Poor traits


Lloyd Graham (Australia, 2006)
18" x 24", oil on canvas
Donated by the artist
MOBA #372

"[This is my] partner Lyn, losing the battle with the middle objective of her research grant proposal (something to do with cross-talk between insulin-like growth factor binding proteins and retinoid-X receptor heterodimerization, since you ask)." - Text by the artist

From: Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco, Ten Speed Press.


Professor Kendall Moore
18" x 14" acrylic on canvas panel
Donated by Doug Shive
MOBA #335

Impressed by how well they worked on her pets' and her own teeth, Annie used Crest Whitestrips to brighten her toenails.

From - Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco, Ten Speed Press


32" x 24", oil on canvas
Purchased by M. Frank at a Boston thrift store
MOBA #366

"Devil or angel, dear whichever you are,
I love you, I love you, I love you."

Music and lyrics by Blanche Carter
Recorded by The Clovers (1955) and Bobby Vee (1957)


R. Angelo Le
18" x 24", Acrylic on canvas
Acquired by Scott Wilson from trash in Boston

Remarkable in its simplicity, this passionate portrait of a girl with green eyes appeals every emotion. Which passion was uppermost in the painter's heart? Knife stroke follows brush stroke. The hint of a second signature in the top right corner suggests a struggle. An infinitely interesting and sometimes disturbing neo-primitive portrait. 

Although not apparent here, the painting has what appears be a knife slash in the canvas -- adding an additional element of drama an already powerful work.


30" x 24", oil on canvas
Salvaged by M. Frank from curbside trash in Boston
MOBA #280

Larger than life, she purrs with her big bedroom eyes open wide in anticipation, "Hello boys". Bianka knew, the more hair the better.

From - Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco, Ten Speed Press.


15" x 12" , oil on cardboard
Purchased by M. Frank at a thrift store in Boston
MOBA #343

In Hollywood, even the palm trees have had work done.

From - Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco, Ten Speed Press


Acrylic on canvas
Acquired from Todd Farm Flea Market by Scott Wilson

A perfect depiction of pure evil in the guise of childhood's friend. This blending of big top themes with a piercing study of the dark side of human nature, elevates the well worn clown genre to a new and exhilarating level.


24" x 30", Oil on Canvas
Acquired from trash in Boston
MOBA # 1

This single painting planted the seed that grew into MOBA.

The motion, the chair, the sway of her breast, the subtle hues of the sky, the expression on her face -- every detail combines to create this transcendent and compelling portrait, every detail cries out "masterpiece."

Additional Information

Dear Sirs,
!Bravissimo! Thank you! "Lucy" is clearly the key work in the collection. As with all great art, extended viewing reveals endless layers of mysteries: What is Norman Mailer's head doing on an innocent grandma's body, and are those crows or F-16's skimming the hills?

Wishing you good fortune in future endeavors, I remain,
Richard Gleaves
Distinguished Patron, MOBA


Susan Lawlor was drinking a glass of coke last Friday, perusing a copy of the Improper Bostonian, a weekly Boston, newspaper. She turned the page and began reading an article in the City Rave section called "The Finest in Bad Art". She glanced below at a picture of HER GRANDMOTHER and spit coke all over the table. Lucy In The Field With Flowers, MOBA's Mona Lisa -- its first painting -- is in fact a portrait of Ms. Lawlor's late grandmother, Anna Lally Keane.

Ms. Lawlor called the museum and arranged to come over, see the painting and tell us all about it.

Anna Lally Keane lived with her daughter Eileen (Ms. Lawlor's aunt) for much of her adult life. Anna Keane died in her 70's sometime around 1968. A year or two later, Ms Lawlor's mother dug out two photos of Anna Lally Keane and sent them to an artist, and commisioned a painting. The painting was to be a present to her sister Eileen.

Ms. Lawlor told us of the day that the painting arrived wrapped in paper. Everyone gathered around to watch as the paper was torn off, the thirteen year old Susan bit her lip to keep from gasping.

