Thank you for the gift! Can you recommend an exorcist?
June 5, 2012 9:47 AM   Subscribe

A good friend gave The Dutchwoman and I a piece of artwork she made expressly for us as a wedding present. It was very thoughtful, but the thing is like something out of a horror movie. The missus thinks maybe the friend was trying to curse her so the friend could have me for herself...and I can't rule that out. There is no way we are going to hang it on the wall in our home. Honestly, I feel a bit uneasy just knowing it's lurking, wrapped up in a bag in the closet. But I don't want to hurt the friend's feelings. Do we just hang it up when she's coming over? That would work...until we forget to do it once. I was thinking maybe we should just burn down the house and tell her it was lost with everything else, but then she might make us a replacement. Any ideas? What's the etiquette here?
posted by The Dutchman to Human Relations (102 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Hang it temporarily for some function when your friend will be at the house. She will be thrilled to see it hanging. Take it down later and put it back in the closet. Replace it with something more your style. When the friend notices her piece is no longer hanging, the explanation is that you have more art work than you can show at once and therefore you rotate through your collection at irregular intervals...No sweat!
posted by txmon at 9:51 AM on June 5, 2012 [30 favorites]

Best answer: You know darn well that you can't post an AskMe like this without including a photograph of the offending artifact.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:51 AM on June 5, 2012 [98 favorites]

Can you hang it for one or two visits, and then say you "redecorated" if you forget? How often do you see this person? The curse as ulterior motive comment seems that maybe you all aren't that terribly friendly?
posted by kellyblah at 9:53 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

"We haven't been able to find the right place for it yet."

I mean, of course you have, and the right place is obviously THE ETERNAL FIRES OF MOUNT DOOM, but.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:55 AM on June 5, 2012 [26 favorites]

txmon's advice is more diplomatic but...

I suspect you're going to get different opinions about this, but my instinct would be to send a nice thank you note and then throw the piece away. If you both really find it that distasteful there is no reason to keep it, and no reason to have it prey on your conscience.

If I was the gifter I would consider it a bit rude to ask about the piece in the future. Art is a matter of subjective taste, and gifted art should be graciously accepted but without any implied committment.

(I'm not getting into cases of subjectively "important" art about whether or not there's a higher duty to be a good steward of the work, since that doesn't seem to apply here.)
posted by Wretch729 at 9:57 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

If it were me I'd save it for "special" occasions and keep it in your closet as some sort of a sekrit weapon against toxic guests and/or other invasions of your space. Think of it as an evil weapon but it's YOUR evil weapon and you can use it selectively against others. Relatedly: I had a boyfriend's ex [his son's mother] give me a pair of earrings once. On the one hand, nice. On the other hand, I had a touchy relationship at best with this women and the earrings felt a little ... tainted. So I keep them and I specifically wear them when I am going out in public and need amulet-like protection from other touchy people. They seem to work well. Wrap it in tin foil so that its energy won't leak out. Hang it only as appropriate and it can be an inside joke between your wife and you. Use it only in the direst of circumstances. Good luck.
posted by jessamyn at 9:57 AM on June 5, 2012 [61 favorites]

This is like owning Medusa's head. Use it on door to door salesmen.
posted by mercredi at 9:58 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

Do you have pets, kids? Accidents happen. You're repainting a wall and things get knocked over or spilled. Just sayin'.
posted by preparat at 10:01 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I'll email a pic to those who want it, but not going to post here just in case she ever reads this.
posted by The Dutchman at 10:02 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

My cousin had to give a piece of artwork back to the (other cousin) who made it because it gave her son nightmares - and that wasn't even creepy art, it was just big. But she told him that the only wall big enough to hang it on was in a place that the kid could see it when he slept, and his incidence of bad dreams dropped way down when they took it off the wall. He then said "well, send it on back, and I'll find it a new home". That wasn't "I made this just for you" art, it was "I made a lot of art, and you can pick a piece as your Christmas gift".

Come to think of it, it's not 100% guaranteed that she made that monstrosity just for you - it may have just been something she had around that she thought you'd like, or an project she had in-progress when it occurred to her that she needed to give you a wedding gift.
posted by aimedwander at 10:08 AM on June 5, 2012

I loooove Jessamyn's idea. Hang the painting when you're hosting a dinner party and don't want your guests to linger too long after the meal. Hang it when that distant cousin who says he's "just staying for the weekend" shows up unannounced.

