It is amazing that every thrift shop has an art section. Why would this be so? Maybe there is a section for every sort of item that is donated, thrown away really, so that the sections are dependent on what stuff the former owners no longer want rather than some merchandising plan on the part of thrift managers. But, could it be that the managers are holding out for their own sophistication and worth? That art is needed in life at any socioeconomic level? That they are telling us folks who don’t have to shop at thrift stores that beauty is to be found there.
My favorite thrift is in Stamford, Connecticut. It is housed in an old single story building, formerly a grocery marker. (And it always amazes me how it manages to throw some serious shade on the Trump Tower just down the block, even though the TT is twenty five stories high!) Now, it merchandises in a way quite different from most thrifts. It has art displayed throughout store, along the windows between the clothing racks, on an above-the-head shelf that is viewed from anywhere in the store, as well as in the more common clunky pile in the back corner.
And there are other ways that I find art throughout the store. There are always at least three or four different languages spoken in the aisles: Spanish, Haitian Creole, Jamaican Lilt. Of course, all the folks are fluent in English as well and are good at knowing whom to address in which. Then there is the musical backdrop soundtrack as well. The playlist is urban eclectic. I won’t venture to say that the staff and customers are dancing in the aisles, but I bust a minor move every time I find a beautiful save at this store.
The last time I visited the Stamford store I uncovered a wonderful piece from the middle of the clunky pile in the back corner. (Much of my work to restore frames is caused by this willy-nilly piling. Hanging on a wall does not cause such deep scratches and scars.) The setting is of a man and a woman sharing some quiet time after intimacy. It is a beautiful work whose pink and gold colors create a unique, rather challenging look. The paper is so textured and nubby that it appears to be an original watercolor.
Turns out, it is a limited edition pencil-signed print by T.B. Jackson-Wms. And, from my first view of it, I found it odd that that the woman on our side of the bed and the man on the other side are not facing one another; they have their backs toward each other. I was intrigued, so I wrote to the artist who was trained at the Parson’s School of Design and is now residing in Louisville, Kentucky.
She explained the back-facing woman and man in a cordial note to us: “It is more a guilt-ridden moment of contemplation as to whether the couple’s infidelity is worth it.” They have their backs to one another because they are contemplating going home again.
Jackson-Wms. also told us her motto: “I create, therefore I am.” It seemed so befitting our favorite thrift . . . . art throughout the aisle gives the store its beauty, its life.