It was a wonderfully accurate likeness of her grandmother's face in an oddly postured and formed body against a bizarre, surreal background.

Her mother, who commisioned the painting, was quite pleased with the result and gave it to her sister Eileen. The painting hung in Eileen's house for years. Ms. Lawlor and her siblings have strong memories over the years, of the strange portrait hung in Eileen's living room.

Sometime in the late 80s the house was sold. A cousin hired an estate clearance company to make the property ready for sale. Sometime later, Ms Lawlor asked her mother what ever became of the portrait -- no one seemed to know.

From what we could surmise, the painting was either thown out in the trash, or possibly sold. Someone in Roslindale acquired the painting, hung on to it for 5 years or so and then threw it out in the trash. Our ever vigilant curator, Mr Wilson, spotted the painting, pulled it from the trash and MOBA was born.

Ms. Lawlor was obviously moved upon seeing the stunning portrait of her grandmother again and is thrilled that MOBA rescued the painting from certain destruction. Ms. Lawlor has signed up as a charter Friend Of MOBA and attended MOBA's Gallery In The Woods on Aug 26, where her grandmother was proudly hung from the pine trees of Cape Cod.

MOBA welcomes Ms. Lawlor to the Friends Of MOBA, and is eternally grateful for filling us in on the fascinating background of the museum's most valued paintings. Ms. Lawlor will be sending us more information about the painting as she collects it from her siblings around the country. 


A. Fontaine, 1957
16" x 20", Oil on canvas
Acquired from Hyde Park antique store

A work of undisputed tenderness which places the spiritual above the physical through careful disregard for details of the human form. 


6" x 2" x 1.5", Wood sculpture with felt tip
Acquired by Scott Wilson at church sale

Much controversy surrounds the history of this piece. Whether the work of a single artist or two artists separated by time and place, the piece succeeds in transforming a simple icon into a mysterious yet radiant image through a few quick dashes of the pen. 


30" x 30", oil on canvas
MOBA #356

This painting depicts an incident involving "Beat" writer William S. Burroughs and his common-law wife Joan Vollmer. While they were drunk at a party in Mexico City on September 7, 1951 he told Joan, "It's time for our William Tell act." Joan placed a glass of water on her head. Bill took out his gun, took aim, and missing the glass, shot Joan in the head. An hour later she was dead.

Mr. Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch, Junkie,The Soft Machine, and many other books not for the faint of heart.

From - Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco, Ten Speed Press


24" x 24", watercolor on paper
Acquired from yard sale
MOBA #180

The piece comments on the incongruity of royalism at the close of the second millennium. The formality of the pose contrasts with the laissez-faire attitude of Her Majesty, caught mid-chew, as she sports a jaunty beret in preference to her emerald encrusted crown. We are, in fact, amused.


Oil on canvas
Acquired by Scott Wilson from trash

The artist plays with the luminosity of skin where the sun never shines, and the grace and comfort of crossed legs in repose. We believe this may be a self-portrait, as Unknown, naked and proud, faces the fiery furnace. 


Carlos Rangel
42" x 5" circumference, Painted wood sculpture
Acquired from Boston Thrift Store by Scott Wilson

A monument to self-confidence. The delicately balanced tiny figure stands tall, leaning towards us in cardinal colors, her pocketbook held proudly at her side. Could this be the ancestor of a late night television show host? 


16" x 20", oil on canvas
Purchased by Mike Frank
MOBA #259

Lost puppy? No one to play with? Nothing on TV? What sad fate has befallen this young beauty with the big red bow? Her life is so empty she must conjure an imaginary shelf on which to lean.

From - Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco, Ten Speed Press


Dawn Marie Jingagian
18" x 24", Acrylic on canvas
Acquired by Scott Wilson from trash in Boston

The embarrassment and longing of first love, is reflected in the cheek as shiny as an apple, the half smile hidden behind lank hair. 


