Thrift Store Paintings, curated by artist Jim Shaw, will be shown at Metro Pictures from 12 September to 12 October with an opening reception Wednesday 11 September from 5 to 7 pm. The exhibition includes approximately 100 works made by unknown amateur painters. Shaw has collected paintings purchased for a few dollars from thrift stores and flea markets for a number of years. Most of the works on view are from his collection with about 20 borrowed from fellow collectors of the genre.
The paintings run the gamut of art styles that have reached the popular mainstream from folk-art to surrealism. The works are not titled, but Shaw has provided each with a purely descriptive label: "Man With No Crotch Sits Down With Girl," "Purple Toilet Paper and Flower," "Woman Made of Pillow, Wax Lips and Green Thing," are a few examples. Mostly anonymous, the paintings date from the 1940s on.
Christopher Knight writing in the Los Angeles Times (28 March 1990) calls the Thrift Store Paintings "an installation of found objects, created by a very gifted artist... As much as the anonymous artist whose work is on view, it is the audience — its tastes, values and points of identification or contention — that Shaw has deftly made the resonant subject of the show."
A book accompanying the exhibition was published by Heavy Industry Publications (199 pages, color illustrations) and is available in soft and hard covers at the gallery.
Jim Shaw lives in Los Angeles and has exhibited his continuing series "My Mirage" extensively in one-person and group exhibitions including the 1991 Whitney Biennial. The series consists of paintings, drawings and constructions whose subject and imagined author is Billy as he passes through adolescence in the 1960s.