I was on a home visit this week and met someone who showed me his prized possession: a little blue bucket. I was sitting with him and his guardian filling out paperwork when he pointed to the floor, and there it was. Shiny, small, blue, inconspicuous. In a corner behind a La-Z-Boy. He was totally proud of it, maybe beyond proud, and seemed to have found a place to hide it so he could reveal it to himself and other people whenever he chose. It was as if he had made a connection with this object that transcended utility, common sense, and purpose. It was aesthetic, the only object in the trailer that was poetic at that moment. He said "That's my blue bucket" a couple times, pointed at it, but he did not pick it up. He said he used it for all kinds of things, but he didn't specify, except that sometimes it had dirt in it and other times cookies and other things.
On the way home I thought about the show we've got up at Thunder-Sky, Inc., "Small Potatoes," which features small objects and paintings made by unconventional artists intermingled with knick-knacks and trinkets from thrift-stores and other places (Images from "Small Potatoes"). That show is all about serendipity and ephemera, and when you're in it there's this magic disconnection from art, a flow like being in a Cracker Barrel store after the Apocalypse. But in the trailer with the little blue bucket was a sort of reprieve, a lyricism glittering from that hidden object. The little blue bucket was a center of awe, a testimonial to meaning. It was like both a counterpoint to, and an annex of, "Small Potatoes."
The little blue bucket escaped art and has become art simultaneously. The saying goes, "If a tree falls in the forest..." But that's not it. I stumbled onto a happiness and a beauty that does not need documented. It doesn't need justified. It's just there.