Saturday, May 21, 2022

When Life Imitates Art

 May 21, 2022

   I'm reading a tragic story of a talented young artist, Mathew Wong, who commited suicide at age 35. He was more or less on top of his game when he jumped off a tall building. These kind of stories always give me pause. How do we know if what we are doing is worth a whit? And, in the end, does it make any difference? Fortunately, I am still suffering under the illusion (or, should that be "delusion") that what I'm doing matters. It's a small blessing, but I'll take it.

When Life Imitates Art

   I recently saw this 1900s beautiful woman and was immediately struck by how much she resembles a Gibson Girl.

Actress Edna Loftus


   You can certainly see where the artist Charles Dana Gibson got his model from.

The Gibson Girl

   Or, did he? In the 1890s, the illustrator, Charles Dana Gibson, created the “Gibson Girl,” a vibrant, new feminine ideal who was the visual embodiment of what writers of the period described as the “New Woman.” So, if Gibson created the Gibson Girl in the 1890s and Edna was born in 1891, she would have been a mere tyke and not the beauty we see here. Perhaps it's more accurate to say she was emulating the Gibson Girl? Life imitating art?

The Queen of Country Swing

   At the same time, it's easy to see where the artist who created Honkytonk Sue got his model from.

BBB's Fave Honkytonk Sue Model

   And here is that beauty today at the foot of my studio stairs, still lighting up a room.

Kathy Sue and Uno In My Studio

   The bottom line is, draw what you see, not what you think you see. Why? Oscar knows. . .

"Life imitates art far more than art imitates life."

—Oscar Wilde

Friday, May 20, 2022

Crazy Chase • Crazy Cover • Crazy Horse

 May 20, 2022

   It's been a crazy chase, but I think we finally have a winner for our Crazy Horse cover in the next issue:

Crazy Horse Cover #2

   To give credit where credit is due, our publisher, Ken Amorosano, suggested we do this second pass at the cover making the case that the first one, below, was a little too fire engine red and he didn't like the arrow going over the masthead, and behind the top head.

Crazy Horse Cover #1

   I did like the lightning bolt in the first layout. And I do miss the arrow which now doesn't appear at all, but either way, both covers are excellent and I think the top one is a tad more Old West photo looking which should work for us on the newsstand.

   Thanks Dan The Man for going the extra mile.

"Heroes have a rough time because they stand up when they ought not to, they speak when they ought not to; they always go the extra mile."

—George Foreman

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Crowning Around!

 May 19, 2022

   Here's a wonderful, old photo (looks really early, maybe early 1850s?) showing Man's Best Friend, but the coolest part of this photo is the crown of that guy's hat.

Tall Crowns & Hounds

Hold on, check this out:

Crowning Around!

   Man, that is one tall crown! How come we never see THAT in a Western? 

Even More High Crowning

Tall Crowns In Clowntown

   These pics are from the Jeff Prechtel collection. He always has cool stuff. Thanks Jeff!

Speaking of Lost Crowns

"It's not show friends. It's show business."

—David Zaslav, the new CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery when told that the box office bomb "Cry Macho" was made because Clint Eastwood had given the studio so many hits and had never delivered a movie late. Zaslav was quoting from "Jerry Maguire" (1996)

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Mud Wrestling With The Past

 May 18, 2022

   Here's something we can all agree on about our history: the only way we can move forward is to own our past. That's not easy but I believe we are a people who have never shunned the heavy lifting. So, let's start with the positive:

Five Things We Can All Agree On

1. If we are truly a great nation, the truth cannot destroy us.

"Yes, my hat is ridiculous but so is your
contorted ideas about state's rights BS."

2. As with all aspects of history, you can make a valid interpretation of both sides of any issue.

"Personally, I prefer red,
not green chile."

3. We are a nation of ridiculous contradictions.

Everyone's equal except
for those guys over there?
What are you cats smokin'?

4. We all suffer from the poor history we have been taught. I love history and I did not enjoy the history I was taught in school. Mostly names and dates (The Missouri Compromise, 18-and-whatever!) that did not add up to anything meaningful to me.

"Oh, really?"

"You ungrateful Kingman twit."
The late, great, Fay Logsdon, a wonderful teacher at Mohave County Union High School, and who would, no doubt, remind me that I was a horrible student who talked all the time in class and might have at least learned the date of the Missouri Compromise (1820), since she covered it more than once for my benefit.

5. Most of us are guilty of a "glorious forgetting."

"My family could do no wrong."

   So, how do we move forward? We simply own our past, tell the truth and get on with the business of seeking liberty for everyone who is trying.

Daily Whip Out:

"Las Tules, Someone Who Is Trying"

"Offering our students a history that shakes them out of complacency while inspiring hope for a better future—what could be more useful than that?"

