“A Core Memory For Crystal”
S. Morrow, 1978
Oil on canvas
A flock of small red flowers flutter protectively around this horribly sun burnt girl as blue delphiniums look on sympathetically. It seems that these are the only creatures that care two hoots about the worried little bench bound amputee. Where are her adults, why didn’t they put some sunscreen on her and where is her wheel chair? She glances nervously to her right assessing her chances of a quick escape if a big hairy Sasquatch suddenly emerges from the forbidding woods behind her. Maybe he’s the one who took her leg off. Maybe she’s being used as bait so the adults can make a YouTube video of it. We see a psychiatrist couch in this child’s future - if she makes it that far.
Sally Seymour, 1980
Acrylic on Canvas and tears…yes, lots of tears.
When asked to comment about this larger than life self-portrait, the artist Seymour, replied, ”Some days were good, some were bad…I didn’t kill myself.” Such melodrama! While throwing colors at her canvas like a hyperactive lunatic at a carnival booth the artist exposes the chaos of mind spiders that torture her. And the detached gaze of a valium visionary, seeing everything while seeing nothing, reveals her coping mechanism. But the robust sternocleidomastoid and resulting erect military posture demonstrates an underlying discipline and determination. This piece is an intriguing study in contradiction.
“Sawtooth Mountain Shrugs”
H. McSwain, 2014
Oil on Canvas
An avalanche – one of nature’s most powerful and unexpected ways of mixing things up… Here the artist H.M. McSwain, obviously an advanced student of TV’s famous art instructor Bob Ross, has depicted the disaster at its gloriously violent pinnacle. Through the accomplished use of fan brushes and palette knives we can almost hear the rumbling of snow and boulders as they tumble inexorably down, crushing everything in their path. Imagine the little hibernating squirrels and rabbits that will never know what hit them! The on rush of wind sweeps across the frozen surface of the lake giving it a characteristic bowl shape so often seen at times such as these while the stately fir trees magically escape unharmed. Landscape art collectors will be thrilled to know that a multitude of stunning beauties like this one, grace the walls of thrift stores everywhere just waiting for that discriminating maven to resurrect them and hang them in their place of honor over the couch or fireplace!
"Ready for Action"
Squirrel Tooth Alice, 1886
Oil on stretched cowhide
In 1886 Squirrel Tooth Alice, infamous madam of Dodge City, Kansas, painted this portrait of her equally famous gunslinger, outlaw boyfriend Waddy Peacock Knudsen. As a contemporary of Frederick Remington, she was well known throughout the West for her portraits of the men she had entertained at her establishment. She claimed she liked the little “knuckle draggin’ guys” because, “the ones with the short legs were always so polite and grateful. And they compensated for their little legs in other ways,” she stated matter-of-factly. Alice has carefully composed this painting so that the viewer’s eye travels from Waddy’s arrestingly hungry gaze to his highly polished pearl handled gun. Barely contained by its holster it juts out suggestively from the lawman’s hip. It is said that this painting was finished just moments before Knudsen, in a moment of carelessness, blew off his left arm with an unfortunate shotgun blast.
"How About a Big Hand for Those Books"
Anonymous Bosch, 1970
Acrylic on Board
The Surrealist painter Bosch shows us, with the prophetic power of the subconscious mind, an obsessive, unrelenting search that would plague the artist his entire life - always striving, coming close, but never attaining a godlike perfect knowledge of all things. The disembodied hand with an open empty palm, oozes blue blood, (certainly referring to his fascination with horseshoe crabs) and symbolizes the detachment and sacrifice that all great intellectuals must endure to become the “knower of all things.” Just as his fellow intellectual, Donald Rumsfeld knew, Bosch also knew that there are known knowns and known unknowns, as well as exactly 27 unknown unknowns still remaining. Since its unveiling, this painting has sparked lively reoccurring debates in surrealist art and philosophy circles concerning the contradiction between wanting to know more shit and actually being able to remember all that shit once you know it.
K.L. and J.C.
Glue, papier-mâché, and melted pink Peeps on pigskin
Did you ever wonder what happened to Wilbur after the story was written? Witness a pig’s soul ascending, his face illuminated with the joy of having escaped his hell on earth existence on a North Carolina factory farm. The budding artist and ex factory owner, KT, shares his own moment of epiphany with us in a compassionate portrait of Wilbur just moments after the slaughter. KT now travels extensively promoting vegetarianism and soy based bacon. “You know,” he says wistfully, “nothing ever went to waste. We used everything but the squeal. But on the other hand, if Saint Peter is a hog, I’m screwed!”
