Sunday, May 23, 2010

Closing Time

When I began this site in 2004 I had no idea where it would go and how it would be received. I began out of a desire to create. I wanted to write on a regular basis and I wanted to justify my weekly compulsive visits to yard sales. A few months after I began this project simply as a creative writing exercise I began adding photographs. I then started getting feedback and some press for my efforts. Soon my work in this genre helped boost my career as a visual artist. Perhaps my highpoint came early with an exhibition at an established local gallery where I staged a yard sale as a conceptual interactive installation. I remarked after the opening of this well received event, by quoting a line from the film Ed Wood in reference to Plan Nine from Outer Space “This is the one they will remember me for”.
Five years and several other exhibitions later I continue my work. But as each year passed year I wondered where this would go and when it would end. Last year after watching “Julie and Julia” I pondered the turnabout of one woman’s life by starting a blog that led to some notoriety, a book deal, a feature film and finally a change in life as she went on to start a career as an author. I had hoped something like this might happen to me. My intentions was to get a publishing contract for my work. I was told by several literary agents last summer that this was not a good time for publisher and they did not know how to pitch a book on yard sales. I also looked at the success of other sites that have arisen in the past five years giving financial success to their creators. The site featuring the horrid pictures of ugly ill-dressed people at WalMart caught my attention. It appeared if I wanted financial success it I was doing the wrong thing. But I have had success in other ways. I didn’t make any real money from my efforts. I didn’t become famous but perhaps I did become noted. But most of all this may have saved me and kept me busy, it gave me something to focus upon and something creative to do. Each Saturday morning became an adventure not knowing what wonderful things I might document in the yards of clutter. It kept me writing and it kept me taking photographs. My continued efforts established me as an artist. It opened some doors and led my life into a better direction. But all things must end. I’ve known this for some time. My writing was getting stale I was doing fewer and fewer entries. The satisfaction level of what I was creating was declining. A good artist knows when to end a series. Maybe I’ve seen it all maybe there are no more stories for I have to tell. But the other factor is that after five years I want to move on. I do not want to be remembered as the old guy who takes pictures at yard sales. I want this to be a line of my obituary not the entirety of it.
Yesterday while at an estate sale near my home I wondered about the basement of and found a box that must have had three dozen or more pliers in it. I’ve often wondered how does this happen? Accumulation sneaks up on us as we proceed through life. We must remain aware and focused on change and be ready to leave things behind. I don’t want this site with its multitude of words and images to be like that box of pliers. I want to move on.

Will it all end? Not really, I plan to continue some other web presence in some form and on some topic I have not decided upon at this time. I have considered a site about yard sales where the readers furnish the most of photographs and the text. I will be continuing to have a presence on Facebook which seems to be the last refuge of a lazy creative types. There I may not have full freedom and control but will have access to a large following. Currently I have two groups open to all users “Yard Sale Addict” where I plan to continue posting a photo every week and “Sign of the Week” where I and anyone else who desires may posts images of interesting signs. You can also befriend me on Facebook and follow what ever I’m up to. You can also gift people with images on "Yard Sale Junk" made from my photographs.
I will continue to seek to exhibit some of the thousands of photographs created for this series. This week one of them is included in a noted juried show in Decatur. Perhaps if I give an artist talk I can say that I used to publish a web site about what people were getting rid of in their lives.
Divestment can often be a blessing if done at the right time. This is the right time for me and Yard Sale Addict.

I would like to thank all the writers that have written about this site, all the galleries who have showcased my work from this series and all the friends I have made through this endeavor and especially everyone who has had a yard sale, garage sale or estate sale that I have visited and documented over the last five years. Pleas visit all the related links on this site but most of all get out and go to yard sales.

Tom Zarrilli
May 22, 2010

Thursday, April 01, 2010

3/27/10 What happened to the good yard sales?

