Thursday, June 12, 2008

6/7/08 A heat wave in the yards of clutter

The south is hot, but normally the truly oppressive weather does not begin until July or August. June is for the most part a warm but pleasant month where one can be outside exploring clutter filled yards without risking unpleasantness and possible death from heat stroke. This week the temperatures are in the mid nineties and the air is stagnant. When I went out this morning I made a vow not to stay out past 10 AM. I did not keep that vow due to the multitude of sales nearby.

Candler St. – Candler Park “Yard Sales”

When I arrived here I was tempted to take in these sales as a token shopping event then go home. On this street I found two sales of different sides on the same block. The first sale featured a moderate selection of old clutter including faux flowers, garden tools, brass pots, a plaster statue of a pig in a chef’s hat, a single croquet mallet, a bucket of plush animals and a small pillow with a bas-relief dog’s head on it. The second sale down the street was even less interesting with a carved wooden foot, a coffee table, a garden sprayer, some art posters and some wicker items. The most redeeming feature of both these sales was the signage. Both had chalk signs on the sidewalk in front of the sales. The later sale also had a very large smiley face sign painted of wood in front of the yard.

I bought nothing.

Craved wooden foot in the hot sun.

Madison Ave. – Oakhurst “Yard Sale”

Being so unfulfilled by these two sales I decided to take on the oppressive heat and head for the community wide sale happening in the Wynona Park neighborhood of Decatur. On the way there I came across this small sale. Here a woman sat in her yard surrounded by a small assortment of clutter in the direct hot sun. In front of her on a table was a box marked “Artificial Dog Poo- Made in the USA – 1$” The seller explained that her father came up with the idea using a secret formula that was mostly flour. He had hoped to fund his retirement with this faux fecal scheme. I did not want to dash his hopes by informing her that there are already major factories in China churning out a plastic version this product at a fraction of the cost. She said her Dad had given her several boxes but she had not sold little of it. Also at the sale were some books on crafts, a selection of women’s clothing and a large old TV cabinet with no TV tube in it. The seller remarked she was soon moving to Asheville. It cooler there perhaps she can market her father’s product better at a higher elevation.
I bought nothing

2nd Ave. – Oakhurst – “Yard Sale”
This small sale was unremarkable except for a collection of doors and costumes.
I bought nothing.

Tilson Ave. – East Lake “Yard Sale”

This was a larger sale with signs that started miles from the event. After driving far further than I intended I came upon this sale in the driveway and back yard of a newer home and was disappointed. Most of the stuff here was newer things and children’s stuff. There was not even bizarre children’s stuff. The most interesting section was a large table topped with a huge array of solvents, cleaners and pesticides. Nearly all the products looked new and I did find it strange that they would so proudly display so many flea killing products to the general public.
I bought nothing.

E. Lake Dr. – Oakhurst “Yard Sale”

The temperature was starting to get unbearable but I went on knowing I still had not even begun my exploration of the Wynona Park sales. I didn’t want to spend much time at this sale but pulled over anyway. Her in the hot sun I found boxes of cables, a set of conjones drums, some men’s clothing (it was far to hot to even try things on) and some house wares.
I bought several pieces of Tupperware.

Wynona Park neighborhood sales

By this time the heat had gotten to me. I wondered from yard to yard in a daze. If it were not for the photographs I took I doubt I would remember anything I encountered there. Mostly I recall a multitude of children’s stuff, with the emphasis on gleaming plastic items. Some of the stuff was massive such as the kid’s pool in the shape of a tugboat. One sale had a plethora of princess items another had an extended assortment of plastic aliens carrying weapons of war. There were Yoda masks and piles of pink ponies. There were Dollhouses constructed out of pounds of pink plastic, fantasy forts of blue plastic and boxes packed full of naked dolls.

The bright plastic seemed to glow in the glaring sunlight. There were also clothes, large pillows in the shape of fish, house wares and an occasional disassembled ceiling fan. I did have a change to observe two shoppers one an older woman who was scanning the barcodes of books with a palm PDA device. She resold books and the scanner contained a database of ISBN numbers of books that had a market value that made reselling profitable. She had hits on two graphics textbooks. She told me that she was retired and this augmented her income (a far better plan than marketing fake dog poo). At another sale I ran into the owner of a local used record store. He bought by instincts alone. When I encountered him he was purchasing about 30 CD’s. When I asked him if there was any system like I had seen for Cds like the book lady had he said he didn’t know of it or need it, implying that it would take the fun out of selecting products for resale.

