Scott Omelianuk leans on a baluster with framed artwork behind him, a new acquisition is inset at bottom right
Photo: Michael Lewis
Shown: the editor in his gallery hallway
June 2012

I'd just sat down on the sofa after a long week to watch the game when my wife said, "Let's go to the auction." It was for the local historical society, one of those silent jobs, and she was looking forward to scoring something for our underfurnished house while kicking a bit into the charity kitty. Not as pleasantly antisocial as watching the Yankees from the couch, I thought, but a good cause; I pulled my suit jacket back on, and off we went.

Now, my wife and I tend to enjoy each other's company, and we can be regular partners in crime once we've had a cocktail or two, which, this being a social occasion, we had. And that's when she saw them: four hand-painted Spanish-language anatomy posters, like you'd find in a med-school lecture hall. In Spain. "They're freaking awesome," she said, and immediately put in a bid.

I feel I should explain: My wife was a graphic designer before entering the health-care profession and so has a less traditional sensibility when it comes to artwork and decorating, particularly when the two fields merge. Between the subject matter and what even I have to admit were beautifully rendered bulbos olfatorios, she was in heaven.

For the rest of the auction she pretended to look interested in other things—the better to draw opponents away—while I did my best to menace potential competition. It must have worked. Or, alternately, the rest of the crowd was saner, because no one else even bid. When the bell rang, they were ours for a grand total of eleven bucks.

We crowed about the deal the rest of the night and right into the next day, when we took them to the frame shop. In fact, we crowed so much that we never asked what the oversize frames—nearly 3 by 4 feet—would cost. Which is why we were so shocked when we picked them up and the framer presented a bill for $2,000. I asked my wife if she could read the heart poster because it felt like mi corazon had stopped.

Anyway, we got smart after that, started cutting our own mats and buying less expensive frames; the ones in the picture above are from IKEA. Our taste hasn't become any less offbeat, though. The art behind me: vintage Sears, Roebuck and Co. rifle targets bought on eBay for a buck apiece. We call it our shooting gallery. Get it? Targets and shooting? Artwork and gallery? Yeah, no one else finds that as funny as I do, either.

P.S.: I almost forgot the point of this letter: Mindful of my own desire to keep a hold on a dollar, we've tried to pack this issue of TOH with money-saving info. In the spirit of the season you'll find the lion's share of ideas in two stories—"Spring Fix-ups" and "39 Budget-wise Ways to Create Outdoor Rooms." And like the art on the walls at my place, I think the affordability of the projects that are showcased has nothing to do with how great they are. They might even be freaking awesome. Let me know if you agree.
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