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.