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