The MOBA Zoo

NON-SEEING EYE DOG
Anonymous
20" x 16", acrylic on canvas
Donated by Jennifer Smith
1998

 

In addition to cataract-impaired vision, this poor dog seems to be dealing with an unfortunate ear infection.

 

FERRET IN A BROTHEL
Anonymous
24” x 18”, oil on canvas
Purchased at a thrift store in Oakland, CA and
donated by Nicoletta Karam
August 2009

Watch the MOBA Curator Talk about this painting.

Master painters as varied as Titian, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Picasso, have found prostitutes in their work environment to be a rich and interesting source of thematic material.

VENUS OF URBINO
Titian Vecellio, 1583
THE BROTHEL
Vincent Van Gogh, 1888
LES DEMOISELLES d'AVIGNON
Pablo Picasso, 1907

The anonymous painter of this work has inexplicably chosen to depict a ferret as a “lady of the evening” in a Victorian room featuring flowered wallpaper and luxurious velvet curtains. She wears only a long pearl necklace and gazes provocatively at the viewer as she dances unashamedly to the music playing on a vintage Victrola record player. The reversed eighth notes may hint at secret meaning in the music being played backwards, e.g., “Paul is dead”, or, more likely, a reflection of the artist’s unfamiliarity with proper musical notation.

BLUE TANGO
Anonymous
24” x 21”, acrylic on canvas
Purchased in a thrift shop in Brownsburg, IN and
donated by Anne Simon and Sam Pope
December, 2014


We see a stylishly handsome couple mid-step as they glide across the floor cheek to cheek. The artist has captured the dancers’ exhuberance and joy in this dynamic image; reminiscent of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s DANCE AT BOUGIVAL (1883), DANCE IN THE COUNTRY (1883), and DANCE IN THE CITY (1883),
  











as well as another work in the MOBA collection: BAILANDO, by Rosalyn Frederick (1994).

BAILANDO Curator Talk

UN POISSON MORT
Anonymous
19" x 21", oil on canvas
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA
May 2013

The viewer is left to ponder the cause, as well as the artist's decision to memorialize this fish's demise.

EYES ON THE FLY
Cronin + NG + ?, 1999
12" x 16", oil on art-board
Purchased at a used bookstore in Hood River, OR
and donated by Judson MacLaury
April, 2013

Two or more artists contributed to this work in which we are reminded, when walking the desert at night, to remain focused.

HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE
Jack Owen
24" x 18", watercolor on paper
Purchased by M. Frank at a Boston thrift store
March 2007
MOBA #368

The artist is a skilled watercolorist, as is evident by his knowledgeable use of negative space to create the ghostly husky. The sparkle in the eyes of the see-through cat brings a discordant, evil glint to an otherwise soft and peaceful scene. "Who else thinks it's a good idea to eat from my bowl?"

CHARLIE AND SHEBA
Anonymous
18" x 24", oil on canvas
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA
May 2007
MOBA #392

No longer able to tolerate the incessant barking, Charlie the Chipmunk used a band-aid to tape Sheba the Sheepdog's mouth shut before posing with her on the picnic table.

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

TWO TERRAPIN PYRAMID
Michael Frank, MOBA Curator-in-Chief
9" x 11", photograph on paper
September 2006

Red eared sliders Tiny (bottom) and Fluffy (top) perform their death defying two terrapin pyramid.

Below is a photo of them in rehearsal for their performance:

TWO TERRAPIN PYRAMID
Photo by MOBA Curator-in-Chief Michael Frank

IN THE CAT'S MOUTH
Attributed to Pangorda
24" x 22", acrylic on canvas
Acquired from the Children's Hospital Thrift Store, Boston, MA

A comment on issues of power as experienced by those who dwell with feline pets. Is the artist consumed with or consumed by his love for this cat? Does he identify with the personality of the startling animal? Does the similarity between these inseparable cohabitants stop short at the nose? Or is he simply trying to observe a tree-lined avenue through a cat's eyes?

PETER THE KITTY
Mrs. Jackson
10.5" x 7", Oil on board
Acquired from a Salvation Army Thrift Store in Boston, MA

Stirring in its portrayal of feline angst. Is Peter hungry or contemplating his place in a hungry world? The artist has evoked both hopelessness and glee with his irrational use of negative space. 

