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Shoes, 1888, Vincent van Gogh

Eat your heart out Manolo Blahnik! These shoes by Van Gogh are truly beautiful.

“What’s wrong?” Helmick asked.

“We can’t release the pictures to you without a copyright release form signed by the photographer,” the clerk replied, according to Helmick.

The clerk said the photos looked like a professional had taken them, Helmick said. And no matter how much Helmick protested that she, an amateur, had snapped the shots of her son, she said the clerk wouldn’t budge.

Helmick didn’t have a copyright release with her, so she offered to write a note stating that she had taken the photos. She said Wal-Mart refused even that.

Has the world become so very litigation-happy that Wal-Mart is willing to follow such insulting and discriminatory practices?
This story by Kathryn Balint found on boing boing earlier this week didn’t come as a complete shock to me. Several years ago I remember speaking to a nationally acclaimed (albeit struggling) artist who had tried to save a few dollars by having studies for paintings printed at Wal-Mart. The photography was in good taste, and the painter extremely well known and respected, but Wal-Mart refused to process his semi-nude imagery.

But now they have gone too far. As an artist I’m all for protecting copyright, but Wal-Mart has crossed the line of good sense and reason. If judges in court are finding it difficult to determine what constitutes art, then why is someone behind a counter in Wal-Mart expected to pass judgement on your nanny’s picture?

In a visual age many amateurs have become more proficient than seasoned photographers, and art is as always subjective. To my mind this arbitrary policy discrimates against amateurs and professionals alike.

Conor in Pram

I would say that Conor is my latest and greatest masterpiece, but that would be taking too much credit for this little miracle. It’s hard to believe he’s almost a year old already. Conor is also the reason that I’ve put dozens of oil paintings in progress into storage, and have started working in egg tempera. He has bought so many changes into our lives, but I have absolutely no regrets. Every day brings more beauty into my world, and that’s all that an artist could ever hope for.