Kitsch. It’s been around (officially, at least), since the 1800s. And, while most people couldn’t define it even if they were on JEOPARDY!, you all know it when you see it. The hula girl on your buddy’s dashboard. The Kit-Cat Klock with the swinging tail and shifting eyeballs in your grandma’s kitchen. The screaming-yellow corded phone with the handset in the shape of a banana.
Yep, that’s it, all right. Some call it pop art. Some call it novelty décor. Some folks , well, some folks call it tacky. But deep down, there’s something neat about kitsch for all of us. We might not be open about it, or sporting a pink pig candle with a wick protruding from its snout on our glass etegere, but c’mon, who doesn’t crack a smile whenever they spot the Elvis wall clock with the swinging legs at a friend’s house?
The nice thing about kitsch this time of year is, a lot of it makes for good stocking stuffers, or gag gifts you can take to the office Christmas par
ty for the annual grab bag. The salt and pepper shakers that look like gas pumps? Oh, heck yeah. Wind up chattering teeth? Those’ve been around since the ’50s and they’re still around today. The winter cottage that has a handle and spout molded into it for pouring creamer or milk? Has anybody not seen one of those in their lives?
There’s always somebody on your list who could use an affirmation ball, isn’t there? Or a holiday party where the hosts don’t want you to bring a bottle or dessert. The answer to that conundrum? Kitsch. Usually, the more outrageous, the better. The 3-D cow refridgerator magnet that moos loudlywhenever you open the door. The serving dish that looks like it’s been dropped a thousand times that says, “I’m for chips” around the edge.
Kitsch may not be looked on favorably by the art community, but who cares about those snobs? (joking) And sure, you won’t find kitsch on the block at Sotheby’s, but somebody with a little creativityand usually a sense of humor spent some time on it. It’s fun, after all, and what better time of year for a little goofy fun than the holidays?