Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Killer Kids Final Copy

 July 24, 2024

   Still working on final copy for the Killer Kids of The Civil War. Here's a sneak peek.

Daily Whip Out: "Jesse In Hell"

   And, it must be pointed out, he's toting four pistols in the Bushwhacker mode. So much for present day re-enactors claiming the old gunfighters never carried two pistols ("The two-gun man is a Hollywood myth!"). Okay, maybe they were half right?

Damned If You Do. . .

The Shiftless And Cruel World of Guerrilla Warfare

   The terror for civilians caught in the border wars of the Civil War is that the guerrillas would often dress as Union troops and Union militia often rode around dressed as civilians. Both sides had allies in the countryside with the end result being nobody could trust anyone, even old friends, who often made secret deadly alliances. Spotting the enemy became  an impossible game where outward appearances were rarely what they seemed to be.

   One survivor concluded to his brother in a letter, "Low lived men who claim to be Union or Rebel as Occassion requires, [ride] the country destroying life & property, regardless of law & usages of regular warfare." Another Missourian, Thomas A. Peters, said, "I think about one half the Bushwhackers seen is the enrolled militia. ." And, as the author Michael Fellman puts it, "All bands of mounted marauders dressed in civilian clothes tended to be reported as guerrillas. There was also great fluidity in both guerrilla and militia band formation and some young men played it both ways." Put in stark terms, neither side had the slightest interest in a fair fight.

An Iconic Myth Is Born

   Out of all this terror and confusion and guerrilla warfare came a generation of young men who were schooled in the arts of deadly tactics and as they approached manhood, more than a few of them wandered west and encountered a broader and more significant conflict between three pre-existing cultures, indigenous and Spanish and Mexican cultures and it is little wonder that a mythic story would be born out of the ensuing conflict and that a caucasion gunfighter would rise out of this turmoil and take his place in the pantheon of worldwide myths. Some historians claim the gunfighter myth ruled from about 1948 to 1973, and that it has since devolved into parody.

On The Trail of The Yahoo Kid, Indeed!

   And, if you are interested in what exactly went down in Lincoln, New Mexico last Saturday, here is a follow-up article by Ollie Reed that ran in the Albuquerque Journal last Sunday.

A review of the Ellis Store Reopening

“Billy was 220 volts and everyone else was 110 volts. He was quicker than everybody. Everybody’s scared to death of him.”

—Buckeye Blake

Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Killer Kids of The Civil War End Game

 July 23, 2024

   Heavy into a cover strory on the genesis of the mythic and iconic Old West gunfighter Where did he come from? How was he created? After you read this, you won't be surprised, if you ever were.

James Writes Home

The School of Hard Knocks

   James, 15, confides to a friend, that he has seen sights "that would make the wickedest hearts sick." Tradition claims James gravitated to Gen. James Lane, organizer of the Free State Army of Kansas. For more than a year he follows Lane as a scout and some say, as a bodyguard for Lane as the troops battle against the Missouri Border Ruffians. All sides perpetuate atrocities—lynchings, massacres and all the horrors of guerrilla warfare. It is a rough school and the boys learn their lessons well.

Daily Whip Out:

"Bushwhackers From Hell"

"What's done to children, they will do to society."

—Kaerl. A. Menninger

Monday, July 22, 2024

Weston Takes Grandpa to School

 July 22. 2024

   Perhaps you saw that Grandpa Ha Ha took his grandson to art bootcamp over the past five days. He graduated with honors of course. He's a very talented boy and took to scratchboard with a relish.

Weston's first scratchboard, "Dust Rider"

   And, we also finished a treehouse in the backyard which he as named the "Cousins Nest" which is a play on words about the Crow's Nest on the roof behind the treehouse.

 Taking Grandpa to School

  Weston showed me YouTube videos to help educate me on posts that perform well. One of them, "Baby Shark" has 14 billion views. Yes, that is with a "B". Then he showed me a Minecraft video by Ish, a Minecraft event hoster, whose video on a simulated prison has 17 million views.

Weston's first Photoshop paste

   As his mother might say, "that is totally ree-donk-u-lous." And, speaking of ree-donk-u-louse, Weston found this artwork and flipped.

