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My teenagers and their friends have this new favorite activity…they call it affectionately “Goodwill Hunting”. Looking for treasure in other people’s discard.  No metal detector required, just the time and patience to have vision at your local thrift store. Honestly, I am a participant, but begrudgingly so. I recycle most of what I find into a myriad of Art projects. My first leather project was up-cycled from a rather large pair of suede pants. Great find, no doubt! Yesterday, I did a little local show where I was , basically , the only Artist displaying hand-hewn wares. I always like to watch and listen. Gatherings of random people are like a parade of comedy for me, well, and a social experiment too! That is the bonus part really! For some reason, “new and shiny”  (OOOOoooohhh, shiny!)  was not on the agenda…”give me something used and cheap” was the theme song du jour. (like a W-mart after market, what?) As always, I made some new friends, told funny stories and exposed people to some art. If I had fun, then it was a job well done. Onward to the next event…just gathering material for my future comedy tour.


Ok, I am a little off the beaten path of business and art today, but I have this really odd relationship with Starbucks. I use it as a meeting/drop-off  place for customers, sounds like a drug deal, but it is not, I assure you.  It is warm, friendly and inviting. The staff is always pleasant and the aroma is like a heady  cloud of happiness. Yeah, it is Starbucks! At some point, you must return all of the coffee you consumed, and I understand businesses trying to be all “Green” and such. But when I go into a restroom, I want to make the personal decision when it is time to leave. As soon as that light goes on, baby you are on the clock! No loitering people…do your business and get out. I always feel like I am 10 years old again and at the state fair playing that game with the water pistol and the clown head. Squeezing that trigger so hard that the balloon on the clown’s head inflates faster than your neighbors. Pee faster! I cheer myself on..then…I hear the  *click* and out goes the light! Awww, it always gets me. I flail my arms to turn it back on, once again , feeling defeated. Love Starbucks, the restroom antics…not so much. Is there a lesson here? Possibly. But really, Starbucks…can I have a light switch? I promise to turn the light out when I leave.

I like good shit. I’ll bet you do too. Would you KNOW good shit if it jumped up and bit you?

Good Shit, as defined by the  Michele-vision dictionary, (And, yes, it does exist) is an item that has the quality of fine craftsmanship applied to fine materials, i.e. high thread-count sheets in Egyptian cotton, satin lined wool pants, etc. *note…EXTRA good shit has a twist of the unusual which may, or may not be accidental. The term “woogly” applies here, but that is yet another day’s blog.

Now apply that to Art and the like, now some of that is subjective, but high quality stands out in a crowd.  If you scrutinize closely, you may ask yourself some simple questions:

1) Does the Artist have a command and  an understanding of his/her medium’s capabilities…did they push the envelope in any way? Take any risks? Do something beyond the border?

2) Are the materials top quality? Does the piece have any rough or sharp edges? Any liability issues pertaining to potential injury? (not that you will get hurt on a painting, but say, a metal sculpture, or  a  glass item)

3) Is the item complete and ready to use/display? With jewelry, is a chain provided with a necklace? A canvas—is it gallery wrapped or does it have a frame. A hanger provided on the back? Does  it have a paper sealed backing? Is it signed? Numbered in a series?

4) Is it durable? Will it be passed onto the next generation? Will anyone fight over it in your Last Will and Testament? (I like this category) Standing the test of time is a good one. My jewelry is heavy, and when I make it I ask myself the question “Can I wing at your forehead and raise a lump?” If the answer is yes, then I have done my job.






Michele Palenik & Baxter

Michele Palenik & Baxter