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Have some good fun with bad art in Dorchester

The Museum of Bad Art celebrates its new home at Dorchester Brewing Company with a reception on Sept. 6.

"Spewing Rubik's Cubes"

What is art? What is good art? What is bad art? So many existential questions!

But the last one may be the easiest to answer. Plenty of it’ll soon be on display at The Museum Of Bad Art (MOBA), the local institution that has been around since 1994. It’s moved from home to home, has been without one for almost three years, and is now, starting on Sept. 6, settling into new digs at Dorchester Brewing Company.

But, is there a rationale for the existence of a museum dedicated to bad art? You bet! First of all, it’s fun. Second of all … here’s where an explanation gets thorny. In the early days of MOBA, co-founder Louise Reilly Sacco said, “The mission is to bring the worst art to the widest audiences.” In a recent chat, she revised the mission statement to, “We collect, exhibit, and celebrate art that would be honored in no other venue.” Then she added, “We love these works!”


But, again, what is bad art? In MOBA’s case, it’s not velvet Elvises or dogs playing cards. Although they have a number of peculiar dog portraits and there once was a velvet Elvis, but it was stolen a decade ago.

To become part of MOBA’s approximately 800-piece collection, a work must, according to Louise Reilly Sacco, “really be art.” In other words, it has to be original, interesting and, most important, sincere.

“What our curator is looking for,” she explained, “is where something went wrong. It might be an experiment, by an artist who knows what they’re doing, but it didn’t work out. But then there’s this other batch of people who have got enthusiasm, but they have no clue how to execute what they’re trying to do.”

Where all of this art comes from is another matter. A big chunk of it is purchased by the curator in thrift stores and yard sales. An equal amount is offered to MOBA by people who find pieces in their attics or in the trash. Maybe 20 percent comes directly from the artists.


But not every piece is taken. The way it usually works is people send a photo of the work, and tell where it came from and whatever they know about it. If it appears to be a fit for MOBA, there’s a good chance it will eventually live there.

About 40 pieces will be on display at Dorchester Brewing Company, in the event room and scattered around the brewery. At a gallery reception on Sept. 6, from 6-8 p.m., MOBA will unveil a work that’s said to have its roots in a Michelangelo piece, and there will be informal tours of what’s hanging on the walls.

More good news: Admission is always free, the place is open every day from 11:30 a.m. until 9 or 10 p.m. (depending on the night of the week), there’s lots of on-street parking, and the JFK T stop is close by.

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