Fishy pillows

In the midst of all this was an estate sale. The home had nearly been depleted of most of its contents. But I wondered inside anyway. There I was delighted to find old food for sale. Among the oldest item was a can of blueberries from Big Star, a supermarket that has not done business in Atlanta for over eight years. The food items were marked down from 50 cents to 25. I was tempted to purchase a jar of caviar for that price but would have been too embarrassed if I were hospitalized by it. There was also a half finished open bottle of Sherry. It was not a good vintage.

In one room of the nearly empty house was a large poster of Mark Spitz hanging in a window. In a small room I found old national Geographic magazines, some books and a pile of not so old road maps. The upstairs area was nearly empty except for a few stray items of Xmas décor.
I bought two sheets for upcoming installation I’m exhibiting this fall at Eyedrum and a 1968 map of San Antonio that featured a layout of the World Exposition there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

5/31/08 - Walking and biking on a saturday morning

Page Ave – Candler Park “Multi-family Sale”

My disposition and mental state this morning could only be described as groggy at best. I really did not want to leave the house but I knew there were a number of sales very close to home and I presumed it would clear my mind and body if I went out to them. I walked to this first sale, which were actually about six sales on one block a short distance from my home. On Page Ave. I found most of the sales predominantly featured children’s playthings, clothing and accessories. Other stuff thrown in ranged from a canoe to and old Singer sewing machine. Most of the sales were well arranged but my favorite was simply was a mass of plastic and paper sacks filled with a confusing jumble of clothing. Among some books at one of the sales were “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind”, “Papa Doc”, “Cause Celeb”, “Winning on Wall Street”, “Intranet and Web databases for Dummies” and “Kids on Camera”.
Other stuff found there included a gnocchi maker, an umbrella with an image of a T Rex on it, a plastic Statue of Liberty torch, a clear plastic picture frame filled with fruit shaped candies, an inflatable sumo costume as well as an inflatable costume of a horse with a rider.
I bought nothing then walked home to get my bike.

Piles of clothing filled bags.

Fruity frame.

Glendale Ave.- Candler Park “Yard Sale”

My first stop on two wheels was this small sale just off of McLendon Ave. Here I found a selection of stuff on the grass in the front yard of a frame bungalow. Among the clutter was a framed poster of Godzilla, one of those large exercise balls. a device for playing music to an unborn baby, a small animal cage and the usual assortment of small picture frames, Xmas décor and house wares.
I bought nothing.

Arizona Ave. Lake Claire “Yard Sale”

When I arrived I realized I had seen the stuff at this sale three times already this year. They had the same house wares and art but had sold off the stack of stereo gear I had seen just a few weeks ago. I spent little time here and bought nothing.

Connecticut Ave – Lake Claire “Yard Sale”
I pedaled over to this sale only one block distant. Here I found an assortment of stuff placed on the sidewalk (there was really no yard in-front of the home) of a frame bungalow. On a table were six small nearly identical paintings of a tree; on another table was an assortment of mugs, serving pieces, stemware and plates. On the sidewalk were several framed photographs by a local artist of a small town in Florida. Near the street were bins filled with plastic toys and small picture frames and a Curious George Plush toy.
I bought nothing.

Redundant art found in Lake Claire.

McLendon Ave. – Lake Claire “Yard Sale”

I have been to a sale at this house every year for the pat four years and each year see the same breast pump for sale. Actually this home was the site of one of the first sales I photographed for this series. While the sale was not that extensive or interesting the sellers were very nice to me when I came up the step driveway with camera in hand to document and examine their clutter. Among the stuff there was an old lawn mover, a few toys, a box of old purses and six pet bowls. I did not tell them about seeing the breast pump every year. But the sellers can always be counted on to make good signs.
I bought nothing.

View of some stuff I'd seen before.

Lakeshore Dr.

On the way home I rolled into this sale on a shady area in front of a manor home with an extensive yard. Here I found a dresser mirror that had been festooned with countless beer bottle caps by some artistic college student, a brass table top, a canteen a pair of lacrosse rackets, a large Xmas tree stand and some house wares.
I bought nothing.