“You Go Girl!”
B.K. Lewis, 1975
Acrylic on canvas board
This striking piece illustrates nothing less than history in the making. Emerging from the screaming, hair pulling hysteria of the Beatles era and the drug addled, venereal disease ridden dens of orgiastic hippy sex, many women were searching for new, liberating pathways to self determination. This swank image of an elegantly attractive performer from the early 1970s glam rock scene epitomized the new role model that many women chose to follow. Inhaling from sophisticated cigarette holders they became fashionably emaciated, and beautifully chic; purple tiger rugs, plunging necklines and push up bras symbolized a brave new direction in their struggle for political and economic equality. Our preeminent social anthropologist consultant, Dr. Anke Steinke, explains that this painting demonstrates the well-known phenomenon of soporific, acquiescent, sheepification (aka SAS) due to a glut of glamorous fashion stimuli upon a repeatedly misled section of the population.
“Cold Shower, No Eye Contact”
Sister Jill O’Sea, 2003
Watercolor and pencil on paper
This intimate portrait of Sister Mary Goodly and Father Fletcher captures a tender moment; after a Sunday afternoon bike ride in the company of parishioners, they are perspiring and flushed with their vigorous exercise. Halos interlinked like holy sprockets, but bodies held chastely apart, they surrender to a mind meld as they attempt to transmogrify their libidinous longings. Apparently they are successful, for they have become transparent as their Eros drains away, revealing their beating hearts of purest red still true to a higher calling.
"Armageddon Outta Here"
Donna Foliart, M.D., 1975
Oil on canvas
Forget Mesopotamia – Armageddon is going to be fought on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. In this vividly rendered piece, a renowned hospice physician foresees not just the death of her own patients, but the End of the World. On the upper left, fire sweeps down from Heaven, taking out the entire East Bay. Brimstone bubbles over the water as the Beast is about to be tossed from the span whose wobbling cables indicate the intensity of the battle. And on the far right - could that be dust arising from the approach of the Four Horsemen? An inscription on the back of the work explains that the artist, in June 1975, presented this to her father, who then protectively sheltered the work in the back of a dark hall closet for the next 35 years.
Donna Foliart, M.D.
Sir Hugh Manatee, 2013
Plumbago # 2 on yellowed carbonate gangue
The artist, Sir Hugh Manatee, is the United Kingdom’s preeminent artist/environmentalist and here we see one of his latest contributions to the ongoing battle of England’s sewer repair workers against fatbergs. This 15 tonne, 80 meter long, massive mountain of congealed fat and wet wipes had clogged a sewer pipe in south-west London. In a delicate pencil rendering of an indelicate subject matter, Sir Manatee was the first to artistically document the societal results of England’s love affair with bacon fat and clean bottoms. This is a call to all members of the wet wipe community (one in five loo goers) to cease and desist their mindless habits of obsessive edulcorating so that these “nasty solid messes” will in time, find an infamous niche in urban mythology alongside the woman who dried her toy poodle in a microwave oven.
“The Pinkness / Vagina Journey”
Deborah Doright, 1968
Oil on canvas
Having finished her exhaustive study of the Dallas Cowboys, this expressionist artist turned her attention to inner healing. In this signature work by Doright, most lovers of great art believe she has unquestionably outdone herself. A vortex of spiritual energy pulls us into the spontaneous synergism that exists between the artist’s oblique allusions to her most deeply held equitable sublimations and the four tightly structured edges of the canvas. With its pure pink complexity Doright has carefully cultivated a visual aesthetic intimately linked to a sense of urgent “nowness” while simultaneously defying all allegorical exegesis placed in her stony path or foamy wake. The works “Armpitarama” and “The Stuff Between My Toes” were created concurrently with this work, all three representing a decade long body-obsessive phase.
“Portrait of Silvia”
Artist Unknown, 2013
Oil on board
Hey! Check it out! There was this Halloween party with a “come as your favorite animal” theme. And I decided because I have always, like, had a thing for seagulls, cause they’re survivors kinda like me, ya know, that I could, like, be a seagull. But all I could find to use were Thanksgiving turkey feathers. And then when I was hitchhiking to the party in the rain, me and my feathers got soaking wet and they started hanging down, like, all droopy. So when I got to the party I decided to get really fucked up with some of my friends who were drinking Olde English “8oo”. Then someone pushed me and I face planted in a bowl of cocaine on the coffee table and then like, someone gave me a bottle of tequila and then I don’t remember what happened after that. Except that some guy gave me this picture he painted of me which I guess was, like, really nice of him, but I don’t think it really looks like me at all.
