Wednesday, October 11, 2023

A Tale of Two Titles

 In keeping with The Goddess Project theme of re-examining the mythology of all the religions, I painted the Necessary Evil triptych. It features two wise older women playing the roles of God and the Devil, in bathrobes, chatting over cups of endless coffee. Reminiscent of my own girls weekends where we begin with breakfast and talk nonstop into the lazy hours of the afternoon, these old friends strategize ways to fix the ills of the world. Read more about the triptych here.

All three panels of the Necessary Evil Triptych were on display in giclee format at the Cleveland Hopkins Airport for almost 6 months without a blip on the radar.


The Necessary Evil Triptych showed for 3 months in 2022 at the May Show at Lakeland. 

I told the world what it was about when I featured it on Living Figuratively!

I even sported my devilish horns and mustered Star Trek-inspired acting ability to rival that of William Shatner!

Nary a peep there either.


In July 2023, it was displayed again at the Ashtabula Arts Center as part of my solo show, The Goddess Project: Warriors.

This third showing was very different.

There’s a metaphor of how a single mosquito can wreak quite a bit of havoc under the covers in a dark bedroom. 

In Ashtabula, there was one very vocal and busy mosquito who worked very hard to let everyone know she was offended by the Necessary Evil Triptych, along with much of my work in the show. Whether it was boobs, blasphemy, bodily autonomy, or all three, she thought my paintings were not suitable for children coming to the center for art camps and music lessons. Never mind that most kids nowadays have access to all that the boobs, blasphemy, bodily autonomy and more that the internet and social media offers. 


I have to be flattered though, at how extensively she researched my work . She watched my Living Figuratively videos and quoted specific time markers where I got a Judeo-Christian bible story or character all wrong. The Greek myths I busted were only offensive because of the breasts. She researched my past work and lampooned the irreverence of my Chicks with Balls Project…not recognizing that she herself might also be a Chick with Balls; boldly speaking out and doing what she feels is best to protect her children. Quite a few of the women who posed for the Chicks project were deeply faithful, some were Pro-Life Christians.  They all connected with the female empowerment aspect of the project though.


This lone dissenter embarked upon an extensive email campaign, sending numerous, detailed, well-written and lengthy correspondences. She enlisted her pastor and friends to join in this effort.


She even started a well-designed website, featuring me and my work as the villain in the Ashtabula Art scene. There was even an online petition to sign!


A woman after my own heart, this very active activist, also wrote letters to the editor of the local paper about my offensive show, and how it should be permanently removed from the art center. 


She got her wish because my show was scheduled to close July 29 anyway. I brought the work home. It was never intended as a permanent installation. 


As much trouble as her campaign was…for the Art Center especially…I was definitely honored how intensely my work moved her! The worst thing an artist can suffer is to be ignored. She studied my work way more than people who actually like it! And, to her credit, she is an educated and well-spoken person who writes well. Unlike many of her compatriots in policing liberal ideas, she knows the difference between their, they’re and there…and also your and you're.


Perhaps this woman is my Type A, Virgo, doppelganger…though, as I've seen with doppelgangers in movies and books, it’s probably best if we never meet.


With the Necessary Evil Triptych home safe and sound, it was now mine to decided where she should be submitted next. 


My doppelganger made me wonder, is the painting really so evil…or is it just the title? I’ve had people of faith tell me they loved it because it brings God to their kitchen table, as a kind-hearted loving entity…literally warm and fuzzy in bathrobes! Fans have also enjoyed the wise grandmotherly female energy it conveys. And truly, I’m not starting a religion, or presenting icons to be worshipped, I’m just offering a different perspective to ponder. What if we saw our deities and creators as kindly old women…would there be less fire, brimstone, vengeance and violence in the world? Women are really all about creating stuff, not so much destroying it. 

The painting really isn't about evil at all. Necessary Evil needed a new name.

In my quest to find a new name for the painting I turned to the Bible, where I remembered verses about loving your enemy. I've always believed that if you’re looking for something in the bible…reasons to do evil, or reasons to do good…you will find it. 

Jesus came through for me with just the right quote in Matthew 5:44.


“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,


It was a perfect metaphor for the painting…God and the Devil sitting down together in peace; God literally doing the hard work of loving your enemy.


It was also a great metaphor for me and my doppelganger…though, like I said, I’d prefer never to meet.


The Necessary Evil triptych now has a new name; Matthew 5:44. I submitted the center panel to a wholesome and prestigious art show I submit to every year, in the very conservative deep south. 


I’m thrilled to say, Matthew 5:44 was accepted to Southwest Artists, Art of the Heartland show at the Mena Gallery in Arkansas…and, that she won the First Place Prize! 

Empowered by this sweet and calculated triumph of Good over Evil…I took a second look at the left and right panels of my triptych. 

It is no accident that they work so well together…I design all my dyptychs and triptychs to work independently or in alternate arrangements. They are also for sale as singles. 

I gave this diptych a new name, Matthew 5:44, The Holy Grail…Loving your enemy being the possibly unatainable holy grail. 

I entered her into the Annual National Juried Exhibition at the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art. The WMOCA is a miracle of a museum, focusing on contemporary figurative realism. Masterminded by Museum Director, David Hummer, WMOCA proudly sits in the historic downtown of sweet, creative, welcoming and conservative Wausau, Wisconsin. 

Lo and Behold, she came through for me again! Matthew 5:44, The Holy Grail, was awarded Second Place by Museum Director, David Hummer…and I couldn't be more thrilled! I attended the jam packed Opening Reception with my honey and was honored to be part of such a prestigious National Show!

So, if that’s not incentive to love my enemies and pray for them, I’m not sure what is! 


Seventh Annual National Juried Exhibition
Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art
309 McClellan Street
Wausau, Wisconsin
Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11:00 to 3:00

Seventh Annual National Juried Exhibition 
continues through December 30th.

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