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These face masks are a work of (bad) art

Fans of the Museum of Bad Art can now cover their faces with a misbegotten masterpiece

Museum of Bad Art's Michael Frank models a "Lucy in the Field With Flowers" face mask.
Museum of Bad Art's Michael Frank models a "Lucy in the Field With Flowers" face mask.Michael Frank

Somerville’s Museum of Bad Art just wants you to stay safe. The celebrated collection of weird, wacky, and just plain bad art is off-limits to the public at the moment, but renderings of two popular pieces can be now found on face masks created for socially distanced supporters.

Curator-in-chief Michael Frank says he designed masks featuring the artworks “Lucy in the Field With Flowers” and “Pablo Presley” after he consulted the museum’s Facebook page. Each face mask can be ordered via email and costs $20 plus shipping.

“Lucy in the Field With Flowers” holds a special place in MOBA history, says Frank. Antiques dealer Scott Wilson spotted the abandoned oil painting in a pile of trash on the side of the road in the early ’90s. While his original plan was to salvage the ornate frame for another use, the unusual (OK, really bad) artwork grabbed the attention of friends, and the idea for the museum was born. The painting’s artist has yet to be identified, but a woman has since come forward claiming to be the granddaughter of “Lucy.”

The origins of “Pablo Presley” are a little less mysterious. Bonnie Daly painted the Elvis-ish piece, and it was chosen as a longtime fan favorite. “They’re both strong images that people recognize,” Frank says.

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MOBA does not have plans to reopen to the public yet, but Frank has kept bad-art lovers in the loop with video “Curator Talks,” where he discusses such works as “Ferret in a Brothel” and “Mana Lisa.” He hopes to resume the chats later this summer or fall. Previous talks and selections from the museum’s collection can be viewed on its Facebook page.

To order a “Lucy” or “Pablo” MOBA mask, email MOBA@MuseumOfBadArt.org.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the location of the Museum of Bad Art. The museum no longer occupies the basement of the Somerville Theatre and is in the process of looking for a new home.

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