Thursday, December 14, 2006

What's Up With That? #41: I don't know art, butt I know what I like

People amaze and amuse me.

Stephen Murmer, an art teacher at Monacan High School in Richmond, Virginia, has been suspended from work because the school board found out that he makes money on the side by painting with his butt.

I kid you not.

Apparently, Murmer's technique involves him dousing his hindquarters — and, when the muse so strikes him, his genitalia — with paint, then smearing himself onto a canvas.

Nice work if you can get it.

I'm not sure how a guy creating booty doodles in his spare time makes him any less qualified to teach high school art. If he were dropping trou and greasing up his glutes right there in the classroom, that would be a whole other issue. I don't know that the school board could turn the other cheek to that. (Ahem.)

But here's the truly bizarre part: People actually pay for this stuff. Murmer, who markets his creations on his Web site under the nom de posterior "Stan Murmur," gets upward of $900 for lithographs of his artworks. According to the Washington Post, Murmer's most popular print — cheekily entitled "Tulip Butts" — sells for $600 at a crack... if I may be so bold.

Who's buying this stuff? And for hundreds of dollars, at that? I know that some of you believe I'm a bit loony for hanging drawings of comic book superheroes on my walls. But at least most people recognize that form of art for what it is. I'm trying to envision the conversation that occurs when one of Murmer's customers has company over for dinner:
Guest: Say, Marge, that's an unusual painting. Is it new?

Host: Why, yes, Lucille. It's the latest work by Stephen Murmer. He painted it with his buttocks.

Guest: I beg your pardon. Did you say "with his buttocks"?

Host: Indeed. At least, I believe this is the one he painted with his buttocks. I think we hung the one he painted with his genitals in the children's room.

Guest: George, get my coat.
And you thought I had a tough time explaining the original Cully Hamner pinup of Mary Marvel that adorns my office wall. At least I know Cully didn't draw it with his butt.

I mean... I don't think he did.

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