Oyster Cans

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Project Description

Oyster Cans

Over the years, I’ve collected many kinds of antiques, ranging from old decoys, books, and corkscrews, to primitive furniture, stained glass windows, guns, and old advertising. Inevitably, whatever crazy stuff I was obsessed with, most of it ended up as subjects for paintings. I started getting interested in oyster cans back in the late 70’s, when I started doing shows on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, notably the Waterfowl Festival in Easton.

I love the colors and the funky old graphics; many cans are 100 years old or older, and they were common in flea markets and antique shops. It used to be possible to find them in garages, boat houses or storage sheds, often containing rusted nuts and bolts, nails, or dried out paint brushes. Many of these cans were rusty as well. I actually found a few that way! Today, collecting oyster cans is almost a science. There are books featuring collections, listing the availability (and rarity) of certain cans, as well as the monetary values. Some cans sell today (if you can find them) for thousands of dollars, which has not only taken some of the fun out of it, but has also made it pretty expensive for novices to start collections.

My collection is small but colorful, and sits in a row atop my kitchen cabinets. I had used a few of the cans as part of some still-life paintings over the years, but one morning recently when I was having my coffee, I glanced up at the line-up of cans in the kitchen, and thought that some of the more colorful ones might make an interesting painting in a group; lots of color! So here it is. The lettering was tedious, and I realized that my eyes are not as sharp as they once were. (What is?!)

Joe Seme

Original acrylic on panel 135 x 34″ – Framed size 17 x 38″

Giclee print on canvas
13 x 34”
Limited Edition of 300 S/N
$300 each + $25 Shipping

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