Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Remains of Another Estate 8/21/09

Mason Mill Rd. - Emory "Estate Sale"

Estate sales are wider doors into people’s lives than the more common Saturday morning yard sale, especially if they truly feature the accumulation of a long life. On occasion I will go pillaging through the remnants of someone’s belongings in a dusty basement or cluttered study and lapse out of my droll state of mind to find myself having a poignant moment considering the long life of the owner of the assembled clutter. This Friday that feeling approached me while going through the contents of a home near Emory. It wasn’t so much a feeling towards the individual but more so a feeling towards myself. Dreaded feelings of mortality where the clutter looked back at me and said what will you leave behind? Estate sales can bring on such thoughts but inspecting the goods here I came away with the feeling this was a life well lived.
So what was here? The rambling ranch home in an upscale neighborhood between Toco Hills and Emory was well kept for a person who had accumulated so much. It also seemed timeless. The owner had been a graphic artist leaving behind some of the tools and material of his trade. Most of which was old school stuff that was of little value with the current digital methodology of creating graphics. Lots of rulers, cans of fixative and spray mount, pens, pencils erasers tracing papers and such. Some of the more curious items from the pre-computer era, such as reams of half used Letraset were not in evidence. The owner had also worked in photography and found here were left over examples of corporation production work sitting in piles and boxes. There were images of people working in 1970’s era offices, with wide collars and equally wide ties. Product shots of indeterminable mechanical devices and portraits of businessmen. The owner’s photographic career may have led to his collecting of even older photographic gear. In the dining room of the home two tables were covered with a multitude of old to very old photo devices. Some stuff old and outdated by today’s standards such as high-end Polaroid gear may have been used by the estate owner. But other stuff such as 100 plus year old magic lamp projectors, a cast iron 16mm movie projectors must have been antique items he collected over the years. The presence of these very old objects made it appear that this sale was unstuck in time. Did the seller live 20 years ago or 100 years ago? In addition to the larger devices lots of older small accessories were scattered about including old flash attachments, dark room bulbs, miscellaneous filters, light meters and instruction manuals. Other collected objects in the home bore more resemblance to many things I have seen at other estate sales, the bedroom filled with old dolls in various international costumes, a table filled with children’s trophies, boxes of old greeting cards, and closets still filled with women’s clothing.
The downstairs of the home was as usual more preserved and more interesting to me. Each room was labeled with printed signs indicating the nature of the room. This appeared to have been done by the resellers but the signs did not really add any order to the confused array of stuff found in the rooms. In one room were boxes of old tapes both home VHS tapes with typewritten labels indicating the family events contained on them. Near them were containers of larger 3/4 inch tapes and 16mm films with some type of corporate productions on them. Another room had a selection of Xmas décor both store bought and homemade. In the later category was a mounted reindeer head fashioned from a tube sock. Other stuff scattered around the basement included a novelty severed leg, some Halloween masks, cassette tapes of novelty songs and a school project on a tri-fold panel explaining the half life of M&Ms.
Books on several bookshelves around the home features such titles as “Twisted Tales from Shakespeare”, “Outline of History”, “Instant Furniture Refinishing”, “Christians in the Arena”, ”Limping Along” two bibles, several copies of the Image Bank catalog and “The Strange Career of Jim Crow”.
Two final notable objects were a MARTA supervisor’s badge and a selection of small rocks laid out in the kitchen selling for 25 cents apiece.

Tube sock reindeer.

Severed leg found in basement.

Rocks for sale in the kitchen.

My purchase of the day. They create the illusion of eating an egg while a chick is hatching from it. Bon Apitite.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Five Years..............

I could say it all seems a blur, or perhaps that I should celebrate in some way but on August 8th Yard Sale Addict celebrated its fifth anniversary. Sounding like a bad parent I neglected posting for the past few weeks. I had returned to work, finished up work on a sculptural piece I’m doing and finished of a photo essay I’ve been working on for the last six months for an academic journal. Another excuse I could offer is that while my first post was on August 8th 2004 the site did not assume it’s current form that includes photographs until October of 2004. With that in mind I think I should declare the period between now and October the anniversary SEASON of Yard Sale Addict. Not to be self indulgent but over that time I will repost some old stuff, site statistics and act like an old man glorifying the past events in his life.
So what did I do? Well for one in my frenzy to get other things done I let my normally well-organized documentation go to hell. I did go to several yard sales, most of which were mediocre at best. A condition that does occur in mid summer here when it’s too hot and people are getting their kids ready to go back to school and those without kids are on vacation. So this week I have a hodgepodge of photos that I am not sure exactly where they came from other than they were taken over the last three weeks at sales near my home.

