Saturday, February 27, 2010

2/22/10 Wandering through the homes of strangers…

This was the first weekend of the year that was not wet and miserable. While morning temperatures were still in the 30’s, clear skies made more sellers haul out their stuff and put it on display in their yards or on their porches. In the five sales I went to today only one dared to be outside as everything else keep their clutter was in the comfort of a heated building. In these clutter filled homes of a strangers I wandered about.

Kirkwood – La France St. “Garage Sale”

This was the only sale that was not inside unless you count the portion of the garage that some of the goods were displayed in. It was not a great sale and not even photo worthy. Here a young woman was selling her condo and some of is contents to move out of he city to the wonderland of Kennesaw. Nearly all the stuff here was the usual things you see when new in-town housing dwellers have a sale, new looking clothing, the usual kitchen items, the usual, decor items and some bed clothes. Under the display of bedclothes I noticed a down comforter spread out on the narrow expanse of grass in front of the condo. This winter has been exceptionally cold for Atlanta and my old down comforter is no longer comforting as all the feathers seem to have migrated to one end. So I bought the comforter for five dollars.

Bernadette Dr. – Woodland Hills “Moving Sale”

I did not know what to expect when I pulled down the winding driveway to this 60’s style modern home that looks like it belonged in an older suburban area. Inside I found a middle-aged couple poking around what might be a living room. Here above two large windows was a banner made of tape that read “Happy Birthday”. I then met the seller, a young woman with a small child. She told me most of the stuff for sale was upstairs and that this was her studio where she had recently had a birthday party for her son. This explained the lack of furnishings and the large painting of a tree on an easel in the middle of the room. Taking her advice I headed up a spiral staircase with a metal railing covered in plastic faux flowers. Up stairs I was on my own, I was alone encountering the home of a stranger. A few things were arranged for sale but most things were like someone was just living there from the disheveled bed to the bathroom sink counter cluttered with a collection of personal care items. The kitchen was not different as a meal had been recently prepared and the dishes and utensils were not put away. I started feeling like was not supposed to be here. I had not sinister plans like a burglar but felt more like someone who sleep walks on Ambien and wanders into their neighbor’s homes. After taking a few photos and nosing around in things a bit I headed back down the flowery staircase. I then told the seller about my work as an artist but tried not to call myself a voyuer as she had no idea what I might have gone through upstairs. She told me she had decorated the stairway when she had gotten tired of the winter weather in a move to make the home more Spring like. She told me she did painting and illustration work but was having to move to a smaller space. When I mentioned how open she was with her private space she told me someone had gone to the bathroom and took here toothbrush off the holder and tried to buy it. That made me feel like less of an intruder. I bought nothing.

Floral decor on spiral staircase.

Scene from a private residence.

Barry St. - Decatur “Moving Sale”

This home was an old frame bungalow located in the southern part of downtown Decatur. When I first arrived I thought the only stuff for sale was the clutter piled in the driveway and some old stuff in the garage. But the seller told me there was more inside. In the warmth of the home a haft dozen people were poking thought some stuff that had been put on display but most of the stuff was just a lot of personal belongings packed into boxes or piled up in the living room. It was very hard trying to tell what was not for sale. It seems that the couple having the sale were selling off as much as possible to go hike the entire length of the Pacific Coast Trail. This seemed like a good plan to me but they needed to put more organization into selling their belongings. Not that I have ever been a fan of well-organized yard sales. I think this may be one of those sales that continue for several weeks getting more organized as they go. But once again I found myself in the home of a stranger peering not only at what they were getting rid of but what they have not decided to get rid of and stuff they were currently using like a lot of stuff in the kitchen because they also appeared in the process of cooking a meal. As for the contents outside there was a lot of motorcycle accessories, in the garage was more cycle stuff and a several old televisions. Inside were there was the most confusion. In the dinning room a table was covered with kitchen wares, pet supplies, bits of electronics, an unopened bottle of cheap white wine, plastic cups and various hardware items. The living room was crowded with boxes of electronic devices, old magazines, old books and other stuff some of which appeared to never have been used. All this was mixed in with a variety of stuff that looked like it was supposed to be in the living room. In the back of the house they had more plastic cups, a big box of jellybeans and a leather sofa and chair for sale, which they were asking a very high price by my yard sale standards. I did see a map of the Pacific coast trail I don’t know if they planned to sell it.
I bought nothing.