—Emily Sclafani, a history teacher in the Bronx, New York

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Calafia Is The Queen of California

 May 17, 2022

   Back to the Real Women of the Wild West. Or, at least back to a legendary woman who led to the real name of the golden state.

Daily Whip Out:

"Calafia In The Mists of Baja"

(Cortez Spies The Golden Girl

On The Golden Shore)

  Calafia was a character in "Las Sergas de Esplandián," an early 16th-century romantic adventure novel written by Spanish author Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. In the book Calafia is described as a Black warrior queen who ruled a mythical island which was inhabited only by Black women who lived like amazon warriors. Calafia allegedly wore armor made of fish bones, used weapons made of gold. None other than Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés, a fan of romance novels, allegedly named the state of California for the Amazon queen.

   Way back in 2019 when Kathy and I were in San Francisco, I took a special trip downtown to view an early portrayal of this legendary women created by one of my painting heroes.

A mural panel of Calafia in the
Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco

    According to scholar Don Hagerty, this is Maynard Dixon's depiction of Queen Calafia, the mythical Amazon woman who the early Spanish explorers thought inhabited the Baja region with a group of women warriors. The Spanish, or more specifically Cortez, applied her mythical name to the new lands they just discovered, or, rather conquered, and that led to the name California. Maynard Dixon actually painted this and the other panels with the artist Frank Van Sloun  who also loved mythology and used it to great effect in this mural. If you are in the Bay Area I highly recommend you go see it. One caveat, you will need to make a reservation, it's not in the lobby but on the second floor and it can be seen by apointment only.

“I just found out her ghost left town, the Queen of California is stepping down."

— John Mayer, "Queen of California"

Monday, May 16, 2022

Olive Oatman Post Orgasm

 May 16, 2022

   Oh, man, this new AI-techno-moving-faces stuff is getting a tad weird. This is from a video Bradley Ross sent me. Kind of creepy and kind of amazing all at the same time. Looks kind of demented to me.

Olive Oatman Post Orgasm

   Creepy because it's seemless and quite believable. Check it out for yourself. What do you think?

   I know where this is going and it's not going to be pretty. Or, maybe it will be too pretty. Full length movies utilizing and building on old real photos and putting them in outrageous situations. Dang!

Deena Bean On SNL?

If you watched Saturday Night Live last weekend you perhaps saw the Steve Martin bit where his girlfriend, "Dina Bean," is tortured by hand buzzers and eye socket removal and all of the kitschy 1950s gizmo toys writ large and ridiculous. Kathy and I did a double take the first time he called his girlfriend "Dina Bean" and later I realized his girlfriend is played by Aidy Bryant who is from Phoenix! In fact, according to one source, her mother still has a boutique store here. Could it be one of them saw this blog post and thought the name was funny?

   Probably not, but still, that's pretty coincidental, no?

"Women are the real architects of society."



Sunday, May 15, 2022

One Crazy Horse to Ruin

 May 15, 2022

   One of the methods I use to attempt my best art is to intentionally set out to ruin something. In short, I try to trash one piece on purpose, just to get the desire to be perfect out of my system. It doesn't always work, but it often helps me get past the usual obstacles.

Drawing On The Right Side of The Brain

   When I was a freshman in the Fine Arts College at the University of Arizona (1965), two of our excellent drawing professors, Mr. Scott and Bruce McGrew, forced us to draw with the opposite hand, upside down (the subject, not the artist), and incredibly, with our toes. The goal was to break down our preconceived ideas of what something should look like which is primarily the function of the left, or, logical side of our brain. This led to what later became known as left-brain vs. right-brain thinking. As the theory goes (and not everybody buys it), the linear part of our head, the left, thinks it knows what a door knob looks like while the right side of our brain is more intuitive and sees things more holistically. So when I start out to ruin a painting, it really messes with the left side of my brain, as it should. 

The Big Picture

   And here is my mantra: draw what you see, not what you think you see. Put another way: we are born knowing, then we see. Put even another way, your left brain is good for tying your shoelaces, but not so good at seeing what a painter needs to see in order to create decent artwork.

   So, without further ado, here is my trash piece. 

The last of the Crazy Horses

Daily Whip Out:

"Capturing Crazy Horse #4"

   I can tell you one thing: my left brain had no idea what I was doing! My right brain was saying things like, "all in all, it's just another brick in the wall," and, "that's kind of an In-din design you got going there, keep doing that." And, for comparison, here's a rough sketch of where I actually thought this one would go.

Daily Whip Out Sketch:

"Dark Side of The Moon"

   So, in the end, it's all a blind romp and crap shoot and I enjoy the process and have zero idea of whether it connects with anyone, or even works.

"The key is to care, but not that much."

—Herbie Cohen