Lana Sutton #5 and the World’s Worst Spy


Edward G. Nilges, “State of a Portrait of Lana Sutton, Holy Terror, as the Dancer of Dawn, as of 16 Oct 2010″, acrylic (Mars Black wash) on canvas, 12″ x 16”

Edward G. Nilges, “Detail of State of a Portrait of Lana Sutton, Holy Terror, as the Dancer of Dawn, as of 16 Oct 2010″, acrylic (Mars Black wash) on canvas, 12″ x 16”

Edward G. Nilges, “Chiaroscuro Study for a Portrait of Lana Sutton, Holy Terror, as the Dancer of Dawn”, photograph of incomplete painting, green-tinted and white-highlighted using Gimp, 16 Oct 2010

The homeward bound and the outward bound…
I swear they are all beautiful,
Every one that sleeps is beautiful, every thing in the dim light is
beautiful…

Walt Whitman

The ink-wash chiaroscuro moves along. The dawn light emerges from the middle right side of the painting and catches the sea and the arabesque on the right sight of the body of the Dancer of Dawn. It shall, I hope, reflect the glory of her right arm, with its accidental ink effects that just happen to fall into place as her sinews.

Her costume red, white and blue as befits: for Lana Sutton is an artist, musician, activist, gardener, environmentalist and holy terror from Tennessee, who could have modeled for the painting of the guidon of a Tennessee regiment, whether of the Union, or the Confederacy; this is not the time for refighting the Civil War. This painting is based on photographs by Native Son.

Notes on a Journey Through Kitsch

I find in using the academic “indirect” method that I repeat some mistakes found in Low Rent movie posters from my childhood in the 1950s.

In the above poster for “Target Hong Kong”, the world’s worst spy, a real playing field beauty with blonde hair, a red tie, and a neat part revealing the onset of male pattern hair loss holds a gun which appears to be a water pistol with a leak, for it intersects what one then realizes is a target symbol half a beat later.

The commonplace aesthetic of the Brechtian, overused in reference to the movie made several years ago about Ed “Plan Nine from Outer Space” Wood, is that “it’s so bad it’s good”.

That is malarkey. You cannot be so bad you’re good. Just as less is not more, less is less, the Target Hong Kong poster is so bad it’s bad.

But: it’s bad because the ad agency had a budget and we do not know whether the artist sucked as an artist, for he had only a certain amount of time, and, this is always the case. Likewise, “Ed Wood” mystifies the fact that the main reason Ed Wood sucked was that he was simply unable to get financing.

My problem is resolving the tension between commercial shlock and “fine art”, to redirect schlock like Robert Crumb.

My art mentor, who is smarter than me, doesn’t like the idealization of the female figure found in my earlier work; she likes the Lana Sutton “series” probably because it is based on an actual girl. But this life class insistence on the Given is to me somewhat tiresome, another Jargon of Authenticity of the sort I’ve been told about all my life.

Be authentic! has been told me by others primarily for their own gratification in my experience.

I’ve seen Wonder Woman at marathons and only a Jargon of Authenticity would persuade her to be “authentic” and a slob.

Transcendence, the dance, which just happens to take me on a journey back through shlock where I make mistakes.

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