Comedian, musician, host of Chris Crofton's Advice King Podcast and former Nashvillian Chris Crofton asked the Scene for an advice column, so we gave him one. Crowning himself the “Advice King,” Crofton will share his hard-won wisdom with whosoever seeks it. Follow Crofton on Facebook and Twitter, and to submit a question for the Advice King, email bestofbread[at]gmail[dot]com or editor[at]nashvillescene[dot]com.
Dear Advice King,
I stumbled into a small local art gallery over the weekend to discover an amazing painter, and it made me wonder how many great artists are out there that I’ve never heard of! How can I find great stuff without relying on happenstance?
—Betty in Latrobe, Pa.
An art gallery in Latrobe, Pennsylvania?! Do you mean a coffee shop? Did this “gallery” have a big coffee machine in it? And a bunch of muffins? Was Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” playing, by any chance?
Hmmm. What if it was an actual art gallery in Latrobe, Pa. I imagine lots of paintings of cats playing with yarn. And “Donald Trump Crossing the Delaware.” And a booth where some guy will paint any Fox News personality crossing the Delaware for $50. Or cats playing with Fox News personalities instead of yarn. Or a Fox News personality playing with yarn.
What do I know? Maybe I’m selling the Latrobe, Pa., art scene short. I bet no one has ever written that sentence — “Maybe I’m selling Latrobe, Pa., art scene short.” You are WELCOME, dear reader.
I’m kidding around, Betty. I’m glad you found some cool paintings. I’m just envious.
I was an art history major in college. I actually majored in drinking, but please don’t tell my mom. Anyway, I learned about all these painters — El Greco and ummmm ... some other ones. Ever since, whenever I go to a thrift store, flea market or antique mall, I keep my eyes peeled for lost masterpieces. I never had any luck. UNTIL ...
My parents were visiting Nashville from Connecticut sometime in the mid-2000s, so I took them to an antique mall. I was hungover, like I always was back then. All the usual stuff was there. Flintstones lunch boxes and Gene Pitney records. Costume jewelry and a merry-go-round horse. A barber chair and a traffic light. And then, I saw it. An old painting. It was obviously really old.
It was finally happening. A lost masterpiece. I'll never have to work another day in my life, I thought. I might not even have to quit drinking, I thought. If I had a lot of money I could probably manage my drinking better, I thought. WHOEVER OWNS BOOTH 14 OBVIOUSLY DIDN’T MAJOR IN ART HISTORY, I thought. THAT’S EITHER AN EL GRECO OR A WILLEM DE KOONING, I thought. I was trembling. Booth 14 didn’t know what they had, but I did.
I was so excited I told my parents to be quiet, even though they weren’t saying anything. They didn’t know what was happening. I was walking toward this painting hanging in this booth, and telling them to be quiet, and my eyes were all big and I was trembling. When I got close to it, I checked it for brushstrokes — to make sure it wasn’t a print. There were brushstrokes. It was some guy who looked like Thomas Jefferson. I was floating. I WAS RICH. I turned the painting over. It was a print of a famous painting of Thomas Jefferson. It had some kind of simulated-brushstroke texture applied to it. I think it was made in the Philippines.
That night I got even drunker than usual.
I’ve never told anyone that story. You know when alcoholics talk about hitting bottom? That was a VERY WEIRD version of hitting bottom. I didn’t let it stop me, though. I kept drinking for the better part of a decade, eyes peeled for lost masterpieces.
I’m sober now. I don’t need an antique mall to save me anymore.™
MAN. This question brought up a lot of stuff for me. I’m grateful, Betty.
Now, your answer: To find more good paintings, go to the web address DeviantArt.com and put “Eddie Vedder portrait” in the ol' search box. You’re welcome.