MADISON, WI—A painting hanging on the wall of Mother Fool's coffee shop in Madison announced Tuesday that it was growing "pretty frigging tired" of the unending stream of smart aleck jokes and insults hurled its way.
The artwork, an unframed 18-by-24-inch portrait of a woman's face painted in red and black acrylics and titled Isabel By Herself, told reporters that after four months of brutally sarcastic remarks from store patrons regarding its composition, color scheme, and sense of perspective, it had reached its limit.
"Look, I know I'm not some sort of brilliant masterpiece, but enough's enough with the wisecracks already," said the picture, which was painted by 24-year-old pharmacist's assistant and amateur artist Caitlin Slovin. "A few jokes here and there is one thing, but after a while, you know, it starts to hurt. I can't help the way I look, and yet people come in here and insist on smugly pointing out my every little flaw. Why don't they just lay off?"
"It's not like I'm that bad," the painting added. "What, do these people think they're in the Metropolitan Museum of Art or something? It's a fucking coffee shop."
Isabel By Herself, which sells for $150 and is currently hanging next to an untitled black-and-white photograph of an old Guatemalan man, has reportedly been called "a piece of shit" by no fewer than 40 customers since it was first placed on the wall in December, and has on dozens of occasions been mocked as "the most clichéd thing ever" and for appearing as though "a retarded eighth-grader made it."
The painting also stated that at least once a week, a patron points at it, laughs, and loudly exclaims to a friend, "A hundred fifty dollars? What, are they fucking nuts?"
"Sometimes I'll even get excited when I hear somebody say something like, 'Check out this classic,' but then I realize they're being sarcastic," the painting said. "I just want to say back to them, 'Hey, you think you can do better? I'd like to see you actually put yourself out there for once and subject yourself to criticism so you can see what it's like, you insensitive prick.'"
While many customers pass through the coffeehouse without even noticing the art on its walls—an occurrence the painting called "still hurtful, but not nearly as bad"—a vocal minority goes out of its way to criticize Isabel By Herself exclusively, with even the baristas making sport of the painting within earshot.
"I've come to expect it from the customers, but the staff?" said the painting, which is situated near the restroom, thereby doubling the amount of attention and exposure it receives. "That's pretty low. I get it: I'm trite; my brushstrokes are unsure; my color scheme is garish; I'm 'the lamest fucking thing ever.' Fine. Fair enough. But at least I don't slave over an espresso machine for $7.25 an hour."
The piece of art went on to suggest that patrons should perhaps try directing their ruthless mockery toward something else in the shop, such as the self-important free weekly newspapers, the flyers on the wall for guitar lessons, or "that terrible Roy Lichtenstein rip-off" hanging above the couches.
If Isabel By Herself is not sold by the end of the month—which the painting said would be "a welcome relief from this bullshit"—it will be replaced by another artwork and returned to its creator. Nonetheless, the picture is determined to weather the storm of insults until the end.
"Sure, you can snicker with your friends about how I make your kid's finger paintings look like Rembrandts and how I evoke the sense of somebody taking a red and black dump on a canvas, but remember, I'm right behind you," the painting said. "I can read every word you type, including that screenplay you've been working on for the past nine months. That's right, asshole. Nice third act, by the way. Very fucking original."