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‘Messin’ With the Boys’: The brief (& very blonde) musical career of Cherie Currie & her twin Marie


Cherie Currie and her twin sister (born two minutes before Cherie) Marie.
 
Shortly after The Runaways combusted two-or-so short years into their existence, vocalist Cherie Currie put out her first solo record, 1978’s Beauty’s Only Skin Deep. The album included a duet with Currie’s twin sister Marie, “Love at First Sight.” The record, supposedly produced in part by Kim Fowley (Currie has said Fowley had no involvement in the album’s production), tanked. However, the misstep didn’t stop Currie and her twin from teaming up and putting out two more albums together, Messin’ With the Boys (1980) and Young and Wild (1998). During the early 80s the Currie twins were all over the place appearing on The Mike Douglas Show (season nineteen, episode 174) and also landing featured appearances in the 1984 film The Rosebud Beach Hotel with Christopher Lee (!), and Tom Hanks’ one-time bosom buddy, Peter Scolari.

Thanks to some of the history of The Runaways’ finally being laid out in the 2010 film The Runaways (based on Cherie Currie’s 2010 book, Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway) more fans have been exposed to the band and their impact on the male-dominated world of rock and roll. According to Cherie, when the demise of The Runaways was drawing near, Fowley started spreading rumors in Japan—where The Runaways were superstars—that Currie didn’t have a twin. Then, to help stir the PR pot, he released more statements saying Currie did have a twin and the pair would soon be back to play a few live gigs in Japan. People went nuts of course and by the time Beauty’s Only Skin Deep was out, the blonde sisters were playing to crowds filled with fanatical fans. Cherie would beat out actress Kristy McNichol for the role of Annie in the 1980 film Foxes
 

Wonder twin powers, ACTIVATE! Cherie (left) and Marie (right).
 
These days, Cherie Currie keeps busy as a chainsaw artist in California running her own gallery in Chatsworth. After meeting during the recording of Messin’ with the Boys, Marie would marry Toto guitarist and vocalist Steve Lukather. Interesting side note; Cherie was once married to actor Robert Hays (Airplane‘s Ted Striker—NEVER FORGET!), and their only child Jake occasionally plays with Currie while she tours.

So if you didn’t already think Cherie Currie and her twin Marie were about as cool as they come, now you should. I’ve posted some nostalgic images of Cherie and Marie, as well great footage of the girls performing some tunes from Messin’ with the Boys and their appearance in The Rosebud Beach Hotel rocking out to “Steel,” one of the songs written by Cherie and Marie for the film’s score.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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09.18.2018
08:09 am
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The career of Penny Slinger, intrepid surrealist artist of the 1970s, is ripe for rediscovery
08.27.2018
08:48 am
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Penny in frame from 16mm film Lilford Hall, 1969, by Penny Slinger and Peter Whitehead
 
My reaction upon recently being exposed to the work of Penny Slinger, a bold and penetrating surrealist multimedia artist from the U.K. who produced her most striking work in the late 1960s and 1970s, was to suppose that there must have been a mistake of some sort. Slinger’s work, which spans photography, collage, and sculpture, uses techniques of surrealism to address highly pertinent topics of sexuality, gender, and identity in ways that make quite a few people uncomfortable—which is all to her credit, of course. What I could not comprehend, given the stunning clarity, precision, and power of her work, was her relative lack of recognition, a matter that a new documentary by director Richard Kovitch seeks to remedy.

The movie, called Penny Slinger: Out of the Shadows, places the pressing question of the artist’s rediscovery—as well as a major theme of her work—squarely in its title. Born Penelope Slinger in 1947 London to a middle-class family, Slinger attended art school in the mid- to late 1960s, where she was exposed to the work of surrealist Max Ernst, whose art seemed to address many of the questions that Slinger felt most needed addressing. (Later she got to know Ernst.) In 1969, while still a student, she produced a book of ambitious and bracing photocollages, falling into the rubric “feminist surrealism,” under the title 50%—The Visible Woman. In 1971 Slinger became involved with a feminist art collective called Holocaust, which produced a theatrical work in London and at the Edinburgh Festival titled A New Communion for Freaks, Prophets, and Witches—one of Slinger’s primary characters in that production was called simply “The Shadow Man.” This evolved into Jane Arden’s groundbreaking movie, in which Slinger played a major part, entitled The Other Side of the Underneath, which to today’s eyes might come off as something like a feminist Zardoz without being either self-evidently funny or a failure. That movie was marred by a dreadful incident in which the husband of the cellist and composer involved with the movie immolated himself in an obscure attempt at protesting of the movie. Out of the residue of that experience Slinger produced the splendidly focused book of photographic collages based in an abandoned mansion in Northamptonshire, titled An Exorcism. If Slinger had produced nothing but An Exorcism, her career would be well worth celebrating. But there is much, much more.
 