I'm not sure how feasible that is, though, and I personally wouldn't want to keep something in storage knowing that I'd generally never actually display it (I live in a pretty small space and have recently become fairly strict in my "if I haven't used it in 6 months, it leaves the house" rule). Thank her for it, give it away or sell it, and then never speak of it again. If she asks about it, I think that being honest and saying that you appreciated the sentiment but that it didn't really go with your home decor is probably your best bet.
posted by asnider at 10:11 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been in this position.

Send a thank you note, then toss it.

If it gives you a bad vibe, that's that.
posted by jbenben at 10:11 AM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

Pitch it in the waste bin. You are under no obligation to keep it, much less display it.
posted by Uncle Grumpy at 10:12 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Guys, The Dutchman just showed me a picture of this thing, and while I respect his decision not to display a photo publicly online, let me assure you that it's every bit as amazingly terrible as his description makes it sound. It's absolutely horrifying.

And as for what to do with it? Put that sucker on eBay. Some maniac will love it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:20 AM on June 5, 2012 [8 favorites]

In my circle it wouldn't be out of line to give it back to the artist with gushing thanks and an apology that I'm finding it "too intense" or "we just can't get it to work for us" or something else. It happens. If she's an artist, I'm sure she has friends whose art doesn't contribute to the vibe of her own living space.

I hate to throw someone's art away.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:21 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

Give it to April Winchell and have her auction it off for a good cause.
posted by adamrice at 10:23 AM on June 5, 2012 [8 favorites]

Me, me, I want to see the picture!

I would suggest just ditching it - or passing it on to someone who's done you wrong - but my in-laws (for instance) would certainly look for items they'd given us and inquire about prominent ones they didn't see. Like Lovecraftian portraits of unholy demons, for instance.
posted by Occula at 10:33 AM on June 5, 2012

Love Jessamyn's idea and was also going to suggest what adamrice said. Donate it for a good cause. It's your gift and you are entitled to do anything you want with it. And if thinking it was some sort of curse, then you may want to reconsider that friendship and keep that person at arms length. And I do want to see the painting. :)
posted by i_wear_boots at 10:33 AM on June 5, 2012

This has been given to you, so you can now do with it as you see fit. This includes throwing it away, selling it, giving it back, or sending it to April Winchell to show that Good Things Can Come From Tragicrafting. All can be done with a clear conscience.
posted by scruss at 10:36 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

that's one creepy wedding present! i'd give it away asap. extra creepy for it's holistic "i'm not creepy! really!" vibe
posted by messiahwannabe at 10:36 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Put it out at Halloween?
posted by vitabellosi at 10:37 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Things I would do with this terrifying art:

- pick a random name out of the phone book and send it to them with a note explaining that you have picked their name randomly out of the phone book and encouraging them to do the same thing, because an evil painting chain letter is inexplicably hilarious to me

- drive around one weekend with it in the car until you find a yard sale and then surreptitiously abandon it amongst the other piles of junk

- place it on an easel in a prominent place in your home but cover it with a black cloth; when people ask what's under the cloth you either whip the cloth off triumphantly to terrify them or look really panicked and whisper "don't say anything where it can hear you!"

- ritually sacrifice it in a backyard bonfire
posted by elizardbits at 10:37 AM on June 5, 2012 [35 favorites]

posted by Sidhedevil at 10:38 AM on June 5, 2012

Re-gift it to someone you dislike of course! Like a hated boss for example. This is a double whammy, because a) they receive a terrifying painting, and b) now they have to go through the mental drama of deciding whether to hang it up or not. You should say something like "I thought this would look really great in your office!".
posted by Joh at 10:41 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Is it in anyway inappropriate? You could just say you didnt hang it up because of kids/your parents visiting, etc.
posted by KogeLiz at 10:41 AM on June 5, 2012

Small_ruminant has it -- give it back to the artist with excessive grace. This is especially important if the artist has a good reputation and the work has market value. You might not want to live with one of de Kooning's Women, but it sure would be a damn shame to throw one away. Those things are goldmines.

Even if it's just a hobby for the artist, it will be more valuable to him/her than to you.

I know someone who resuced another friend's paintings in a dumpster behind another friend's apartment. That was a disaster. The offense, plus, it turns out those paintings had gained quite a bit in value as the artist was up-and-coming.

