"Earth’s distant orb appeared the smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; whilst round the chariot’s way innumerable systems rolled and countless spheres diffused an ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some were hornèd like the crescent moon; some shed a mild and silver beam like Hesperus o'er the western sea; some dashed athwart with trains of flame, like worlds to death and ruin driven; some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, eclipsed all other light." From "Queen Mab" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Folk Art Of Cactus County part #1

I freely admit that I am not what you might call a natural artist, so anything I do in my rather naive fashion would have to be placed under the “outsider art” category. I don’t have a problem with that. I’m making it up as I go along and it works for me.

Inspired by Cactus County’s tradition of rationalist outsider art, I’ve created some pieces around El Dia De Los Muertos, or The Day Of The Dead, a popular event in Cactus County celebrated by the inhabitants without all the religious overtones experienced in most other places.

This first piece is called "Folk Art Of Cactus County" and is acrylic on wood.

This second piece is called "El Bandito" and represents the infamous 19th Century Cactus County bandit of the same name. Again acrylic on wood, this piece also contains a bullet shell casing, a feature of a number of the pieces I’ve been working on. This was the first picture I did that also incorporated a written work to go with it. Here’s the text and the picture:

One of Cactus County’s most notorious and colorful characters was El Bandito. Riding with a band of outlaws known as “The Bad Men” during the late 1800’s, El Bandito was wanted for cattle rustling, holding up trains and stage coaches, robbing banks, and flouting local bylaws on riders being responsible for clearing up horse droppings along the town’s main street.

Not once during his scandalous profession did he kill anyone. While he himself said this was because he respected other people’s right to life, some members of The Bad Men reported later that it was just because he was a terrible shot. “He was one of the quickest draws I ever saw,” said Tuco Ramirez, one of The Bad Men, “But he was easily the worst shot in the Old West. He couldn’t hit a cow at ten paces. A nice guy though, good to his horse and a damn good cook. His chilli was better than my own mother used to make. Most of us stayed in the gang just for his cooking. He liked to think he was a rough tough outlaw, but really he was a much better cook than a bandit.”

El Bandito didn’t remain an outlaw, though what happened to him is uncertain. Some say he was bit by a snake and died. But after the gang split up, Tuco remembers visiting a saloon in Cactus County called “The Red Hand”, a low down dirty joint with a reputation for violence and good but simple food. “I ate a bowl of chilli there one time and it was better than my mothers. I only know one man who could cook like that.”

That’s it for now, I’ll be posting more of my outsider art shortly.

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