I just finished this piece, which I see as the second in a series I started with Pull, the last piece I did in this vein.
This one is called Fight/Flight, and you can see large images of it on my website.
There are lots of funny things on this piece, particularly this whole subplot featuring a megalomaniac ladybug who disses a bunch of poetry spouting guppies. The plot is circular: the lady bug flies across the center of the piece, meets various bugs who tell her about the art world, goes in to a crazy rant, reaches a peak of confidence, gets eaten by a frog, and resurfaces to fly again...
Here is part of the conversation about the art world.
The thing about having an edge is an allusion to an experience I had in Chelsea once. I was visiting New York from Florida, and a curator who liked my work sent me to see a famous gallerist, who told me, in what I truly remember as a Transylvanian accent, that I was doomed to failure because "here in New York we like our work with an edge. We like it to cut like a knife. "
The ladybug gets more and more worked up then goes in to an egotistical little song:
If you can't read that rant, the ladybug sings, "I am the cure for what ails you, the modern con-dition! Queeen of the kittycat, protector of puppies! Saving ass-thetics from the ignrnt guppies!"
The guppies, however, are very wise. They are quoting a favorite poem of mine, Danse Russe, by William Carlos Williams. The fish give credit where credit is due and then continue quoting the poem along the bottom of the piece.
If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,--
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
again the yellow drawn shades,--
Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?
The guppies say the lines of the poem along the bottom of the piece until the last line, when they are interrupted.
The frog attempts to eat the ladybug, but she lives to fly across the painting and begin again.
The piece is also bracketed by two more pieces of text. This text, in the upper right, is talking about the swan and the otter. "They were both so ambitious, so fond. Raised as brothers, they had developed wildly different adaptations in order to survive. The swan garnered orderly adoration, the otter's critical teeth longed for the new. What could be done but fight?"
In the upper right quadrant of the painting there's a little island where the inhabitants have built a tower from which they are launching a zeppelin.
Drawing otter fur makes me want to rename my blog.