By: Sloane Hughes

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Being Petty Is An Artistic Skill

When it comes to artistry, strong emotions are gasoline on the fire of creativity. Inspiration can come from anywhere, but the most striking and profound works are usually the result of a deep, powerful feeling that just couldn ‘t be contained by the artist. Although emotions like love and heartbreak have been the driving force behind some of the greatest poems, paintings, and pieces of music the world has ever known, there is one feeling in particular that doesn ‘t get the credit it deserves when it comes to inspiring works of art.


Humans aren ‘t perfect. Being spiteful little shits is very much in our nature, and I don ‘t mean that as a bad thing. Since basically the dawn of humanity, our aptitude for dealing with conflicts in backhanded or indirect ways has been the catalyst for some truly magnificent (and thoroughly satisfying) creations.

First, let ‘s go way, way back

Image is public domain;

Nkondi, which were created by the Kongo People from the Congo region in Africa, were intricate idols used to house spirits whose only job was harming others. In order to know who they needed to visit and make suffer, members of the community would drive nails into the statue, alerting the spirit of the intended task.
Basically, you ‘d stick a nail into this representation of what is essentially a spiritual thug, so that it would go fuck up people who wronged you. How fucking beautiful is that.

Fast forward to the Renaissance

Ahhh, the Renaissance. Age of art, philosophy, culture, and next-level clapbacks.

‘The Last Judgement ‘ fresco inside the Sistine Chapel
Corbis via Getty Images

For those of you who aren ‘t familiar with Michelangelo ‘s fresco on the wall inside the Sistine Chapel, your high school history teacher would be so disappointed in you right now, but I ‘ll give you a brief rundown.
So, Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the shiiiiit out of the chapel by the Pope. This particular mural, which covers the entire altar wall, is a depiction of judgement day as it ‘s described in Christianity – heaven up top, hell down below, and all of mankind in the middle being sorted and fired one way or another like envelopes in a mailroom. And because everyone ‘s a fucking critic, there were some complaints about Michelangelo ‘s work from members of the clergy, particularly from Papal Master of Ceremonies, Biagio da Cesena.
In his opinion (which no one fucking asked for), the fact that everyone in the painting was nude was “disgraceful ‘, and he even went so far as to say it was a painting “more suited for taverns and bathhouses

This. Fucking. Bitch.

So, Michelangelo, being a professional, made alterations to the massive painting he had already spent months working on, adding swirling robes and pieces of cloth so as not to offend the sensibilities of this Most Holy Asshat. Oh, and he also painted Biagio de Cesena himself into the mural.


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Michelangelo, you little petty genius.
But wait – it gets better. Obviously upon seeing this, da Cesena immediately complained to his boss, the Pope of the Church of Rome, AKA the most powerful person in Europe, AKA a man who could have someone destroyed by simply giving a few orders. The Pope responded to Biagio by laughing and saying “my jurisdiction does not extend into hell ‘ so there was nothing he could do.


The entire thing is just *Italian chef kissy gesture* bellissimo

And now, here we are in the present day

Ted Pelkey of Vermont has been at war with local officials for over a decade regarding zoning regulations, and recently things came to a head. Pelkey has been trying to relocate his truck repair business from a nearby town to his own property, which would involve building a new garage – a request that was denied at the end of November. The board says they denied his application because it wasn ‘t thorough enough, Pelkey says they denied it because they just don ‘t like him.

It ‘s hard to say who ‘s right, but the incredibly creative way in which Ted Pelkey reacted has me inclined to believe him.

He decided to give the members of the board the finger. Literally.

Images courtesy of Ted Pelkey and Vice News

He spent $4,000 on a wood carving of a hand flipping the bird that measures in at 700 fucking pounds.
This is already a wonderfully petty (and probably deserved) gesture, but he elevated it to a whole other level by placing it on top of a giant pole in his front yard and illuminating it with floodlights.

Day or night, his message is loud and clear.

Image courtesy of Ted Pelkey and Vice News

Spectacularly, not only does this not violate any laws in Vermont, but it ‘s categorized as a work of public art and is protected under the First Amendment.
The team over at Vice News had a chance to discuss more of the details pertaining to this wonderful piece with Ted Pelkey himself.

I hope you ‘ve drawn some inspiration from this little walk through art history, and if there is one thing you should take with you it ‘s this:

Pettiness is truly an art.

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