"Chata's Concern" from The Doper Roper
which ran in the Razz Revue, circa 1975

   "This is amazing! It is definitely your best painting ever. It's really, really good."


   He also told me, "Grandpa, you need to advertise your art if you want to sell more. I would suggest you try and put a link at the end of this blog.

click here for a painting of Billy the Kid, as shown beneath: 

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Bootcamp Warrior & Backdoor Billy Provenance

 July 20, 2024

   It's been a tough four days, but I am proud to say, our grandson has not only survived the Artist Triple B Bootcamp (Weston quipped, "Wouldn't that make it a quadruple B?") he has graduated with honors and has some fine art to show for it.

Weston Graduates With Honors

Full disclosure: I let Weston grab unfinished pieces out of my failure bin and "finish" them, which he has done with some flash and flourish.

   An explanation for the framed artwork in the background. The upper left two framed Billy pictures have been on the road for the past four years and thanks to Rusty York, they came home on Wednesday. The photo on the left hand side is the infamous photograph I bought for a quarter at the Longhorn Museum, circa 1957-58, and the drawing on the right is my first attempt at capturing the Kid on paper, circa 1958. The big painting on the far right is the recently framed "Back Door Billy" that Craig Schepp bought. As you probably already know, the frame on this painting is from the actual floorboards that the Kid walked on in 1878. And if you don't believe me, here is a part of the Certification Supplemental Report with the actual "true and correct copy original filed with the office Lincoln County Clerk," courtesy of Steve Sederwall.

   The 10 a.m., July 8, 1879 meeting of the Lincoln County Commissioners included these minutes:

To wit: "Isaac Ellis presented an account against the County for the boarding of Wm Bonnie and Thomas OFolliard, also feed for the horses, amounting to $64.00. The above was found correct and ordered paid. Warrant number 147 was issued in payment of same."

   This evidence goes with the two paintings framed with the floorboard wood.

Both Backdoor Billys along with the

postcard invite

Exhibit B

"Everything you say should be true but not everything true should be said."


Friday, July 19, 2024

In Pursuit of Emotional Art

July 19, 2024

   The early bird gets the shot.
An early 5:30 am photo over Ratcliff Ridge

   I read somewhere that any art created without emotion is not art. I was a little mystified and frankly, worried, by this concept and decided to do some serous reflection on it.

   Most of the time—and this is going back more than 45 years—I have been on deadline so any drawing, or scratchboard or painting I have done in that time period had to go to press in X amount of time. And X stands for an eXtremely short amount of time! If I had to peg my dominant emotion while creating art during that time I would put it as stressful, or tense, as in—I want to get it right! This better be good! Oh, crap, this isn't turning out like I had hoped it would! I am such a loser, why didn't I continue my career as a rear chain-man on a survey crew?!

   And so, to be brutally honest, here are my dominant emotions while working on the vast majority of my art over the past half century:

• stressful and concerned

Mixed with a dash of

• apprehension and dread

   And with a nagging voice in my head that says, over and over, Who in the hell told you that you could be an artist?

   So, on the website Draw How You Feel, their challenge is "draw a picture of how you feel." Okay, that is a novel idea. Let's take a short look back on a few examples of my past efforts and the emotion I was feeling at the time I did them:

Daily Whip Out: "Outback Cop Backs Up"

   Yes, I was feeling dark and dangerous when I did this. If I had to peg it as an emotion I would say angry. Or, angry-fearful. Or, perhaps angry-cocky-fearful.

Daily Whip Out: "Punk-stalgic"

   Not sure why but this guy reminds me of Tom Petty which always makes me feel nostalgic for a simpler and more angry, but pure, punk time. Sad and woeful. Not suicidal, but close.

Is There Such A Thing As Angry Positive?
   I am often referred to in my family as the positive guy. Hmmmm. What does that look like? Let's give it a whirl.

Daily Whip Out: "Women With Attitude"

   These are fun to do, snippets of expression and glancing attitude. Not perfect, but what is?