“Tulip Auras, Liquid Look”
Stacey Elliot, 1967
Acrylic on canvas
Here we see the tremendously talented artist Elliot at the apex of her creativity as she pushes the envelope of botanical psychedelability in hopes that the tulips will agree to teach her the Dutch national anthem. While exploring the contradictory and yet interpenetrating forces of cellular Brownian Motion and static gadonalistic freezion her vibrant pallet creates forms that emerges from, coalesce and then flow off the canvas. This dynamic effort has successfully captured elusive ablomatic aberrations that rip through the fabric of time and touch its texture with breathtaking courage and a pure understanding that can only come from having blown the doors of perception off their hinges. This outstanding piece, a still life in name only, proudly takes its place alongside other great works by Moscoso, Wilson and Mouse.
“Meaning Gone Missing”
Nimrod Diaz, 1971
Oil on canvas
In this piece, Diaz has pioneered a new field of layered horizontal triptychs and has floundered tragically. Like all pioneers there is a danger of ending up lost and alone in the land of art, falling and breaking your neck or being devoured by unseen forces. Here it seems he has become the victim of all three. Like a visual trash compacter this train wreck of a painting has caused confusion and endless head scratching among critics as well as everyone else who sees it. If anyone has a clue to its meaning or source, please let us know. Because honestly, we don’t know what the fuck is going on here.
"County Fair Dedication"
Becky Olson 2001
Oil on canvas
Well-known Minnesota artist Becky Olson has shared this portrait of her sister Wanda in the kissing booth at the county fare. Despite her plump peepers due to her springtime allergies in corn country Wanda was flushed with excitement from her recent crowning as the County Fair Pork Princess of 2001. We are drawn to this piece because of the tender loving care that Becky has taken with this intimate portrait of her attractive older sister. Wanda sits patiently, wet tongue seductively protruding as she waits for her next customer to succumb to her irresistible charms.
"Nilla Wafers and Nanners Next Time"
Netta Widdie, 1998
Acrylic on canvas, with a way too expensive frame
In this quietly desperate painting, the artist grapples with her life threatening butterscotch pudding obsession. Here she envisions herself going down for the count in a thick river of it. With only vicious barbed wire to grasp, she knows she couldn’t get out if she tried. Flailing hands are now resigned to their fate; no one has rescued her so she’ll just have to eat her way back to shore. A wooden fence post, symbolizes a father figure, as it watches with stiff, judgmental aloofness.
“Handsome and Desperate”
Mansard Roofster, 1995
Oil on canvas
This poor cat has been cast adrift on a vast blue sea in a leaky wicker basket boat that seems to be taking on water fast. Desperately clutching the handle in an attempt to steer towards shore without sails or rudder he ignores a marine mouse coming to his rescue. His crooked face and twisted shoulders mirror his struggle with the panic that threatens to overwhelm him. If only his mother had given him YMCA swim lessons as a kitten! But that was in the days before leash laws and the streets were full of roaming fleabag curs.
“Heads Will Roll”
Louis-Michelle Oxelle, possibly late 1700’s
Oil on Masonite
It is a time of revolution and Oxelle has poignantly depicted a pretty French aristocrat in the Temple Tower waiting her turn. She tries to use her princess phone to call her lawyer but he does not answer; surrounded by symbolic blood red cell walls, even her shawl is saturated. Her head tilts in a macabre way, foreshadowing “the basket.” She is mute. Her mouth once so full of vacuous comments like, “let them eat cake,” has been wiped from her face. And most revealing, she has given up hiding her deformed left paw, the result of generations of in breeding. She is the Paris Hilton of her time and her eyes fill with a dark terror as she tries not to listen to the roaring, bloodthirsty crowd and the deadly thump of Madame Guillotine. We are sorry for her, but not too sorry. Like all great art, this piece sparks our imagination and we wonder if history will repeat itself. Hmmm…
“Teetering on the Brink”
Nell Grover Kulb, 1890
Watercolor and colored pencil on paper,
Highly valued by anthropologists and zoologists alike, this work may very well be the last image of the now extinct Oregon Legless Rockhopper. Arriving in the Pacific Northwest in the mid 19th century, this clan of transplanted Kentucky farmers was shunned by long legged folks who drove them into the most remote valleys where they quickly came into contact with the native Sasquatch population. Sadly, modern day field zoologists have, upon examining contents of the Sasquatch desiccated fecal pellets, found Rockhopper bones and hair remains. Based on these findings scientists have concluded that Rockhoppers were the main food source of the elusive wild hominids for at least 50 years. Not known for their symmetrical facial features or intelligence, this Rockhopper peers imploringly at the viewer, like a frightened cocker spaniel, clutching the sand with a skinny pink paw. Afraid of being swept downstream by the 2” torrent that surrounds her, she is apparently unaware of the hungry eyes that watch her from the dark forest behind.
