A lemonade stand, lawn chairs and hot dogs on the grill don’t sound like the start of an art opening, but it’s what you’ll see outside “Tim Kapustka’s Garage Sale.” Mosey into Studio &, 1027 Main Ave., and you’ll find everyday exotica.
Kapustka’s illustrations elevate ordinary items from garage-sale-find to tranquil, pop fantastique. His calming color palette and rhapsody of retro what-nots evoke wistful remembrances of a world gone by and times that felt sturdier.
Though nostalgia is a theme in Kapustka’s work, it’s not his intention.
“I don’t set off to create a blender that makes almost everybody who sees it say, ‘My grandma had that exact blender.’ I get that a lot with this blender piece in the show – people saying, ‘My grandma had that exact blender,’ or ‘We had that exact blender growing up.’ I know it isn’t true because I built that blender as a Frankenblender. It’s a mashup of three different blenders.”
Kapustka isn’t calling anyone a liar: He’s noting that personal truth overlays our memories. Two people in the same room 20 minutes later will tell two entirely different stories about what happened there.
He continued: “That blender immediately trips something in people that is close to, ‘I’m at grandma’s house. I’m in her kitchen.’ That is so complimentary to me, and I take that really seriously. I am humbled that I could make something that could take them to a memory, whether it is a good or bad one. In this case, I would wager that grandma’s kitchen is probably a good one.”
The love of the long-lasting and an appreciation for elegant design are constants in Kapustka’s life and work. He draws inspiration from the storied and the durable and thinks a lot about how possessions can build personal narrative.
The impetus for “Tim Kapustka’s Garage Sale” came after the untimely passing of his father.
“When we were in his barn, my dad would say, ‘This will all be yours one day.’ Unfortunately, that happened quicker than I thought it was going to happen. But the gist of it is that you are going through someone’s life without them there to explain it, and no matter how much you thought you knew them, you didn’t,” he said. “I had no idea that my dad had nine gas cans and seven minnow buckets. I almost guarantee that if he was sitting here next to me, he wouldn’t know that he had nine gas cans and seven minnow buckets. It is an intimate and interesting way to examine a person’s life.”
“My first idea,” he said, “was almost a retrospective of my dad’s life through the objects I found.” Kapustka saw the beauty in his father’s collections, but ultimately, that was too raw, too soon. “This started off at a much more personal point, but I backed off to create a passive homage to him because there’s no question I got this respect for quality and beauty in objects from him.”
Our homes are our histories and our objects are artifacts. Kapustka’s fictional garage sale holds some riffraff, some knickknacks but mostly his illustrations nod to objects that were once made to last and no longer hold so fast.
And the art opening itself? Expect it to be like the Midwestern garage sale soirees of his youth, where there’s always a new truck to show off, food on the grill and someone getting back into town who’s coming around.
“It’s such a culture where I come from,” he said. “It’s a social thing. ‘So and so’s having a garage sale. I’m just going to go over there.’ In small towns, it brings out people you know and haven’t seen for a while, and while they’re there, they say, ‘Oh, I guess I’ll buy something.’”