One exception: any artist who makes a terrible "arty" portrait of YOU and frames it deserves to lose it to the flames.
posted by mmmcmmm at 10:43 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I really like Jessamyn's suggestion based on the whole "this may be cursed" thing. If you are going to dispose of it, however, I'd suggest burning it. Don't just throw it away. It will make you feel much better.
posted by queensissy at 10:47 AM on June 5, 2012

Wow. Woah. That's. I thought you were joking about it being an attempted curse.

I have to say, throwing this thing away is sacrilege for multiple reasons. If she finds out that you threw it away or gave it away your friendship would be over. If you break it or burn the house down or let Satan reclaim it into his pit of hellfire she'll just make you another one. Returning it with gushing praise will only work if she's actually a working artist (or thinks she is) and not a hobbyist. I'm guessing it's face-sized? I think the only solution may be to hang it occasionally when she's there.
posted by cmoj at 10:48 AM on June 5, 2012

Oh I have to see this! But I would say donate it, unless you could sell it on Ebay, of course.
posted by Eicats at 10:51 AM on June 5, 2012

Well, after cmoj's reaction, I'd like to see it, as well.
posted by chazlarson at 10:53 AM on June 5, 2012

Hang it up once, have her over, and then at some busy point in her life when she will not be tempted to make you a new one and will most likely dissolve it in watery memory, have have a horrible accident involving your dog or a flying plate of pasta.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:04 AM on June 5, 2012

Response by poster: Ok, ok. Apparently you can't send more than 30 memails in an hour so, here's the pic: Cursed art

I won't be leaving it up permanently, so look while you can...if you dare.
posted by The Dutchman at 11:08 AM on June 5, 2012 [52 favorites]

If you do the hang-it-and-bag-it approach, let me just interject one remark: do not hang it in an excessively noticeable spot. That is to say, not atop the mantle, not at the head of the table in the dining room, etc. etc.

...that's a bit too obvious and will tip your hand when it comes time to get rid of it. Instead, hang it somewhere a bit out of the way for believability. Prop it up by a side-table somewhere, or the like.
posted by aramaic at 11:10 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your obligation as the recipient of a gift is to be prompt and sincere in expressing thanks for the other person's kindness in thinking of you with a gift. Your obligation as a friend is to be loving, kind and never needlessly critical. You can accomplish these things without hanging a painting you dislike or find disturbing in your house. Miss Manners suggests treating all gifts like fresh flowers--something you are not obligated to keep for the rest of your life.

If your friend asks if you've hung it or why you haven't hung it or why she doesn't see it when she visits, you again express sincere thanks for her kindness in thinking of you and deflect.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:11 AM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

It looks... breakable....
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:14 AM on June 5, 2012 [71 favorites]

I amend my previous statement about the black cloth and easel - the black cloth must be heavily embroidered with protective runes, although tbh vévés may also be appropriate.
posted by elizardbits at 11:15 AM on June 5, 2012

Right before I got married, my dad had broken off the first relationship he'd had since my mom died. The woman in question heard about my engagement and sent us a sketch she'd done: a still life of camellias that was done in neon pastels, and sent framed in a gilded monstrosity with, I kid you not, four mats. It included a note about how she'd always think of me as a daughter, though I'd spoken to her only once, and she called twice to find out where we'd hung it, and could we send a picture.. We burned it in the back yard.

And it was a freakin' still life, not the cursed artifact you've received. (CREEPY cursed artifact.) I vote for burning.
posted by catlet at 11:16 AM on June 5, 2012

What TWinbrook8 said. And, yikes! I seriously would not want to have that in my house. Although I am thinking of making it my FB profile pic.
posted by cyndigo at 11:17 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

Okay, okay, okay - that thing is nightmarish.

Burn it immediately and if she asks about it just say you are still trying to decide where to hang it (I am assuming you don't have a room dedicated to EVIL in your house).
posted by Julnyes at 11:18 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Huh. That was not what I was expecting. I do feel itchy all of a sudden.

That piece gives me the impression that your friend believes herself to be a very artistic and deep person. The fact that she'd think it an appropriate gift implies that her self-judgment is not very good. In other words, her feelings could get hurt very easily.

I would not do anything deceptive, like only displaying it when she comes over. I'd be gentle but honest: "Friend, this is a lovely gift you've made for us, and we both think it's so sweet of you to give us something so personal. But it just doesn't fit in with the aesthetic of our home. Could you maybe donate it to the coffee shop up the street that we all frequent, so that more people can enjoy it?"
posted by jbickers at 11:18 AM on June 5, 2012 [11 favorites]

Do not mistake TWinbrooke8's comment as art criticism. It is a suggestion.

