Tuesday, January 30, 2007

1/26/07 Exploring The Closets of Leonardo

Somewhere in the back of every over-packed closet is some long forgotten memory. A business card left in an overcoat pocket, a ticket stub, some object that did not quite make it to being tossed out in the trash, in an estate sale these items may resurface. Then have light cast upon them and be archived on the internet for all eternity.

Leonardo St. - Lake Claire "Estate Sale"

This sale was inside a smallish cottage in my neighborhood. Once many homes like this lined Leonardo St. Now they are being demolished to make way for more massive structures , oversized residences designed with mongrel mix of turn of the century styles. On the way in I met by a friend who told me this sale was worthless and that there was no reason to spend time with the assortment of bad junk. I responded that bad junk is often exactly what I seek. With this in mind I entered the home.
Inside I went directly up a narrow flight of stairs to the top floor. Here I found a converted attic turned into one room and several large closets. It was here I uncovered the wonders of the closets of Leonardo. In my first closet exploration I found a cache of old bills, bank statements, recipes, holiday cards, newspaper clippings and other faded papers. In one box I discovered a telegram from 1949 from the national paper company asking the receiver to please get in touch with them. A torn and yellowed Dear Abby column carried the headline “Thou shalt be a fine neighbor if ye followeth these 10 rules”. What appeared to be a scrap of paper with a recipe contained directions for making some home brew concoction. The recipe read as follows
8 pounds grapes
8 pounds sugar
1 boiling water
1/4 yeast
Desolve(sic) cup warm water
Cut up two Irish potatoes put in grapes
Set 28 days then mash juice out.
Put juice back in wait 3 weeks.
(this site assumes no liability for damages or legal actions resulting from the making or consumption of the product featured in this recipe).

In another box I found a paint-by-numbers canvas depicting a brightly colored parrot. Near it were several promotional photographs for a company that installed patio rooms.

In the rear of another closet I found more paint by numbers painting, these ones neatly framed. Some old clothing hung in the closet. At the very end of the rack was a Phantom of the Opera costume and mask.

Costume in a closet.

In a third closet (the attic build-out appeared to be mostly to create more closet space) I found mildew encrusted men’s shoes, a hard hat, a jumble of old but high-end photo gear, some neckties, a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence and an album of professional photographs of Atlanta shopping centers and office building of the early 1970’s.
In the single upstairs bedroom I found an old high school letter jacket with a large B on the front, some gift wrap, boxes of non descript xmas d├ęcor, more photo gear, an old copy of The Game of the States in it’s original box, and some books. Among the books were “Iron Shoes”, “God’s Gold Mine”, “Basket of Silver”, “The Rational Manager”, “Feed His Sheep”, “The Pack of Lies”, “Stories to Grow By”, ‘The Case of the Careless Cupid”, “The Natural Way to Draw”, “You Can Fix It”, “Byrd’s Great Adventure”, and “5000 on the Hoof”. Some small paperback cookbooks found nearby included “The Cool Cookbook” and “The Troy Bilt Owner’s Recipe Collection”.

Downstairs I found fewer things of interest. Seeing that the occupant at one time sold enclosed patio additions, I examined the patio room. Here I found nothing that looked like the glossy promotion photo that depicted a happy family enjoying the additional space in their home. Here I found a large roll of carpet with some bar bell weights atop it, a plate with a drawing of a sports car sticking out it’s tongue, a desk with a sign on it that read “I’m ugly but I work”, an unopened bottle of cheap Riesling, several power tools, a telephone and a filter for a fish pond.

Plate found in patio room.

The living and dining rooms were painstakingly ordinary. There was not much in the former since the sellers had set up their checkout area there. The dining room was filed with glassware, china and serving dishes, golf clubs and a family photo. In the kitchen I found old kitchenware and a bottle of Merlot. In a bedroom on the lower level I located, a framed family tree, some sheet, more paint-by-number works as well as some bowling trophies and old copies of Southern Living stashed behind an overstuffed chair.
I bought the album of old Atlanta buildings with the plan of having the photos placed on the Atlanta Time Machine website.

Hidden artwork.

Trophies behind a chair.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

1/13/07 - One positive side of global warming

It‘s January in Atlanta but it feels like early spring. It appears that global warming is not only bringing about melted glaciers and higher ocean level but more yard sales in the midst of winter.

