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Visual art news, views & reviews in Dallas, Texas, USA
A Short, Garage Sale History
of the Art of Sherry Owens
Photos + Story by J R Compton
I stopped by the bank to get some cash before I headed out, since I knew from her E-mail that "Sherry Owens' Big Garage Sale" wouldn't take checks. I MapQuested directions to that faraway place, and I drove up, up, up, north, nearly to Forest, to park on the edge of a grassy ditch in front of the house she's lived in many years but now is moving out of. Hence the sale.
Sherry was exhausted, which may well be her natural state, hardly the first time I'd seen her that way. She hadn't had any, she said, “sleep in a couple days.” Which is her usual condition while working into a deadline for her latest show.
This exhibit was a 3-day sale, appropriately in her garage, and I came latish in the afternoon of the first day, hoping I wouldn't have already missed too much stuff.
Gregarious, happy, walking zombied, greeting old friends and talking with passers-by, answering questions about this or that piece, of art, of her collection of road-squashed cans, furniture or whatever. There was a great deal more than art in her garage sale.
The following are some of the photographs I took of her older pieces inside her house and not for sale, just waiting to move on to the next place:
After digging around the sale and watching someone haul off a pink bathroom sink, complete with original faucet and handles, I asked for and got an impromptu and very informal tour of her disheveled home, which I'd never seen.
Then I went back to the sale and began looking at everything a lot more carefully, feeling a bit odd for staying so long to such a smallish sale, but intrigued and interested in finding me some treasure.
I'd been wanting a genuine Sherry Owens original since a few years after she started making her signature crepe myrtle wood “nests.” By the time I started appreciating those, they were popular and more expensive than I could afford, so I've been an appreciator from afar, so far.
Apparently, DARts Member Richard Ray beat me to an early Sherry painting that sold earlier that day. Maybe I can get a photo of it later.
If you're curious about my garage sale bounty, these are they:
This was my first purchase. Sherry was guiding me through the tables, filled with all the floatsam she knew she didn't want to take to her yet-unfinished new home and studio, when she pointed this out as one of her earliest pots. Obviously a primitive coiled piece that would only hold a few pencils, and made when she was still a child. For $2, I grabbed it and started a pile at the checkout table.
A plastic inflatable eagle with, Sherry said, "my own hot air in it," and a wingspan of 33 inches — $3.
Yo, my orange cat who has rarely been outside, and has never seen a bird of prey, was noticeably concerned about this glistening dark brown plastic object spinning overhead when I hung it on the ceiling fan to photograph it. I know why he was concerned, but I don't think he does. Later, I hung it much higher, so he couldn't get to it to defend himself from its menacing talons.
My favorite sale item was this 7 inches high, squashed, once-aerosoled spray can that looks great and grotty, used and abused both front and back. This side is filled, top to bottom with tiny print chemical warnings and danger notices, all scratched, scathed and rusted over. I had put it on my pile on the checkout table when Dallas artist Tom Sale, who often makes wonderful miniature art things from found objects, noticed it and asked whether that was someone's pile growing there.
Lucky for me, it was.
I liked it even better after that. And the price — looks great right where it is. Besides, I'm a little afraid what else might come loose if I removed it.
Tom got a great looking, bulbous, blue rotor-rooter can that he promised we'd see in one of his future exhibitions, and he and Dottie were still rooting through the stacks when I left with my treasures.
My most expensive find was this 6.4 inches high, $10 cheese dome that Sherry said was brand new. This photograph was taken in my yellow kitchen with a big old hunk of Monterrey Jack in it.
My first flash when I saw it, was of Rita Banard's wonderful piece in the Creative Art Center's Blue Plate Special fund-raiser a couple years ago. Then I thought I might show off one of my dragons in it. It only much later came to me that I could actually room temperature cheese in it, without worrying about it getting ripped off by the always-hungry orange hunter, Yo.
After my informal tour of her home, where I photographed the pieces near the top of this page, while I was sorting through stacks of odd little things, I came upon this, I wasn't quite sure what this 9.25 x 10.5 inch weaving? might be.
I couldn't think of any reason to have it unless she had made it, so I brought her over to the bin it was in and asked Sherry about it. She and her mother, a lot of whose stuff was also in the sale, discussed its creation date for several minutes. They determined it was something she'd done even before high school, and Sherry told me she had wondered whether anyone would be interested enough in it to ask.
I was, and at the price, I'm delighted with it. The beads are wood. The bottom right corner of the frame is loose, but a little Elmer's will fix that. I like it for its predominate green, tan and yellow composition, its early and obvious, experimental textures and open and closed stitching. Quite a find for 25¢.
Nobody seemed to know what this 2.25 inches high brass, clasped object was. Guesses included a incense burner, which is what I might do with it — although I'll probably polish it to gleaming first. Tom Sale thought it might be a cricket cage, but I thought there'd be more holes for that. I know crickets are considered good luck, but I hate the sound they make and usually try to stomp them. Tom said probably more would fit in it then, and Sherry's mom suggested it as a good container for potpourri.
I'm fond of small, especially cylindrical or domed or otther odd-shaped boxes and brass thingies, and this is an especially good one of those. There were bigger ones, but none quite so nice. It even came with two extra, knobby screw-in brass feet, though only one was missing, so far.
My total expense was two quarters under $20, for at least two Sherry Owens originals, some odd little near-art objects and interesting tales to tell. Not bad.
As I was walking up the driveway, Sherry called out that she did not want to see any of these objects on DallasArtsRevue. “Then don't look,” I warned and drove off, lost in yet another gorgeous Dallas neighborhood of wonderful hills and houses and views of distant shops.
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