Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Orleans, BEAUTIFUL GRIM

I created this piece for the upcoming BEAUTIFUL GRIM art auction and fundraiser. The event is being organized by Daarken and Leif Jeffers. Daarken's girlfriend Cat was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 25 and proceeds from the event will go toward her medical bills as well as benefiting other cancer-related charities.

The illustration itself is based on a real person whom Laura and I encountered over the summer. This unique fellow owns an occult bookshop in New Orleans. His wife gives psychic readings in the back room and they have a sweet little cat who greets you at the door, as well as a six foot python which his daughter occasionally borrows to wear in her burlesque show. We stumbled upon his shop late one afternoon during our explorations and we spent about an hour chatting with him, petting his cat, and perusing his books. I asked him for something to assist with lucid dreaming. He thought for a moment as he surveyed his shelves which were stocked with hundreds of tiny bottles. Then he mixed together several oils and handed me a little bottle of wonderfully scented ointment labeled, "psychic wisdom and moon intuition". He told me to dab it on my pulse points before bed and "not too much, it's potent." I'm still not sure if he meant the fragrance or the magic powers, but I'll assume it's both.

This fellow came to mind for the Beautiful Grim project for a few reasons: New Orleans itself, recently shaken by disaster, exists in a state of grim beauty. Despite the damage sustained by this culturally and creatively vibrant city, the passion, history and magic still flow along its southern streets in a heady and tangible current. The bookshop might seem grim at first glance -- the enormous python, the shopkeeper's seemingly somber demeanor, or the altar littered with every kind of voodoo trinket one could imagine -- but a longer stay reveals him as a gifted, benevolent, twinkly-eyed storyteller. His mystical potions are comprised of essential oils and medicinal herbs, his cat is trusting and affectionate, and the altar, as is the case in most of the French Quarter's voodoo shops, exists for purposes of healing and protection.

7 comments:

Ken said...

Love your work mate. Fantastic style! Glad I stumbled upon your blog - will have to spend some time checking out all your work!

Brandon said...

Great illustration. I hope this piece earns good money for a good cause. Thanks for the story and the work in progress drawings. I love the snake and the cat sitting at the door. This one really pulls you in.

Lubomir said...

I just happened to be listening to these guys while reading your post:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ev3h4Ifo48M

It felt appropriate for the vibe, though incongruous with your story.
Sounds like a very interesting hour spent inside there!

Emily said...

Did his potion work?? Finish your story!

Mukpuddy said...

Your work is amazing dude!!

Christian Robinson said...

Wow! that's really incredible... The art the story behind it and the cause : )
Not sure if you remember me, but i'm a fan and have mad respect for your work.

peace

-Christian

Trevor Spencer said...

this is SOOOO good! i love it