Clutter on Lakeshore Dr. along with my current mode of yard sale transportation.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The First Estate Sale of Summer

Ponce de eon Manor - Druid Hills "Estate Sale"
This week marked the start of my two-month summer vacation. I now begin sleeping late, attempting some long range art projects, relaxing, hanging out at the pool, reading more and a wide choice of other leisurely activities. One way I mark the start of this vacation time is to go to an estate sale during what are normally hours. Examining the newspaper I found a nonagenarian (the champagne of sales) estate sale located less than two miles from my home. Knowing that the first day of such sales often begin with long lines at opening time I decided to wait till over an hour after the sale opened to visit. But When I arrived at the brick ranch with Greek revival aspirations, I found a line of over 20 shoppers queued up at the entrance. But not being one to waste time in lines my first impression was to go back home and come back in the PM. But since I had not been to an inside the home estate event in some time and that I had nothing better to do (or at least I rationalized this at the time) I joined the line and began my wait. Dreadfully the wait took far longer that I assumed. I stood there for nearly an hour as the line slowing inched towards the entrance. Boredom was broken only when some early shopper exited carrying with them some booty acquired from waiting in line an even longer time. A man ahead of me in line said that he heard one guy arrived with his family at 6 AM to wait for admission four hours later. Those around me, most of whom were professional resellers complained about some estate sale they had visited the day before that had a sad selection of overpriced stuff. The line inched slowing forward. At one point I volunteered to help an older man load some antique bedroom furniture into an overload pickup truck. When I returned to the line the professionals were making remarks about his bad packing methods. Later a friend who made it in shortly after I arrived exited with a few Lps and some books. I asked if the wait was worth it, and he responded that there is a lot of stuff. When I finally made my way inside I did find a lot of stuff but also a lot of people. For attempting photographic documentation this was a major problem to me. Shooting pictures here reminded me of my visit to the Alhambra on a very crowded day. The Alhambra is massive but nearly all my photos showed mostly the backs of crowds of people looking at the Iberian landmark. Inside the home attempting to avoid the crowds I headed directly to the basement as son as I entered. In the cellar were at least four rooms filled with clutter and shoppers. But there was still more moving space and better visual aspects than the overcrowded floor above.

In the dim light I found shelves of hardback books with far more titles than I had time to peruse. Among the works I rapidly examined I found “The Drugstore Liberal”, “The Naked I”, “What’s Good for GM”, “The Liberated Man”, “and Welcome to Our Conglomerate…. You’re Fired”, “Compound Interest Tables”, “How to Attain and Practice the Ideal Sex Life” “The Art of Plain Talk”, ‘Street Walker” “All About Girls” and “How to Hypnotize”. This, like many basements I have examined contained the hopes and dreams of a man looking for a place of refuge. Pushed into a corner was an antique barber chair with red vinyl upholstery and some old broken beer signs. I imagined the man of the house had wanted at one point to be able to sit in the cool of the cellar quaffing a brew while resting in the barber chair reading “How to Hypnotize”.
Another part of the lower level was arranged as a bedroom with the accompanying furniture. On display there were some bedclothes, hats old photographs and toys. Other parts of the basement served the more traditional function of workshop and storage. A small workbench in a room the size of a closet had the usual accoutrements of nonagenarian craft, including the prized oilcan. I have often considered that all home repairs prior to 1970 simply required the use of an oilcan. Other stuff downstairs included a table heaped with holiday décor, old hat boxes from Davidson’s department store and file cabinets filled with data from long deceased business clients of the homeowner.
Climbing back up the narrow staircase past a wonderful naïve painting of a forest scene I attempted to examine the mob covered clutter of the main floor. But even in late morning it was still difficult.

Among the highlights of what I was able to glance at were two strange small piñatas resembling emaciated rabbits, seven large wall clocks that occupied nearly a third of the space in the dining room, a crowded and disorderly kitchen with drawers filled with tangled culinary tools and cabinets packed with nameless kitchenwares.

In a bathroom I would a lot of used personal care items on displays. Among them was a box set of soaps in an elaborate gift box. In the closet of the bath I found more used personal care items including two old bottles of rubbing alcohol, a partially used bottle of mouthwash and an open and very old container of dental floss.

