The Children of Sunshine Finally Get Their Chance to Shine

Kids creating their own pop and rock music is fairly common today, with a few of them (Smoosh, Tiny Masters of Today, etc.) going on to relative success with their music.  But in the 1970s the musical landscape was quite different.  Though the early ’70s were a great decade for musical experimentation, independent music hadn’t quite come into its own yet, and studios were hard on the trail of the next Beatles or Rolling Stones.  In that environment it’s a wonder that Kitsy Christner and Therese “Tres” Williams, then both ten years old, were able to record an album.  Even so, the album Dandelions by Christner and Williams (a.k.a. Children of Sunshine) was an indie production with only 300 copies released, a novelty item that came and went quickly with little fanfare.  In all likelihood the album would’ve passed into the void of history unheard of by most if not for two key elements: the discovery of a copy at a garage sale by a local record collector and the internet.  You can read about how the album came into existence and how it attained fame over forty years later in this article at the Riverfront Times website.  It’s a fascinating story in and of itself.

As for the music, the entire album has been released on YouTube by ’60s/’70s acid rock aficionado The Psychedelic Garden.  It’s a short album and every bit as entertaining as it’s billed to be.  The music is stripped down and basic, and the girls are clearly musical fledglings, but that in no way detracts from the album’s charm and humor.  I’d say a reissue of Dandelions is well overdue, wouldn’t you?

By the way, be sure to read the newspaper article attached as a photo to the RFT article!

Edit: I urge you to read the replies section of this post as well, for the discussion brought forth another salient point about the nature of the relationship the girls had with their guitar teacher.

Frank Ackers (with Kitsy Christner & Tres Williams) - The Children of Sunshine - Dandelions (cover) (1971)

Frank Ackers (with Kitsy Christner & Tres Williams) – The Children of Sunshine – Dandelions (cover) (1971)

 

Akiane, Indigo Child Prodigy

Akiane Kramarik was born in 1994 in Mount Morris, Illinois.  Her American father and Lithuanian mother identified themselves as atheists; and then surprisingly, their daughter began to have intense spiritual visions in which she would meet God “face to face”.

Akiane Kramarik

Photographer Unknown – Akiane: Her Life, Her Art, Her Poetry (book cover) (2006)

This was not initially easy to accept as her mother Forelli remembered, “At first I thought it was a nightmare.” (Evening Magazine.) Her father Mark was also caught off-guard, “It sort of took me aback because we never read the Bible and didn’t have any kind of spiritual connection.” (CNN)

Photographer Unknown – Painting 'On My Knees' (2005)

Photographer Unknown – Painting ‘On My Knees’ (2005)

Akiane began having spiritual visions at age three; the following year she picked up art tools to express the things she was experiencing.  “I was just so surprised at the impeccable images I had in my head that I just had to express them in some sort of physical matter.”  (Sally Lee, Daily Mail, January 30, 2015.)  She quickly progressed from sketching to pastel by five, then to acrylic at six, and finally to oil.

Akiane Kramarik – On My Knees, 2005

Akiane Kramarik – On My Knees, (2005)

Her mother speaks of this process as follows,

It wasn’t just art that was happening. Simultaneous with art was a spiritual awakening…. It all began to happen when she started to share her dreams and visions. … We didn’t pray together, there was no discussion about God, and we didn’t go to church. Then all of a sudden, Akiane was starting to talk about God. … We were with the kids all the time, and so these words from Akiane about God didn’t come from the outside—we knew that. But there suddenly were intense conversations about God’s love, His place [in our lives], and she would describe everything in detail.” (Marry Berryhill, Today’s Christian, July/August 2004.)

Akiane’s parents soon joined the church, while she herself remains spiritual but does not consider herself a member of any denomination or religion despite frequent Christian references in her art.

Akiane’s family did not have an artistic character.  Akiane describes her painterly education thus, “I am self-taught. In other words, God is my teacher.” (In5d, Indigos, April 26, 2011).  Nonetheless, she was soon recognized as a prodigy.  In a few short years she appeared with Oprah, CNN’s Lou Dobbs, ABC’s Peter Jennings, Katie Couric and  Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America, Craig Ferguson of The Late Late Show, and Robert Schuller on the Hour of Power.  Her paintings sold for upwards of fifty-thousand dollars, and hung in locations such as the U.S. embassy in Singapore.