The winter cold has spread into spring. Thru February and into this month I have waited for the full yard sale season to bloom. I have waiting for multitude of signs to begin appearing on utility poles at intersections but the cold or the rain seem to hinder this. This morning I wander out with Cindy saying that her commentary will add to my observations and that maybe I can find something new to wear. But Cindy simply makes an observation about what she's been seeing lately ”It’s just the same junk from China you see everywhere what happened to the good stuff?” Maybe the years I’ve spent observing the debris of American civilization are reaching their nadir. Maybe the weather just needs to get a little bit warmer.

Oakdale Ave – Druid Hill “Yard Sale”

It had to be in the 30’s when we exit the car to inspect the goods arrayed in the back yard and garage of this Druid Hills home. Cindy zips up her parka so her face is barely visible while I keep my hands in my pockets as I inspect the home furnishing placed around the driveway. An oversized sofa, a painting of a palm tree, some lamps, chairs. It’s all big home furnishings I want small stuff, I want clothing I want something that will at least make a good photograph. We buy nothing and move on.

Harvard Dr. – Druid Hills “ Yard Sale”

We made one more stop in Druid Hills at a small sale where a selection of goods were displayed in the front yard of a brick one story home. The seller admitted it was too cold to have a sale as she watched us peruse her merchandise. Here we found baskets, slightly out of date electronics, a collection of rubber stamps including one for approving mortgages from Fannie Mae and some rope. In a free box was the usual collection of non-matching Tupperware lids and bottoms. Cindy bought a basket to use for Easter.

Childerlee Ln. Woodland Hills “House and Yard Sale”

This was a large sale inside a 1970’s tri-level home. There were three things that stood out in this home liquidation the sadness, the smell and the disorder. This sale was an example of family life interrupted. Toys and children’s clothes were the majority of stuff here. Where were the children why didn’t the need their clothes or toys anymore? The disorder was widespread, except for a few tables in the garage nearly everything was on the floor. Most of this was clothing that had been excessively picked over. An attempt had been made at order by creating printed oval signs that described the unruly piles. “Curling irons (Test before buying we think works but sold as is)” or “Art work individually priced – We have no history of the artist (was left by previous tenant – Ink on plastic is NOT on most of the art pieces. We will be glad to take out of plastic for inspection.” My favorite was hung above a pile of plush toys “We are sooooo lonely, please adopt us” this sign set the tone for the entire sale.
We bought nothing. Cindy complained about the smell and said the sale saddened her.

Artwork with unknown history.

Sign for lonely toys.

Disorder on the floor.

Briarcliff Rd. “Moving Sale”

The reach this moving sale one had to climb some steep stairs to reach a small apartment on the second floor of building. The stairs landing and the open breezeway to the apartment were crammed with sculptures of gargoyles, hardware, a large Buddha, plastic bins, a school desk, rocks and gardening implements. The inside of the tiny apartment was stuffed with electronics, scrap booking supplies, jewelry, paper items and computer accessories. A fine looking calico cat lounged amid the clutter. I poked and perused the paper products thinking of some project I could do to justify their purchase. But the last time I purchased paper I didn’t even bring it in from the car for three weeks and some of got damaged by the rain when I opened my trunk.
I bought a package of photo printing paper for two dollars. Cindy bought nothing but stated that the man must be breaking up with someone who‘s does not like his clutter.

Clutter outside the apartment.

Cat inside the apartment.

Briar Mill Rd. “Yard Sale”

Heading towards a neighborhood sale in Sagamore Hills we stopped at the sale in the driveway on a ranch home on a cul de sac. The owners spoke in an accent I was unfamiliar with and everything assembled in the driveway and garage was over priced. When we got there a teenager was complaining about the price of some clothing they were refusing to lower their asking price. Most of the stuff here was unremarkable aside from two strange pieces of artwork shown below.

What is this man doing?

Why does this waif have a knife?

Sagamore Hills “Neighborhood Sale”

Here we found about 20 sales many on which we only slowed down the car to look at. Neighborhood sales seldom feature interesting materials and it’s the activity of the neighbors that I find noteworthy. I failed to find this here. Maybe it’s too early in the spring or maybe Cindy is right, yard sales aren’t what they used to be.