Poster for Penny Slinger, Penny Slinger: Out of the Shadows (2016), featuring Bird in the Hand, 19.25” x 13.25”, collage from An Exorcism (1977), courtesy Riflemaker Gallery, London. Copyright Penny Slinger.
             
In 1977, Slinger, following her muse, largely abandoned the world of bracing high art in favor of authorial explorations into Jungian sexual archetypes and the introduction of Tantra into the modern world; works include Sexual Secrets: The Alchemy of Ecstasy, Erotic Sentiment in the Paintings of India and Nepal, and The Pillow Book.

One would have thought that a female artist with work as profoundly arresting as Slinger’s would have become a household name, but in many ways the chameleonic and elusive nature of her work resulted, perversely, in lack of recognition. It could be argued that her work fits in much better with our notions of art today than they did back then, in other words that we’ve caught up to her, rather than the other way around.

As I stated earlier, a new movie about Slinger is on the horizon that has the potential to transform the artist’s currency among the art aficionados (and regular art fans) of our own day. Penny Slinger: Out of the Shadows is still currently playing on the festival circuit in the US and Europe and screened earlier this year at the Tate St. Ives. The movie takes as its subject Slinger’s life and career from her birth up to the late 1970s, after which her visibility as a cutting-edge, provocative artist regrettably diminished. Penny Slinger: Out of the Shadows investigates in detail the themes of Slinger’s work as well as the salient biographical details of her life, which (I assure you) readers of Dangerous Minds are well-nigh guaranteed to find of great interest. We get to see a great deal of Slinger’s work, which (as already stated) has a knack for holding viewers’ attention. Slinger herself is on hand for interviews in which she clarifies how things looked from her perspective, as are several of her key collaborators as well as a handful of commentators from the art world or academia to supply valuable context.

Kovitch has told me that he is hopeful that a DVD/VOD distribution deal will solidify in the near future. Speaking personally, I cannot wait for this movie to find a broader viewership because it does such an outstanding job of placing Slinger’s career in context and teasing out the manifold ways in which her work speaks to us in the second decade of the 21st century. For anyone tracking the intersection of surrealism and gender, it’s an essential work.   
 
An interview with Penny Slinger, after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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08.27.2018
08:48 am
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Behold the voluptuous horror of these absolutely, positively NSFW crocheted dolls of Kembra Pfahler


Kembra Pfahler
 
If you are a regular reader of Dangerous Minds, then nothing in the title of this post should surprise you, because we know our readers a) appreciate our dedication to the celebration of high weirdness (and outsider knitting) and b) also appreciate the boundary-smashing performance artist, filmmaker, anti-naturalist actress (and more), Kembra Pfahler.  Pfahler is best known as the vocalist for her band The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. For today I’m going to bring to you a version of Kembra done by another talented rule-breaker, crochet artist Shove Mink of Croshame.

We’ve featured Mink’s work here on DM before—but this time I can say without hesitation “you ain’t never seen anything” like Mink’s crocheted Kembras.

They’re even endorsed by their colorful muse:

“I love and support the works of Croshame and her visual generosity and extreme attention to detail. I encourage the collection of these dolls and I hope to include Croshame in shows I’m having in London next year.”

