Art on minimal effort

The highlight of my artistic career consisted of an attempt at a clay vase that ended up looking like an old man’s face covered in gumbo. It honestly looked like ghost Patrick Swayze came up from behind some unsuspecting woman at pottery class and made angry Swayz-love atop her creation. Then someone glazed itbecause, as everyone knows, making something shiny is the surest way to make something awful look good. This, of course, is the only way to explain the Kardashians.

“No, it’s just veryabstract” my mom would say, trying to make me feel better about whatever grotesque abomination I’d bring home that was as aesthetically pleasing as roadkill and as functional as a football bat.

I love art museums as much as the next guy whose wife drug him to one but secretly can’t wait to just be done with it and grab a hot dog at the food carts that always seem to be located right outside feeding off all the sad, hungry men. Food carts are the suckerfish of the museum world.

Unfortunately I can’t appreciate many museums because I usually don’t have the faintest idea what I’m looking at or why the things inside are considered to be “art.” When I was in Washington D.C. I went into the art museum. There was a big to-do about Michelangelo’s Apollo, which I honestly thought would be pretty cool to see. I approached the room with said art, which was abnormally quiet and still.

I think I must’ve missed a sign that read: “This is real art. You shut your face.”

I looked around.

“So where’s Apollo?” I asked a middle-aged woman with a fanny pack. She glared at me. I wasn’t speaking with enough reverence. I put on my “funeral face”, hoping it was solemn enough and asked again.

“Right there,” she pointed to the giant sculpture in the room. I was confused. It was just a naked white guy with big hands trying to scratch his back or poised to throw a Frisbee.

“But where’s his boxing gloves and mustache?” I asked. “I mean, I understand artists take creative liberties from time to time, but Apollo is black. This dude is clearly white and looks nothing like him.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked.

“You know. Apollo. Creed. From Rocky.” She turned to her husband.

“Bill, can you tell this guy to stop bothering me?”

“All I wanted was a hot dog,” Bill apologized. “I’ve been here for two hours.”

I also accidentally stepped into an art gallery in Miami and witnessed first-hand a Serious Artist Guy debuting his work. I knew he was Serious Artist Guy because he was approximately 28 years old and dressed like Colonel Sanders. I don’t know what his name was, but I called him Art “Arty” Watercolors.

Arty was debuting something called “minimalist” art, which is apparently a real thing. Look, I’m finally able to appreciate Jackson Pollock’s work, even though it looks like something my daughter could do in about 15 minutes after eating a cupcake. After viewing enough of his work, I’ve come to view it the same way I’ve started to view my 10-month-old’s ability to kick me “below the belt” when I’m not looking it’s more skill than accident. I get it. Pollock, you’re cool with me.

Serious Artist Guy’s “work” was a painting of a solid color stripe against a white background. He was selling it for $30,000.

“Butthis painting is just a blue line,” I protested. I bent down to read the “description”: “A sense of spirituality, a fleeting personal connection with a place.” Well OK. There were many very excited art people around me all feigning excitement and pretending like this art was as exciting as a dolphin on a jet ski. Naturally, I suspected them all to be on drugs.

I think a lot of artists make money because people don’t want to get caught looking like they don’t understand.

“I get it!” they say. “Really! Here, take my $90,000 for this painting of an orange plus sign because this is clearly important art!”

What I’m saying is I want to capitalize on this trend as soon as possible because people routinely say they don’t get what I write and, honestly, I could really use a jet ski.

I wish someone told me minimalism was a real thing you could do. It would’ve made school so much easier.


Teacher: “Kelly, I see your answer for question four is a horizontal line. That’s not even a number.”

Me: “It’s minimalist math. You’re probably not sophisticated enough to understand. Just give me an A and you can save yourself further embarrassment.”

Not to be outdone, there’s apparently something called “Ultra-minimalist” art. I am not making this up. The “artist” whose work I viewed created ultra-minimalist movie posters. Granted, some of them are clever, but they still look like something done in five minutes. For example, a “minimalist” interpretation of the movie “Dracula” is two paper-punches on a piece of red paper. “Jaws” is a piece of blue paper with the corner ripped off. If that’s not exciting enough, there’s a “behind-the-scenes” video of creating each one set to sad violin music. You can really feel the art being created when the red paper punch hole drops to the ground in slow motion.

I’m sure if I looked there’s something called Super Ultra minimalist art that’s you just look at a blank wall and imagine a clear dot. If anyone would like to have an original column written that doesn’t make a lot of sense, one can be commissioned. For $30,000.

Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications ( He can be reached at or via his minimalist name, “+.” Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny for art tips such as: “Do better brushstrokes, Nancy” and “Primary colors are for the weak.”