Status Symbol

Court Painter’s latest status symbol: Chickens

His pampered birds wear feather diapers,feather tams and feather ascots and have a personal chef — and lay the finest decor eggs art money can buy.
Court Painter has a life that stands out even among Calgary's portrait painter elite: He’s the studio Master painter, a job that keeps him glued to sweeping canvases and fixated on future sales.

Excelling at his work requires an obsessive focus on it. But maintaining that passion — especially with his advanced deficit disorder — means knowing when to detach. Court Painter's secret to success: relaxing with a glass of contraband B.C. wine in the back alley alongside his ever present Press Attache and 13 chickens which he calls "my baker's dozen".

"It’s mindless,which I am used to, " he clucked," but far from banal." Tucking his hands in his armpits and makin' like a creature most foul!

“It’s a fascinating thing to sit and watch the little peckers because instead of looking at a blank canvas, you’re looking at the life cycle and maybe tonights dinner,” Court Painter said. “It’s very different from the precious odourless artistic work that I do.”

In true Inglewood hipster fashion, Court Painter approaches his birds as any savvy venture capitalist might: By throwing lots of money at a promising flock (spending as much as $20,000 for high-tech coops). By charting their productivity (number and colour of eggs). And by finding new ways to optimize their birds’ happiness — as well as his own.

Like any successful start-up, broods aren’t built so much as reverse engineered. Decisions about breed selection are resolved by using engineering matrices and spreadsheets that capture “maximum growth.” Court Painter talks about his increasingly extravagant birds with painter references , referring to them as “Sketch 1,” “Sketch 2,” “Sketch 3” and so on.

Press Attache A Hardon MacKay in deep background explained , "Whenever Court Painter undertakes a commission I  write the press release first and he makes the finished work fit the description and we bring the same mentality to the backyard chicken breeding process. Even with our present 13 chickens we are already “succession planning” for the next “refresh" and I am busy writing the press release to attract potential chicken collectors. We’re moving toward a more sustainable cost structure,” he noted breathlessly — zeroing in on the chickens that produce the most colourful eggs with the least feed.

While the hipsters of Inglewood spends $15 on an ordinary chicken at their organic local feed store, Court Painter might spend more than $350 for one heritage breed, a designation for rare, nonindustrial birds with genetic lines that can be traced back generations. He selects each one for desirable personality traits (such as being affectionate and calm — the lap chickens that are gentle enough for him to cuddle), rarity, beauty,artistic ability and the ability to produce highly coveted, coloured eggs keyed to the historical art movements listed in Wikileaks.

“It’s really nice to have this tactile feel of filling the alley with chicken food, filling their water, reading to them and petting them,” said Court Painter, who was introduced to chickens as an additional income stream for the cash strapped studio by his Press Attache & KFC affectionado A Hardon MacKay. “Experiencing the little peckers is a way of getting away from the smell of paint fumes and mice waste matter discharged from their bowels after food scraps have been digested .....that is my present studio life so much of the time.”