RONAN THE PUG
Erin Rothgeb
18" x 24", acrylic on canvas board
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA
December 2006
MOBA #333

The artist's affection for her dog far outstrips her artistic skill. Paint is slapped on the canvas with random brushstrokes, creating matted, impossible fur. Done in such a hurry that the canine anatomy was not even considered, the artist still captures Ronan's playful sweetness. Or perhaps the pup has just lapped up all the spilled eggnog at a holiday party and is ready to attempt a clear tenor rendition of "Danny Boy."

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

SPHINX (NOT)
Anonymous
18"x24", ink and watercolor on paper
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston thrift store in Boston, MA
July 2005
MOBA #281

Watch the MOBA Curator Talk about this painting.

The ancient Egyptian Sphinx denotes wisdom and power with it's human head and lion's body.

Egyptian Sphinx
~2500 BC


Here we see quite the opposite, as the not-so-noble feline with the skinny man's body rests his face in his hands in a classic pose indicating despair and confusion.

The inspiration for this work may be a 1928 painting by Paul Klee.

CAT AND BIRD
Paul Klee, 1928



SHOT DOWN! . . . YETI PERSISTS
Gordon R. Stephenson, Jr.
San Diego, CA, June 2010
12" x 16" (5.5" dangling corner), acrylic on canvas
Donated by the artist and Claire Discenza,
March 2011
MOBA #522

Sublimating his rage after being spurned by a Russian woman, the artist represented himself as the legendary abominable snowman in a fearsome pose.

Upon completing the self-portrait, he took it to an open field and shot it with a shotgun.

HOW MUCH IS THAT COW IN THE WINDOW?
Jenia Molnar, ~1985
20” x 16”, oil on canvas
Donated by the artist
June 2014

The artist made the interesting decision to depict one and a half cows in a pastoral plein air painting while avoiding the inconvenience of actually going outside.

Pals
JM, 1966
18" x 14", acrylic on canvas
MOBA #58

A blissful portrayal of deep friendship. The monkey with Bette Davis eyes chases the blues away, bringing peace to the clown as he grooms his five o'clock shadow.

From: Museum of Bad Art: Art Too Bad to be Ignored, by Tom Stankowicz and Marie Jackson

YOU'RE A MULE, DEAR
48" x 36”, pastel crayon on composition board
Rescued from trash in Norwood MA
and donated by Ashley Brent & Joe DiMaria

The tension between inner struggle and outward appearance is given a visible manifestation in this interesting study. Perhaps anticipating the growth of interest in ancient Greek culture as a result of the Summer Olympics in Athens, we see that glory always comes with a difficult pricetag attached, and is rarely found on sale.

Guest Interpretater: Jeffrey Makala

PLAYBOY BUNNIES
Mari Newman
24" x 18", acrylic on canvas
Donated by the artist
January 2004

The artist portrayed anatomically incorrect rabbits to make to make an important, if confusing, statement about gender politics.

This is a fine example of labor-intensive pointlessism.

DEER-TURTLE-COON-ADILLO
Anonymous
Approximately 16" long, mixed media
Anonymous donation
2006

A veterinarian has identified parts of four species of road kill in this piece including deer, turtle, raccoon, and armadillo. He could offer no insight about why it was created.

BLUE EYED FOX
Diane Gélinas
14"x 11", oil on canvas board
Purchased in a thrift shop in Thunder Bay, Canada
and donated by Renna Mussatom
March 2012
MOBA #469

A few female foxes feature radiant red hair and bright baby-blue eyes. Many males of the species find them irresistibly attractive.

WALLEYES
Anonymous
60" x 60", acrylic on canvas
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA,
October 2012
MOBA #560

Yellow walleye (Sander vitreus) and blue walleye (Sander vitreus glaucus) are freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and the northern United States.

The black ones in this painting seem to be of a different order entirely.

FROM THE CARRIAGE SEAT
Anonymous
20" x 16", acrylic on canvas
Purchased in a thrift shop in Seldin, NY and
donated by Joe Bucciano
March 2012
MOBA #477

The artist presents a coachman's eye view of a deserted street in a generic Mediterranean village. While the tradition of depicting horses is as old as the prehistoric Lascaux Cave paintings (see image below), the anonymous painter of this work made the unusual artistic decision to concentrate on the part of the horses that left the stable last.

MALINOVKA (ROBIN)
Tatyana Lyarson (Kazan, Russia) 1998
40cm x 50cm, oil on canvas
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA
January, 2012
MOBA #537

The young woman's head is slightly atilt under the weight of impossibly orange hair in this idyllic tableau. A tiny songbird has alighted from the dwarf tree bearing two green apples onto a one dimensional chair, contemplating the coiffure as a potential new home.

