Thursday, May 1, 2014


"Wake me up opening day." This is what my old man said, miserably laying on his death bed in late April a few years back. He turned me onto turkey hunting in the mid-nineties. I love it almost as much as he did. My return to hunting as art form gave us common ground in a world of extreme differences. He was a businessman, a bit of a conservative, a suburban father and grandfather, who lived for his family. I resided on the lower east side, had no kids and lived on the edge. Hunting brought us together. Every telephone call in May started the same way: "What's the report?"
    Yesterday I put two pieces in the lion cage- TATTOO MY SEX DOLL and KU KLUX KLOWN. In the wake of all the racist and "date rape" news I felt a need to go public with these, what I consider, relevant works. The lion cage is a great venue to set up art safely behind the bars. No one can fuck with it. The day was quiet. No one stopped up. My email box was empty and the phone never rang. No comments- pro or con. So I was a bit surprised when Diamond Dave stopped by and informed me that the whole town was buzzing......and not in a good way. It wasn't the sparse foliage surrounding the obscene fake vagina on TMSD that had gotten anyone's attention, rather it was KKKlown, sitting there, hands folded, bothering no one, that seemed to tweak the 'hood. GOD LOVES FAGS in Hebrew was old news, tame in comparrison.
    For many years I've worked in seclusion, rarely showing in any venue, art or otherwise. My audience consisted of a few friends and family who I share my so-called "career" with. This changed in 2008 when I decided to show at Marianna Rothen's apartment in Williamsburg. After 15 years of silence I popped my head up long enough to get a little press and a taste for getting back in the game. This led to the "roadside attraction" approach to my more recent work. My audience is a twice daily rush hour of RNButch's Hispanic workers, a smattering of hillbillies, Hassidics, hunters and fishermen, and of course my neighbors. As far as I know the art world doesn't drive by.
   When DD told me how up-in-arms everyone was over KKKlown, my first reaction was non-plussed. These pieces use loaded imagery, so I wasn't that surprised that some would misconstrue. What did surprise me is that my neighbors felt compelled to unload on DD, instead of calling me directly. All this work is meant to engage, not alienate. It may interest ya'll to know that I am not insensitive to your opinions on my public work. The dialogue is important. No one works in a vacuum. The last thing I want is for the strength of this imagery to overpower the intended statement. I've already laid out my views on racism and sexism. Still, some will be so blinded by their own baggage that they will not be able to appreciate any subtlety of message. The art won't come through. I hear you.

I woke up at 5 am. It was raining. After coffee and a shower I tossed my calls, gun, butt pad and raincoat into Shirley's trunk and headed for DD's new property. No sooner had I loaded the gun than I heard a gobble across the road. The bird was way down in the woods. He was sounding off pretty good. Maybe I could coax him in. I set up on the edge of a grouping of tumble down trailers, overlooking a swampy field. I scratched out some yelps on the beautiful box call Milawyer had given me last year. The tom responded. Now came the chess game. My heart was racing. I live for this.
   I tried to call just enough to keep the gobbler interested, but not too much to turn him off. He was coming. I put the 12 ga. on my knee and strained to see the front sight. It wasn't even 6 am when I saw the red head. What I didn't see was a beard. The bird was large enough to be a tom. Could it be just a big jake? Then as he stepped behind a tree, I saw a flapping beard. When I moved the gun he caught me, freezing with half his head showing. I settled the sight and fired. He jumped and kept going. I fired again. Bark flew as I pumped another shell into the chamber and pulled the trigger. More bark flew. I was doing great....if I had been chopping wood. I couldn't remember if I had put 3 or 4 shells in the gun, so when I settled down and leveled the gun on his head, I had no idea if I would hear a blast or a hollow "click". To my relief the gun kicked and the big tom fell in his tracks.

   By 6:30 am I had removed KKKlown and TMSD from the lion cage, tagged and hung a beautiful turkey in their place, and poured another cup of coffee. The 'hood can relax (for now). I sure miss the old man. Happy birthday Beaver. That's the report.


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