The completed Carswell painting, my favorite chimp this year! Billed as "Carswell the Magnificent", he would mesmerize his audience with his hypnotic gaze. Known as one of the great mentalists of the late 19th century, he toured Europe and North America for many years convincing audiences night after night, 6 days a week, twice on Sundays, . . . That he was much more than an ordinary chimp!
During his off season, he was known simply as "Manny", the affable chimp who repaired machines and tools for his neighbors in a quiet development in Clearwater, Florida.
The original Jackalopes appeared in the Western United States sometime in the early 1860's.
They were curious hawkers of dry goods, mining tools, and unusual artifacts. When the gold was discovered in the Black Hills
in the 1870's, the Jackalopes switched to selling potions and cure-alls that promised remarkable results, like cures for hair loss,
attraction from the opposite sex, missing limbs, etc, . . . They would put on elaborate shows in front of their makeshift, portable
storefronts that were carted from town to town. In Deadwood, South Dakota, the most famous "medicine show" had dancing
grizzly bears and a fireworks display. If patrons followed the unusual instructions that came along with their purchases, the results from the glowing bottles were like magic.
However, if one didn't know how to read, there was great calamity and misfortune. Overdoses caused many problems;
extreme hair growth including hair between the toes, out of eye sockets, massive uni-brows, while some children grew beards.
Those who wanted to increase their virility grew extra loles or fingers. Entire towns would experience skin color changes like
purple or bright green. Luckily, Jackalopes always had henchmen who protected them from angry mobs. They were usually very large
men dressed as giant rabbits or gorillas for effect. The business was still very lucrative and it spawned many copycat potion sellers who pretended to be working for Jackalopes
and sold fake potions. These men became known as "snake-oil" salesman claiming to have elixirs and extracts from "tribal medicine men". To stave off their false competitors, the Jackalopes all gathered and held a secret meeting where they created a syndicate of potion sellers
run by very clever "Jackalope Boss". The locals called him"Gentleman Jack"because he was always impeccably dressed with fancy
leather shoes(most Jackalopes didn't wear shoes). This dapper boss, organized a gangs of enforcers that ran off most of the competition.Punishment for intruding on territory ranged from cutting off ears and fingers to harsher punishments like tar and
feathering people with crows feathers.
Manny's stage name was "Carswell The Magnificent". When he was resting in Florida during the off season, he was just Manny; the friendly Chimp who repaired things for his neighbors.
I looked up this scan of the first Dodo Bird drawing I ever did for a benefit art show. I always wondered who purchased it. It went extinct in the 1600's and all we have left are bones and artist renderings. It was done with graphite and charcoal on Fabriano paper for Roq La Rue Gallery
This is a better closeup of the drawing done on Canson MultiMedia paper
When I was asked to participate in the Heavy Metal Show at Copro, I thought I'd have a little fun making something that reminded me of the covers. This one is called Green Eyed Envy Lady and it's on my board right now
Thinking about Jackalopes again. As purveyors of curious potions and tonics, they traveled across the northwestern United States in the late 19th century peddling their goods and boasting of the miraculous cures for hair loss, stamina, and dental longevity contained in the strange glowing bottles. They often had henchmen dressed up as grizzly bears or wild boars who would prance around as the sales pitch was delivered with the kind of showmanship that would mesmerize and frighten the audience just enough. Occasionally there would be actual grizzly bears taking part in the less theatrical medicine shows.