BOTOS AT SUNSET
Diomar, 2008
acrylic on board
Donated by Mary Beck (Houston, TX)
May, 2014

Amazon River Dolphins (Inia geoffrensis), known locally as botos, live in the Amazon and Orinoco River basins in South America.

Homosexual behavior has been observed in the Amazon River Dolphins, wherein, these dolphins would enter their penises into other males’ or females’ noses (blowholes). This makes them the only animal performing ‘nasal sex’.

LADY
K. Murray
12" x 8", oil paint on art board

The viewer is struck by the gleam in this sweet little dog's eyes. She wears a bell on her choke collar, and her body is mysteriously absent.

PEARL
James Gann, 1994
6ft x 4ft, oil on canvas
Found in his basement in Brooklyn, NY
and donated by Olaf
April, 2009

Olaf and the MOBA Curatorial staff endured many fruitless hours and headache remedies attempting to decipher the grotesque faces, disjointed body parts, amorphous shapes, paint drips, and other abstract elements in this work. The obvious conclusion, the pink elephant in the room, as it were, is that they are simply there to provide textural background for Pearl, who dances joyfully over everything.

ON THE SHORE AT SUNSET
Anonymous
16" x 20", oil on art board
Purchased by M. Frank at a Boston thrift store
May 2007
MOBA #278

Two bathers' frantic calls for help go unnoticed as another life and death drama unfolds between the identically colored crab and cat.

The artist added sand to the paint to give the beach a realistic texture and to indicate that the surf was dangerously rough.


From: Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco, Ten Speed Press
LION
Anonymous
16” x 20”, acrylic on canvas
Purchased at an antiques store in Mena, AR
and donated by Deborah Jean Cohen
July, 2016

A polydactyl lion poses, fresh from his coloring and blowout appointment at the salon.

BONE JUGGLING DOG WEARING A HULA SKIRT
Mari Newman
40" x 16", tempera and acrylic paint on canvas
donated by the artist
MOBA #214

This is a delightful example of labor-intensive pointlessism. The MOBA interpretative staff scratched our heads in wonder as we tried to imagine what would possess an artist to portray a dog juggling bones while wearing a hula skirt. When the curator-in-chief asked artist Mari Newman directly, she responded, “Having no money while taking art classes in college, I helped myself to used canvases left behind by other students. This canvas was long and narrow. I couldn’t think of an idea for a ragged canvas that shape until I saw a cartoon of a wiener dog standing upright. I painted a dog on the used canvas but was not happy with it. After seeing hula girls in a magazine, I put a hula skirt on the dog on a lark. After I saw a jar of colorful dog bones in a pet store, I added them to my painting. I continued to work on the picture, but almost threw it out until I heard of MOBA. After many years of slashing rejected work, now I wish I had saved them all for you.”

Mari Newman is a prolific artist living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Everyone at MOBA is grateful that she understands that BONE JUGGLING DOG IN A HULA SKIRT, and many of her other works (including paintings, drawings, and three-dimensional collages featuring Barbie dolls, hot water bottles, and found objects) belong in the MOBA permanent collection. Ms. Newman’s “outsider art” is represented in many other museums, including the Pensacola Museum of Art, the Tampa Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Columbus Museum of Art (Ohio).

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

WOLF PACK
Anonymous
acrylic on canvas
Found in curbside trash in Somerville, MA and
donated by Lincoln Marra
March 2017
EARTH MOTHER
Byrde Merican Tuckerman
42" x 36", oil paint plaster and forest detritus on canvas
Donated by George Rappolt
May, 2012
MOBA #476

The artist has created a colorful and texturally rich homage to Mother Nature. Can you find the snail?

CENTAUR AND BIKER
Anonymous
30" x 30", oil on plywood
Provenance unknown
Acquired February 2016

A centaur and a motorcyclist race on a beach to determine how much progress has been made since the Greek gods reigned.

BRUNO TIGER
Anonymous
24" x 36", acrylic on canvas
Purchased in Brooklyn, NY and donated by
Maria and Alex Radus
June 2010

It is interesting to ponder the fate of the owner of the rucksack next to a Bengal tiger standing in shallow water. Had the noble beast eaten an average size man or woman, his belly would probably hang into, or at least skim. the puddle. It is probably safe to conclude that either the owner was a small child, or has abandoned the pack and is the object of Bruno's hungry, vaguely man-faced, gaze.

