Human Self-Transformation, Part 2
Thus begins the real-life fairy tale of diminuative trucker, hard-drinkin' and hard-cussin' grandma, and all-around poet and personality Teri Horton, who discovers what she thinks is an original Jackson Pollock in a thrift store and begins a crusade to get the art world to acknowledge her find in the documentary, "Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?"
(The British, love them, list the unabridged title, "Who the Fuck Is Jackson Pollock?")
As Teri's quest moves from honest persuasion (which is arrogantly dismissed by the infuriatingly conceited former curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art), to her attempts to create a provenance, or history, of the painting ("That's just shameless, Teri! Shameless!" gasps the director in obvious admiration as Teri giggles, quite pleased with her creativity - man, the story she comes up with is itself worth seeing this film for), to forensic science, you realize that these two worlds, Teri's hardscrabble, blue-collar, bohemian life, versus the pretentiousness and claustrophobia that has come to dominate the upper echelons of the art world, comprise a false dichotomy that is long overdue for a good smashing.
I believe Teri - I am convinced that she's got her hands on a genuine Pollock - but that's hardly the point of this film. She and Pollock are so alike in personality and in their private pain that it belies her supposed disdain for this "ugly" painting that she found. Despite what she says she saw something in that canvas that made her buy it and lug it around in her truck - and moreover, Teri is an artist herself, a dumpster-diver and bargain hunter, a storyteller and spontaneous comedian, a poet in the tradition of Andre Breton and Henry Miller, people who have really lived, whereas the art world, as with the writing world, has been invaded by cloistered, self-protective snobs.
But even so, it doesn't matter if the painting is a Pollock, for it's beautiful in its own right - as is Teri and her dream. Gauche, wise-cracking, foul-mouthed, and stubborn as a mule - sometimes to her own detriment - this beauty and her beast are on an adventure that raises questions about who owns art, who decides what art is, and who interprets art for whom. Art is supposed to be a process, after all; and after one sits through the tedious arguments by self-appointed "experts" harping on why all the Pollocks have been found, that there are no new Pollocks to be found, certainly not in (horrors!) thrift stories (oh goodness, no, the man simply shrugged off paintings, threw them in dumpsters, and handed them out like Halloween candy when his wife wasn't misplacing them!), and all of this filmed just weeks before a Pollock was found on the back of a sign advertising cars for sale, one is struck by how little these wheezebags embody the curiosity and passion that characterize an artist. It is Teri who is the masterpiece - a funny, eccentric, self-made, hard-boiled old character constantly growing and changing, and dancing in her dream of which those stuffed-shirt old art scholars maintain but a dim memory. Are they jealous of her? Afraid of her? Would it kill them to enter her world, as she has theirs, knock back a beer and let out an oath or two, and learn to live as, well, as artists do?