u Break It – u Buy It

Here is another meme photo I took for the school yearbook – #eatingmoney


This boy is my favorite model because of his hair, of course. Unfortunately he got a haircut last week and so, I won’t have the opportunity to take anymore shots like this for however long it takes to grow a foot of hair back, which would put him in high school or college by then.

The photo represents a fleeting moment in time, one that can’t be replaced, although photographs can be duplicated, as long as you still have the image on a computer or thumb drive.

Karen Tashkovski, Dreamtime, 2000, oil & collage $500
Karen Tashkovski, Dreamtime, 2000, oil & collage $500

A few months ago I shared that I’d repaired my painting Dream Time, but what I didn’t tell you is that around the same time my friend Joyce visited from Binghamton, NY, and I gave her a replacement Scrabble tile for the painting I made for her from this series.  I didn’t want it to seem as though all of my paintings are falling apart at the seams – they are not, by the way.

The thing is that any additive sculpture or combine style painting utilizing found objects could come undone at any time.  It could be bumped into or it could be a simple case of fluctuating humidity in the space where the piece resides.

My last post generated an array of opinions about the destruction of art.  People in agreement with me and others so opposed to the idea that it was pretty intense!  This happened mainly on www.linkedin.com where I shared the blog post in about a dozen art groups.

I really love the passion people brought to the table.  I also love the comraderie of artists, that we all in one way or another are aware of the impact (or the hope of an impact) our art will bring to future generations.  I wonder now how artists feel about the repairing of damaged art?

Joyce didn’t ask me to repair her Karen Tashkovski original, but she knew I probably had extra tiles in my art supply arsenal.  I am not keen on repairing my work the way my cobbler fixes the heels on my favorite boots.  While I try to use the strongest adhesives I can find, often the whole shebang can be very experimental, and I can’t worry about how my art will be displayed once it leaves the nest.

When I’m making art, I do admit to thinking about the compliments I might receive once it’s done, which puts me in a positive frame of mind, but I feel extremely in the moment and present while I’m creating.  I’m not thinking about one hundred years from now.

The only time I do, ironically, is while working with encaustics.  The wax will eventually harden and become one with the wood surface (and by eventually we’re talking  a thousand years) and it will become the most everlasting type of artwork that exists.

Unfortunately, any time before then the wax is fragile and must be handled with care, something of which the art teachers who hung the Scholastic Art exhibit (in January of this year) and the visitors to the Whitney Building at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, NY were not aware.

My student’s silver key winning encaustic painting was terribly damaged during the show.  Whether it fell from the wall or was touched, or perhaps it was the humidity in the building – I mean I don’t know and I’m not suggesting blame, but it was tragic.


The student does not take art class anymore, but I’m hoping she will be able to come in after school to rework it.  The entire neck is gone and the feather part is cracked, like the plaster walls in my house.  We used my personal encaustic materials so I’ve brought them back to school and will get to layering the uncolored wax on it to build the canvas back up and have it ready for Ellie when she’s ready to do it. The issue is that the wax takes time to heat up so it’s not a fleeting fix but a planned we-will-do-this-thing and make everything right with the world.

I think I took this damage harder than she did.  I felt responsible even though I could not protect the art when it was not in my possession.  She worked very hard on this piece and she was very proud of it!  Now she must rework it, like the fraggles on Fraggle Rock.  Whether or not she repairs the painting, it does not diminish the fact that she won high honors for it, but I think it’s difficult to accept that the art will not be the same the second time around.  The hope is that it will be better.  Yes, I’m ready to believe that!

Which brings me to the latest art tragedy:  a sculpture by Cy Twombly was just knocked over by a visitor to the museum in which it was displayed.

Cy Twombly sculpture toppled by visitor 

Conservators will be repairing it.  He died in 2011.  But if he were still alive, I can’t imagine anyone would ask him to fix it.

cy twombly chalkboard

Twombly is famous for creating these scribbly abstract expressionist paintings and my favorites are the ones done on chalkboard because they could easily be erased.  Have you ever seen the scene in I <3 Huckabees when Dustin Hoffman’s character leans on the chalkboard painting in his office and he erases it with his jacket?  And of course, the irony is that he is supposed to be an existentialist detective!  OMG, I love that movie.