Benning St. Candler Park “Yard Sale”

This was a rather small sale in the yard of an old bungalow. I arrived at 9:30 and was not sure if the sale had been pillaged by early birds or if there was just not a lot of stuff to begin with. In the yard I found some metal shelving, a set of fireplace tools, a teapot shaped like a thatched cottage, an forked implement made of stainless steal, for a few old mugs a large wardrobe and some books. Among the books were Bill Clinton’s “My Life” and some popular paperbacks by Jeff Shaara, John Lescroart and John Sanford. A large orange tabby cat set on a brick post watching the sale while I was there.
I bought nothing.
Oak Grove Dr. – East Atlanta “Yard Sale”

In the yard an old bungalow I found a couple and their children watching over their collection of copies of The Last Supper and various bits of clutter. Some of the copies were paint by the numbers one was rendered in relief. Next to one of the large Leonardos was a large wooden angel and a set of golf clubs. Nearby the other Last Suppers were an old tricycle and a metal office chair holding a lampshade. On a blanket in the grassless lawn was a pile of old clothing. More clothing was strewn across the side of an old green pick-up truck parked in the driveway. On a table were a few books, some sterno, a copy Titanic on VHS, some kitchenware and a few toys. Among the books were “The Battle of the Bulge”, “O, Georgia”, “Body for Life” and a 1998 World Almanac. The seller told me he was selling his Leonardo prints because his kids were drawing on them
I bought nothing.
Truck serving as clothing rack.

Sterno and Titanic together.

Seller with defaced Da Vinci copy.
Gresham Rd. – East Atlanta “Yard Sale”

This sale was in the yard of a frame cottage. Next to the street propped up against a fire hydrant was a three-foot scarecrow wearing a straw hat. Near the figure was a box marked “free” containing gift-wrap, tee shirts and old copies of Dog Fancy magazine. Around the perimeter of the yard were some neatly arranged tables. Upon them I found an antler, an electric knife sharpener, some belts, some crudely made pottery, a few garden tools, costume jewelry and some glassware. There was also a rack holding men and women’s clothing and a print of a Mark Ryden painting.
I bought nothing.

Print found on the grass.

Scarecrow welcomes buyers to sale.

Selection of free stuff in East Atlanta
Whiteford Ave. – Edgewood “Sale for Legal Justice”

This sale was in an empty weed covered lot. A few tables were set up and a few blankets covered the weeds. Several idealistic looking young people stood around talking while I perused the clutter. A sign saying ‘free’ pointed towards a box containing a print of cute kittens, and some old cables. The free price may have extended to some old paint cans as well. Among a pile of clothes tossed next to a wood grain TV set was a satiny dress that featured a pair of small golden wings. On one of the tables were several Judy Collins Lps, and a mug with the faces of Sylvia Plath and Louisa Mae Alcott printed on it. Baskets and boxes scattered about contained old toys, shoes, a foam tomahawk and a patch that said –‘A pirates life for me’. The sellers seemed very suspicious of me and ask that I not take any photos of their faces.
I bought nothing.
Contents of a box at sale for legal justice.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

1/6/07 Agoraphobia or Common sense?

I’ve noticed that over the years I have composed this journal that the range or my wanderings to sales around this city has shrank in recent months. In the past six months it appears that I seldom travel more than three miles from my home to seek documentation of peoples divestments. Is my reluctance stemming from some growing agoraphobia a fear of wandering beyond the range of where I can walk to or is it simply a reaction to this city’s worsening traffic situation? I hope it is the latter as infill construction, loft building madness, and McMansioning have ensnarled my horizons. With the grow comes the opportunity that I no longer need to venture further than I can leisurely stroll to find an ample amount of yard sales.
Today I experienced this as I attended as perfectly satisfying event two blocks from my home but then foolishly drove around the city seeking another sale only to find I had wasted considerable fossil fuel and endured much aggravation.
Page Ave. – Candler Park “Moving Sale”