22" x 37", Acrylic on Canvas
Donated by Jim Schulman
MOBA # 2

Can the swirling steam melt away the huge weight of George's corporate responsibilities? This pointillist piece is curious for meticulous attention to fine detail, such as the stitching around the edge of the towel, in contrast to the almost careless disregard for the subject's feet. 

Additional Information
The following note was received from Jim Shulman, donor of this MOBA masterpiece:

"In a sense, Sunday on the Pot With George takes a far more prominent place in my life than ever before. A friend mentioned that The Masterpiece appeared on the CBS Morning News. I asked him how he could tell: he said that George was the single most memorable artistic experience in his life -- a bit like his recent bout with the shingles -- and left an indelible impression.

"I never thought that all this fuss would take place over my modest bequest. Well, as Margaret Trudeau once said 'Some are born great, and others have greatness thrust into them.'"


30" x 40", Crayon and pencil on canvas
Acquired from trash in Boston by Scott Wilson

A startling work, and one of the largest crayon on canvas pieces that most people can ever hope to see. The bulging leg muscles, the black shoes, the white socks, the pink toga, all help to make this one of the most popular pieces in the MOBA collection.

Additional Information
The Athlete entered MOBA's permanent collection sometime in the summer of 1994. From its first public showing, it quickly became one of MOBA's favorite paintings with the bad art loving public. 

In March of 1995, the museum exhibited The Athlete on its new website. In June that same year, the museum received an email message that was to shake the institution to its very core. 

Read about the controversy below...
MOBA SCANDAL IN THE WORKS -- An astute visitor (cbergstr@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu) to the MOBA Web page has recently informed us that one of the prize pieces ("The Athlete") in the permanent collection may have in fact been created as intentionally bad art as a prop for the play "You Can't Take It With You". Mr. Cbergstr reports "It's size is so it will show up on a stage; the medium (crayon on canvas) indicates it was a student production. The wing tips confirm the identification." Mr. Cbergstr goes on to say "I don't know if this in any way invalidates the artistic achievement, but I thought you ought to know". 

"Ought to know" indeed. We can not thank you enough Mr. Cbergstr for calling this alarming matter to our attention. We will in the coming week research the matter and contact Mr. Wilson to hear his comments on this disturbing matter. We trust that our Esteemed Curator is well aware of these facts and has a reasonable explanation or else they are a pack of vicious lies and slanderous libel - but in any case, we pledge to get to the bottom of the matter and report back promptly. 

In A Related Development -- There appears to be a storm brewing in regards to a clear violation of one of MOBA's other longstanding acquisition policies. As first reported in last week's MOBA News - An alert Friend Of MOBA (cbergstr@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu) reported that "The Athlete", one of MOBA's most popular pieces, is, in fact, a prop for the play "You Can't Take It With You" and was in fact created as an intentional work of bad art. 

Since then Mr. Cbergstr's report has been corroborated by another Friend Of MOBA, Duane Campbell who wrote: 

"Regrettably I must concur on The Athlete. I directed You Can't Take It With You (by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman) three years ago. The painting is of the character Mr. DePinna painted by the character Penelope Sycamore. In our stock room is a similar painting, though blessedly unfinished. 

Mr. Campbell went on to say: "... could he have produced it himself, deposited it in a dumpster, and then arranged to have it 'discovered'? What do we know about this guy's integrity? God knows what a bad artist will do to have his art displayed - and there are no worse artists than curators." 

When our Esteemed Curator was contacted about this matter, he said: 

" I don't know what the big deal is. Everyone agrees that 'The Athlete' by any measure is truly a bad painting." 

It was pointed out to Mr. Wilson that the issue at hand was not his judgment - but his integrity in upholding the oft-stated acquisition criteria of this august institution. 

Mr. Wilson exploded in righteous indignation, uttered numerous imaginative expletives, and demanded to know if MOBA had hired him as a theater critic or a curator of bad art. 

The entire matter has been referred to MOBA's Board Of Directors and MOBA will refrain from any further statements on the matter until after next weeks board meeting. 

