By now you’ve probably heard of Maytagging which is the art of turning rusted out, abandoned appliances into art by using spray paint. The collector, if they are lucky, will already have some appliances laying about on their property or if not, they can purchase completely unusable appliances and have them shipped to their own outdoor gallery for the artist to paint or ‘tag’.
The following collection is private and not available to the public. It’s a small but growing gallery called Blue Tarp Art Gallery on Murder Ridge somewhere in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee.
What is so exciting about the pieces we are about to see, is the collectors were part of the artistic process and are both the collector and the artist. Which means they painted a little bit or at the very least, handed over spray cans when orders for color were barked at them.
As you probably know, the art of Maytagging is a living process. The art will constantly change from year to year as the artists who create these pieces can’t be bothered with priming the pieces first, or really cleaning them off at all other than blowing off dead leaves and dust before applying paint. This means the colors will fade rapidly and will have to be reapplied with a different vision. The artist can have projects that last decades as the pieces acquire layers and layers of color without actually ever becoming complete.
The art of Maytagging is so much more than randomly spraying rusted out garbage with paint.
For instance, the following pieces were created after years of planning. The planning process can be complicated, but I will try to break it down for you by giving you a glimpse of a conversation had nearly two years before the project began.
Artist: Hey, what’s that down there? Ovens?
Collector: I don’t know. They’re such an eye sore. I don’t want to pay to have them hauled out. I just want to dig a big hole and bury them.
Artist: Why don’t you just paint them? That would be easier.
Collector: You are so weird.
The naming of the pieces is nearly as important as the art work itself. A piece of Maytagging art can lose half its value if it is determined that the Maytagger didn’t put any time in naming the piece.
This first piece was originally called ‘You Guys, No. I Am Not Opening That Fucking Door. Seriously, I Am Not Opening It’. This was shortened to ‘I Am Not Opening That Fucking Door’.
The significance of this title is that the artist was sure the inside of this washing machine was filled with a great big writhing ball of rattle snakes. It also embodies the general feeling of unease she had tromping around on big piles of leaves and brush that was also probably housing thousands if not millions of rattle snakes.
This next piece is called ‘Eyelashes’. One of the collectors made the call that eyelashes be added. My personal feeling is that he wanted to portray the importance of closing our eyes and looking inside ourselves or some shit like that.
This third piece is called ‘Tree Roots’. As you can see, it’s part of ‘I Am Not Opening That Fucking Door’ but we, the artists and the collectors, feel that it stands alone as an individual piece.
One of the artists used a surprisingly feminine color for the leaves of the tree. He actually picked out quite a few girly colors for this project which sparked much debate and lively conversation between the collectors and the artists.
The other exciting part about this piece, is that one of the collectors added the lilac colored ‘roots’ to the tree. His choice in color was also along the feminine side which compelled the female half of the artists and collectors to comment lovingly about how the males in the group were in touch with their feminine side. It’s possible that other words were used as well.
The last piece is very exciting. The technique employed is quite cutting edge for Maytagging.
The collectors were able to procure this bullet ridden washing machine, beating out hundreds of other collectors in the process. This yet untitled piece was painted using nothing but clear sealant. When the sun hits this piece and the slight glare from the clear paint is visible, the effect is sublime.
I don’t want to say that we were the first to employ the clear paint method, but I’m pretty sure we were the first to employ the clear paint method.