Photographer Unknown – Painting 'My Sight Cannot Wait for Me' (2002)

Photographer Unknown – Painting ‘My Sight Cannot Wait for Me’ (2002)

Akiane is highly dedicated.  She paints six days a week, rising at three or four a.m. and paints for as many as fourteen hours a day; some works take months and hundreds of hours to complete.

Akiane Kramarik – My Sight Cannot Wait for Me (2002)

Akiane Kramarik – My Sight Cannot Wait for Me (2002)

Akiane’s art can mostly be described as either realist or surrealist.  Often times, she herself does not know the meaning of the images she has seen in visions and feels compelled to paint.  She said, “God gave me more ideas I don’t even know what the meaning is, like pyramids, I really don’t even know that meaning….” (CNN)  Her mother said of these fantastic dream images,

“When she was talking about these galaxies and intergalactic experiences and God, I knew whatever she was seeing, something was really there for her.”  (CNN)

Akiane Kramarik – Faithfulness (2010)

Akiane Kramarik – Faithfulness (2010)

As a girl artist who often made a girl the subject of her work, she might be doubly interesting to Pigtails readers.  In fact, many times that girl subject was a self-portrait.  Described as an indigo child and dedicated to God and love, it’s probably appropriate to find girls and particularly one so angelic as herself in her paintings.

Photographer Unknown – Painting 'Turquoise Eyes' (2005)

Photographer Unknown – Painting ‘Turquoise Eyes’ (2005)

Akiane has traveled to thirty different countries and is currently residing on the Gold Coast in Australia.  She is fond of animals and since the age of twelve, her compassion for other living souls has motivated her to practice veganism.  She is home-schooled and studies largely only what is interesting to her personally.  Akiane speaks five languages including American Sign Language and has contributed significant funds to children’s charities.

Akiane Kramarik – Turquoise Eyes (2005)

Akiane Kramarik – Turquoise Eyes (2005)

Akiane’s painting and the publication of two books have earned her millions of dollars.  Rich, beautiful and genius, she has quite a lot going for her.  Despite all that, she remains humble and committed to sharing what she’s been given.  “I really love sharing my gift with others. At the same time, I’m just a normal kid having fun and that’s what life is all about—having fun at the same time as helping people.”  (rememberwhoweare, October 20, 2011.)

Photographer Unknown – Painting 'Innocence' (2006)

Photographer Unknown – Painting ‘Innocence’ (2006)

Akiane has occasionally faced criticism.  Some people accused her of being a fraud; others called her technical proficiency lacking, and some were offended by the religious content.  She recalls, “People wanted to burn all my works when we tried to display them in public.” (Sally Lee, Daily Mail, January 30, 2015.)

Akiane Kramarik – Innocence (2006)

Akiane Kramarik – Innocence (2006)

Akiane had some profound insights on art and children,

“Portals of divinity are everywhere. I believe that children may enter these divine portals easier, because they are seeking for answers in the purest way.” (In5d, Indigos, April 26, 2011)

“Infinity imagines curiosity from the wild abyss—Only the child makes a swing-set view of the worlds upside down. Unwatched truth is the enchantment of childhood.  And we never grow out of it…” (rememberwhoweare, October 20, 2011)

Akiane Kramarik – Co-Creation (2005)

Akiane Kramarik – Co-Creation (2005)

Akiane has a personal site online which can be found here.

Naked Power: Alan Moore and Winter Moran

Among aficionados of topnotch comics writing/storytelling there are few writers more famous (or more deserving of that fame) than Alan Moore.  Many of his greatest works (From Hell, A League of Extraordinary Gentleman, V for Vendetta and of course Watchmen) have been adapted to the big screen, some more successfully than others–Moore, true to character, has disavowed them all.  A quirky Brit known in the comics industry as much for his politics (and his hoariness) as for his writing, Moore is a dedicated anarchist and free speech advocate who hasn’t so much invited controversy as kidnapped it at gunpoint and forced it to deal with him.  He’s also clearly a genius.

