Back to Attractions

The Seattle Official Bad Art Museum of Art

A surprising Blue Star Museum

The indescribable works displayed at the Seattle Official Bad Art Museum of Art. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

The military loves to use acronyms, and the Seattle Official Bad Art Museum of Art (OBAMA) is no different.  Ironically, the acronym predates the 2008 presidential election. The OBAMA room at the Café Racer, which hosts the museum, is homage to bad art and not our former president.

Café Racer owner Kurt Geissel is no stranger to the arts.  Each Sunday, he fosters musical artists with Racer Sessions. Although Café Racer is a bar, it is also a café, a musical venue and a "museum," and as such, children are welcome.  

"We are family friendly, and we do get kids in the café/museum," Geissel said. "We are also a bar, but we are mellow enough that we've had kids in late. The only time they have to leave is if the music goes past 11 p.m. On Sunday nights, we have the Racer Sessions (look it up; it's world famous), and they start early because we get a lot of high school jazz kids in."

Why bad art? Why not!?

Geissel's friends Marlow Harris and Jo David had a pile of bad art. He wanted them to be involved with the project, so he suggested they do something. This is what they came up with.

"We contacted the Museum of Bad Art in Boston to see if they wanted to partner with us and they were kind of snooty, so we decided to go out on our own," Geissel said. "Obama was about to be elected, so we went with that -- Official Bad Art Museum of Art. And our art is WAY worse than the guys in Boston. Way worse."

The OBAMA is definitely the most unusual museum on the list of Blue Star Museums this year. Geissel received a notice from the National Endowment of the Arts inviting him to participate in the program. He thought it was a great idea.

"I don't know why all museums don't get involved, if for no other reason than there wouldn't be a ‘typical' Blue Star Museum," he said.

Geissel thinks the more benefits for vets, the better. They like veterans at Café Racer, and Geissel has hired three, the most memorable a man who was living on the streets.

"He went from being a grumpy homeless guy to just a grumpy guy," he said. "If anything that Café Racer has done that was good in the world, it's that. Gotten someone off the street."

The bad art is magnificent in its awfulness.  Words just cannot accurately describe how truly terrible it is.  

Geissel is often asked which he thinks is the worst piece.

"I'm not telling. I do tell people that if they pick out the piece which I think is the worst piece, I'll buy them a drink. No one has yet," he said.

Some art is so bad, even the original owners don't want it back.

"We had a family that came in because they saw a piece that their kid did in like the 4th grade on Evening Magazine (a local TV show). Turns out they saw it and decided to come have brunch with it. I told them that they could take it home with them if they pleased. They declined," he added.

Like oil and vinegar, bad art, grumpy vets and high school jazz students don't usually mix. But when you shake it all together, it makes a great vinaigrette. You'll have to judge for yourself if it is family friendly, but I can guarantee you won't forget the experience.

Café Racer and the OBAMA, open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., 5828 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle, 206.329.3795,

Read next close

Online Newspapers

A learned general

comments powered by Disqus