Turn And Face The Strange.

Even though I’ve said many times that taggers prefer to work on blank canvases and usually show respect for each other’s work by not painting over what someone else has already done I know there are exceptions. I’ve seen exceptions. This one just happened to be really eye-catching and, I thought, pretty funny and clever too.

Any picture of a fish also reminds me of my college friend Katherine who was an art student and painted what I thought was an amazing picture of goldfish in a pond. She added dabs of white and very pale yellow to show light reflecting off the surface of the water and somehow managed to give the whole picture a genuine sense of depth. It was really well done trompe l’oeil. Then some highly regarded art critic visited the campus. He went around the gallery making comments about different student artworks. When he got to Katherine’s he said,  “Some mornings I want orange juice and some mornings I want tomato juice,” he said. “If I feel like orange juice and you give me tomato juice, even if it’s the world’s best tomato juice, I’m not going to like it. Then he paused and added, “This is pineapple juice. I hate pineapple juice.”

Katherine shrugged it off with her usual “Opinions are like armpits; everybody’s got a couple and some stink.” I, on the other hand, was annoyed with more than just his criticism of what I thought was a good painting. Judgments about art, I thought, should be fixed, based in solid reasoning, not just feelings. I didn’t know what that reasoning should be, exactly, but I felt there must be other, better critics out there who’d figured it out.

Now that I’m older—I try not to think about how much older, but that’s another story—I feel very differently about what that art critic said. Part of it, anyway. Art criticism is subjective. There are artists I used to not care for whose work I really like, or at least appreciate, now, and there are some I used to really like who don’t move me like they used to.

And also Katherine’s painting was pineapple juice. I happen to love pineapple juice. I hope I always will.

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  1. mydangblog

    Most art critics couldn’t paint their way out of a corner–shame he had to be such a jerk!

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      A very wise, albeit fictional, critic said, “But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.” Something I’ve also realized is that anyone can be a critic. Some are just paid to do it, but that doesn’t make them smarter than anyone else.

  2. mydangblog

    I keep trying to comment on this post but I keep getting told that it’s a duplicate comment! At any rate, I don’t know what qualifies people to be art critics but anyone who goes to a student exhibition and is that critical is kind of a dick!

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I can’t figure this out but your first comment was put in the spam folder while your second comment, this one, was approved. Argh, I can’t figure out technology sometimes.


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