Craigslist: the Future of Online Art Markets? (Jesters, Belly Dancers, and Cats!)

Could Craigslist, that long-standing haven for apartment-seekers and Missed Connections, be the future of online art commerce? Well, to put it bluntly: No. No way. No how. But every now and then some intrepid soul makes us wonder if this could be the case — a D.I.Y. Craigslist art economy to rival the likes of Artspace, Artsy, and other flashy outposts!

When a friend started circulating a link to a Staten Island-based artist selling ornately framed paintings of cats, belly dancers, and weird jesters cavorting on village rooftops, I wasn’t sure if it was all an elaborate joke. The paintings in question, for instance, are being hawked for a mere $10, which can’t be much more than the cost of the materials needed to make them. (And it’s certainly a better deal than this Marc Chagall gouache, at a whopping $285,000, currently available to ‘add to your cart’ over at Amazon’s new fine art wing).

This anonymous, self-marketing Craiglist painter had some very specific instructions for prospective buyers: “I will not discuss the weather, the quality, the government, manicure, Chinese food, and French Terriers. If you want to buy it — just give me your phone number.”

I emailed the artist (making sure not to include any mention of politics, atmospheric conditions, or MSG-laden dinner entrees). Why, I asked him/her, such an eccentric list of conversational topics to avoid?

“I wrote that part because I’m tired of people with nothing better to do wasting my time,” Tinga Rebus responded. “If you want to, you can write about my pieces… I’ve had so much written about me that it doesn’t matter anymore. If you want to interview me, keep in mind that my English is as good as your Russian and we’ll have to use a very bad-mannered translator. If this doesn’t bother you, call me.”

I didn’t take Rebus up on the offer, but these works are still available (and that jester would pair nicely with this similarly minded Picasso woodcut, a steal at a mere $50,000.) And if this isn’t your style, the artist also makes dolls.

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