Avery St. Decatur “Estate Sale”

This sale was in an older not so well kept looking house near Agnes Scott College. I had visited the site on Friday after work and poke through some of the stuff sitting out in the driveway but never saw a sign to go into the home and never saw anyone in charge of the sale. Today the stuff was still in the driveway but people were coming out of the home so I enter another strangers home. The inside of the small house was moderately chaotic. I presumed the man who was selling this stuff still lived here but there was not room to do anything. The living room was packed with the most stuff, trays of golf ball, lots of books, tackle boxes containing a mixture of fishing stuff and art supplies, an old waffle maker, some scattered clothes, tools, sports paraphernalia and a bunch of bottles that looked like wine but weren’t. In addition to selling off a lot of stuff the seller was also trying to recruit people into a multi level marketing scheme to sell some sort of concentrated acai berry concoction that was in the wine bottles. While I was there he offered every shopper a taste of the thick dark fruity beverage. After they drank it he would then repeatedly ask is the drinker felt better. “You should feel better already,” he kept saying. I drank some but after I swallowed the syrupy drink I wished I was back at that sale a few weeks ago that was offering coffee and Kahlua to visitors. None who sample the drink offered to get involved in his MLM marketing business.
In the back of the home in what could have been a bedroom except that here was no bed were more piles of clutter. Here was a large selection of baseball bats, more golf balls, boxes of old bottles(not containing his concoction) and a stack of aging televisions.
I bought nothing but told the man that I did feel better.
Multitude of golf balls for sale.

Laredo Dr. – Scottdale “Moving Sale”

My final stop of the morning was inside but it was not a home but the studios of a graphics business that was moving. I had actually come here to check out their paper supply to use for some art project that I need to conceive and get started on. They did have stacks and stacks of paper. I bought a good supply of 11 x17 some foam core and some other paper. I know this all sounds boring but I do need things from time to time and fancy papers are not cheap in the art supply stores. I bought a large stack for five bucks. I’d include a photo but the paper just looks like blank paper only fancier.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Saturday 2/13/10 Snow!

No yard sales around here today as snow has covered this city in a thick blanket of white. Maybe next week....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Two Homes 2/5/10

This Friday I was supposed to be in Charlottesville, Virginia to attend the opening of The Center of the Study of the End of Things a cultural symposium where am exhibiting my new work, which consists of plants sprouting from books. Unfortunately a massive blizzard prevented me from even attempting to head north but the books are sprouting and the show did go on with my work regardless the artic weather. So Instead of trudging through waist high snow I took in two estate sales in far balmier Atlanta.

Madison St. - Oakhurst “Massive Estate Sale”

I don’t think of Oakhurst as a place where estate sales feature the accumulations of octogenarians who spent far too many years acquiring ball jars. So when I arrived at this two story newer home my expectations for exploring the residence of an aging hoarder were low. I knew from the start this could well be one of those so-called estate sales. My suspicions were confirmed as soon as I walked past the sales desk and viewed the tidily arranged materials set out on the first floor like some display at a well-appointed home wares boutique. I was not the only one with such higher expectations as no less that three other shoppers remarked as I wandered about, “Did anyone actually live here”. For those who read my comments on a regular basis know that “living here” is one of the foundations for my continual weekend explorations of clutter. The lack of evidence of someone having lived here was the pristine books individually and expertly priced based on current market value arranged on meal bookcases, the well arranged stacks of unopened kitchen appliances, bedclothes in their original packages and dozens of virgin candles seemingly arrayed not by a homeowner but a professional seller. Only when I went to the one room upstairs did I find evidence of life. Here in a bedroom was a closet packed with men’s clothing some of which appeared worn and most of which was he same size. On the nightstand was a guide for Metrosexuals and a map of New York City. So perhaps a man lived here (if you could call this living), a man who accumulated stuff but never touched it. On my way down to the basement I heard one of the estate sellers tell a customer “he worked for many years at William Sonoma”. Perhaps this was the home of a man who wanted his home to be Williams Sonoma. Perhaps he wanted to be William Sonoma. He wanted style, simplicity clean lines and lots of candles.
Basements do not lie. When I went down I determined this was someone’s home but even in the clutter of the basement there was still so much order. One section of the lower level was overflowing with all manner of Halloween décor. Boxes of plastic bones, a giant rat, a variety of skulls, masks, strobe lights for pumpkins, masks, lights, lights that looked like masks, all manner of faux pumpkins, more skulls and an original painting of three dogs dressed as witches stirring a caldron. But sadly it was difficult to tell if the décor had ever been used. Perhaps the owner had had dreams of putting this stuff in his yard in a grand gesture but never got around to it. On the other hand he may have used the stuff then painstakingly cleaned it all meticulously when he took it all down in November.
One thing that he did seem to have a true love for and did display was a collection of humanoid dog figures and artwork. I first notice this in the stairway where four framed portraits of dogs dressed as 18th century gentlemen were boldly displayed. Other artifacts included a wiener dog dressed as a cook serving wieners, a footstool of some sort shaped like a fat dog, a pair of large metal hounds and a welcome sign with a lifelike plaster dogs head on it.
Other unusual items about the home-included two five foot high metallic candle like things with a giant wick and two large bowls of faux bakery products. The sellers told me these were sold. I bought nothing.