"The Athlete" Scandal -- The full MOBA board met this past Tuesday to deal with the allegations of malfeasance on the part of Mr. Wilson. Some rather compelling evidence was presented which clearly demonstrated that museum policy had been violated. "The Athlete" a deliberate work of bad art had been unwittingly accepted into the permanent collection by Mr. Wilson. In the midst of a rather acrimonious accounting of the facts of the case, Mr. Wilson leaped from his chair and challenged anyone on the board to claim that "The Athlete" was anything other than bad art. "Have you seen it? any of you? Do you have eyes in your head?" 

When a board member pointed out that the quality of the work was not the issue, Mr. Wilson exclaimed in exasperation - "Exactly". 

After much heated discussion and over Mr. Wilson's strenuous objections, the board voted unanimously to pardon Mr. Wilson on the charge of malfeasance and to remove "The Athlete" from the permanent collection. 

An account of the launch party of the MOBA Virtual Museum CD-ROM at Cybersmith in Cambridge, MA -- Other than some technical difficulties, the only serious blemish on an otherwise perfect evening was the trouble stirred up by some misguided ne'er-do-wells who stoked the embers of the recent "The Athlete" controversy in front of the national press. The recently formed and misnamed "Friends Of The Athlete" handed out badges to the crowd and spread misinformation to both The Friends Of MOBA and the press. We urge The Friends Of MOBA to resist this band of misguided misfit's misinformation and trust that the board of directors has acted in the interest of the institution in resolving this most embarrassing of situations. 


"The Athlete" Once And For All -- In the interest of defusing the destructive force stirred up by the Friends Of The Athlete, The MOBA News has decided to let them have their say and air their gripes in the hopes that we can all then put this embarrassment behind us and begin to move the museum forward in its mission.

Subj: forwarded: MOBA - SCHMOBA
From: Lorraine_Magrath@onesource.com (Lorraine Magrath)
To: moba@world.std.com 

All I can say is that I am outraged!!! The Athlete (or Crayon Man, as I prefer to call it) is one of my favorites in the collection. How can you remove it? I don't care why it was painted. Bad Art is Bad Art! 

This is to notify you that I am hereby forming FOTA (Friends of The Athlete). And don't think I'm the only one who's upset. 

-- Lorraine Magrath 

Dear Ms. Magrath, 

We're most anxious to put this whole sordid "Athlete" scandal behind us. It has been a most embarrassing incident for the museum. The board believes that the removal of "The Athlete" from the collection is in the best interests of the institution and its standards. 

I must admit though that our curator is in full agreement with you on the matter but was overruled by the board. I truly hope that we can resolve this matter promptly and quietly without resorting to something as divisive as FOTA (Friends Of The Athlete). 

In the interest of reaching a consensus and resolving this issue promptly, amicably and constructively we will print the full text of your letter in The MOBA News. 

Jerry Reilly 
Executive Director, Museum Of Bad Art 

Chief Pontiac

Pastel on paper
Found among some quasi-Egyptian art, this portrait bears an uncanny
resemblance to Chief Pontiac, or at least to the image of him portrayed
in a 1950 Pontiac Chieftain hood ornament:

Eileen's Uncle Phil

by Anonymous
16" x 20"
Oil on Canvas
Purchased by Mike Frank 5/19/07

Mana Lisa

by Anonymous
12" x 16"
Donated by A. Schmidt, Vancouver, Canada
A cross-gender interpretation of the daVinci classic.

Mana Lisa's nose strikes nimbly, offsetting the dialogue between the 
foreground and profoundly varnished background.

Further, by deciphering this work's title, perhaps we can contribute
to the growing body of Leonardo's anagrammatic discourse:

Mrs. Pontiac

Pastel on paper
Chief Pontiac's lovely Nubian wife.

Artist as a Young Man

Lloyd Graham
20" x 16"
Oil on canvas
Donated by the artist (Australia)
Emotive portrait of myself as a college student in the late 70s.