—Kembra Pfahler, 2018

I posted one of the most safe-for-work photos of Pfahler I could find at the top of this, as I can’t really post any of the images of Mink’s adorably naughty—one of them is posed masturbating with a crucifix—crocheted Kembras before warning you first. But let’s be honest, this is precisely one of the reasons you like DM, isn’t it? I take my job of discovering things you can never ever unsee very seriously, and this is about as NSFW as knitted shit gets. Mink also sells some of her creations on Etsy, in case you’re interested (PS: I know you are).
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.07.2018
11:48 am
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Bring It: Meet the Gorgeous Ladies of Japanese Wrestling
07.16.2018
08:53 am
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A photo of the female professional wrestling team The Beauty Pair. This image was used to help promote a film based on their exploits in the ring.
 
Professional wrestling has a long, storied history in Japan. Active cultivation of the sport was started following WWII as the country was collectively mourning and recovering after the horrendous bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing approximately 200,000 people and other wide-spread, war-related devastation. The sport became hugely popular, and sometime in the mid-1950s wrestlers from the U.S. would make the trip to Japan to grapple with the country’s newest star athletes including an all-female “Puroresu” (professional wrestling) league, All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling Association, formed in 1955. Just over a decade later, the league would become All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling (AJW), and instead of going at it exclusively with American or other foreign wrestlers, the sport started to pit female Japanese wrestlers against each other which is just as fantastic as it sounds.

All-female wrestling in Japan in the 1970s was a glorious wonderland full of tough, athletic women happily defying cultural and gender norms. Matches were broadcast on television and a duo going by the name The Beauty Pair (Jackie Sato and Maki Ueda) were huge stars. Teenagers themselves, Sato and Ueda, were inspirational to their young female fans leading to the pair (and Sato as a solo artist), to be signed by RCA, producing several hit singles. They starred in a film based on their wrestling personas and sales of magazines featuring The Beauty Pair and other girl wrestlers were swift. The masterminds of the AJW—Takashi Matsunaga and his brothers—knew their ladies-only league was now unstoppable.
 

Japanese wrestling duo The Crush Gals, Chigusa Nagayo, and Lioness Asuka.
 
Female wrestling in the 80’s and 90’s in Japan was reminiscent of American producer and promoter David B. McLane’s magical GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), and introduced more theatrics into the sport by way of heavy metal makeup, wild hairdos, and eccentric individual personas. In the 80s, televised matches would glue an estimated ten million viewers to the tube much in part to the insane popularity of The Beauty Pair’s successors, The Crush Gals. Both women had signature closing maneuvers; Chigusa Nagayo was known for her Super Freak and Super Freak II, and her partner, Lioness Asuka often finished off her opponents using one of her go-to moves like the LSD II, LSD III and the K Driller (a reverse piledriver). Like their predecessors, The Crush Gals were also musicians and put out a few singles during the 80s, often regaling viewers with songs during matches. Other ladies of the AJW such as Bull Nakano, Dump Matsumoto, Jumbo Hori and others had their own personal theme music. And since lady-wrassling was such a sensation (as it should be), the theme music created for various stars of the scene was compiled on a neat picture disc called Japanese Super Angels in 1985. Video games based on the goings on in the AJW started making the rounds in the early 1990s with titles from Sega and Super Famicom.

So, in the event all this talk about Japanese female wrestling has you wondering if it is still a thing in Japan, I’m happy to report it looks to be alive and well. I’ve posted loads of images taken from Japanese wrestling magazines, posters, and publicity photos from the 70s, 80s, and 90s featuring some of the ballsy women which took on the game of wrestling in Japan and won. Deal with it.
 

Bull Nakano and Dump Matsumoto.
 

Dump Matsumoto and her partner Crane Yu pictured with referee Shiro Abe after winning the WWWA Tag Titles in February of 1985.
 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.16.2018
08:53 am
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The Artist as Frankenstein ‘piecing together the sublime’: The paintings of Carrie Ann Baade
03.28.2018
10:42 am
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Carrie Ann Baade paints pictures that link “the power of historical masterworks with [her] own experience as a contemporary artist.” Her work is fragmentary using an image bank culled from Renaissance and Baroque art which is used to contemplate “the ageless issues of morality, politics, and the individual quest for self-expression.” She describes herself “as a kind of Dr. Frankenstein attempting to piece together the sublime.”

Baade developed her collagic-style of painting during grad school when she struggled to find a way to be more like her “dead art heroes, Bosch, Fuseli, Moreau, and Knopf,” but keeping her work relevant to today. She started at the beginning and “rediscovered the artists’ first gallery, the refrigerator door.” 