I am always questioning why things are the way they are and how these disjointed circumstances will eventually weave themselves into the story of my life.  I even have an existential coincidence!

Now fashion, that is an art form that isn’t supposed to be everlasting.  Colors fade, fabrics disintegrate.  We are always looking for something new and fresh while still holding onto our loved possessions because of sentimentality or some such other unreasonable abstract.

I am now selling my art as fashion on redbubble.  So if this blog post has convinced you not to buy my artwork in case of damage and the subsequent wrath of Tash (you really haven’t lived if you haven’t received that tongue lashing is how it goes), then maybe some Karen Tashkovski original leggings would be the way to go.

Sage leggingwindow legging

You buy them, wear them, break them in.  Wash them, wear them, wash, wear infinity – until you throw them out.  No artist fix or conservators necessary!

7 thoughts on “u Break It – u Buy It”

  1. Sorry to hear the pieces were damaged, Karen. That would raise the fires within. I don’t blame you a bit. Tongue lashing, indeed! … The leggings are quite creative. Nice job, forever forward.

    1. Thanks, Mark –

      The wrath is one of my obscure references (in this case Star Trek). My student and I are both past the incident – she helping me through it rather than the other way around. Ellie is truly a shining star. Painting will be on the mend starting tomorrow! Thanks for your continued support!

      1. I’m glad Ellie is hanging in and fixing her painting, Karen. That’s a great attitude. And a little wrath is OK when it’s art so close to your heart, Khan. That Star Trek wrath? 😉 I am glad to be of support for your art and your fire for our area.

  2. hey Kazza!, great post !, i the land of OZ we have the original Ballet Russ Costumes they are well conserved,…so who knows…if the peops want it a tech WILL be invented to preserve it !.
    A salutary tale follows :
    I once sent a print to a print show! Doh !, i heard it crash as the driver took off.
    Months later, an insurance person turned up with the payment for complete destruction of the print , i said “ok !” he was about to leave when i said “it’s not, (it wasn’t), destroyed ,it should be” ! a conversation ensewed that led to me ripping up and burning the damaged (but irepairable), ,limited Edn print…. i said “you can have the evidence now!” , he left VVVEEERRRRYYYY pissed off!, no cheap art work for him..!…. much love Ian

  3. So what happens if someone visiting a temporary exhibit space damages a piece of artwork?

    This happened to me for the first time earlier this year: I was showing some framed and glassed artwork at our local library, all of it placed on easels around the space. A woman came into the space, bumped into the easel and knocked one of the pieces to the floor hard enough to smash the glass to smithereens and scratch into the surface of the artwork underneath it.

    She refused to pay for any damage, saying that the easel was placed badly and that it was wobbly, and furthermore, that since I didn’t have a sign up saying “You Break It You Buy It” that the risk and consequences were all mine to deal with.

    I’m supposed to go back to the same library as their visiting artist in residence for two days again later in the summer, and plan to have exactly that kind of signage in place next time around, but I had assumed that the general public knew that if they break something in a public place, they are responsible for the damages. My mistake: apparently no one is responsible for anything they do these days!!

    1. Leah-

      I’m so sorry that happened to you. You might consider getting your artwork insured. But then you need to make sure to call the insurance agent every time you install a new show in a captive audience type space. That’s what I do now. Because the Scholastic show is installed with double stick tape on exposed walls in a community college public space, I guess the artist assumes all the risk. It sucks when you feel like you are the only person in the universe experiencing such a crisis, but I’m sure we will hear that this is more common than not. Once one of my frames was damaged when a woman arbitrarily decided to take my artwork off the wall of a captive audience type venue in an office building even though the curator of the show told me to bring 10 pieces. I installed them myself and signed paperwork that I would be taking them down at a designated time. Then I received this call about my work. It was kind of outrageous. I’m grateful that they ended up buying the piece from me, so that time it worked out in my favor.

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