Rex’s Question


Rex Murphy:

‘Where are the Court Painter’s allies?’

It is impossible to know an art celebrity, fully, without living as an adored subject of envy and sparse vocabulary. So what the Court Painter is feeling now, the direction and tone of his painterly thoughts and mixed media musings, during this collapse of the art celebrity economy, is best and only completely known to — The Court Painter

Subject: On 2011-02-28, at 9:57 PM, Beeby, Gale wrote: From Gale Beeby for New in Homes story by Gale Beeby on the CHBA conference in Banff. Pictures of keynote speak Rex Murphy. IMG_4834-rex.jpg IMG_4838-rex.jpg

Nonetheless there are many who do not live in Calgary or the slums of Inglewood, home of the Court Painter’s one car garage studio, and may still make reasonable assumptions of how those who do live in the neighbourhood must be thinking and feeling during this shock and downturn of fortune for the Great Dominion’s premiere portraitist of political countenance ,contradiction and costume .

Court Painter & Rex Redux 1

Very many Canadians, from every province, have either visited his Calgary studios, or have found themselves working for the Court Painter as unpaid studio interns. And of that lucky class it is needless to point out that a very great number of them came from the Newfoundland Sketch & Release Society.

Newfoundland sketch and releasers have, I think, a very good notion, of what it must feel like now in Calgary art studios when an economy, on which so much has depended, has been massively jolted (a) because we have so often experienced it on the Rock, and (b) because so many of us found relief for our art starved distress from the days of Calgary’s art prosperity best exemplified by an artist whose initials are C.C.(Legal council has determined it is best not to identify ‘buddy what’s his name’.)

Why is the Court Painter not receiving a wider, deeper wave of interest, or concern, during his celebrity crisis in the studio?

Rex Murphy speaks at the opening ceremonies of the Municipalites Newfoundland and Labrador convention in Corner Brook Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy

He helped us during our bad spell of sloppy abstraction, wooly rendering of hands and feet and the cod net still life phase. Why there is not now, that the dynamic is reversed, a harvest of equal return?

For I sense, in some quarters at least, that there is not. That maybe Calgary art celebrities, or the West , having – such is the line – had it so good for so long, having been on top of the game, could take a little knockdown, that because it’s “out there” in the state of the art, that maybe, you know, a little “cooling off” is not so bad.You won’t hear or feel that sentiment when it’s the macramé industry, or any other artsy cottage industry for that matter. But downtime in the ‘push them buttons’ political portraiture industry … well, that’s always different. Aren’t they dirty ( sexually charged) studio jobs, anyway?

And so, if I were the Court Painter, I’d be feeling more than a little unsettled that a downturn here is either “business as usual” or just “the way things turn” or that this steely willed portraitist can take it, you know, things will eventually turn over.

The attitude of the painters of all things greens and their allied provocateurs,  all the dim-minded celebrities that took their jaunts to visit the Court Painter to mewl over his art planet-destroying potential – has always been fervidly anti-Court Painter, reckless with his fine reputation, and deeply disrespectful of his studio workforce.

Court Painter & Rex Redux 3

The Court Painter must be asking : Why Me? Why, only me? Are there no other portraitists of the political elite in the world? Are there no other portrait economies? Are there not huge studio projects elsewhere to claim their self-aggrandizing attentions, projects of far more scale (with canvases of 10ft x 10ft minimum and you know who you are Arabia) and far less regulated that the one in their own country – that supplied such relief to Canadians in terms or aesthetic titillation and rock em sock em inside the bubble commentary.

Were I the Court Painter, I’d be first perplexed, and then perhaps angrier than a grizzly at a gophers wedding or a bull elk at last call.Were I the Court Painter, these are some, and only some of the thoughts I’d have.

The Court Painter is caught in the headlights of a perfect storm brought on by the decline of pudgy political faces to render and the sunny ways in the Great Dominion’s capital that have ruined and bleached the power of the Court Painter’s chiaroscuroian image methodology.

Court Painter & Rex M

The anti-Court Painter campaign means that his competitors see his decline as a good thing and have indeed been wishing for it – though actually saying that out loud won’t happen except in the higher reaches of the painters of all things green world.

Were I the Court Painter, all these elements, prickly as a burr under the saddle of existence,would leave me both perplexed and madder than a hornet’s nest in a lighting storm!