Upon the door were a sentimental photograph of my infant niece and the Christmas gift of magnets made from cut up discount art books.  By moving some of these magnets over the photograph, the child’s eyes were covered with those from a Northern Renaissance portrait.  A Boschian creature was placed on top of her head to serve as an ornamental hat.  Lastly, a Durer Christ child and a Madonna’s hand scaled perfectly to that in the sentimental photo were placed on the arms in the photo. 

The completed the transformation was far more interesting than reality.  After several attempts at turning the image into a painting, the foundation for understanding the difference between collage and pastiche occurred. 

Through research, I realized that the amalgam of images had precedence in the appropriation art of the 80’s which is described as the advent of the citation style in painting and other mediums.  “Appropriation art” stresses the intentionality of the act of borrowing and the historical attitude of the borrower.  By building upon this accepted practice, my paintings incorporate these purloined fragments and keep the physical identity of the different motifs preserved from the overall unity.

Baade describes her intuitive creative process as “part tarot and part advent calendar.”

I have questions in mind when I am composing, I am searching for a solution to say…this feeling I have about the correlation between women and snakes and the moon. I collect images, I dive into my piles of cutouts that I have been archiving for the past five years. The composition of the collage can be immediate or go through 15 hours of revisions.  It is like reading cards, the answer will come as I am searching and the answer is usually visually surprising.

The process begins with Baade covering her studio floor with images ripped from pages of books and magazines. Once the floor is covered, Baade looks for sets of images that have landed on top of each other in an interesting way. She describes this as a form of divination like reading tea leaves or tarot cards. Often Baade has a question she seeks to answer which she hopes will be answered by the chance arrangement of images. Sometimes this can happen very quickly, mostly it’s a long process of trial and error. When ready, Baade collects the images and binds them together with sellotape. It can then take up to 150 hours to paint a picture.

Baade was born in Louisiana in 1974 and was raised in Colorado where she first took an interest in drawing and painting. Baade received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, studied at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy, and earned her MFA in Painting from the University of Delaware.  She currently divides her time between painting and lecturing as an Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing at Florida State University. See more of Carrie Ann Baade’s work here.
 
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More beautiful and surreal paintings, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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03.28.2018
10:42 am
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Only women bleed: WEIRD advertisements for feminine hygiene products
03.14.2018
11:43 am
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Full disclosure—I’m totally obsessed with a number of things I’m about to talk about—advertising, weird bodily functions and vintage media depicting race, gender and sexuality. More specifically, I’m a huge nerd about examining the questionable ways that different types of representations have influenced our current toxic culture.

Current topic: bleeding is fucking weird. And the various contraptions that the feminine hygiene industry has come up with to “handle” it are also pretty fucking odd. I mean, at the end of the day, from pads and tampons to cups, sponges and rags, to each her own. But bleeding is still weird AF. And the culture that has arisen around it is also weird. Case in point, this Tampax ad. Ladies- do you ever get that Hunger Games-y feeling around that time of the month? Oh you do? Well, by all means…..
 

 
So if you have a penis, be grateful. I hope you are. If not, you will be by the end of this post. First of all, you never were made to feel excited about “Protecto” sanitary bloomers in the 1920s. These “reversible, snug fitting and always secure” items were made by what I assume was a company that truly cared about women—the New York-based Rubberized Sheeting & Specialty, Inc. OK, so without sarcasm, here’s my thing. I’m all about some fetishes. Ask my pals. You can get me in a set of rubber pants NO PROBLEM and I will be pleased as punch. But this is a whole other ballgame. Would this be menstruation kink? And if so, dear lord, please get this girl as much chocolate, tea and binge watching of WHATEVER SHE WANTS as she needs!
 

 
The Kotex product line is fascinating on a historical level.  Started by Kimberly-Clark in 1920 their wares were created from leftover cellucotton from WWI bandages! Because they had a brand name (Kotex, after “cotton” and “texture”) women didn’t have to ask for the ultra-embarrassing “sanitary napkins” at the counter but these pads were no party. Bulky and lacking in any holding sutures, these items had to either be fastened to your undergarments with safety pins or…worn with a goddamn belt. And that belt was no joke. If you’ve ever read Judy Blume’s wonderful book Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret? there’s a great passage in there about trying to figure out the belt/pad contraption.