Daily Whip Out: "Happy Go Lucky"

   The irony in this one is that I was attempting to illustrate the idea that in Arizona in the summertime people with their windows down have the right-of-way, because it's clear they don't have AC in their cars and you can bet that they are a tad short tempered. This was a hoot to do and I laughed out loud several times while doing it because, if you have ever been behind the wheel of an auto in Phoenix in July without air-conditioning you can totally relate. So, even though the drawing represents out of control anger, I actually felt giddy doing it.
   And speaking of which, big fat sugarloaf sombreros make me extremely happy, so that results in this:

Daily Whip Out: "Pure Hat Happiness"

Daily Whip Out: "Giddy Orgasmic"

   Is it possible to have an orgasm when you create art? I never have, but I have come close. If I can fire off a broadside at another Arizona town on the lower Colorado River who paid an advertising agency $100,000 to come up with a positive slogan for Yuma and then I did a whole bunch, like the one above, for free, well, that is very close to being orgasmic, and, or, in this case "Giddy Orgasmic!"

Daily Whip Out: "Lazy Successful"

   His eyes are way off, but this has a super lazy vibe that I love. So the emotion here is no pressure fun. He's floating in limbo and so was I. So sue me.

   Does any of this add up to great art, or, great success? Not really, but it does make me happy to revisit some of my artwork over the years and take stock of my emotions as I did them.
   That said, what really gives me joy is to see my grandson in the Triple B Art Studio doing artwork and having fun with me. Weston did this whip out while I was writing this blog.

Daily Weston Whip Out: "The Pineapple Man"
   Plus, both Weston, Uno and I agree with Georgia:

"Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing."
—Georia O'Keeffe

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Honkytonk Sue On The Hunt Sequence & The Love Dog Uno

 July 18, 2024

   Found an old Sue scene in the studio and I thought it had some potential.

Daily Whip Out:

"Honkyonk Sue On The Hunt Sequence"

      This entire sequence has some decent art.

   My model for this was Jerry Foster's wife Vicki when they lived up the creek from us and she was great.

   And, here's a rare photo from the shortlived Honkytonk Sue niteclub on Scottsdale Road where some nincompoop can be seen doing the gator at the feet of Honkytonk Sue on the dancefloor as a wall of Country Swinger in the background yuck it up. Don't worry, the gatordude got his comeuppance on March 22, 2008 when he went down on the floor to do the same dance at the Elks Theater in Kingman, Arizona and, well, not to get too graphic, but he ended up in the Kingman ER.
   Yikes. Prophetic, yes. 

   And, here's another salvage from the dustbin archives.

Daily Reworked Whip Out:
"Joaquin Murrieta Before The Storm"

   And, while we're finding old chestnuts, ran across this while looking for something else.

Uno The Love Dog

They're Plowing In Our Row
   Got a nice email from Ed Montini who was commiserating with me about the passing of our mutual friend Jana Bommersbach:

   "I recall a time we were back east visiting my in-laws, who lived in Philadelphia. My mother-in-law, a small town Ohio woman, was reading the newspaper, and pointed out an obituary of someone they knew to my father-in-law. He said something about how, just a week or two earlier, another friend of theirs had died. Peg lowered the newspaper, let out a dramatic sigh, and said: 

“Dave…they’re plowing in our row.”

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

My Longtime Friend and Co-Author Jana Bommersbach Has Passed

 July 17, 2024

   It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that my long time friend, Jana Bommersbach has passed. Her sister, Judy, informed me this morning that her sister died this morning and she was at peace.

   We go way back to the New Times days at the San Carlos Hotel where we shared an office.

   That's Jana at far right. And, yes, she was one of my first hires when we bought True West magazine because I knew she would write about Old West Saviors with wit and grit. She and I also co-wrote the recent book, Hellraisers & Trailblazers, which was a bumpy ride but our friendship endured.

Jana and me on Carefree Highway in 2023

Photo by Kathy Sue Radina

   When a memorial is scheduled I will let you know.

"Meet some of the women who should be in every history book."

—Jana Bommersbach, in the preface to our book

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Ellis Store In the Rearview Heading West Into The Future

 July 16, 2024

   One more look at the fine folks who showed up at the Ellis Store last Saturday. This isn't everyone, merely the ones who were in the house at around two pm and I rounded them up and herded them out to the lawn.