I left with a copy of the Hypnotism book, an old railroad brochure and a 1960’s map of California 1. I also left disturbed that I had waited so long to have to deal with so many people.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Oversized Church Bazaar- Decatur
This website is not about flea market or thrift stores. Not that I have any problem with these institutions of resale. Church and charity bazaars have been featured here but while they provide a barometer of what people are divesting they do not provide the intimacy into the lives of the sellers that yard sales offer. At one of these events one cannot eyeball the actual owner and make some judgment about his or her life, morals and manner of living.
This sale held each year in front of a large church in Decatur is notable simply for its sheer magnitude. It is impressive for it’s vista of clutter when one approaches it. But while quantity is not always quality size can matter plus it provided some great photographic fodder for my camera. My initial impression reminded me of the scene in Gone with the Wind of the wounded confederates. In that noted vision the vantage point raises allowing the viewer to see the extended mass view of the wounded and dying veterans. But here instead of cannonball casualties one sees piles of plush toys, stacks of mattresses, countless tables laden with kitchen wares, a field of lamps an array of books and countless disordered piles of clothing. Thought all this a horde wander individuals stooped over inspecting the multitude objects on display. When I asked a yard saling friend two days later if she had gone to this event. All she said was “It was horrible”. But I did not go home empty handed for I was able to procure a bed I needed for an upcoming installation at Eyedrum. But I must have been confused by the overwhelming nature of the event for I purchased the wrong parts of the bed. My photo documentation is below.

Artwork found amid the expanse of clutter.

A wall of old bedding.

An array of lamps upon the grass.

Old crutches littering the churchyard like some miracle site.

Seated doll awaiting a buyer.

A gaggle of ironing boards.

Shoppers selecting shoes.

Saturday 5 /24/ 08

Cabbagetown Returns to Life

This spring a series of tornados ravaged Atlanta’s Cabbagetown neighborhood, tearing off roofs, downing tress, damaging homes and ending some of the best yard sales in town. While blue tarps still adorn many roofs the former mill village has risen from the rubble as yard sales have returned.

Powell St.- Cabbagetown “Yard Sale”

The first sale was in the driveway of a home that appeared to have been spared damage from the storm. There was a large dead tree in the yard but that may have been more a victim of the drought rather than the twisters. Here I found an ample array of women’s shoes, a vacuum cleaner, a toaster oven, a retro looking floor lamp, some glassware and a table full of jewelry neatly packaged in plastic baggies. On the ground were several original artworks including an expressionistic looking portrait of a woman, an eerie looking painting of a man and a woman and a painting of a reclining woman in a flowing gown with a bob haircut. On the porch was hung a rack of women’s clothes. Among some books on a bookshelf were “The Literary Insomniac”, “Desolation Angels”, “Junky”, “Technical Editing”, “Let’s Put the Future Behind Us”, “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way”, “The Art of the Tattoo”, “The Homebuying Book and several art history textbooks.
I bought nothing.

Art that survived the storm.

View of sale with dead tree.

Berean St. - Cabbagetown “Yard Sale”

This sale had a more masculine bent than the prior event. Crammed into the tiny fenced in front yard and porch of an old mill house was a considerable amount of clutter. Among the stuff I found two old Polaroid cameras, an Easy button (in unopened packaging) two boxes of computer circuit boards, two copies of Endless Summer II on DVD, a soldering gun, an old and very heavy bicycle and some men’s clothing. Among some books I found “Search for A Method”, “Healthy Life Kitchen”, “God Calling”, “Protein Power”, “We the Living”, “The Left handed Dictionary”, “Intimacy”, “The Chronicle of Crime” and several GRE test prep books.
I bought nothing.

Box of circuit boards.

Flat Shoals Ave. – Reynoldstown “Yard Sale”

Reynoldstown is a neighborhood adjacent to Cabbagetown it is nearly as funky in character but the houses are a little bit further apart. It was spared tornado damage. This sale was put on by the owners of a small neighborhood coffee house. It is the only coffee joint that I know of that has its own free range dog park.
In a small grassy area behind the café and in the shadow of a large sign that says “yes Lord, yes Lord” was a sofa, a small TV a few items of bedroom furniture, some barware, a small lamp in the shape of a turtle and a few items of women’s clothing. Under a tree on a table was a large selection of artwork from a local studio that was somehow associated with the café.
I bought a cup of coffee.

Art found in Reynoldstown.

Fairview Ave. – Druid Hills “Yard Sale”

While on a walk with Cindy later in the day we passed by this sale that extended down the driveway of a large Tudor home. I realized as soon as I proceeded down the driveway that I had been to and photographed a sale of this same stuff over a year ago. I also realized that I have run into the seller at various sales over the past years.
I was hard to tell if there was anything here I had not seen before but the stuff looked very picked over. Among the items I recalled from the past were an outboard motor, an old bike, some oversized beer steins and a massive amount of lps in old cardboard boxes. What I did not recall seeing was the large sign that said “Cletis” or the children’s wagon filled with billiard balls and covered with plate-glass.
I bought a toy mechanical hand to use for an upcoming art project.

wagon filled with balls.

A sign for Cletis.