But let’s talk about the evolution of the belt for a second. Like many things in American culture, a person of color invented this item and was never given proper credit. In general, belts simply attached to the napkins or to pins holding the napkins and made sure everything stayed put. They must’ve felt like weird diapers.

Along comes Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner, an incredible black woman who invented a different kind of sanitary belt that had a moisture-proof pocket. While it looks (again) like something kinky, the usefulness in comparison to the straight-up belts that were being sold was enormous. When the company initially interested in Davidson’s invention found out she was black, the belt was rejected. This belt was finally put into production in the 1950s, almost thirty years after she had first pitched it. Oh and by the way? Kenner also invented the toilet paper holder in your bathroom, and if you have a mounted backwasher in your shower? You can thank her for that too. She became a florist later in life.

Belts didn’t really fade out entirely until the 1970s, when someone figured out how to put adhesive on the back of a damn pad. Apparently that idea took a lot of mental energy to come up with. Tampons were intorduced in the 1930s, but there was a litany of reasons why women stayed away. Women were scared it would make them “not a virgin.” Religious leaders railed against the use of menstrual tampons, saying that using them might lead to sexxxxxy feelingz (oh noes!). Their use increased after WWII however and grew stronger during the 1960s and soared during the 1970s. AHEM. WOMEN’S MOVEMENT. AHEM.

At this juncture, women use many different items, and may choose what they like. The information is out there. To paraphrase Virginia Slims, we’ve come a long way baby!

These first two images look at Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner’s belt (1st picture) versus the average belt in use since the 1920s.


 

 

 
Much more menstruation madness, after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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03.14.2018
11:43 am
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The fractured fairy tales of photographer Miwa Yanagi
03.14.2018
09:39 am
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A photograph perhaps based on the fairy tale ‘Sleeping Beauty’ by Miwa Yanagi from her series “Fairy Tale.”
 
Miwa Yanagi is an artist and photographer with a vivid imagination. Hailing from Kyoto, Yanagi’s work has been exhibited around Europe and the U.S. since the early 1990s. While in high school, Yanagi started to explore her artistic aspirations—though her parents had other plans and hoped that their daughter would find a stable job and get married to an equally stable man. Fortunately, while she was getting ready to take the entrance test for the Kyoto University of the Arts, she took a few drawing lessons from Katsushige Nakahashi (Nakahashi would later become well-known for his “Zero” project which culminated with the fiery destruction of a homemade Japanese WWII plane). Her interactions with Nakahashi would prove to be the impetus for her decision to become an artist herself.

After finishing up her studies, Yanagi found a job teaching. In 1993 she would hold her very first, and very successful solo live art installation/show called “Elevator Girls” based on Japan’s famously female department store elevator attendants. Elevator attendants have been a part of Japanese culture since the 1930s and though their numbers have dwindled Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi (a large International department store chain headquartered in Tokyo) still employs an attendant at their main location in Chūō, Tokyo. Yanagi’s subjects in the captivatingly dark series “Fairy Tale” are exclusively comprised of women from a variety of age groups, and all of her photographic series take years to complete. Yanagi’s subject matter of choice has earned the artist a reputation for being a feminist, and she hopes that her photographs might help bring about more progressive societal attitudes as they pertain to gender-bias and equality in the nation. Here’s more from Yanagi on that:

“I’m happy with people thinking of my work as feminist art, but I don’t set out with that intent. If you are making art on the basis of an agenda, it will inevitably lose its power.”

I’ve posted images from Yanagi’s “Fairy Tale” series (which can also be purchased in book form, here) below. Most are NSFW.
 

Yanagi’s nod to ‘Snow White.’
 

Yanagi’s twisted riff on the classic German fairy tale, ‘Rapunzel.’
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.14.2018
09:39 am
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Medicine Women: Photographs of the pioneering students at the world’s first medical school for women
02.26.2018
08:42 am
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Though many women worked as nurses in hospitals and within the medical profession, it was deemed “inappropriate” for a woman to become a doctor. This changed when Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) became the first woman to receive a medical degree in America and the first woman on the Medical Register of the General Medical Council.

