I liberated Chaz and Whitman from the Prince and Pauper antique store in the French Quarter of New Orleans, LA some time in the late 1990s. The store is no where to be found these days, but it was once filled with sexy items from foreign lands such as furniture from Spain, masks from Indonesia and puppets from China. Two such antique reproduction puppets were rabbits, more specifically bunnies of a scary nature with harshly carved bodies and poorly painted, would-be fur. Their appearance was so unusual that they seemed to actually change expressions when viewed from different angles. If you looked right at them you had to remind yourself that they were simply inanimate objects with flair, but I simply could not leave them in the store.
I was painting an Indonesian series in watercolor at the time. The theme was based on painted puppets from Java adorned in shiny silks, painted with royal flair, and mounted on crude-looking sticks. To this series I added masks, shadows, and heavy greenery to promote the Southeast Asian appeal. I thought the odd yellow bunny and his counterpart in blue would begin a new series of wooden entertainment, but after countless attempts to use them, I found they did not fit in a still life well at all. The long bodies interfered with the balance of the composition even when they sat down. The ears were a necessary evil that could not be lowered and no one seemed to want to look directly into their eyes for an obvious fear of being possessed by them or at the least, losing a staring contest.
The crudely hinged creatures eventually found a home in my travel trunk were they remained until Burning Man 2002. They then made the journey to Black Rock Desert and began their modeling career. All was well and good until Whitman lost an arm somewhere between the shoot with red silk on mountain backdrop and the pose with wooden sphere on the desert floor. (Yes, we found the arm.) Back into the travel trunk they went for both safety and transportation.
In 2004, the Scary Little Bunnies found their way back to the French Quarter as series of paintings which few would notice, fewer would understand and only one woman (from California) would purchase. She said she was drawn to one specific piece because the poor “yellow one” had no arm. Finally someone began to understand the beauty of the oddity. At the end of the show, the first Scary Little Bunny was sold. The piece was a painting of the duo on the desert floor of Nevada looking perfectly dehydrated and yet content. I began to realize they would not fit into a still life of any kind. The pieces had to tell a story about Chaz and Whitman. This was better than balance or shadow, it was going to be a somewhat deranged and mildly entertaining adventure.
Enter Stabbed In The Art, an art show created in 2009 by Alexander Harvie and TJ Black to bring art, wine, and hint of idiotic jargon to the streets of Baton Rouge. Through this show, the Scary Little Bunnies emerged with new found cynicism and talent. Their antics have been captured on rooftops, under circus tents, and during competitive games. With any luck their adventures will flourish as their vacant expressions continue to evolve.
Thanks for reading.
-Guardian of the Scary Little Bunnies