I didn't think my childhood was different from that of anyone else who grew up in a working class home -- until a slumber party in Catholic school alerted me to my weirdness. I guess everyone else's parents didn't let them watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Pink Flamingos at sleepovers. But along with living in a house where censorship didn't really exist, I was also lucky to have parents who took me to art openings. Lots of them.
I bought the piece displayed above when I was nine or ten years old from Pirate: Contemporary Art; known then as Pirate: A Contemporary Art Oasis, the co-op opened in 1980 and is currently celebrating its annual Dia de los Muertos festivities). I think I spent $20 on the Louis Recchia work, which still hangs in whatever place I currently call home.
Reed Weimer and Chandler Romeo -- one-time members and landlords of the Pirate -- are old friends of my family (my uncle, Ed Kutz, also an amazing artist, went to art school with Weimer), so we visited the gallery often. I didn't know Recchia personally, but looking at the piece with adult eyes, I can see exactly why I wanted it.
First of all, my elementary school-age self could afford it. But more importantly, the miniature painting looks like everything else I'm attracted to in popular culture; it is fleshy and colorful and cartoonish. It seemed as though Recchia had crammed as much glitter and girl parts into the small space as the circular frame would allow.
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My mother has always been very vocal about "buying local," even before it was cool to do so. This very much applies to art -- my childhood home could be gallery unto itself. Along with giant paintings by my brother, Evan Kutz, and my uncle, I grew up surrounded by the work of Weimer, Romeo and Jennifer Melton (co-founder of Pirate).
Like my mom, I find myself puzzled when I walk into other people's homes and see prints and strange pop art-looking things purchased from Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. Why would you want to look at something the rest of the world can see, when you can own affordable, one-of-a-kind works created by artists right here in Colorado?