From Street Culture to Fine Art, Skateboarder Revives a Famous Artist

Paintings found in a dumpster take the art world by surprise.

From Street Culture to Fine Art, Skateboarder Revives a Famous Artist | Paintings found in a dumpster take the art world by surprise.

A car mechanic turned into an art lover; care of a dumpster! These seemingly incongruous parts weave together into a wonderful tale that has changed the life of one man and revived the once treasured work of a famous American artist.

Back in 2017, car mechanic Jared Whipple of Connecticut was asked by a friend to help clear out an old barn, according to the CBS Sunday Morning video. No one had been in this place for 40 years. Inside, there was a dumpster filled with hundreds of wrapped canvases.

Whipple looked at these abstract expressionist paintings with fascination. The pieces were simply signed ‘F Hines.’ He wanted to find out more and started a deep dive into the art world. Online research pulled up nothing, until Whipple found a piece dated 1961 signed with a full name: Frances Matson Hines.

An art adventure begins
Whipple was bewildered. Why would an artist create all of this work and then pack it away in a dumpster? Upon discovering a book about Hines’ life, he read that Hines was once well known and was the only artist to wrap buildings in New York City. 

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Hines wrapped ten buildings, including the JFK Terminal and the Port Authority bus station, with the most famous being the Washington Square Arch. Wanting to create a war memorial, he and 23 other people wrapped the arch in 8,000 yards (7,315 meters) of fabric to make it look like a giant bandage. 

Hines then retired to his New York studio where he painted every day, loving the process of being creative, reports CBS Sunday Morning. He then trucked all of his pieces to the barn in Connecticut, filling it to the brim. Hines died at the age of 96 in 2016.

And just one year after Hines’ passing, Whipple found this treasure trove. With inspiration, he cleaned the pieces and categorized them, according to the website Whipple dedicated to Hines. “It was gut-wrenching and very upsetting for us to get to see what looked like a lifetime of somebody’s artwork being thrown into dumpsters and heading for the landfill,”  Whipple explained.

Honoring Frances Hines
Wanting to honor the memory of Hines, he went to several New York galleries, asking if they were interested in exhibiting the work. They refused, saying that Hines was unknown. But Whipple did not give up, eventually connecting with art historian Peter Hastings Falk.

Falk saw the work and was very impressed. Teaming together, they arranged for the first exhibit of the work at the Hollis Taggart gallery in Southport, Connecticut. Entitled “Unwrapping the Mystery of New York’s Wrapper,” the exhibit runs until June 11, 2022.

The pieces are on sale from 12,500-20,000 dollars, according to artnet. As agreed upon by Hines’ family, the art now belongs to Whipple, whose life has changed. “I’m an undereducated skateboarding mechanic. I can’t wrap my head around it,” Whipple told CBS Sunday Morning.

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