Distance: 0, Home Yoga
Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, Poker Game, 1894, o/c, 41.6" x 50"
Since Ciwt was lucky to grow up in some very nice places, readers might think she was surrounded by the finest of art works. Well...
The other day when she was stuck playing bridge with scores of women in a well-appointed but stuffy club room, Ciwt's memory went to a place she'd totally forgotten. Maybe on purpose. The blue painted downstairs amusement room in one of her childhood houses.
Along those Yale blue walls were brown wood framed prints of Dogs Playing Poker - perhaps the entire series of sixteen. The original paintings (of eleven anthropomorphized dogs altogether) had been commissioned by Brown & Bigelow - are you ready? - to advertise cigars. It gets worse: The prints have become well known in the United States as examples of 'collective schlock,' 'pop ephemera' and 'working class taste in home decoration.'
The good news Ciwt guesses is 1. even then as a young girl who loved dogs she had the sensibility to think the prints were weird, 2. she was so ripe for good art that she almost fell out of her chair when she was exposed to her first history of art slides. From that class and those slides on, it was Goodbye Dogs, Hello Fine Art.
Our (art) adventures begin where they begin. Too bad, though, that Ciwt's family didn't have Coolidge's original painting above. It sold in a 2015 Sotheby's auction for $658,000.