This sale was in the garage of an infill town-home development that was built over a dozen years ago (which is about 80 years in infill age). The seller was a woman who offered art classes to children in the neighborhood for many years and naturally was divesting herself of piles of juvenile art supplies. In addition to the traditional supplies such as acrylic paints and brushes. Her garage housed two cases of inflatable smiley face balls, a case of paddleballs and a case of bubble blowing devices. These I presumed could be used for creating some sort of interactive installation. A work that would gain a child far more art success than a colorful rendering of a tulip on canvas. Other stuff in the garage and driveway included a box of candle making supplies; some carpets a set of golf clubs, a purse made from a coconut and some books. Among the books were “Illustrated History of Art”, “The Greatest Works of Art of Western Civilization”, “The 20th Century Art Book”, “The Painter Who Loved Chickens”, “Mad About Plaid”, “The Way of the Willow Branch”, “Salute to Healthy Cooking” and “Food for Thought”. Near the books were some Cds by Echo and the Bunnymen, Boy Kill Boy, Morrissey, Love and Rockets, Joy Division, The Cranberries and Depeche Mode.
Some other stuff included and some original artwork that included a scene of several houses and an image of two hearts being drawn together as well as a few kitchen items a Mac G3, and a rack of women’s clothing.
A few items were for sale in the home above the garage. I wander through the home that appeared as she had lived in it unescorted. It was difficult to tell what was for sale and what was not. The home was pleasantly decorated with a number of original paintings and modern furniture. Near the stairway was a coffee-table book entitled “the Comfortable Home” and on the refrigerator was a magnet that carried a quote from Goethe “Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
I bought nothing.
Excess paint being divested by art teacher.

Clubs and carpet found in garage.

Book found inside infill town-home.

Gaylemont Dr.- Medlock "Yard Sale"
Later in the morning I decided against my better judgment and sense of agoraphobia to drive out to an estate sale near Oak Grove. On the way up Clairmont Road we spotted a sign for this sale. The sign was over three mile from the site of the sale. The sale itself was a terrible affair put together by some middle school kids. In front of a ranch house, up a high driveway was a meager selection of junk a pair of 13 year olds no longer deemed necessary. Among the sparse clutter was a Yankees cap, a plastic aquarium, a doll, a plush egg shaped figure and some kids clothing. Not only was the sale dreadful but also the signs offering directions led us in a circuitous path that took us far out of our way. I should have listened to my sense of agoraphobia.
I bought nothing.
Evidence of a dreadful sale.

Starfire Dr. - Oak Grove “Estate Sale”

From Medlock I had a difficult time trying to find this sale that was advertised in the AJC. After following a maze of aging suburban streets I finally came to the sale site. Here I found a shovel pushed into the ground with a message on the handle saying the sale had been moved to some other location that I knew I would only get lost and discouraged attempting to find. The only redeeming note of this waste of non- renewable energy was that we passed a delightful large pile of discarded junk near the sale that was either someone getting evicted or someone tossing out everything they owned. Most of the stuff was wet and broken but the mix of glass shards, MC Escher prints, animal cages and smashed fax machines was the highlight of this voyage gone bad.

A pile of debris offering redemption after a long and useless drive.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

1/1/07 - Another Year in the Yards of Clutter

The holiday season has ended, a new year has started and I have not added anything to this journal in over three weeks. Since my last entry there have been no yard sales to document. On Christmas eve I did take note one sale in Toco Hills for a sale but in the continuing hubbub of the season I missed it. But the documentation of clutter did take one step forward at year’s end as my yard sale exhibit “A year in the Yards of Clutter and the Driveways of Divestment” was named one of Creative Loafing’s top ten visual art exhibits of the 2006. This year I will be presenting the photographs from my series to Nashville’s Ruby Green Gallery for a solo exhibition in June.

The end of another holiday season displayed on the curb.

Over the holidays we did see the passing of the greatest entertainers of our time James Brown. For the occasion I headed off to Augusta on Friday evening to pay my last respects. I spent most of the evening at the Soul Bar where the DJ played the music of the Godfather of soul non-stop. While the hits blared all night visuals of Saddam’s hanging played silently on video monitors behind the bar. Outside further down Broad Street I found a far quieter scene as devotees and fans mingled and posed for photos around the James Brown statue.
On Saturday morning we lines up with the thousands of other mourners to enter the James Brown Arena for the Homegoing service. At the three hour plus event his band played, his widow sang and the crowd roared as a frail looking Michael Jackson entered the arena. James Brown will be missed.

At the Soul Bar fans dance while Saddam is hung.

The Godfather of Soul at rest.