But really, jbickers has it. It does look like an earnest effort.
posted by vitabellosi at 11:20 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh. My. That is . . . unfortunate?

From my experience, in the wake of a wedding there are so much going on and so many different gifts that you don't get around to using or displaying or whatever all of them for a while. If ever. I know we still have some decorative items mouldering in their original boxes somewhere in the basement 6 years after our wedding. If your friend is considerate, she will never ask what happened to it or where you put it. Don't feel guilty about it. Let it moulder in a box somewhere unaccessible for a polite period of time, then dispose of as you see fit.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:24 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh my god, yes, that's atrocious. I actually put my hands over my face and laughed.

You can't say it was broken and you were so sad because she'll just give you another one. You can't donate it or give it back because it's probably valueless and even the artist doesn't want it. I recommend displaying it next time she comes over, then throwing it away. If she asks (who would ask!? Well, this person is a little crazy, so) say your aunt came to visit and fell in love with it, and it perfectly matched her new living room decor, so you loaned the thing to her. You didn't give it (or you risk a replacement), you loaned it.

If, by some wild chance, she needs it for a show or something and asks to borrow the piece back, that's when you can tell her that it tragically fell off your aunt's wall and your aunt's dog tragically ate it. I don't usually advocate flat out lying, but I think people should always be allowed to create horrifyingly bad art in obscurity without shame, so let's spare your friend's feelings this once.
posted by milk white peacock at 11:29 AM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

Wow. I expected way more "painting of the gaping maw of hell" than that! I actually think she's kind of...cute? You should name her Ernestine and hang her up in your foyer where she can guard the house from evil spirits. ERNESTINE SAYS THOU SHALT NOT PASS, EVIL-DOERS!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:32 AM on June 5, 2012 [14 favorites]

The only other idea that comes to mind is to put it up in some very out of the way place - like on a tree out in the backwoods of a cottage, if you have, or know of, one. Maybe in a garage? Then you could honestly say that you found a perfect place for it...
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 11:34 AM on June 5, 2012

I have a little game with my boyfriend, in which we hide a tiny kewpie doll head so the other finds it. Sometimes I'll find it in my pencil and then I'll hide it in his desk drawer. I'd do the same thing with this mask, but I'm a little mean.

I also thought of putting it in a garage or closet that needs extra vermin or theft protection.
posted by clearlydemon at 11:37 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

First off, the progression of your tags for this question is hilarious.

As to your question: the vaguely oceanic theme of that makes me think it will bring the curses of Poseidon down upon you, so uh, get rid of it. Especially get rid of it if you live near the ocean. I think elizardbits' idea of turning it into a hilariously creepy chain letter art piece has great merit, but that is perhaps more effort than you want to go to, in which case you should perhaps just salt and burn it, then toss the ashes into the ocean. (Is that environmentally sound or legal? Consult your local ordinances.)

A slightly more boring suggestion: are you or anyone you know planning on renting out a vacation cottage or something in the near future? Judging by the vacation rentals I've been in over the years, one more piece of terrible art will go unnoticed. If the rental owner/agency ever contacts you about trying to return it, feign ignorance.
posted by yasaman at 11:39 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

That is really, really disturbing, and now I know what's hosting tonight's nightmares.

If someone made that especially for me, I would wonder what the hell they thought of me that I would want that terrifying thing in my house for even a second, its eyes staring blankly into my soul and summoning the IA IA CTHULHU FHTAGN

posted by Sidhedevil at 11:45 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hang it in a room that you are planning on redecorating VERY SOON. Done.
posted by Liesl at 11:49 AM on June 5, 2012

Hahahahahaha! That thing is hilarious! This is to be savoured as a halloween prop, yes indeed. Some judiciously placed lights, oh yes, scareded little kids, come back! You forgot your candy!
posted by LN at 11:50 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm with Snarl - I am a fraidycat and was expecting to regret looking at the pic to the point where I'd have to leave lights on tonight, but I think it's merely a) not good art and b) not in the best taste for a wedding gift, to put it mildly.

Donate it quietly; if friend asks, say that you didn't think it fit the decor of your home, as suggested above. I'm not much for little white lies in these circumstances, especially when said lies could encourage friend to craft a replacement. I think friend has some issues where relationships and marriage are concerned, but that's her problem, not yours.
posted by Currer Belfry at 11:51 AM on June 5, 2012

The problem with getting rid of it (fire, water, trash etc) is that it will reappear just when you think you're safe. So you may be stuck with it FOREVER. I have a small fruit cake that my brother in law and I trade back and forth every christmas - so in that same way, maybe you can find someone who will host it for you every other year.
posted by jvilter at 11:53 AM on June 5, 2012

I really kind of like that.

