The shows are coming so fast and thick, I hardly know if I’m coming or going. The latest opening was on Saturday, March 2nd at the First Commonwealth Bank in the Short North.
This is the first solo show I’ve had in some time. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing my work hanging and playing together nicely since 2014.
Bank staff was extremely friendly and helpful at the opening, offering up punch, cucumber water, ginger cookies and homemade popcorn. Many businesses open their doors to artists in our area, but First Commonwealth Bank is perhaps one of the best locations. The large, street-facing windows let in loads of light, giving any show hung there great visibility and a visual crispness not easily found elsewhere. I feel lucky to have landed such a nice venue.
I played a memorial service for a departed friend on the same day as the opening so the nervous system was chugging toward exhaustion by the end of the night. Musical and show-prep duties have precluded the restorative balm which art always provides, so it’s a relief to get back to the drafting table.
I have now turned my complete attention to “Lucky Cat With Pinups.” There is nothing I like better than focusing on one project at a time, so I am temporarily in heaven.
“Lucky Cat” is part of an upcoming show at the Open Door Studio entitled “This Inspired That.” Artists were invited to choose a work by a resident artist and then respond with a work of their own. Once I chose Jenny DeBrier’s “Farrah,” it was off to the races.
Ms. DeBier’s “Farrah” is an interpretation of the famous Farrah Fawcett pinup poster of the 1970’s, which led to a contemplation of exactly what a pinup is and who gets to be depicted in one.
I settled on the multipaneled lay out I’ve been using of late and got to work arranging as many images in as great a variety as I could manage.
I looked at literally hundreds of pinups and found some interesting recurring themes. Many of them look directly at the viewer with a “come-hither” expression.
Others exhibit a voyeuristic look into what the viewer imagines as the secret life of young girls.
I referenced the Indian blanket background of the original poster in this image.
Per usual, I’m drawn to humor. Sombrero-wearing Mexican lass with an erupting volcano? What’s not to like?
I’ve used the source photo for this image at least twice. There’s a sweet and sexy good clean fun aura to the figure which I like.
Some panels came easy, others came hard. This image is in the latter category. In general, the paint I use doesn’t lend itself easily to modeling. If I had it to do over again, I would make the background contrast more with the model’s skin tone, but too late now.
Some of the pinups are fetchingly strange yet sweet. Who would have thought a pistol-waving cow girl says “sex?”
I’m always aware that people don’t give art much viewing time. If you get four seconds, you’re doing better than most. I always try to subvert this tendency by including visual rewards for those who do look carefully. This panel of the Greek goddess Aphrodite with Cupid shakes the piece away from I-know-where-this-is-going-without-actually-looking into what-the-heck-is-this territory. It calls out for an interpretation, building a bridge between the artist, the work and the person doing the looking.
I took care to include a broad spectrum of pinup genres. This one is inspired by the wonderful girlie photo calendars given out by Chinese restaurants when I lived in Chicago. The images were almost always sweet school-girl types with beautifully innocent smiles.
I tried to do something similar with this panel but didn’t succeed. No matter how hard I tried, this model looks more like a victim of sex trafficing than a wholesome tease. I finally gave up and let her be what she wanted to be. I did manage to hide a cheeky “finger” in the middle of the panel. Sometimes when a figure goes its own way, all you can do is wave as it goes by.
I rounded out the assembly with a luscious redhead. If people can’t find a pretty girl they like in this painting, they’re just not looking.
The last image is perhaps the most confounding, but I wanted to throw in a bit more visual disonance. In Japanese restaurants, there is often a Lucky Cat sitting on the counter right next to plates of plastic food which are visually identical to what’s on the menu. Maybe pinups are the plastic food of the sex world: they are what is on offer, or should be on offer if only the world bent to our desires. They are a promise and a menu from which we can order absolutely anything we want.