EYES OF THE TIGER
Sue Girardi, 1978
24” x 28”, acrylic on canvas
Donated by the artist
April 2016
BIRDBRAIN
L. Greselin
24" x 18", oil on canvas board
Purchased at a yard sale in Natick, MA
and donated by Janet Macy
March 2010
MOBA #479

Unlike the sacrificial canaries in a coal mine, the seagulls in this metaphorical painting are free to leave when they sense conditions are deteriorating.

EXCELLENCE
Anonymous
32” x 26”, oil on canvas
Anonymous donation
July 2009

The artist graphically illustrates his or her belief in either natural selection or intelligent design. A few more words of explanation may have helped communicate his or her intent.

THE EXQUISITE CORPSE
Silvia
32” x 24”, oil on canvas
Purchased in Havana, Cuba
November 2016

The nails applied like acupuncture needles directly to her heart were probably too little too late to save this beautiful woman. The wires from her earbuds were not strong enough close her chest wound. The perfectly manicured dog gazes directly at the viewer, but offers no insight into the woman’s marshmallow hat, the little guy on her shoulder, or the fried eggs on her left and right.

CALICO POMERANIAN
Ripper (1992)
18” x 24”, acrylic on art board
Donated by Nick DiNuzzo
August 2017

Pomeranians have distinctive tails that are feathered and fan forward over the back as well as luxurious coats in a variety of colors. Most of them have legs and feet as well.

LIBERTY AND JUSTICE
Anonymous
24” x 24”, acrylic on canvas
Donated by Al Rivera
December, 2015

Reminiscent of Judith clutching the head of Holofernes, teary-eyed Lady Liberty celebrates her victory over the enemy and hopes peace can return to the city.

JUDITH WITH THE HEAD OF HOLOFERNES
Cristofano Allori, 1610-12


In other news, her jaundiced bald eagle has caught a large fish.

JAMES
Illegible, May 2009
16” x 20”, oil on canvas
Donated by Emily Goldstein
June 2014

The donor wrote that this painting was a gift from the artist early in their romantic relationship. Years later, she decided to donate the work to MOBA, writing,
“What says love like a dead plant and an emaciated/dead-eyed zebra?"

DOG BITES MAN
Valdemar Cher, Sweden
8" x 12", tempera on cardboard
Donated by the artist
June 2007
MOBA #360

The artist employed a no-holds-barred approach to graphically depict the archetypal news non-event. Painting on the inside cover of a Konstnären Magazine ("Artists"), Mr. Cher allowed the underlying red graphic to bleed through his paint, helping express the psychic pain driving the animal to resort to such violent behavior.


From: Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco
DEATH OF A SWAN
W.B.
36" x 24", acrylic on canvas
donated by Larry Hitt and Carol Page
~1996

This large work portrays the departure of the spirit of a noble fowl, whose head recalls the handle of a child’s umbrella. The light suggests that the artist captured this sad event during a lunar eclipse.

CHARLIE AND SHEBA
Anonymous
18" x 24", oil on canvas
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA
May 2007
MOBA #392

No longer able to tolerate the incessant barking, Charlie the Chipmunk used a band-aid to tape Sheba the Sheepdog's mouth shut before posing with her on the picnic table.

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

NORTHERN FLICKER
Anonymous
36" x 24", oil on canvas
Purchased at a thrift store in Wareham, MA and
donated by Stephen Z. Nonack
October 2013
MOBA #549

The artist boldly jumps into the Natural Selection vs. Creationism debate by portraying what may have resulted if the Intelligent Designer had made some different decisions.

GIRAFFE AT THE BEACH
Anonymous
24” x 18”, acrylic on canvas
Purchased in a thrift shop in Prescott, AZ and
donated by Susan and William Cross
June 2015

Knowing his species does not swim, a lone giraffe stays very close to the beach as he walks gingerly in a rough sea. Perhaps he has strayed so far from his normal grassy savannah habitat in a desperate search for relief from the noxious yellow cloud that hovers incessantly around his head.

DOG
H, 1993
17" x 13", acrylic on canvas
Donated by Elizabeth and Sorn Pöckel, Copenhagen, Denmark

A remarkable fusion of ski resort and wolf puppy -- stoical in his yellow-eyed silence, frozen beneath the ice-capped peak, DOG eloquently challenges the viewer to re-examine old concepts of landscape. 

PAINTING OF TWO BIRDS
Lori Maslakow, 1977
16” x 12”, oil on canvas board
Donated by Ace and Jan Hickman
North Bend, OR
December 2016

“Lori’s first oil painting for Daddy for his birthday December 19, 1997”