For the love of WWF

Paint what you know. That’s what they say.

wrestler_b wrestler_c

The paintings above I would not consider well executed by any means, but they are small markers of what was life at a one point in time. They were made when I closed down a separate studio space to save money on rent, so by association they were also small in stature. The same size as a piece of standard paper. Apartment size.

They were fuck around works and I’m mainly posting the images as it gives me an excuse to finish something I started last fall, which is a small tribute to my late husband’s love of Professional Wrestling.

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Ben loved the WWF with unbridled devotion (I’m identifying them by their former name The World Wrestling Federation, but I gather are now called the WWE). Some of my most ridiculous memories involve his dedication to this sport. He was never a sports fan per se with allegiances to American Football or Baseball, but he fully reveled in the ludicrous absurdity of the Pro Wrestling circuit with circus like characters, their theme songs and the politically incorrect sub-plots that were fleshed out on TV each week.

First there were hours and hours of Monday Night Raw, that weekly installment of matches complete with rabid fans screaming in the audience. Then there were the Pay-Per View Championship chair matches, so called for wrestler’s cracking folding chairs over each other’s heads for the win. And finally was the personal collection. He couldn’t help himself once he started and amassed a rich and comprehensive array of action figures, posters, books, lunch pails and what ever else that enterprise could nail down for licensing.

On rarer occasions were the in-person appearances. The most memorable incident, for myself anyway, we found ourselves standing in line for the better part of a weekend afternoon at the East Village K-Mart for an autograph of Goldust (who is incidentally the spawn of Dusty Rhodes). The pay off for me was people watching, a serious spectator sport unto its self. This heady collection of grown men, identifiable on accent alone figured as a contingent mainly from Queens or Long Island for good measure. After the desired signature was gathered by Ben we made our way upstairs to housewares to buy a crock pot.

Goldust

As a treat, we did venture a couple of times to see the WWF at Madison Square Garden which was dream worthy for him of course. There we found ourselves seated in a sea of dedicated WWF loyalists. The wrestlers from our site-line bandied about in the ring as tiny ants yet the music and screaming were much louder than any televised episode. This was the era of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Doink the Clown and Mankind (also known as Dude Love and Cactus Jack). At one point I could easily discern these characters, unique with their own storyline and finishing moves. Like cities I no longer live in they are now fuzzed in my brain with street corners and landmarks undecipherable from each other.

Dwayne Johnson   Wikipedia  the free encyclopedia

Finally due to Ben’s love of the wrestler The Blue Meanie we went to see the lesser known ECW* circuit. The ECW crowd was a barely contained and rabid throng comprised of a 98% male representation, I am betting mainly from Long Island. Their enthusiasm was brutal. Each time an ECW signboard woman came into the wrestling ring a raucous chant of “show your tits, show your tits” started up in a furious tidal wave, barely fading out before happening again. There was something much more frighteningly authentic about this branch of wrestling and Ben loved every minute of it. That one I barely survived.

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So yes, that is why I made those paintings, little tributes, themselves now gone as well.

*Extreme Championship Wrestling (a professional wrestling promotion that operated from 1992 to 2001)

#tbt Tiny Tortures

throw back

I kind of like the Facebook device of throwback thursday. It can be a silly exercise but it gives you an excuse to pull things out of the archives of your life and look at them. Laugh at them. I’m in the process once again of setting up the painting studio and coming across photos of my old paintings (the ones I don’t completely cringe at) fills me with nostalgia.

This is a really old painting, from when I was living in Ellensburg WA in my early 20s, so probably 1986. I can still remember the title was Tiny Tortures. Long destroyed of course.

In my brain this was a homage to Matisse’s Red Room. Max Beckmann. German Expressionism.

What I should be really nostalgic about is my use of materials: high gloss enamel oil house paint as a ground, oil paints with lots of turpentine as a thinner. I would get incredible headaches doing these things, high as a kite. No mask, no gloves. I kind of miss that irreverent disdain as far as my own health goes. Add a cigarette into the mix and you’ve front loaded yourself for asthma later on, so delightful.

I think art pieces should stand on their own without a need for back story. However since my work from that period was usually about something in my own life, it’s amusing to note that the subject matter is my boyfriend at the time Andy on his hands and knees capturing a multitude of mice that had infested my tiny home. I’m standing in the back of the room watching as far away as I could get.

I really got away from storytelling in my last few bodies of work and I think that is what I ended up missing the most.

For the record high gloss enamel house paint from the hardware store is not archival at all.