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Fiction: Not a Fake Pollock

By Gianna Bellofatto Reid
arttimes online July 2016

The 15th annual Faux Pollock Painting competition was anticipated to draw numerous entries and record crowds. Jackson Pollock’s name was now well-known in the mainstream American consciousness. Most notably because of Keri Hurtin’s ongoing battle to prove the painting she purchased at a garage sale was an authentic Pollock and the subsequent film that detailed her plight.

This year the jury boasted Tom Viper, art mogul aficionado; Sir T. Shoving, art historian; Keri Hurtin, and Pedro Paulo Piro, a Mexican forensic scientist whose discovery of a fake Friedo Khalo at the Museo Nacional de Arte brought him international attention. But Piro has since fallen from grace in the art world when he insisted Keri Hurtin’s find was indeed a Pollock.

The rules of the competition were strictly adhered. Artists had to sign an affidavit stating that they painted while standing with a lit cigarette in their mouth, using only paint sticks and enamel paints purchased from any ordinary hardware store. The finished canvas had to be rolled and not framed. The panel’s decision was usually unanimous and final, nor was there ever controversy among the vote. This was in of itself a feat in the art world.

This year’s winner was to receive ten-thousand dollars, plus have his or her painting exhibited with a real Pollock. Much to the consternation of serious abstract artists participants with no artistic inclination entered the competition which caused an overflow of entries and a burden for the judges. One of the wannabes was Arthur Goop who hailed from New York State. When interviewed by local News 12, Arthur said, “If I can paint in the style of Pollock, anyone can.”

The exhibit arrived without a hitch. An aerial view of onlookers dressed in bright summer attire zig-zagged the lawn at the Pollock-Krasner House & Center and made it look as if a Pollock painting had descended on the landscape. Artists, gallery owners and collectors all convened hoping to be discovered or to discover. The weather cooperated with an unusually cool Saturday in August. But despite the extensive publicity and comfortable temperatures, only a small local paper showed to cover the event.

Then, from the far end of the field, a loud gasp was heard above the chatter. Quicker than you could say “Jackson Paul Pollock” helicopter news crews arrived in East Hampton. What could have traveled so swiftly to entice major news networks?

Pedro Paulo Piro had spotted a suspicious blue thumbprint on the back of one the paintings. “This is not a fake Pollock! He shouted and pointed to the thumbprint.

“What!” Sir Shoving said. “Never has anyone entered a faked fake Pollock.”

“Are you saying this is a real Pollock?” Viper questioned. A hush fell over the crowd as they listened to the drama unfold.

“Who did this painting?” Shoving demanded. “It sings like a Pollock, it smells like a Pollock.”

A young woman timidly emerged claiming ownership of the suspect painting.

“Is this really yours?” Keri Hurtin asked incredulously.

“Yes, I did it.”

Tom Viper offered the woman 1 million dollars on the spot for the painting. He said that it was so well done that it almost looked real.

“Well of course, it is real.” Keri Hurtin repeated. “I knew it the moment I saw it. I know my Pollocks.”

“Ah ha!” Shoving said pointing his finger at the young woman. “Can you prove the provenance of this fake Pollock?”

“No, it’s not from Providence. I bought the canvas at a craft store in Wyoming and the paint right here in East Hampton. It’s mine, I swear.” Whispers of “Wyoming” could be heard among the spectators. That clenched it.

“You are disqualified. This is not a genuine fake,” Sir Shoving sniped. “You can’t enter a real Pollock in the Faux Pollock Contest. We’re serious about our fakes.”

“This is not a real Pollock,” the woman insisted.

Pedro Paolo Piro shook his head negatively. “Sorry, this is not a fake.” He repeated.

So where did this unfake Pollock originate and how did this woman come to possess it? A swarm of reporters surrounded her all vying for her story. She was informed of the possible criminal charges for the misrepresentation of a real Pollock as a genuine fake.

She held back her tears. Fortunately a sympathetic stranger whisked her away with the painting. Or was it Tom Viper?

“You can’t fool us. We’re experts.” Shoving reminded the media.

The 15th Faux Pollock Competition concluded as the brouhaha quelled down to a murmur. The winner was Arthur Goop who had proven unequivocally that he could create a fake Pollock. And he holds the dubious distinction of being the last winner of the contest. The Faux Pollock Painting competition has since ceased because there are too many authentic Pollock’s surfacing which make it nearly impossible to distinguish the real fakes.

Gianna Bellofatto Reid lives in New York State and has written The Gold Trotter novels, and Life is a Bike, available on amazon.com