Somewhere in Morningside

Three weeks ago I wondered out aimlessly with no particular destination and no indication of where any really good sales were. Some signs led me to a section of Morningside where there were half a dozen small sales. None had anything of particular notable interest. I did see one sale, which had the worst street presentation I may have ever encountered in a nice neighborhood. At the bottom of the driveway a small collection of clutter was just piled up. A comforter was thrown over some item of furniture, bedclothes were loosely crammed into a plastic bin and other stuff looked like it was awaiting the trash collectors. The sale was active for at the top of the driveway a woman was sitting sipping a cup of coffee and looking quite bored. At least she would not have to carry the stuff down to the street after the sale to be picked up by the trash men.
I did buy some stuff in Morningside from some other sales. I picked up a leather coat for $5.00, a set of pencils to hand color photos for a dollar and a box of cardstock to use for library cards at work for 25 cents.

Pig's head somewhere in Morningside.

8X10 glossy of Willie Nelson in bondage found at a location I can't recall.

S. Ponce De Leon Ave – Yard Sale

This was one of the largest sales I attended three weeks ago. It was set up in front of the home of the Atlanta Boy Choir, an institution headquartered in one of the old mansions visible from Ponce De Leon Ave. I at first thought it was a fund-raiser for the choir but the lone gentleman running the sale told he lived here and now he had to move. According to local media the choir is in financial arrears so I don’t know why they are evicting some one who lived here. I also wonder what it is like to live in a place where you continually have to hear boys singing. I guess it’s like living next to the railroad tracks and you get used to it after a while. Any way I recall (keep in mind my normal well organized documentation methods are is out the window this week) here was a large supply of toys, a lot of candles, many classical Lps, some office furniture and a very ugly lamp with a figure of Paul Revere for the base.
I bought a wallet for Cindy for one dollar.
Disturbing game found outside Boy Choir headquarters.

Moreland Ave. – Estate Sale
The following week I attempted to go to sales but poorly organized and the sales were disappointing. First I left the house with my long zoom on the camera instead of my normal lens. So I took no pictures at the first three sales I visited. I then went back home and got the correct lens and headed to a sale I had seen a sign for the night before. This was not really an estate sale but just an average yard sale. When I arrived there was a large group of Latino men and women snapping up goods here. On man jumped into a pose as soon as he saw me with my camera. The shoppers were far more entertaining than the sale itself. Here I found a disorderly pile of CDs, a box of faux wheat grass and an exercise kit that included a half dozen DVDs and a jump rope. I see more and more groups of Latino men as well as families in Atlanta shopping at sales in the past few years and they do seem to be having a good time for all the right reasons. Not only are yard sales a great way to furnish a new and perhaps temporary residence for émigrés workers but also I’m feel the small scale street business reminds them of their homelands. The families I see shopping are always picking up lots of very inexpensive toys, kitchen items and clothing. I hope yard sales are one of their fondest memories of the USA.

Pile of CDs.

Somewhere in Kirkwood

I got an email on Sunday about this sale so I road my bike a few miles to a small home in Kirkwood only to have it start raining as soon as I arrived. One of the occupants of the home was moving and selling a lot of electronic gaming stuff such as a Wii and various hardware and software for Guitar Hero. They quickly pulled the stuff in to keep it dry. I quickly pedaled home for the same reason.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Bad Ceramics Preservation Center 7/31/09

Heritage Hills – Decatur "Estate Sale"

