Tuesday, November 8, 2011

THE TROUBLE WITH FEMALES

I'm a HUGE John Waters fan and have an appreciation for his trashy films. So when I was asked to be a part of a group show centered around Waters drag queen muse, Divine, there was no hesitation in my acceptance.

My favorite Waters films are his earliest films: Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living, Polyester and Female Trouble. Although I really enjoy A Dirty Shame as a comeback and my guilty pleasure is Cry Baby. Instantly, I knew the theme of my painting was going to be Female Trouble. It is a story about the life of an ungrateful degenerate woman, from her delinquent youth, to her maladjusted family and her fame obsessed downward spiral.

So I began by slopping on paint.

In the film Female Trouble, Divine wears a pretty iconic outfit that is made of purple leopard print material. I thought that would be a good background. As the paint drips, I found my image materializing in the acrylic mess.

The painting is pretty much a montage of imagery from the film and a personal commentary that I added to the piece. The central attention is focused on a full body representation of Divine's character, Dawn Davenport, during the height of her self-obsessed fame and a three-quarters view of her head during her demise on death row.

In the painting above, you will notice a slight difference in the three-quarter view portrait and the one in the previous image. I had actually finished up the portrait and was so unhappy with the outcome, that I took an electric sander to it and started over. This version accomplishes the image I had in my head, whereas the other was slightly off. Sometimes you can't quite put your finger on it, but it just doesn't work.

Bloody babies were added floating in space.


An unforgettable moment in the film is when Dawn gives birth to her baby on a filthy couch. In a bloody mess, she bites through the umbilical chord. Most woman are obsessed with babies and when they have babies on the brain, logic goes out the window.

I'm not a street artist. Other than some delinquent graffiti I did as a kid, I've never used spray paint as an artistic medium. Visually, I thought it would look good to have Dawn's prison number from the film stenciled on the board.

Sometimes I choose to do things for a stylistic reasons opposed to remaining faithful to perception. This portrait of Dawn is one of those times.


When Divine's character is apprehended by the police, she is still in her stark make-up and pre-punk mohawk. She is tried like this, only dressed in prison garb. But when she is electrocuted, Her head is shaved and she is absent of makeup. The image I had in my head was a cross between the two. The grimace and make-up definitely comes from the trial, but the shaved head comes from the execution. What the hell.

I added a mass of dripping black goo to the background. This is not only for esthetic purposes but also to capture addiction and compulsion. Divine's character experiments with a new drug which is liquid eyeliner injected intravenously. This is the source for Dawn's narcissism and vanity.

During a performance art exhibition, Dawn pulls out a gun and shouts to the audience "Who wants to die for art?" before firing off homicidal bullets. Again, emphasizing a self absorbed attitude, the word "Art" is crossed out and replaced with "Me".

This was done in the same style as the title board for the film. This change being made in lipstick adds a feminist approach to rewriting history.

In the end, the piece speaks volumes to me. I hope that others will find their own messages in it as well. Feminism, reproduction, glamor and violence. I think Divine would approve. I even glued crystals to Dawn's outfit to match the one in her performance art exhibition (which I'm surprised there were no references for online). I will never use crystals again in another painting, but instinctually, it is quite appropriate for this piece.

"The Trouble with Females" consumed the greater part of two months. I'm very passionate about it's theme and subject matter and found myself completely absorbed in the process. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. "Pretty? Pretty?" The Divine Art Show will be on exhibition throughout the month of November at the Melt Gallery in Hollywood California. The opening reception is on Friday night November 11th from 8pm-11pm. Come see this piece and others in person. I will be there at some point.

If you are interested in purchasing this piece, contact the meltdown staff at 323-851-7223 or staff@meltdown.com.

7522 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90046

3 comments:

  1. Wow! This is an amazing piece. I love your explanation of the thought process behind it, and also share your affinity for John Waters films! Congrats to you on such a fabulous end result, after so many weeks worth of work! You are extremely talented.

    --Kara Jeanne (Boston, MA)

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  2. WoWza - COSMIC. This is just awesome :-D xxxx

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