Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Am Currently Painting Chicken

Me? I eat mo chicken any man ever seen.

But that's not the point. The point is, it is possible that a few people reading this were once, a long long time ago, in the dining room of my parents' house in Fairfax, Virginia. It is less likely that members of that particular group remember three mostly black and white Japanese woodcuttings of chickens hanging on the wall. Representational, but wonderfully abstract in the way Asian art can be. Wonderful works, I always thought. Someday, I always thought, they were going to be mine.

Naaah. I walk in the house one day, now a grown-up, and notice that they were no longer on the wall. Where are the woodcuts? I ask. Sold them, my father responds. Why? I ask. Somebody paid me $5,000 for them.

Now this is a man who lived a comfortable, middle class life. Never really hurt for money. Certainly didn't need to liquidate the Estate to pay, say, the electric bill. But hey, what do you do? You should have seen what he did to my brother's desk. But that's a different story.

Anyway, all this by way of announcing that we are all scarred by life. By our parents. Man, I wish I had those chickens now.

So fast forward to an opening at the Axelle Gallery a week or so ago, featuring a painter named Brian Keith Stephens. And let me tell you, dear reader, the man is the chicken king. The Chicken King! Like Jim Morrison with the fucking chickens.

Me? I eat mo chicken any man ever seen. But that's a different thing.

Anyway, this is just some of the guy's chicken paintings (he also does cattle, people, etc.)

Personal favorite? Second one from the top left. Titled Are You A Lover and priced at 11K. Which, the record should show, is about a third what I get for an annotated work. Although it's not about the money, dear reader.

So, one thing leads to another and I saunter up to the guy and suggest, in so many words, that I'd trade one of my paintings for one of his. Words are exchanged (not in a bad way, the way the phrase "words are exchanged" might suggest) and I still get the impression that he doesn't want to exchange chicken paintings (He says something like "I think I already have enough chicken paintings" to which I respond "I eat mo chicken any man ever seen", but I don't think he gets it), but he buys into the idea of me sending him a picture of my at-that-time-still-to-be-painted chicken painting and seeing what happens.

Which is where we stand now. Do you remember this image?

Well it ended up looking like this (although the general color representation is truer in the one above rather than the one below--too green):

Despite how terrible it looks, there is something to the thing. And to unleash that particular something, I'm gonna rotate it counter-clockwise 90 degrees, black out the white swirls, and reinterpret this photo of a Japanese bantam rooster on the upper third.

I'm then gonna scrawl, as is my wont, the words (represented here roughly):

With the advent
Of more humane
Butchering techniques,
It's good to be
A chicken
In America.

A haiku of a sort, one might suggest

Photos to follow. And then we'll see what the hell I'm talking about.
Brief personal aside: If, in my dotage, I become a blues guitarist, I think my nomme de bleux will be Mo Chicken.


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