Giant rat greeting visitors in the basement.

Giant candles puzzling visitors in the living room.

Childerlee Way – “Estate Sale”

There was no question regarding the authenticity of this event. The brick ranch home just off Briarcliff Road was truly the home of someone who had accumulated clutter for many decades. At the entrance I encountered a man with a box overflowing with wind chimes in his arms. At the sight of redundant whimsical items I knew this sale would be a delight. Inside I immediately headed to the basement and was not disappointed at what I found. Below the house were two rooms crammed with the disorderly accumulation of a life well spent. Books, travel literature, magazines, letters, holiday décor, clown figurines, old plumbing fixtures, sewing patterns, staplers, pool cues and souvenir dinner bells were heaped together in no discernable order throughout this subterranean domain. The confusion had been amplified by the hands and fingers of the dozens of shoppers who had already perused this delightful jumble. Some of the highlights I discovered here included a package of letters sent to the estate owner over 40 years ago by her fiancé in the service, some rolls of oversized faux 100 dollar bills, a tourist brochure about visiting a place called Hell, a magazine called Salesman’s Digest, a Putt Putt World magazine, a book entitled “The Greatest Thing in the World” and a copy of “Gods Psychiatry”.

A sign on the back door of the basement indicated that outside there was a trailer and a dirt basement. Sadly the trailer was just an old boat trailer covered with old plastic sheeting. But the dirt basement held further delights. I entered it under the deck where some old claw foot bathtubs and a section of seating from the Olympic stadium sat gathering filth in the mud and rain. Inside I found a continuation of the hoarded debris. While not as expansive as the finished basement the dug out dirt floor cellar held an even more confused jumble of clutter. Here was a overcrowded tool bench packed with hand tools, power tools, unmarked containers of solvents and paints and topped with a toy rifle. In another area was a large plastic decoy owl resting upon a pile of old golf balls. Old books were scattered about “Kids Say the Darnest thing”, “Learn to Speak” “Central American roundabout” and “Cozy Little Farm” among the titles. There was almost too much to take in, a decaying child’s hobby horse, an old set of golf clubs, bicycle parts, license plates, a shelving unit crammed with sports trophies and a large bale of cotton.

The rooms upstairs seemed well kept by comparison regardless of the clutter packed into every corner. Here I found closets packed with women’s clothing, an endless array of small ceramics and a large old framed photograph of a bride in her wedding dress. The kitchen had the usual old kitchenwares plus some fun cookbooks such as “Cooking with Nuts”. Just outside the kitchen was a life- size realistic ceramic dog who sat motionless while a large tabby wandered about the room rubbing against shoppers. One crammed area I took to be another room turned out to be a carport packed with furniture and more clutter. It was so packed that only the cold air let me know I wan no longer inside the house.
This sale restored my fair in great estate sales. I later regretted not buying the bale of cotton, something I could tell people you find at lots of southern estate sales.

Bathtubs at the entrance to dirt basement.

Book found in basement.

Owl and golf balls.

The bale of cotton I wish I had purchased.