Clearly there is good art and bad art according to differing opinions. But who among us is genuinely qualified to determine which is which? Art is subjective with one piece appealing to the sensibilities of a certain person and the same piece being completely lost on someone else. I can imagine an individual looking at Edvard Munch’s masterpiece The Scream and thinking, “well this is unpleasant and not comforting to the eye.” And they’d be right, but it remains a masterpiece for the quality it depicts of frustration, quandary and despair reflective of the era in which it was painted. It could easily have been thrown into the trash if it had fallen into the wrong hands – as it is, it’s been stolen repeatedly.
People sometimes give me old discarded paintings they no longer want, and tell me to paint over them if I like. I can’t do it. Those paintings wind up stored, and my opinion of them as art is of no value. Those paintings are of value to whoever takes a liking to them later on in the future.
I was heartsick to learn yesterday that Diana Wilber’s entire collection of artwork done by Danny Allen, along with all his writings (which didn’t rightfully belong to her) were discarded into the trash years ago by Diana’s caretaker before Ms. Wilber was committed to a nursing home. Some people have no sense of esthetics or are too insensitive to the real value of art to know enough to protect items that define an era. What was discarded is irreplaceable, and frankly brought a tear to my eyes. I was in disbelief when I received a call from a person representing Diana’s estate in response to a letter I sent. Diana Wilber had the largest collection of anyone I knew of Danny Allen’s fine little graphite drawings. I can only hope someone trash-picked them and that at least some of that art will one day surface, preserved by pure happenstance.
Art has been destroyed in house fires, including some of Dan’s work. Art survives by luck or by love. But the loss of these pieces in Diana Wilber’s collection is devastating to me personally, as much of it didn’t actually belong to her. She took pieces that weren’t rightfully hers and now their fate is sealed.