Ellis Store Crew

   Honestly, we had such a good time we are considering doing it as an annual event.

   Meanwhile, saw this on the road this morning.

A Jackass Convention

   In my book, one Silver Lab, four albino bison and one fine jackass almost makes a quorum. The only thing missing is a camel.

We have a quorum!

   And my suggestion for the quorum is for us all to have more of two things: humor and compassion.

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Free Heading West "

"It is beautiful if you are on the road to somewhere."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, July 15, 2024

Road Trip Highlights

 July 15, 2024

   There is not much that brings me more joy than an extended Road Trip. Starting last Wednesday I took off from Cave Creek, heading up the Four Peaks Road to Payson, then on to Heber, Show Low, Springerville, Red Hill, Quemado, Pie Town (where we actually stopped and had some pie!), then on to Datil, The Great Array, Magdalena, Socorro, San Antonio, Malpais, Carrizozo, Capitan and on into Lincoln where we lost phone service. Ha. Not totally, but enough that you have to walk around the town looking for a signal. It's a 493 mile run and about eight hours and change. It can be grueling in parts (three pilot car construction zones near Heber) but it is also very serene, especially out on the mesas of western New Mexico.

Me and my Flex approaching Quemado,
New Mexico

   On the way over, I gave a talk in the Sawdust Theater in Payson, Arizona to fellow artists on how to fail more. Evidently worked because you can clearly see, someone is failing to find something more interesting on their phone.

Photo by Rob Mathiasch


      Speaking of Rob, he joined me in Payson, after driving up from Chandler, then we caravaned on to Lincoln. After the speech, I stopped in Star Valley for a haircut.

Bev's Breezeway

Photos by Rob Mathiasch

   Yes, my neighbor Bev in Cave Creek has a house, she calls a "cabin" outside of Payson and I stopped to get a haircut. The dog's name is Fluffy.

   Got back last night at exactly 5:30 after a round trip run of 986 miles. Might be one of the last times I do this on my own. It was fun, but I may be done!

  Oh, and for the record it is this wonderful Zonie's birthday today:

Lovely Linda turns 78

"I've been made blue, I've been lied to, When will I be loved?"

—Linda Ronstadt, "When Will I Be Loved?"

Bonus Quote:

"Lincoln is smiling."

—An elderly Mexican woman to Buckeye Blake at the Ellis Store reopening

After Midnight We're Gonna Let It All Hang Down

 July 15, 2024

   Not to get all technical, but today is actually the date of the Kid being dispatched from this planet.

Que Tiempo Es?

   Sheriff Pat Garrett claimed he and his deputies went to the Maxwell house at Old Fort Sumner on the evening of July 14 and that he shot the Kid at approximately 12:30. So. . . .

"Quien es?"

—Billy the Kid's last utterance

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Five Days On The Road And I Made It Home Tonight

 July 14, 2024

   Been on the road for fhe last five days. In fact, I drove 986 miles round trip to make a trade with Mark Lee Gardner at the Ellis Store in Lincoln, New Mexico. He got a framed BBB portrait of Bloody Bill Anderson and he gifted me a jug of Cazadores Reposado Tequila from Mexico. Equity Supremo if you ask me!

A damn fine trade!

   Had a big art show to rededicate the Ellis Store in Lincoln. Quite a crowd come through on Saturday thanks to Ollie Reed of the Albuquerque Journal and Janice Dunnahoo of Roswell.

BBB at Capitan Gap

      Got some unexpected guests as well.

Private Biblo from Fort Stanton
holding BBB Artwork done ages ago.

   I did this scratchboard as a favor to Lynda Sanchez for Fort Stanton, many moons ago (mid-nineties?) There's plenty more where this one came from.

