We have a partially finished basement, that we have been doing the majority of the work on ourselves. Which means the process is sloooooowwww. A variety of things get in our way – time, weather, knowledge, and of course money. If you divided our basement into quadrants, 3 of the four are finished, but to finish the last one requires time/weather/knowledge/money to be able to egress a window, and until we do that, we can’t do anything else.
As a result, a quarter of our basement is a MESS. It looks crappy and unfinished, and I think that makes us treat that area with less respect. We let things pile up in that space, not putting anything away because there is nowhere to put it, and it’s impossible to clean around all the stuff so we just…don’t. After a while, it starts to spill over into the finished parts too. Right now, we have boxes of flooring meant for the unfinished section stacked against the wall of the finished sections under our basement storage cubes – I have been using the boxes as makeshift steps whenever I need to retrieve something from deep within the cubes. I actually think I might miss the piles of boxes when we do finish the floors – I’ll feel hopelessly short without them and have to drag a stepladder around.
We also keep a giveaway/donation pile in our basement – it’s basically a bunch of boxes and bags on the floor in the corner behind my desk down there (I have two desks – one in the office upstairs, and one in the basement that I use while doing my voiceover work). I recently got rid of a HUGE pile of donation stuff, and suddenly there was floor space again. Having the piles gone made me notice that the large plastic storage tub we keep lightbulbs in had migrated to the floor behind my desk as well and just stayed there, so I moved it back into the storage cube where it belonged, and in doing that revealed a stack of paintings that had been leaning against the wall, obscured by all the stuff.
There were three paintings total – all painted by my friend Gary. One of them I hadn’t technically purchased, but it was mine to keep–I had done some work for Gary and taken the painting as payment for the job since I was looking for artwork for our previous home. That house was smaller than our current house, but the walls were more painting-friendly – lots of big blank wall space that could handle something large format. Our current house has more windows and doors breaking up the wall space, so large format paintings are harder to accomodate. Not to mention, the color palette in the painting is very bright and specific, and it doesn’t go with our wall colors. The other two paintings I had were actually loaned to me by Gary for an office space I was furnishing, and although I had left that job, I had never gotten around to returning them.
It made me sad to see them all leaning against the wall, knowing they had been suffocated by all that stuff. I kept them because I liked them, but we plan to be in this house for a while, and I can’t see them being hung here (and let’s face it, the borrowed ones were never mine to keep – I just kept forgetting to return them). I’m a firm believer that art is meant to be seen and admired, not draped in blankets and stored. If you’re not going to enjoy a piece of artwork, why wrap it up and hide it away like Sleeping Beauty, just for the pleasure of knowing you own it? I say put it on display, or set it free for someone else to enjoy. I know the argument about keeping art because it might be valuable someday, but if it is, why not sell it and then use the money to buy art you ARE going to display, or spend the money on some other useful thing?
I knew for sure I needed to return the borrowed paintings, so that decision was a no-brainer. For the painting I actually owned, one option was to sell it, but I don’t really know that much about art so I was at a loss as to how much I should charge. And if I were to list it on eBay, it would cost a pretty penny to ship it somewhere based on its size. But then it occurred to me that I am fortunate to personally know the artist, so I could just ask him if he’d like to have the painting back.
I contacted Gary, and he said he’d be happy to take it back. As a professional artist, he is much better suited to the task of selling paintings than I am, and when he saw one of the ones I brought back, he said, “Oh, I remember this one! I really like it, I know exactly what I’m going to do with it!” I love knowing his art is out of my basement and back where it belongs – on a wall, being admired. (If you’re interested in any of paintings you see here, you can find Gary’s info via this link, along with a lot of of his other very cool artwork)
Now behind my desk there is only the very small (one bag) beginning of a new donation pile, a broken pachinko machine that I can’t afford to fix at the moment (but fully intend to), a bag of knitting supplies I haven’t found a home for, and lots and lots of lovely empty floor space. I keep turning around to look at it. It may not be artwork, but to me, it’s a beautiful sight.