Hi, I’m Deanna Dahlsad of Fair Oaks Antiques. This Week’s Story is a little bit different… It’s still about an object, just not one for sale. And it’s also a story for the month, as you’ll see. A reminder: You can listen to This Week’s Story as a podcast!

Due to it being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is now synonymous with pink. Since 2009, the NFL has pushed the man-enough-to-wear-pink message to encourage men to care about women’s breasts. As if the NFL, its members & fans, need encouragement in that area. It really is an odd ogling message for a league beleaguered with misogyny and the coverup of player health issues. Especially as the movement aimed to reach out and pander to more women. It would have been better for the NFL to punish abusive players and address player health issues. But hoping on the “Pinkwashing” train of commodifying and profiting off of breast cancer was too-too easy – like fraud levels of easy.

Now most of us know how we were exploited in the name of pink merchandise for cancer awareness and now avoid the scams of such a shadow industry. And perhaps this is why the NFL has quietly shifted away from breast cancer awareness to a broader cancer-awareness with its more colorful “Crucial Catch” program.

But the decade-long marriage between the masculine nature of the NFL and the girly pink merch is an interesting one. In 2000, who would have thought that such macho men would be wearing pink? Well, those of us alive in the 80s recall men in pastel pink polo shirts – and they weren’t afraid to tell you they were secure enough in their masculinity to wear pink either. And those of us even older remember men wearing pink too.

Vintage clothing catalogs are filled with examples, such as bright & cheery pink & black cowboy playsuits. Yup, pink shirts and pants with black hats & even holsters to hold silver pistols. For boys too.

In fact, we have a long and documented history of pink being the preferred color for boys. Not only in fashion catalogs and department store ads, but in trade publications and national news magazines, such as Time. Going back as far as the early 1800s, pink was considered the stronger more resolute color, therefore most suitable for boys, while blue, being more delicate and dainty, was best for girls. The Smithsonian has a great article about this gender color phenomenon, if you are interested.

I was reminded of all of this pink business whilst we were restoring our old house, Esmerelda. There in the basement, surrounded by walls painted in that battleship basement grey (which must have been the law at some point because every basement I’ve seen has had at least one coat of that color), our 100+-year-old house sports a brick chimney – and it’s covered in pink paint.

It would seem an odd color choice – unless you knew the history of the color pink. For it is important to keep your chimney strong and clear – it literally keeps your house in the pink.

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Hi, I’m Deanna Dahlsad of Fair Oaks Antiques.  This inaugural edition of ‘This Week’s Story’ is based on a mixed media artwork we found. (You can listen to this short audio podcast here!)

We found this piece on the street during Fargo’s Cleanup Week. Yes, that makes us trash pickers. That’s not really news; we’ve been on Night Time Live with Bob Harris (on The Mighty KFGO) a number of times talking about this. Obviously, rescuing works like this is nothing we are embarrassed about.

As an artist, the idea of another artist tossing her works out made me a bit sad though. And it reminded me of a debate I had with a professor in my college days.

In an art history class, we were discussing Venus de Milo I think it was… If not, it was another classical marble sculpture designated as Art with a capital A. Yet this work of art was found in a garbage pit; discarded, it seems, by its creator.

If, as we were being taught, Art with a capital A is defined as works which are created to be beautiful or to communicate important ideas or express the creator’s feelings – how could a work thrown out by its creator be considered art? If the artist himself had decided that the work was inferior – either by not communicating the intended message or not meeting the creator’s definition of “beautiful” – how could we call it art?

This, of course, leads to axioms of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Not to mention the classic, “I know it when I see it.”

That last line is most known in the US for its role in the porn vs art debate in a landmark Supreme Court obscenity case. However flawed that statement is – & it is, all these expressions lead to paths of individualism and subjectivity, to the arbitrary whims of personal taste.

Yet, if enough of us agree to call a thing beautiful, or otherwise feel we “get it”, we can call an ancient discarded marble sculpture “Art with a capital A.”

Which is why this person will happily sort through another’s trash just to salvage a piece which will become another’s art treasure.

The mixed media artwork is $89.95 and can be found in our space, booth #27, at Fargo Antiques & Repurposed Market. Dealer code YES.

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