My suggestion was going to be, display it prominently when you host a cocktail party to which the giver is invited. Don't comment on the painting and when everyone else does, sit back and enjoy. But now I honestly think some people might admire it.
posted by BibiRose at 11:55 AM on June 5, 2012

1) Breakable. My great (I think)-grandfather, when he was young, and his sister, took advantage of the temporary absence of their parents to use a plaster statue called Rinaldo Rinaldini and his female companion, who both lived on the mantlepiece, for shooting exercises with an air pistol of sorts. The things were brown-skinned as an outcome of late-19th-c. ideas about people with funny names, and hence got white pimples wherever the shooting was most successful.
These were then professionally patched with shoe polish (brown), but eventually nevertheless detected by my great-great-youknow, who summoned said shooter and his sister to the Study for a reproachful interview. During which interview it transpired that Rinaldo and Rinalda were overdue anyway, and would the kids not please bring them down to the communal dustbin. And Yes, they were allowed to "take the hammer along."
So there's that. An accident may happen to Gauze-Patched Voodoo Face and nobody would have to know about the news.

2) The Curse. Yes, in view of this beauty, I am inclined to agree with The Dutchwoman and assume that this is meant to throw some venom in an otherwise lovely relationship. Do something about it. Crush the thing in an elaborately developed ritual. Spread the shards in the sea.

3) Before you have a chance to destroy the thing in a controlled action, you can deal with it like one does with Harry Potter's Boggart: make it ridiculous. Put a cigar in its eye socket, a nappy in its mouth (too tiny for a used retainer, sadly), add an eye-patch, no matter, do something about it.

I wish both of you well.
posted by Namlit at 11:56 AM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

I was expecting Cthulhu-level nightmarish art, but the ... thing? ... is just bad art. It looks like a child went crazy with a fourth grade art mask assignment. A mask with a bunch of shiny things on it, and extra large nostrils.

It's ugly. Get rid of it, or keep it. I don't know why there are suggestions to donate it - what, to the Salvation Army? They'll just toss it, it's not even worth $1. The Salvation Army doesn't sell fourth grade art projects.
posted by Xere at 11:57 AM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

You know what? I don't recall anyone ever asking us about their wedding gifts to us. Like, ever. I think newlyweds worry way more about wedding presents than the givers do.
posted by endless_forms at 11:57 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

That looks like an 8th-grade life-mask project.

We have one of these sorts of pieces of art, that is super-ugly and somewhat horrifying (and in our case, 3 feet by 4 feet unframed!) but, for reasons, cannot be given back to the artist. It is in our basement in its shipping box. Someday it will go to Goodwill. We are never going to display it.

Look, giving someone else art without their consent is a little bit like giving someone a puppy without their consent. What art you display in your home is a deeply personal choice and even for art that's NOT objectively ugly or horrifying, the giver should check first. When it's something that clearly appeals to a limited subset of people you have got to carefully see if the recipients want it!

I don't feel bad about not displaying ours because who sends someone a 12-square-foot art piece without asking first, even if you know they love it? That is a gigantic object. If the artist ever asks, I will simply say, "We have nowhere to display it."

In summary: Surprise art gifts are almost always rude and you don't owe the giver anything. Your artist ... is not good. I keep looking at it and being like, "whut." There is definitely an occult fascination to its ugliness.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:03 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Get yourself one of these and then store that inside one of these and then put it inside an appropriately sized Ziploc. Hopefully that will contain all emanations. Maybe discuss with coldchef on a suitable box to store all that in.

And then put it in the far corner of your basement.

If you ever have guests who overstay their welcome, you know what you need to do.
posted by Runes at 12:04 PM on June 5, 2012

This probably wont work for yours because the possibility of your friend seeing it but I have a grotesque mask (not as bad as that one, hoo boy) set face up into a blob of concrete as a stepping stone in my garden. It's actually pretty amusing to watch people walking along the path go to great lengths to avoid stepping on its face, except for children who invariably gleefully stomp the living crap out of it.

