December 2018                                        Issue 142






How much courage is needed
to play forever,
as the ravines play,

as the river plays.


Boris Pasternak -author of Dr. Zhivago - from his poem "Bacchanalia"






" engage in an activity for enjoyment, recreation or diversion

rather than for a serious or practical purpose..."




...To perform on an instrument:



...To behave in a teasing or joking manner; act in jest or sport..




the Dollmaker is learning that


making Art is quite satisfying when it is -

...when the element of Play is allowed to enter into the Creative process...

when the 'serious' melts away for a moment...

when the absurd sneaks in and bops the notion of Work

over the head with a foam bat and

order, symmetry, balance, reason- even beauty- begin to tilt.. and then whirl...

off-kilter- into realms unexpected, innocent... even wacky..

and the unfettered purity of Play opens the field

to include Humor...


To experience this is to know Freedom.





For some reason...


Fun and Play are often held in somewhat lower esteem than

"Fine Art"...



 "kitsch"- (pronounced kitch) is our word for things in the realm of popular culture

 that dangle, like car mirror dice, precariously close to tackiness....

velvet paintings, plastic flamingos, dashboard hula dancers etc...  (Merriam-Webster)


Kitsch refers to mass-marketed products- indeed, all the "flotsam of mass culture"...

which appeals to the popular imagination...

sentimental, familiar, yet often ...FUNNY!


The American art critic Clement Greenberg wrote in 1939:


"Where there is an avant-garde, (advance guard) generally we also find a rear-guard.

Simultaneously with the entrance of the avant-garde,

{works that are experimental, radical, or unorthodox}

a second new cultural phenomenon appeared in the industrial West:

that thing to which the Germans give the wonderful name of

 popular commercial art and literature

with their slick magazine covers, illustrations, ads, pulp fiction, comics,

Tin Pan Alley music, tap dancing, Hollywood movies, etc, etc."




"Some more up-to-date examples of Kitsch

might include plastic or porcelain models of Princess Di,

Japanese manga comics and the Hello Kitty range of merchandise,

many computer games, the whole of Las Vegas and Disneyland,

and the high-gloss soft porn of Playboy magazine.

Greenberg saw kitsch as the opposite of high art

 but from about 1950 artists started to take a serious interest in

Popular Culture

resulting in the explosion of Pop Art in the 1960s."


-Tate glossary




-Rebecca Dunham, NEHMA* Curator of Collections and Exhibitions comments:


 “Historically, Kitsch is the product of the industrial revolution and the rise of the middle class,

which spent its disposable income on mass-produced objects and reproductions of famous artworks.

 Since kitsch borrows and appropriates cultural traditions,

kitsch typically depicts recognizable subjects (a characteristic shared with Pop Art),

making it accessible, enjoyable, and entertaining."


*Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art

(dedicated to collecting, preserving, and exhibiting modern and contemporary visual art)



Jeff Koons' Balloon Dog at (of all places) the Palace of Versailles...

 (in France- a famous collection of mostly 17th and 18th Century Art)



"..the biggest pretension of the Art World is that it both accepts the "avant garde" and encourages it.

BUT.... in Truth the actual Avant Garde is eventually a big surprise to the factoid mentality that it overthrows...."

-Thomas Schmidt



"Being classified as kitsch means you are having a big impact on popular culture.

Kitsch art shines light on what our culture relates to, feels, desires, and identifies with.
What becomes popular says something about who we are as a people."

-Merritt Kinkade




“High culture is paranoid about sentiment. But human beings are intensely sentimental.”

- Thomas Kinkade

(whose Popular Landscapes have been accused of being "irrelevant"

... he and millions of people who buy his calendars and mugs worldwide, disagree)




The Dollmaker grew up in a Pop Art Culture saturated with catchy Commercials, glitzy Movie Stars, 

Psychedelic Posters, Happy Meal Toys, and

daily doses of all manner of Kitsch...

It was nowhere near Fine Art.

But the Masses loved it. Appreciation of Excellence in Bourgeois Mediocrity...

The Dollmaker wishes to present

some real Kitsch Masterpieces:

(Bad to the Bone!)


the Dogs Playing Poker...

by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge

Poker Game (1894) by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge


Dogs Playing Poker refers to a series of oil paintings

commissioned by Brown & Bigelow to advertise cigars

Three of the Paintings

follow the same players in the course of a hand of poker.


 In the first (A Bold Bluff), the main character, a St. Bernard,
holds a weak hand as the rest of the crew maintain
their best poker faces.


 In the following scenes (Only a Pair of Deuces and A Waterloo), we see the St. Bernard raking in the large pot, much to the very obvious dismay of his fellow players.


Only a Pair of Deuces by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge



A Bold Bluff by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge


A Waterloo by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge



Other Paintings in the Series:

His Station and Four Aces (1903) by C. M. Coolidge

The train conductor makes his rounds informing the well dressed passengers that it is time for them to disembark. Unfortunately for one of the dogs whose chip pile has become quite small, this means that he will not be able to finish the hand in which he holds four aces.


A Friend in Need by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge

A Friend in Need pits a pair of bulldogs against five bigger dogs. One surreptitiously slips an ace under the table to his partner... With that additional ace, the dog with his back to the viewer will have four aces.

 As the most beloved of this series, A Friend In Need is also the one most often misnamed

 "Dogs Playing Poker."


Poker Sympathy by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge

Seven dogs sit across the table facing a bulldog that probably is not part of the regular crowd. During the last round of poker, the pot has grown quite large. The bulldog, thinking he could best the boss, has bet generously, confident in the power of his four aces. When the cards hit the table though, the other dog actually has a straight flush, the only hand able to beat his. The winning dog barks loudly across the table at his vanquished opponent, knocking him off his chair, spilling his drink, and causing him to drop his cards and cigar. The rest of the gang seems to enjoy watching the bulldog’s misery.


 Pinched with Four Aces by Cassius Marcellus Coolidgep

Four police dogs interrupt an illegal card game. The collie tries to make a quick get away, knocking over chips and an adult beverage.

The other dogs stare in disbelief at this intrusion.

 The bulldog with the four aces will be unable to take advantage of his good hand.t was dealt four aces, but he will be unable to take advantage of this rare hand.


 Although his paintings are now considered iconic in the world of pop culture,

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge is largely unknown and was once dubbed

 “The most famous American artist you’ve never heard of.”


Some may sourly say that, in general,

 Kitsch Art is just cheap...



 In 2005, the original paintings- A Bold Bluff and A Waterloo -sold together for




oh and the original Poker Game painting was sold at Sotheby's in 2008 for



 But this beats them all:

On November 12, 2013, Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog (Orange)

 sold at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York City

for $58.4 million dollars

the highest price ever paid for a Work of Art by a living artist....


"For Jeff Koons, Art is his 'preferred vehicle of merchandising'..."


whoa. How about That!

so... the history of Art stomps onwards and it always

Is what it Is..


Play ON, folks, Play On!






The last Dolls made by the Dollmaker in 2018 were

Two Special Order Lions



And that about wrapped up Dollmaking for the year.


And then it was time to have  FUN:




 Great to visit with old friends, hear some rockin music, AND...

Thanks to her buddy, John, the Dollmaker got, for Christmas,

A piece of Artwork which she had totally desired for years!

an awesome Found Object Fish!

Folk Art Construction by S. D. Meadows







The Dollmaker so enjoys visiting

small villages at Christmastime...

Cydnee's House was gangs of fun! Villages everywhere!

(with the Wee Peeple Dolls in the fat middle of it all!)






 Visiting daughter Shannon was Fun too!


 the struggle was real...














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Waldo the Wonder Rat



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