music Corp. & Golden Torch Music Corp.

À L'INTÉRIEUR DE L'OEUF
Illegble (Haitian)
32" x 24", oil on canvas
Purchased in Sousa, Dominican Republic
and donated by Susan Tompkins-Hunt
January 2007
MOBA #369

The French title adds to the mystique of this disturbing example of art brut.

Susan Tompkins-Hunt understands the painting to have been originally sold by a Haitian street vendor (possibly the artist) to a resort owner in Sosua, Dominican Republic for the equivalent of $22.13 plus a rum and coke. It was subsequently given as a gift to the owner of a tavern in Boston, MA, where it was displayed, coveted, and after extensive negotiations, purchased by Ms. Tompkins-Hunt. Aware that most of her friends and relatives were emotionally upset seeing A L'Interieur De L'oeuf on display in her home, she realized that MOBA is the proper repository for such a powerfully vexing work.

SPEWING RUBIK'S CUBES
K. Koch
oil on canvas 24"x18"
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA
May 2007
MOBA #380

This image of the classic 1980s toys emanating from a jester gargoyle's mouth can only be described as puzzling.

From: Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco, Ten Speed Press

ALL THINGS MUST PASS
M. Brown, 1995
approx. 8"x30", tempera on wood and sheet metal
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA
December 2007
MOBA #441


This intriguing piece of outsider folk art illustrates the history of Western Civilization. Advances in technology from traditional hand tools to machines during the Industrial Revolution led to dramatic changes in the socioeconomic and cultural life. Today, as inflated fuel prices (this is clearly a diesel powered semi-tractor trailer truck) affect the world's economy and pollution (represented by the smoky exhaust) is global, it is time to move into the Postindustrial, or Information Age. The raw speed implicit in the image of the truck reminds us that, even with a double yellow line heading into a curve on a hill, we will be passed.

AN I FOR AN EYE
A. LivLaing Bradford (2001)
30" x 20" acrylic on canvas
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA
March 2008
MOBA #456


The woman/tree unquestionably is crying out for help that will never come. Her morphing, arborescent figure, faceless and in shame, is reaching upward for sustenance while a torrent of tearful eyes cascades about her, threatening to bury her in her own psychosexual drift. Each eye, of course, represents not the optic organ but rather the homophonic letter "I", or "Id" that dark, inaccessible part of one's personality that subordinates reality to a childlike search for pleasure and gratification.

The tragedy depicted in this work is that the woman/tree knows that help (redemption?) is beyond her reach, and her legs/roots meander aimlessly atop a barren landscape, grounded in nothingness. She needs water but receives only salt from an unending well of sorrow.

MOBA Guest Interpretator: Steve Herman

THE SCIENTIST
Anonymous
28" x 36", mixed media on plywood
Anonymous donation
MOBA #382


Latex gloves and bodily fluids add color to this piece that depicts a laboratory experiment gone horribly awry.

Watch the MOBA Curator Talk about this painting.

The inspiration for this piece was an illustration from Andreas Vesalius' seminal anatomy text from 1543: De Humani Corporis Fabrica.


From: Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco, Ten Speed Press

RETCH LIKE AN EGYPTIAN
Alla J. Gala
12" x 16", pastel on paper
Discovered in a folder of pastels donated anonymously to MOBA
February 2007
MOBA #321

This is a disturbing image of an Egyptian doubled over in pain, throwing up colorfully. The X-ray box clearly shows the source of his discomfort, and the black smoke from the pyramid indicates that a new pharaoh has not yet been chosen.

The artist made this painting while in art school, and was surprised and delighted to find it in Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks.

From: Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco

CREW CUT DREAMS
Leonardo (1977)
10" x 9", oil on art board
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA
November 2006
MOBA #300

A man with short hair is depicted among seals, snakes, and other creatures sharing his bright red facial features. At first glance, we expect him to be uncomfortable or threatened. But these creatures smile and cuddle. There are no nightmares here - just the happy dreams of friendly forces that make life more pleasant.

From - Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco, Ten Speed Press

DISSENT FROM THE PEDASTAL
Robert MacLeod
30" x 36", oil on canvas
Anonymous donation
MOBA #411

Infuriated and distraught about the state of the world, the iconic Lady of the Harbor has come down from her traditional perch, bemoaning the fact that, despite global warming, her day in the sun seems to have passed.

From: Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco, Ten Speed Press

DRILLING FOR EGGS
William F. Murphy
30" x 30", oil on canvas
Purchased at a thrift store in Winston-Salem, NC and
donated by Karen McHugh
June 2007
MOBA #428
Donated by Karen McHugh


Green alligator flames dominate the foreground and a bright pink sky provides the backdrop for this disquieting depiction of a color-altered future in which eggs, a renewable resource, have replaced traditional hydrocarbon fuels. The artist is saying, in no uncertain terms, that unless we learn to conserve our priceless resources, the yolk will be on us.

From: Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco, Ten Speed Press

PROSTHETIC CLAW
William F. Murphy
12" x 20", oil on canvas
Purchased at a thrift store in Winston-Salem, NC and
donated by Karen McHugh
MOBA #426


Inspired by the film Jurassic Park, many have speculated about the possibility of using traces of fossilized dinosaur DNA to produce a living Tyrannosaurus rex. Advances in cell-engineering techniques have led others to speculate about the possibility of using stem cells to grow human tissue. One scientist, Dr. Jose Cibelli, went so far as to secretly clone his own DNA inside a cow egg.