Born and raised in England, Blackwell traveled to America to fulfill her ambition to become a doctor, where she privately studied anatomy under the tutelage of Dr. Jonathan M. Allen. As a woman, Blackwell faced tremendous obstacles in achieving her ambitions. It was suggested she disguise herself as a man to gain admittance to medical school or move to France where she could possibly train as a doctor. Blackwell’s mind was made up and she was determined to go through with her studies despite enormous opposition.

The horrors and disgusts I have no doubt of vanquishing. I have overcome stronger distastes than any that now remain, and feel fully equal to the contest. As to the opinion of people, I don’t care one straw personally; though I take so much pains, as a matter of policy, to propitiate it, and shall always strive to do so; for I see continually how the highest good is eclipsed by the violent or disagreeable forms which contain it.

The argument against Blackwell’s hope of a medical career was double-edged. Firstly, it was claimed women were inferior and therefore not up to the work. Secondly, if women were capable of becoming doctors then this would be troublesome and unnecessary competition for male doctors.

Blackwell applied to twelve different schools. In October 1847, she enrolled as a student at the Geneva Medical College (now Hobart College). Her admittance was decided upon by the male students who were told if one student objected to Blackwell’s admission she would be barred. The 150 male students voted unanimously in her favor.

On January 23, 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to achieve a medical degree in the United States. Her actions opened a door to which there was no way of closing.

The Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania was established in 1850 as a school solely for the training of women in medicine. The college was the second medical school for women opened in America but the very first medical school in the world authorized to award women the title of Medical Doctor or M.D. It would go on to become one of the most pioneering and inclusive medical schools in the country, accepting students from every ethnicity, creed, and nation. Students traveled from as far afield as India to study at the school.

The college was originally set up by Quakers who believed in a woman’s fundamental right to education. They also firmly supported full equality between the sexes and were understandably flummoxed by those men who vehemently argued against it. The idea for a women’s medical college had long been considered a necessity. Dr. Bartholomew Fussell argued the case in 1846, two years before Dr. Samuel Gregory opened the Boston Female Medical College, in 1848. Fussell was inspired by his dead sister, who he claimed would have made a brilliant doctor.

Originally called The Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, the school was situated at 229 Arch Street, Philadelphia. The college offered women the very rare opportunity to “teach, perform research, manage a medical school” within a hospital setting. This led to the establishment of the Woman’s Hospital in 1861. These were hard-won achievements. Rival men-only medical schools refused to accept many of the women students and doctors—on one occasion “cat-calling” and “jeering” women students in attendance at the Pennsylvania Hospital where they were to receive clinical instruction. But the blow had been struck and the forces of reaction inevitably crumbled.

The following selection of photographs show what life was like at the Woman’s Medical College for these young heroic women who fought and won the right to become doctors. The school went onto become active in the Feminist movement of the 19th and early-20th centuries. The college and hospital merged with Hahnemann Medical School in 1983, before joining Drexel University College of Medicine in 2003.
 
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Students came from all over the world: Anandabai Joshee, Kei Okami, and Tabat Islambooly, photographed at the Dean’s Reception on October 10, 1885.
 
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Inside the packed operating room, North College Avenue, circa 1890.
 
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Student life 1890.
 
More photographs of America’s first women doctors, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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02.26.2018
08:42 am
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Girls on the Verge: The subversive art of Zoe Hawk
01.19.2018
11:09 am
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‘In Her Willows’ (2017).
 
I like figurative paintings because they tell stories. I like stories. I like paintings that have embedded narratives waiting to be discovered that tells me something about the action contained within the frame and perhaps a hint of the artist’s own experience.

Zoe Hawk paints pictures based on her experience. Her work feature schoolgirls on the verge of womanhood being socialized towards conformity and adulthood. There is something otherworldly about her paintings as if we are looking at an illustration from a fairy tale or perhaps a scene from a play. There is a sweetness in her use of color and light that belies the darkness of the small acts of violence and strange rituals contained in her canvases.