I think in your shoes, I'd discretely get rid of it in a way that ensures it will never appear again and if friend ever asks about it, say whichever you can more convincingly pull off with a straight face: a) it suffered a tragic fall and you've been too embarrassed to mention it, or b) Great Aunt Edna who lives on the other side of the country raved about it so much during her visit that you felt you had to give it to her as the dear soul collects art such as this.
posted by jamaro at 12:05 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

Whoa. That is...terrifying. I can't stop looking.

It doesn't look as though it's inflammable, so I suppose killing it with fire is out.

I'd hang it in my foyer like a gargoyle.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 12:06 PM on June 5, 2012

oh, PS -- this is the second time this person has sent us a Surprise Art Gift, and the first one (not really to my taste, but smallish and not so bad) we displayed, which I feel like may have encouraged the second one. DON'T ENCOURAGE by displaying.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:06 PM on June 5, 2012

Do you have a yard? Could you give it a quick spray with some clear waterproofing and hang it on a tree or the back of the shed?

Maybe you recently moved and it got lost in said move?
posted by empatterson at 12:09 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

As a joke, a group of my friends gave a couple second-hand hideous masks as a wedding present to a friend of ours. Beautifully wrapped. With no card saying who it was from . . .

He obsessed about those masks, who gave them to him, and what to to with them for years.

We got many, many laughs over the whole thing before someone finally cracked and spilled the beans.

Anyways, seconding endless-forms. No one asks. Don't worry about it.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:10 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

Although leaving it exposed to the elements to see how it fares could also be an interesting experiment...
posted by empatterson at 12:10 PM on June 5, 2012

It looks like it would be a great alien villain for an episode of Doctor Who!

Is there a local art show where you can donate pieces for a good cause? Donate it (or just say you did) and if your friend ever asks about it let them know that you wanted to share their work and support your pet cause.
posted by MsMolly at 12:12 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here's another idea: take it along to an antique mall and drop it silently among the exhibits of someone who's asking too much money for their things. Walk away.
posted by Namlit at 12:15 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

Can't agree with the no one asks - we were given something even more hideous (not posting a pic, nope) by a close family member. It kind of got put up sort of behind a cabinet and over time slid further and further behind said cabinet (on a plate rail) but they kept asking every time they visited. I played dumb. Of course our hideous mathom wasn't terribly breakable - yours looks like you need to hang it and have a tragic accident shattering it into a bazillion pieces. But don't express too much regret or your friend will make another one. oy.
posted by leslies at 12:28 PM on June 5, 2012

I clicked on the picture and spontaneously said, "OH MY GOD." You can't hang that in your home. It will eat your soul. I like the idea of putting it with your Halloween decorations, though. 'Cause DAMN.
posted by Aquifer at 12:29 PM on June 5, 2012

Huh. Seeing the picture doesn't change my original answer, but I don't find it disturbing per se. Just badly executed. To me the sea glass and the blue-green ceramic and the bit of (fishing?)netting with (sea?)weed in it all suggest ocean. Would there be some sort of reason for the gifter to want to give you an ocean-y gift?
posted by Wretch729 at 12:30 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Good lord.

If you have to put it up, it looks like the sort of thing that would go nicely high up on the wall of a guest bathroom, but it's pretty creepy.
posted by leahwrenn at 12:38 PM on June 5, 2012

Wait, a couple of people on here actually said they liked it... so send it to the MeFite who most admires it (perhaps after a minor display period in your home). Then do the "I loaned it to a dear friend who just adored it" if she asks.
posted by DoubleLune at 12:39 PM on June 5, 2012 [9 favorites]

Giles: Unbelievable...[as Joyce] do you like my mask? isn't it pretty? it raises the dead!" Americans!
posted by PussKillian at 12:39 PM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

After seeing the pic, that's no de Kooning. So: not even a chance of hideous-scary-but-"genuine"-good. Also looks rather amatuer-hour. So, don't worry about giving it back, just say thanks and put it in your next Goodwill donate pile. If the artist asks, defer and deflect.
posted by mmmcmmm at 12:44 PM on June 5, 2012

That mask is what spare bathrooms that you don't use were made for. Or whatever spare room that doesn't really get heavily used in ordinary life, but "oh, we have to do something with this room", so it just sort of becomes this spare room that once in a while stuff happens in.

