After 4.5 years a bit of ennui….
As I approach the five-year mark of documenting sales I feel this week it’s time to change my approach a bit. When I went out two weeks ago I found first of all that in my own neighborhood I had possibly exhausted all possible variations of photographing what appeared to be the same old stuff in people’s yards. While one bad weekend should not tamper the quality of a half-decade of work I feel the necessity of changing the approach of my narrative. Last weekend I attended four sales all in the adjoining neighborhoods of Lake Claire and Candler Park. Each sale was a disappointment of one form or another. While one sale did have a selection of homemade artwork of note and another an ugly and dirty love seat, the gathered artifacts I witnessed that day did little for me. Perhaps my mind is no longer stimulated by Cartoon Network promo items, bins of plastic toys, garish Halloween décor (I need to survey my past entries and find how many times I used that phrase), children’s furniture and piles of popular hardbound books that no one wants to buy (Dean Koontz is the leader in this genre). Perhaps I should take notice, my yard saling compatriots told me there were wonderful sales in other neighborhoods the same day I found only dismay. Or perhaps I should more persistent like that Japanese artist who has created a painting of Mt. Fuji every day of his life for the past 35 years. He must go out some days and say ‘ah it looks just like it did yesterday so why bother?” But that artist does seek out nuances and variation in approach and perhaps that’s what I’m doing now.
The skies are grey this morning and the weather forecasters have called for rain most of the weekend and I’m out of coffee. Regardless I plot a route to the local sales sans caffeine stumbling over Craigslist listings. I had made some notes the prior evening but by 8 AM there are three more pages added to the listings. Craigslist despertly needs to create separate pages for ads inside and outside Atlanta’s perimeter highway. Passing over listings for sales in far flung locales like Canton, Blue Ridge and Griffin I compile a working list for a handful of sales in Edgewood, Virginia Highlands,
A tall cup of coffee at San Francisco Roasting Company clears my head but not the grey skies. Rain is coming one way or another this morning. My first neighborhood is Edgewood but there sales there are dreadful and uninviting. At one only a few scattered things are in the driveway looked over by a young child with a Mohawk. The other sales have a slightly greater selection of stuff but it’s more of the same tedious stuff I’ve seen far too many times. I don’t bother taking one photograph.
I head north in the more upscale Virginia Highlands. My first stop is at a dilapidated bungalow that stinks of mold and mildew. Outside a disgruntled looking seller tells a buyer the used jeans are five dollars. The buyer replies he’s not interested upon hearing the price. There is something really unpleasant about this sale. I’m afraid to take photos since the seller in charge seems so unpleasant. I wonder into the house where the dank smell is overwhelming. Old books, movie posters of 80’s action movies (Iron Eagle 2 among others) are splayed out on a wooden floor badly in need of refinishing.
Framed prints of dogs and bears are leaning against the walls. Piles of tedious popular novels are scattered across the floor of another room while looking over the titles I hear the sound of feet on a staircase and proceed up a narrow flight of stairs. A woman tells me there’s nothing upstairs but these is a desk down stairs. She leads me down a wooden staircase to a basement that reeks of mildew to show me this small student’s desk. I want to look around at piles of accumulated clutter but she tells me only the desk is for sale and leads me back up stairs. I leave without taking one photograph. Not a good start today.
But things seem to turn around when I encounter a street wide sale onRupley Ave.
in Virginia Highlands. It seems they do this sale every years and some of the stuff I see I have seen and photographed before. Browsing the sales I run into one of the Saturday morning regulars Bob, a local attorney who buys a lot of old records. He once told me he had two storage lockers filled with stuff he’s bought at sales. When I describe my malaise regarding my documentation he suggest I need to visit some low-end flea markets out in the country. Many he says now have a bit of international flair with Latino venders offering live animals and colorful clothing. Among the highlights of the seven or eight homes on this street with sales was a fine selection of Braun hand mixers-a device I’ve never known anyone to actually use, Potty Pot shots a game that improves men’s aim in urination and an antique hobby horse from Tennessee, the same kind Bob told me he owned as a child. I was particularly impressed with a woman’s massive display of candles on a front porch swing. It’s this type of arrangement that keeps me pursuing this interest on otherwise dull mornings.
I wondered around to other sales in Morningside and Virginia Highlands. On St. Charles I got a woman to pose with a Christmas tree she was selling and on a street in Morningside another seller posed Hamlet like with a plaster skull. While there it began raining and I helps the sellers carry in clothing and bags of teddy bears to the front porch to keep them dry and sellable.
Driving over to Midtown I found an old wooden bungalow with car tires piled on the sidewalk and a selection of old bicycles and bicycle gear in the yard. The seller declined to be photographed with his stuff. Also in midtown I visited what sign proclaimed was “La Vie duhe Artiste porch and garden sale”. Here a local art instructor who was moving to the west coast displayed the day’s best sale décor. Through a flowered trellis one encountered a lush garden with bamboo and dogwoods draped with elegant Victorian dresses and a pedestal tops with a pile of kitchen tools seemingly arranged not unlike an elegant floral display. The porch held similar displays. The seller proudly posed for me next to her kitchen items.
The rain increased as I drove to a church flea market on Highland Ave. where I encountered a lot of children’s toys and clothing covered in clear plastic sheeting. The sale was picked over and I was being very careful not to get my camera wet. A table covered in work gloved was not protected from the rain as if no one would mind wearing wet gloves.
In all the day ended my feelings of ennui I did make one purchase, a drawing tablet from the sale where the seller posed with the skull. I paid a dollar for it but six days later I still have not drawn one sketch in it.
Glass head before the rain.
Candles arranged on a rocker.
Wet children's clothes.