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V13 2010 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 38, September 19, 2010, Article 19

ARTIST USES FOUND CENTS FOR INSPIRATION

Dick Johnson forwarded these thoughts on an artist who uses found coins for inspiration. -Editor

Worthington Lucky Penny Art Worthington Lucky Penny Art

A New York artist attended my auctions when I was selling medals in New York City. He was very selective in the medal he bid on -- it had to have very low relief and a subject which inspired him to create a painting around it. The medal served as the center piece for the total work of art.

Now I learn of another New York artist, Michael Worthington of Brooklyn, who does something similar, but with coins. And only certain coins at that. Only Lincoln cents, and only those he finds on the streets of the city. He picks up each of these, places them in an envelope and writes on the envelope where he found it. The locale is the inspiration for the painting -- not the subject -- which is, of course, only the Brenner Lincoln portrait.

He has, by his count, made 90 paintings. And has hundreds of found pennies in annotated envelopes, ready to paint. He sells his paintings for $200 to $400.

Hey, whatever turns you on. If this story turns you on, click this: www.asylum.com/2010/09/16/lucky-penny-paintings-michael-worthington/ (www.asylum.com/2010/09/16/lucky-penny-paintings-michael-worthington/)

Here are some excerpts from the article. Interesting to note the URL - the name of the publication is Asylum -Editor

"Find a penny, pick it up and all the day you'll have good luck." Sure, you can bend over, grab a dirty, disease-drenched penny and hope something good comes your way (though more likely you'll catch some virus). Or you can be like Michael Worthington and use that penny to create your own luck.

Worthington is a Brooklyn-based artist who uses the one-cent coin as the centerpiece of his "Lucky Penny Paintings" series.

He finds pennies (or as he puts it, "They usually find me") on the ground, and then creates art based on where he picked up the little Lincoln. Sometimes abstract, sometimes representational, the paintings explore different aspects of these locations.

Worthington, who had been working in the entertainment industry, found himself unemployed by the turn of the century. But he became inspired after navigating the streets of New York.

"I'd walk around, amused by all the change I'd see on city streets," Worthington tells Asylum. "A city so wealthy, money dropped was unimportant."

Worthington saw an artistic opportunity that would change his luck. (See what we did there?) His penny paintings now go for $200 to $400 (or 20,000 to 40,000 pennies).

The 4-by-4-inch square blocks symbolize the artistic interpretation of a particular location, while the penny itself sits prominently in the center of the piece. Around the coin are the words "Lucky Penny," as well as a number, which denotes the order by which Worthington found the penny. The date and city Worthington picked up the copperhead is on the side of the block.

Worthington has turned his currency collection into something of a pop-art travel diary. Think Rick Steves by way of Warhol. For Worthington, each "penny becomes a portal."

Wayne Homren, Editor

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