Every artist I know has a clutter problem; we’re not hoarders (a show I’ve never watched, by the way, because somehow I got the impression that at least one kitty corpse is unearthed in the debris each episode, and that ain’t right) but when we come across things we might be able to use someday, we really can’t – actually, we shouldn’t – pass them up. My artist friends and I all have stories about how we try to contain the chaos that is the never-ending collection of “I could totally use this for something” junk that, no matter how hard we try or how many resolutions we make, eventually takes over our lives.
My friends also share stories of significant others who must learn to tolerate the art-cluttered home – one of my favorite stories involves a garage sale and rows of cheap mannequin torsos. I’ll admit this is the one way in which I have an advantage over some of the artists I know: my husband is an artist himself, so he actually contributes to our clutter more than he complains about it. But thinking about those less-than-tolerant SO’s to which the necessity of a gross of mannequin torsos must be justified – and oh man, am I envisioning the amazing uses for mannequin torsos right now – brought to mind the quote that is the title of this post: Mandy Patinkin shouting at Hugh Grant in a scene from Impromptu. I tried to find a little snippet of just the quote itself on YouTube but all I could find was this three-minute version of the entire scene, still totally worth watching.
I have closets stuffed with insane vintage costumes I’ve never worn but have every intention of doing so, someday, while my actual, wearable clothes are crushed up front like David Beckham fans in China. For example, here is the “coat closet” in our hallway:
Four poor coats crushed by the weight of vintage caftans and square dance outfits. Eventually I had to move the petticoats out altogether and move them into my husband’s suit closet – I adore petticoats but they do NOT store well. On the floor you can see several sets of fleece blankets and flannel sheets, which I use as backdrops for my photos.
And by the way, that navy blue sequin coat is a real coat, not a costume, and I do wear it regularly; what I like most about it is I saw a picture of Kelly Clarkson once wearing the same exact coat, AND it’s from Ann Taylor Loft, which cracks me up – go Kelly!
Speaking of flannel sheets:
This is one corner of my office, which is also my “studio,” piled high with sheet sets. Meaning when it’s time to take pictures, I move all the office furniture out of it, pile it up in the family room, and tack a fleece sheet to the wall. Really high-tech stuff, don’t you know. Oh, and the big gray and purple Athleta bag has a massive afro wig stuffed in it that I could not get back into its box once I took it out.
And at one time I did use all those weights, thankyouverymuch. I just haven’t touched them in about a year. But I am going to. Next month. Seriously.
Once the office furniture gets shoved into a corner of the family room, it will stay there anywhere from two days to a week, which is really lovely. This is why all my wigheads are also in the family room, perched on a bookshelf:
Believe it or not, this is quite logical. Since the aesthetic value of the bookshelf is already ruined by the office furniture piled up in front of it, why not just pull out whatever wigs I’m going to wear in the photoshoot and plant them there as well? I can just pop out of the office real quick and yank it off its stand when I’m ready to wear it. It may not be attractive to the visiting family member, but to me at least it’s practical. I do eventually move the furniture back into the office – because when it’s time to use it as an office again, I do need a chair or two – but I see no reason to move the wigheads, since I’m just going to get them back out again a few days later. There’s only so much effort I’m willing to put into maintaining a socially acceptable living space, folks. It is this same attitude that has resulted in a Christmas tree that stays up in our living room all year (and by the way, the necessity of moving furniture from room to room also requires said furniture to be easily transported, i.e. really cheap. Thanks, Fingerhut! I love a sofa that comes in a box and I can carry over my head).
Speaking of practical:
Ridiculous shit like this is just everywhere; massive platform shoes, Dynasty-era ballgowns, and Lolita bows the size of airplane propellers I will never wear in public and, in this case, I might be wise to never wear, period. The sign on the floor in this photo, by the way, says “Life is Short, Buy the Shoes,” which is prophetic considering how short my life would be were I to actually try and walk in these. Weird, random, seemingly useless, and occasionally disturbing surprises abound in our house, like this little pile on another bookshelf:
That’s two more cameras (a Canon PowerShot G12 & an ancient, tiny Canon PowerShot SE-or-SX-something-or-other that I do still use on occasion), some filters, a portable softbox, a curling iron for wig-styling, and…a meat cleaver. See, friends often find random items in CVS or Toys R Us that they (rightly) think I could use in photos and send them to me – that’s how I got the cleaver, which is plastic, by the way. And I think I also spy a bright blue belly dancing scarf used in one shoot and tossed back there when it began to bore me.
Since we’ve mentioned wigs a few times now, here’s how they contribute to the clutter:
Wigs in bins are tucked underneath everything in my house that actually has an underneath. And that’s an industrial-strength fan used to blow hair, scarves, skirts, etc. around in photos – attractive when sitting on the floor like that, I know, but since every available Underneath in our house is occupied by wig bins, there’s nowhere to put it that would keep it out of sight. More wig storage:
Yes, that is the Underneath of my computer desk. The bright pink tag in the left-hand corner, by the way, says “Gothic Lolita Wigs,” which is my favorite online costume wig store; I think they have the best costume wigs by far for the price. Just because a wig is costume, people, does not mean it has to be crappy. I probably own one of every style they make – in fact, I spy two in this photo that are still in the shipping envelope – damn, I forgot to open them!
Yep, more wigs, and wig-related products. This is what goes on in my bathroom cabinets instead of, well, whatever is supposed to go on in bathroom cabinets. See, I’ve been filling my house with art junk for so long, I don’t even know anymore what else I could possibly put on shelves besides all this mess. This is why I never have room for things like sheets (the ones I will put on our bed, not the flannel ones I hang on the wall) or soap or mouthwash or deodorant, or any of the normal things one puts in bathroom cabinets. Nope, all that stuff just stays out on the counters, so everyone can see my hygiene products.
I took more pictures of places wigs are stored, but I’m getting bored with that, so let’s move on to my husband’s contribution to home decorating:
Guitar gear stuck in another corner of the family room, directly opposite the wigheads on the bookshelves, in fact. At one time he would lug all that stuff up the stairs to our “guest room” (i.e., guitar and recording equipment storage area), but pretty early on he figured out that was a waste of time considering eventually he’d be lugging it all back down anyway (Remember: Christmas tree up in the living room all year, people).
Lastly I will leave you with a gear placement that might actually be practical, if it ever rained in my office/studio:
I have two more sets of these umbrella stands shoved into our walk-in bar, which is of course not used as a bar but for more, you guessed it, storage. There is also a huge muslin backdrop in there that I’ve never used (but totally will someday), two plastic tubs full of wacky Christmas ornaments I occasionally wear as earrings (in photos only) or stick into a wig (again, photos only), a few extra tripods, some gold and silver reflectors, and two exercise balls that are actually used for exercise (very dusty). On the plus side, we’re not drinkers, so it’s not like this misappropriation of living space has resulted in bottles of booze sitting out on the coffee table.
I don’t know what to say about all this in summary, other than if you come over to visit, you’re going to have to deal with clutter. And as Mandy Patinkin says, art will not apologize for that. But, in spite of what the movie clip may imply, art will NOT harm you! Well, unless you try and wear the shoes.