Before I critique the sale of one woman’s seeming obsession with small ceramics I should take inventory of what ceramics are in my own home. I am not a young man but while my lifestyle may be considered youthful by some, but the calendar of my existence says that I should have far more ceramic figurines in my home. What do I have? Taking inventory by walking from room to room I see first a small retro gift vase with a dancing teenage girl on it, a brightly painted six inch Infant of Prague, 10 eight inch saints including Lucia and both Teresas, three Hummel figures and a one-foot tall hula dancer. In actuality the saints and the hula dancer are panted plaster so they are technically not ceramics. The fertility-inducing infant of Prague dates to my parent’s home (it was never effective here). The Hummel my father acquired on the black market in postwar Germany by trading a pound coffee or a carton of cigarettes for them. The dancing girl, which I now use as a penholder, was something I picked up while in my 20’s when I bought far too much stuff at thrift stores.
So every ceramic tells a story. When I come across a sale like this one just outside Decatur I wondered what the stories are and this lady had plenty. When grown children take stock of a parents home they marvel at and fear the quantity of the runaway nick knacks, as many younger people believe having too many of this stuff is an indication that one is getting way up there in years.
So what did I find? Well the quantity trumped the quality. Aside from one big faded clown head with a sign indicating it was a McCoy, with fading paint there were no Llardo or other overpriced designer named items. A large seated Raggedy Ann or Raggedy Ann knockoff was one of the bigger works. On the floor I encountered a life like dachshund that could have been used as a decoy to attract long little dogs. Two very ugly and disturbing cats were on a table nearly covered in ceramics one with an insidious smile the other with a bow tie was equally disturbing. See the photos for the full effect. Other artifacts there included a trio of squirrels, a head with blank eyes and a set of mugs shaped like elephants. There was a wide range of styles from your traditional Blue Boy and Pinky to a pair of intertwined heads reminiscent of Modigliani. In one room was a bin of assorted tiny ceramics cats and dogs There were also two bags of broken ceramic figures that tempted me to become a ceramic assemblage artist.
There were other objects of note in the house a jig saw puzzle of a squirrel shaped like a squirrel, a copy of Walking Tall Part 2, five feathered pens in holders (you can never have too many of those) and a large painting of a woman lying in bed in a unintended erotic pose.
I bought nothing.

One of many feline figures found in Heritage Hills.

Human head with empty eyes.

Bin of small cats.

Ceramic rendering of Rag Doll.

Trio of squirrels.

Squirrel shaped puzzle.

A lifetime supply of feathery pens.

Pacyhdermic mugs.

Reclining figure under the sheets.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Under the Volcano

Lassen, Tahoe and Reno

Last week I took a short vacation to Lassen National Park, Lake Tahoe and Reno. I have a thing about volcanoes I always feel good going to volcanic places. There are no volcanoes around here and it’s always a special treat to be near one. Perhaps it’s that volcanoes remind me the earth is not a dull planet for when they blow their tops they really turn things around. I’m not one of the crazed types that don a fireproof outfit and walks on hot lava. I’ve actually never seen one lava spewing. But I always feel good being in the presence of such volatile mountains. The last time I had been near a volcano was in Guatemala six years ago (I had attempted to see Aconagua while in Argentina but a road closure prevented that a few years ago). So having a plane ticket I needed to use I headed to the Lassen National Park. Until St. Helens blew up Lassen was the last volcano to erupt in the lower 48 states when it sent smoke, ash and mud down its sides in 1915. My best access point for Lassen was Reno about three hours away so I spent four days seeing Lassen, Lake Tahoe and the Biggest Little City in the World Reno. While in Reno I was able to attend a Basque Festival, a Pacific Islander Festival, watch people gamble and visit few yard sales.

Reno come for Burning Man stay for the gambling!

Massive clown presiding over downtown.

Just over the California Boarder is Donner Memorial State Park noted site of starvation and cannibalism. Now a place for jet skiing.

Dancing Basques, Nevada has one of the largest Basques populations in the US.

Hula dancers in the desert, I have no idea why Pacific Islanders descended on Reno. But I enjoyed their presence.

Most of the yard sales I visited on Saturday morning were in the Old Southwest neighborhood. In many ways it looked a lot like the neighborhoods I visit in Atlanta but with more xeriscaping in the yards and more western styling on the homes.
The initial sale I visited cooled shoppers by showering them in bubbles.

A sign the economy is turning around in Nevada, people are selling their books on making money selling foreclosed properties.

This faux book case actually hides a mini sewing machine. It indicates it's better to look like you read 70's pop literature than sew.

Disco balls for sale at the home of a local artist. I think even the yard sales want to have a casino look.

Regardless of where one travels, discarded piles of old electronics look the same