"He tells the truth so much we don't know when he's lying."
—Old Lincoln Cowboy Saying

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Payson Rocks & Estevan Rolls

 Payson, July 10-11, 2024

   Drove up to Payson yesterday morning to meet the mayor and drop off books to the Rim Country Museum. Gave a talk in the Sawdust Theater at 4:30 on How to Fail More. Made my point, sold 13 books, had dinner at the casino with the Chamber folks and Elizabeth Fowler's crew, had the ribeye and two glasses of a fine High Country Cabernet. Solved some life, got to bed at nine. Off to Star Valley this morning to get a haircut, then on to Pie Town and Datil, landing at the Ellis Store in Lincoln, New Mexico around sunset.

  Meanwhile, our route today will take us across the path (east of Springerville) of one handsome dude in history who I have always admired. Apparently he was too good looking for his own good.

Daily Reworked Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Estevan, Horndog Extraordinaire"

(aka, Esteban, Estevánico, Estebánico, Mustafa Zemmouri, Esteban de Dorantes, Stephan Durantes, and Black Stephen)

   Estevan was a Moor who the Spanish enslaved and took with them to the New World. He was also known as a handsome dude who seduced pueblo women all across New Mexico in 1539  until he came to Zuni and dallied with the wrong princess. Or, so they say.

   Anyway, that is the Kingman version. Here is the eastcoast, historical record version: In 1539 the viceroy of Mexico ordered the handsome slave and pathfinder, Estevan, to lead the Catholic friar Fray Marcos de Niza on a mission to investigate the rumors of cities of gold. Setting out on March 7, the two men and a party of "retainers" headed north into what became the modern-day states of Arizona and New Mexico. On March 21, Marcos sent Estevan ahead and, depending on who you believe, Estevan seemed to enchant the ladies of all the pueblos he visited and had remarkable success with them. On May 21, 1539, a messenger came riding in to tell Marcos that Estevan had been killed near the Zuni pueblo for one of two reasons: he spooked the Zunis with his death rattle, or, he seduced the wrong native woman and paid for it with his life.

   Four centuries later, Chuck Berry said he could relate.

"Hey Satan, look at me, I'm on my way to the Promised Land."

—AC/DC, Highway to Hell

Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Billy Staging Area & Schepp Won't Back Down

 July 9, 2024

   Rounding up everything for the big road trip tomorrow.

Billy Staging Area This Morning 

   Yes, I am gearing up for the launch tomorrow of the Kid assault on Lincoln County. A dozen paintings, check. One sculpture, check. 100 poster prints, check. One art print, check. One framed painting that has nothing to do with Billy the Kid, check. Fifteen baby aspirin, check. Full tank of gas, check. Eighty-seven books, check. Two boxes of assorted True West magazines, check.

   Meanwhile, my number one patron bought the two signature pieces in the show.

"Billy at the Back Door of The Ellis Store I & II"

   And, he paid a pretty penny for the privilege. I tried to talk him into giving someone else a shot at one of them, but you know how he can be when he sets his mind to something. Anyway, both are framed with the floorboards the Kid actually walked on and they will be in the show, but with red dots on them.

“Life is beautiful if you are on the road to somewhere.”

—Orhan Pamuk

Monday, July 08, 2024

Hasta La Vista Scratchings

 July 8, 2024

   Finishing up our Old Vaquero Sayings booklet project down at Cattletrack. The designer, Brent Bond, requested I do a finish on this little capper idea:

Daily Sketchbook Whip Out:

"Adios Muchachos!"

   Did this tighter preliminary version last night, but still not satisfied with it.

Daily Bad Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Adios Muchachos!"

   I say "bad scratchboard" because I bought a whole boatload of Essdee Scratchboard, at one time the pre-eminent scratchboard makers in the world, and someone either bought them out and trashed the product, or they went off a cliff because it is not even "scratch-able." In the slightest! So bad.

   In the meantime, here are a couple more sketches trying to capture that fluid, horseback arc.

Adios Studies, April 28 2024

   Then, this morning, I landed here.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Hasta, Baby!"

   Decent. But I almost threw in the towel and then I thought to myself, "What would Edmundo do?" And, so, I whipped this out.

Daily Edmundo-Style Whip Out:

"Hasta La Vista, Shady!"

   Of course, Edmundo is the late, great Ed Mell and I naturally tried to channel his bravado and simplicity.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

—Leonardo da Vinci