Restroom Galleries, Beware!

Art, column

The current fad of young people taking snaps of themselves in the bathroom continues to puzzle me.

Typically they use their little toy ‘smartphones,’ which generally have a sort of hole at the back, through which they can shoot a dim photo.

What is it about bathrooms that they find so alluring? And what happens to the snaps afterwards? Do these youngsters paste them into a scrapbook or photograph album? Make postcards? They are most unappealing.


I am reminded of my old friend James Hervey Johnson, onetime city tax assessor and papaya fancier in San Diego. For most of his life he snapped a picture of himself nearly every day. Many of these he pasted into a photo album.

I suggested to Hervey that he mount an exhibition of this lifetime cavalcade in one of the new avant-garde galleries in La Jolla or the Gaslamp Quarter, but he couldn’t be bothered.

This is before we had toy phones that could snap pictures. Hervey never photographed himself in a bathroom, I believe.

Author: Ian Stuart Dowdy

Ian Ambrose Stuart Dowdy is a retired portrait painter and knows quite a bit about art. Today he can be found giving art advice on the steps of the Art Students League, or shopping for new brushes across the street at Lee’s.