For example, in one painting, “Waterway,” a group of girls gathers by a body of water. The pink sky and the soft pastels suggest a pleasing scene of children out for a day swimming and playing. Then our eye sees the hair of a drowned girl and then the two children abandoned in the water while two others are trying to climb up the rocky outcrop. Is this the moment after some tragic accident? Or, have we interrupted something far more sinister?

Sometimes, there are clues in the titles like “Cry, Sally, Cry” or “Murder Ballad.” Then there are titles that capture the beauty and innocence of childhood like “Candy Stripers” and “Little Lamb, I’ll Tell Thee” that are riven by troubling and subversive content.

Hawk says of her work:

...investigates the complex experience of coming of age. The costumes, colorful dresses, mournful funeral attire, and matching uniforms signify various modes of feminine identity and set the stage for the girls’ interactions. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood—between fairytales and the dark realities of womanhood—these characters develop an intricate play of yearning, contention, camaraderie, and mischief, as they navigate their social and physical environments.

The daughter of a celebrated artist, Hawk was at first intimidated by the thought of being an artist herself, but once she experienced the empowering feeling of putting paint on paper and of creating her own world through pictures she knew there was only one career open to her. Hawk studied Fine Arts at Missouri State University, graduating in 2005. She then went on to graduate as a Master of Arts, Painting and Drawing in 2010 at the University of Iowa. Hawk has been exhibiting her paintings across the world since 2007 and has held four artist residencies in Norway, Belgium, New York, and Qatar. She has been residing in Doha for the past seven years, where she teaches. See more of Zoe Hawk’s work here.
 
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‘Waterway’ (2015).
 
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‘Candy Stripers’ (2011).
 
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‘Little Lamb, I’ll Tell Thee’ (2013).
 
See more of Zoe Hawk’s work, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.19.2018
11:09 am
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Ladykillers: Murder ballads and the country women who sang them


 
Country music is my favorite genre to listen to if I want to hear really dark shit. My favorite tunes should probably come with warning labels. These amazing songs sound ridiculously upbeat to the point where they are disturbing as hell. If you can’t stomach true crime podcasts, serial killer interviews or horror films, perhaps relaxing with a drink and a Porter Wagoner album isn’t for you.

Thus we come to my favorite socially unacceptable subgenre: the murder ballad. Being a badass feminist, it IS weird that I love an entire collection of music where the majority of tunes are about men killing women or visiting horrific violence upon them. I can’t help it though. I can’t get enough of these songs.

Here’s where it gets interesting. The country music world has always been male-centric. For every forgotten woman like Rose Maddox, Wilma Lee Cooper or Moonshine Kate, there are ten famous male stars like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, or Merle Haggard. So when I come across my murder ballad-singin’ women, I rejoice!  Bring that gore to the floor, ladies! Country women who sing about murder and violence are extra subversive, especially if they are making that narrative gender-flip of and sing those stories usually sung by men with murder on their minds… 
 

The Coon Creek Girls

The Coon Creek Girls formed in the 1930s and were the first all-women string-band. Their manager, an exploitative jerk named John Lair, went so far as to change the band name from their self-chosen Red River Ramblers to Coon Creek Girls because he “thought it sounded more country.” Apparently he thought the low/working class exoticism of that band name would sell these Appalachian-raised women better at shows. It didn’t. These gals sold themselves!
 

Lily May Ledford of the Coon Creek Girls and her banjo

Banjo player Lily May Ledford recalls:

“What a good time we had on stage… jumping up and down, sometimes ruining some of our songs by laughing at each other. Sis, when carried away by a fast fiddle tune, would let out a yell so high pitched that it sounded like a whistle. Sometimes, when playing at an outdoor event, fair or picnic, we would go barefooted. We were so happy back then. Daisy and Sis, being good fighters, would make short work of anybody in the more polished groups who would tease or torment us. We all made short work of the “wolves” as they were called, who tried to follow us home or get us in their cars.”

Tons of “I drowned my girlfriend/lover/wife” songs exist in the murder ballad canon but “Pretty Polly,” is easily one of the nastiest and most violent. That’s what makes the Coon Creek Girls’ version is especially good. While I quite enjoy the song as sung by The Byrds, it’s not as unique as the all-female arrangement. Great band, great tune. 
 

 
Plenty more after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Ariel Schudson
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01.15.2018
02:58 pm
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