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The expensive, investment-oriented “Blue Chip” art market uses the emotional concepts of rarity, VIP treatment, exclusivity and celebrity to transform physical artworks, big and small, into billions of dollars- often stripping the artwork itself of its intimate emotional energy.

The “Blue Chipped” public Understudy installation is a response to that concept of “art as rarified investment” – It is a direct-to-public kiosk operated by artist Jonathan Saiz where hundreds of tiny, original oil paintings are displayed for inexpensive sale. The subject matter of the miniature paintings is whimsically random, from portraits of celebrities, micro-reproductions of famous artworks, words, shapes and even abstract brushwork – the only thing they all have in common is the color blue.

The “value” of the works is measured in the expression of trust between the artist and the unseen buyers as the $20 price for each painting is not paid in a normal transactional exchange: The buyer takes the painting with them, and leaves only their handwritten email address – at a later date, the artist sends an email with quick and easy payment options, (including PayPal, Venmo or the option to mail a $20 bill in a birthday card signed “happy birthday, love grandma”).

The real question here is not whether the art holds any inherent physical value but if the trust-based transaction activates the artwork with more emotional energy based on the buyers choice to pay, to conveniently forget or to willfully steal.

The month-long output of paintings will be displayed on Instagram at @bluechipped and the kiosk will be operated by Jonathan Saiz Seven (7) days a week from 10am to 8pm through Christmas Eve.