Hang it in a corner of that room - not prominently, just sort of on the side between a couple bookcases or something, or between a couple things if it's a spare bathroom -- and leave it. (If you're still worried about what guests may think of your taste, then turn that whole room into a sort of Shrine Of Kitsch, with cheesy tin signs and neon curtains and stuff.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:44 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Folks, I know it's kind of easy lulz but maybe stick to answering the question and skipping the sillier commentary?
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:02 PM on June 5, 2012

well if you've got friends with the right sort of sense of humor you can do a more 'local' chain mail.

with a particular group of my friends we've had 2 rather horrific...items...we've 'passed around' for years. the key is to sneak it into someone's house at a time when they cannot be sure from whom its come (ie party) and HIDE IT somewhere, so they'll come upon it weeks or months later, be traumatized, laugh, then bide their time before 'regifting' it...

otherwise I think the vacation house donation is best idea. future visitors will spend many amusing hours pondering 'WTF????????????????'
posted by supermedusa at 1:09 PM on June 5, 2012

Best answer: Ask the Dutchwoman to brag to the artist over the next several weeks about how good the sex has been since you married. She must refuse to give any details, except after a while she may confide that, "I was a little creeped out when he suggested wearing the mask... you know... during... I figured it was a harmless kink, and he'd get bored when he saw how turned off I was. But my God... he was unbelievable! And the next day, even more so. I couldn't get enough of him! I know it's unnatural, but that mask makes it better."

Set up lunch with said friend and meet at a public place after pulling a couple of back-to-back all-nighters. Don't shave. Make sure to look like you have one foot in the grave. Beg her to take the mask back. Tell her it's killing you....

Or wrap it up and stash it until you "lose" it in a future move. If the artist friend asks, just explain that its colors and mood did not fit with the decor in any of your rooms.
posted by Hylas at 1:20 PM on June 5, 2012 [8 favorites]

What's that you say? You thought it was garden art and hung it on your fence and it got ruined by the rain? Oh, how sad.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:43 PM on June 5, 2012 [7 favorites]

This sounds like the start of a horror movie.
Most of our possessions are only mundane ordinary things. This is much more... interesting! Continue to build that mystique. Don't wrap it in kitchen foil, put it in a solid chest with a huge iron lock. Take a blurry, dark, creepy polaroid of it first, tape the key to the back of the photo with "NEVER USE THE KEY!" scrawled across it. Leave it somewhere out of the way where you can forget about it (but where observant guests might notice it.)

basically, make this Grave And Macabre Responsibility into a shared art project between the two of you, something that brings you together and gives you stories to tell and memories to hold and fun and laughter and grave discussions with Serious-Face scheming. And thus The Thing In The Attic becomes part of what builds your marriage, and if kids enter the equation... the fuel of imagination and a legacy for future generations :)
posted by -harlequin- at 2:09 PM on June 5, 2012

Best answer: On the "creative uses for slightly creepy mask" front you could hang it in a tree so that it is "just" barely visible facing the kitchen window of a particularly troublesome neighbour!

On a more helpful note, if you think she will ask about it or look for it next time she is at your house than I would maybe hang it in a guest bedroom/bathroom that you seldom enter. My wife's mother is an 'artist' and we have several pieces that we only subject stayover guests to!
posted by Beacon Inbound at 2:14 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

why is that image still haunting me??? i can understand your predicament. holy crap.
posted by mlo at 2:16 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

(Or to less obliquely answer the question, would the artist appreciate hearing "We've built a custom container to carefully store your work, because it's got to look both ancient and perfect when we use it to scare the kids. If we have kids.")
posted by -harlequin- at 2:17 PM on June 5, 2012

The serpentine net thingy... does it have some sort of plant life growing out of it? To look like, snakey or wormy or something?

Seriously? o_O

"Thank you, but we can't accept this. It will scare our future children."
posted by thrasher at 2:21 PM on June 5, 2012

Hahah, aw, I don't think it looks horrible in a scary way, just amateurish. I would never give that as a wedding gift (in lieu of an ACTUAL gift, anyway). Toss it.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 2:26 PM on June 5, 2012

Having seen it, I would say sprinkle it with Holy Water, stab it with a wooden stake, smudge with sage and incense, shoot it with a silver bullet and bury it in unhallowed ground at midnight. Or just put it in the trash securely wrapped. Very creepy, but I hate masks anyhow, would not have one in the house no matter how good and this one isn't.
posted by mermayd at 2:41 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow. That is truly hideous. I would just throw it out and tell her it broke while you were rotating art in the house. If she asks -- but I can't imagine she would. Wow. That's beyond ugly.

Oh! I have another idea! You could donate it to the Museum of Bad Art! That way people in the know who are near Boston will be able to enjoy it.