Annie Hart, 2008
Watercolor and graphite on paper
Talented Sonoma County artist Annie Hart has created, through the skillful use of negative space and flawless composition, this intriguing portrait of her grandmother. Hart has captured the mysterious feline quality of Lady Longevin, who was a famous depression era actress and circus sideshow performer. Known for her role in the 1932 pre code movie “Freaks” this beautiful hemimorph stole the show every time she hopped onto the set. When not acting, she packed in audiences at Barnum and Bailey’s circus where crowds thrilled to see her breath taking flying trapeze triple spins. To explain the origin of her curiously cranium-less head, the star revealed that it was the result of a high wire training accident at the beginning of her career. “Y’know, you got to work with what ya have, so I just got tatted up and kept on goin’,” she replied. Upon her passing, the artist donated her grandmother’s remains to Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum where it floats in a 20-gallon formaldehyde pickle jar.
“The Worm in the Bud”
Ernestine Engels, 1970
Acrylic on canvas
If eyes are the windows of the soul, this child is without soul. In this lovingly offered portrait by the child’s grandmother, we see a predator dressed in ruffles and ribbons assessing us with a cold, reptilian gaze. Power is her drug of choice and we pity the poor unfortunate she targets. The hint of a smile reveals a sly design in the making. The artist’s death due to “unknown causes” occurred 2 weeks after this portrait was finished.
Granny Koppi, 1980
Melted apple Jolly Ranchers on asphalt roofing paper
Mary L. Koppi, aka Granny Koppi lived to be 95 and had been an art teacher at the Job Core Center on the side of Mt Hood, Oregon. This plein air landscape was painted at 2 am on a moonless night. She said she was delighted because “It was almost as bright as day and the apple Jolly Ranchers were just the right acid green for the trees!” She believed that painting this radioactive tar lake and drinking a pint of its elixir once a week was the secret to her longevity. At the time of her death Granny’s corpse had a radioactive decay half-life estimated at 10,000 years.
“The Swamps of Polychromatia”
Parson Drexel Weemers aka MW, 1991
Acrylic on canvas
The Dalai Lama once said, “Know the rules well so you can break them effectively.” Putting a new spin on this saying the Reverend Weemers appears to be simultaneously learning and breaking them at the same time. His devil may care brushwork driven by a “four colors of the apocalypse” straight from the tube approach draws the viewer into a quiet, dark scene of the artist’s making. Are we in a nightmarishly surreal skating rink or a dismal swamp where murder victims have been dumped to feed hungry bottom feeders; either way, this piece is not cheerful. The words creepy and sinister come to mind, also depressing and lonely. Avert your eyes if you do not want to be plagued by nightmares.
“Mr. Peachly’s Precipitous Pique”
Preston Peachly, 1990
Acrylic paint, red chalk on canvas
The viewer is introduced to this tangle of self-portraits by an avalanche of X’s and O’s tumbling unexpectedly across the canvas. The work was likely created as a result of Mr. Peachly having surrendered his 1997 decade long national tic-tac-toe championship title. A sumptuous gold underlayment represents the millions in lost product endorsements and the demonic image lurking darkly in the background may hint at savage revenge. A red horse, like a ghost from the Lascaux Caves moves quietly through the jumbled chaos. We are assailed by a black intestine-like zigzag writhing dramatically across the canvas just beneath the finger painted visage of a stoic Easter Island statue. The wonderfully complex symbolism and strong emotional content of this powerful piece hints at, but actually doesn’t even come close to the genius of Francis Bacon.
“Game Over, Goofy Tooth!”
Margie Noverra, 1985
Crayon, magic marker and grease pencil on white board
After a long night of binge drinking and playing old video games, the caricature artist Noverra created a piece so wincingly offensive we found few positive things to say about it. To top things off, her attempt to portray 19th century Manifest Destiny using a Hanna Barbera cartoon style falls flat on its face, as it smacks of racism. Apparently unaware of the gaping maw about to devour him, a sandal clad, Capri pants wearing Native American (because we all know that Native people were crazy for Lucille Ball capri pants!) is shown staring moronically transfixed. We have it on fairly good authority that history did not unfold exactly that way. But, at least the artist uses a nice forest green paint to unify the canvas and gives the man a cute little sushi headband to snack on, on the way to his new digs in Oklahoma.
K.L., J.O., D.S.