Prosthetic Claw portrays the unexpected results in this ethical boundary-stretching field of interspecies cloning. The central figure's immaculate white shoe contrasts with the grotesquely poor grooming of the hand, which is depicted in a universally understood gesture. The artist seems to be saying that these experiments will result in a giant "goose egg". The heavy-handed image is marred by a clumsily executed background of straight-from-the-tube oil paint colors that have become all too familiar to the MOBA curatorial staff.

From: Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco , Ten Speed Press

ON VACATION IN ITALY
Robert Muldrow (Brooklyn, 2007)
2ft x 3ft, oil on plywood
Donated by the artist
April 2008
MOBA #457

Mr. Muldrow writes, "Upon coming home from a fantastic vacation in Italy, I found my houseplants in a state of decline and extreme thirst. They were in sort of plant hell. This painting represents what I inferred were their feelings of suffering, neglect, and loneliness as well as my feelings of guilt and regret."

Japanese bonsai grand master Saburo Kato maintains, ". . . the most important sound is the footsteps of a bonsai trainer coming to care for his tree. This bond is very similar as the commitment between mother and child to nurture and guide the tree. The most important aspect of bonsai is the bond that exists or is created between a bonsai and its owner-trainer. We can only create true friendships if there is a gentle courtesy, respect, and justice. We can only seek peace if we are at peace with ourselves!"

Everyone at MOBA feels terrible for Mr. Muldrow, who clearly was devastated in the realization that he had broken a sacred bond with his plants. He has reportedly been coming to terms with his loss, and has reportedly begun leaving his house for short visits to the grocer and the dry cleaners. There are, however, no vacation plans in his immerdiate future.

The MOBA curatorial staff was drawn to this image for its emotional power as well as the straight-from-the-tube background colors almost identical to PROSTHETIC CLAW.

GERM OF AN IDEA
Anonymous
22"x  36", acrylic on canvas
Purchased at a a thrift store in Boston, MA
May 2008
MOBA #445


Note the similarity to AIM 2 in the POOR TRAITS collection.

AIM 2
Lloyd Graham, 2006
INVASION OF THE OFFICE ZOMBIES
Jenna Cathyla
24"x30" oil on canvas
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA
April 2003
MOBA #253

This haunting scene draws us in subtle hints of capitalist morals. Note the Cleveland bill gracing the crooked floor. Does it foreshadow a new denomination that drives us all to the broken jail-cell window to throw our disembodied heads to the street?

From: Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco

JOHNNY MCGRORY
Unknown
11" x 14" circumference, Ceramic sculpture
Donated by the artist
1990s

With the innocence of an extra terrestrial, his arms in a straight jacket, his flat cap a mortar board as testament to his wisdom, the little red man cannot be quieted while something has been left unsaid.

LOVE IS BEING OUT ON A LIMB TOGETHER
Anonymous
21" x 24.5", Oil on board
1990s

Japanese in its simplicity: American in its text - this valentine in blue is a tribute to the poster poems of the 1970s.

LULLI, FOWL, AND GRAVESTONE
Michael Frank (August 1971, Copenhagen, Denmark)
8.5" x 11", watercolor on paper
Donated by the artist (MOBA Curator-in-Chief)
June 2007
MOBA #347

This work was presented to Lulli in Copenhagen and subsequently returned to the artist in New York soon after. The significance of Lulli and the objects portrayed was important to the artist at the time but was, unfortunately, erased from his memory long ago.

From: Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco

MORE
Sandy Winslow
16" x 20", acrylic on canvas
Acquired from trash
1990s

Three eyes are better than one: all the better to see you with, my dear.


REEF GARDENHassmer
36" x 36", Mixed media on masonite
Acquired by Scott Wilson from the Salvation Army Store

Here we are, witnessing the staging of a subaqueous musical extravaganza. On a silent cue, one pulsating incubator bursts, hurtling an anxious and curiously aged little merman upwards to the unknown world above the surface. The dancer stares, hypnotizing the viewer. We find ourselves forced to stay -- feel the music or drown.

SUICIDE
Anonymous
18" x 24", Acrylic on canvas
Rescued from trash

Bloody cloud bursts in an otherwise clear sky, frothing nostrils as the bovine beast dives, lemming like, and misses the phosphorescent, oily, swimming hole. 

SWAMETTE'S SECRET
Anonymous
30" x 20", acrylic on canvas
Acquired by Patricia Deardorff and Leigh Weesner from a thrift store

Calm clear shapes, multiple repeating patterns, a thickly textured aura and little red shoes come together to conceal or reveal the eternal complexity of simple truths in this exploration of the human psyche.


Additional Information
Dear Sirs,

The Museum Of Bad Art is thrilled to announce the newest addition to the permanent collection, "Swamette's Secret". We are stunned that Patricia and Leigh would have the generosity of spirit and public mindedness to even consider parting with this piece and entrusting it to our care. The museum and the museum-going public will be forever indebted to the virtual sisters for their landmark contribution to the MOBA collection. From all of us -- thank you.

More about this piece in the MOBA News � (under 'Recent Acquisitions')

Swamette's Secret has been featured in the phenominal "I Just Can't Stop" exhibit.

TABLES HAVE TURNED
Anonymous
24" x 18", acrylic on canvas
Acquired from trash

The anger screams from the canvas, the dysfunctional family fumes after fury's exit left. 

SENSITIVE
Anonymous
20” x 16”, marker and paper on cloth
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA
May 2007
MOBA #414

From: Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco

BLUE GOD
Anonymous
30” x 36”, acrylic on canvas
Purchased at a thrift shop in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
and donated by Stephen Nonack
March 2016

A great blue spirit watches over a tropical paradise featuring magnificent frigate birds, scarlet ibises, a red octopus, a precooked lobster, tropical fish, and sunken treasure.