I’m way ahead of my time. I’ve always known that a simple t-shirt could be turned into a work of art, but then again, I tend to be snobby like that.
In intermediate school I used to paint endangered animals on my great uncle’s wife-beaters. I could do a mean acrylic cheetah. I’d sit there and paint for a few hours, then steal my mom’s blow dryer to speed up the drying process. Voila! A few minutes later I’d rock out with an original, one-of-a-kind creation.
My peers didn’t quite get the whole thing—they were more into their New Kids on the Block concert shirts.
Fast forward a few years… okay, like, eight. I’d go to the little boys’ department at K-Mart, buy a pack of size-12 white undershirts (perfect size for belly-baring) and write intelligent questions like, “Are YOU my Sugar-Daddy?” “Got Money?” and “Nice Shoes! Wanna F*ck?” on them.
Again, I didn’t get many positive results. What’s wrong with people?
Then, a few months ago I started going through old t-shirts and modifying them. I’d tear and slash and tie big sleeping shirts until they were seductive little crop tops of knots and dangling strips. Unfortunately, I am now too old to wear them out in public. So then I found an alternative—I’d find cool logo shirts and cut them up and then re-piece them together into hip little skirts. Awesome! Fun and functional.
My favorite t-shirt creation is my “rock and roll” skirt—made from six different t-shirt panels, including a University of Bass shirt, a Certified Sounds (Hi, Derek Pace!) shirt, and an old Bon Jovi, “We Came, We Saw, We Kicked Ass” shirt from my late-great, hard-rockin’ father-in-law. This skirt is dope. So seriously dope that I can barely stand it. That dope. Email me and I’ll make you one for about $200.
Anyway, I was quite thrilled when I heard that Cafe Marc Aurel was holding a t-shirt show. Yes! A whole art exhibit dedicated to the marvelous, wonderful, versatile, t-shirt. It’s about fricking time.
Eighteen artists, young and old, from across the island submitted numerous t-shirt works of arts. The cafe walls are lined with shirts—cool shirts!
My favorites include: A cute little sheer-ish baby-T called “OHH Mickey” by Brad Huck. It’s this very artsy, somehow French-looking version of the most famous mouse in the world, done with paint and buttons. I can totally picture it with a pair of skinny jeans and flats.
Then there’s this toddler-sized T, with the words, “Are those Real?” painted on it by Peter Hansen. It’s no shocker that this T sold to a mom with three kids.
Another cool shirt had “hijklmno” written on the front. I was intrigued, yet totally stumped.
“That one’s by Pulga, a curious South American man with an off-beat sensibility,” Adrianne Martinez, the cafe’s curator, told me. “It symbolizes water. Get it? H2O or H to O.”
My very favorite is this industrial-looking vinyl shirt that says, “Daddy went to Baghdad and all I got was this stupid Body Bag” by Lish and Levy—now that is genius. And like all things genius, someone will find it offensive.
“We had a cafe customer walk out after encountering this glib anti-war piece!” Martinez said. “It eventually sold to a German tourist.”
There are a ton more shirts to look at, and they’re all for sale. The show runs until April 25. Who knows? You could become inspired to do something creative with those old New Kid on the Block shirts after all. MTW