Seriously though, I would just smash that melted blue face into dust and then burn it. It is beyond gross.
posted by ohyouknow at 2:44 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We can see who on this thread has a mask phobia and who doesn't. Count me in for Team Mask Phobia and also clowns and puppets. Uncanny Valley, population That Thing.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:49 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I agree with those who are suggesting guest/vacation house, but with one caveat - you don't actually hang it in the other house! You don't even have to have another house. Just as long as you have some other location (lake house, cottage, mother in law's house, treehouse, whatever) you can tell her it's hanging in, that this person is never going to see, you can forget your worries and toss it on the rubbish heap (or probably better to burn it, to lift the curse/ensure it doesn't resurface somewhere).

"Such a whimsical piece, it was perfect for our beach cottage!" "I didn't know you had a beach cottage" "Yes, well, it actually belongs to my aunt's sister in law but she lets us use it"
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:50 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

That's it, then. "Sorry, but I had to give it away, because I have a mask phobia."

[Didn't anyone recognize that smile? The mirror. In Snow White.]
posted by Namlit at 3:22 PM on June 5, 2012

Wow. It looks like it could fly.
posted by phoebus at 3:30 PM on June 5, 2012

The World Famous gave me a great idea. I participate in a hideous White Elephant exchange with good friends every year. This would be perfect! I will buy it from you and pay for shipping (I am being serious, so memail me if you are willing to box it up and ship it). My one caveat is that we have a 10 dollar limit so in order to play by the rules, that is the most I can pay.

You can tell the "artist" that someone fell in love with it (omit that my love is for its hideousness) and you needed the money (anyone needs money more than this thing) so you sold it. All true!!
posted by murrey at 3:31 PM on June 5, 2012 [8 favorites]

When I was 5, I got My Own Room. I was absolutely thrilled, until I actually spent the night in there and realized the masks of Tragedy and Crazy stared down at me all night, every night. Leaving them behind was the best part of getting a new room when I was 12. Do yourselves and all your guests a favor and sell it to murrey. And mercy on whomever is in the white elephant swap this year.
posted by notashroom at 4:37 PM on June 5, 2012

Then again, why should some stranger get this? Keep it in the family and send it out for Secret Quonsar.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:55 PM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

Yep. Ernestine. She needs a fancy hat.
posted by beandip at 7:25 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a friend who is organizing a Halloween Fright House for his church who might appreciate this kind of thing. . . . even better, it's a Catholic Church so there would be priest near by in case any exorcisms are needed.
posted by jaimystery at 8:18 PM on June 5, 2012

I have relatives who once had an alligator skull hanging over the toilet, wearing a pair of 80s neon plastic shades. So... bathroom? (I'm only half kidding.)
posted by divisjm at 9:19 AM on June 6, 2012

Oh my god. I clicked on your link expected something moderately ugly, and actually burst out an audible "Wow!" in my office at work. You're right, that thing should be burnt in the fires of hell. Just sent a thank-you note and destroy it so it can't haunt you. If she happens to ask after it (which would be completely tacky and tasteless), change the subject immediately.
posted by booknerd at 9:28 AM on June 6, 2012

Googly eyes made out of ping pong balls.
posted by beandip at 9:37 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Am I the only one who saw a kind, smiling sea-spirit, protector of fishermen, kind to the spirits of the drowned, decorated with sparkling, soft-edged sea-glass? I too was expecting as masturbating C'thulhu or something. That mask was actually kinda pleasant.

I mean, The Ocean is a huge, cold, unfeeling thing that will swat you like a fly and drop you into the dark depths and not even notice. Friendly spirits down below to receive a water-logged monkey actually seem kind of appealing.

But then, I grew up at the beach.

I vote either return it in person with a smile and chuckle saying "Thank you, but we actually find it kinda disturbing and wouldn't want to just put it away in a closet" or "OOPS-CRASH-Ain't Gravity a bizzle?".
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:39 AM on June 6, 2012

Hide that thing in the fridge as a nice surprise for your wife. Maybe in a covered casserole dish.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:48 PM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

White elephant re-gift!
posted by nicebookrack at 11:56 AM on June 10, 2012

I have to agree on how it looks to be incredibly fragile and ripe for having an accident while dusting it. However, you will have to make it exceedingly clear that it broke into thousands of shards and could NOT POSSIBLY be glued back together.

Although, the replacement gift might be worse...
posted by thatone at 8:46 PM on June 10, 2012

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