One of Moore’s most controversial works was the erotic one-shot comic Lost Girls, co-authored and illustrated by his second wife, Melinda Gebbie.  The story took three young girls who were the protagonists of famous children’s fantasy books: Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Alice from Alice in Wonderland, and Wendy from Peter Pan, and explored their erotic lives.  Although it deals primarily with these characters as adults, apparently (I confess I haven’t read it), there are scenes from their childhood as well.  The story flirts with dangerous ideas and subverts the notions of innocence that we often associate with these fairy tale characters and with children in general, and consequently some booksellers will not stock it in their store for fear of an obscenity charge, perhaps recalling the rash of police raids on comics shops and bookstores that took place back in the late eighties and early nineties.  It was because of cases like these that the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund formed in 1986, an organization strongly supported by Yours Truly.  (Note: The CBLDF always accepts donations, so if you feel like giving to a good cause that–like us–is on the front line in the war for freedom of speech, I recommend giving to the CBLDF!)

Less controversial (but no less provocative) was the Miracleman series, a new take on a much older character, Marvelman–indeed, in the earliest appearances of the revitalized character, he was still called Marvelman, but when the rights passed over to Eclipse Comics, the name was changed to Miracleman to avoid copyright conflicts, and many of the original issues were retrofitted with the new name and identity in republications.  Moore’s run on the series coincided with the longest and most successful era for the revamped superhero, and as you would expect from Moore, the story was much darker and more violent–way more violent–than the character’s ’50s and ’60s incarnation and deals with his origins and eventual rise to godlike power and status on Earth.  This run was eventually collected into four graphic novels, all of which I highly recommend if you can get your hands on them–unfortunately, original editions of the books are going for a pretty penny on Amazon these days.

But, I digress.  Not only was the writing on the series fascinating and challenging, the artwork in it was consistently gorgeous, done by the likes of Alan Davis, Rick Veitch, Gary Leach and my absolute favorite artist on the series, John Totleben, whose inking is superb on so many levels.  Good inking is really the key to creating good comics art; if the inking is poor, then even the best of colorists often can’t save it.  But fortunately, Totleben is one of the best, despite being partially blind.

The story of Miracleman as conceived by Moore is one that starts with a traditional origin story but then quickly flies off into the darker and more complex corners of superhero mythology.  Moore is a master at exploring the psychological motivations–good, bad and ugly–of people who routinely put on strange costumes and fight crime and/or who have superpowers.  Among superheroes, Marvelman/Miracleman is one of the most powerful, a British analogue to Captain Marvel, who was himself Marvel’s answer to Superman.  In Moore’s vision, this demigod, not content with simply catching criminals, decides to rearrange Earth to his own liking, often with spectacularly surreal results, and to set himself up as benevolent supreme ruler of the planet.  Initially this is received well by civilization because many of Earth’s biggest problems are solved by Miracleman and his equally superpowered wife, but soon the facade begins to crack.

The Golden Age era, covered by the fourth collection, was finished, but not by Moore.  His successor was perhaps the only person the equal of Moore’s particular brand of creativity and intellect, Neil Gaiman.  Grant Morrison also did some writing on the series, making it the only comics series I’m aware of that all three members of what I call the Holy Trinity of British Comics Writers–Moore, Gaiman and Morrison–worked on, though there are probably some comics fans out there who can prove me wrong.  At any rate, although never completed, Gaiman had promised to present his hero in three different eras.  With the Golden Age complete, the second era, the Silver Age, was begun by Gaiman but was never completed.  It begins to show the erosion of Miracleman’s created utopia, and also focuses more on the the characters at the peripheral and how they are impacted by their new reality.  The final arc, the Dark Age, would’ve seen the complete destruction of Miracleman’s paradise and perhaps the downfall of the character himself.  Alas, we will probably never know.

One of the more ingenious characters Moore devised for Miracleman was Winter Moran, the daughter of Michael Moran and Avril Lear, Miracleman and Miraclewoman respectively, and as soon as she’s born she proves to be not only a worthy successor but someone who might soon rival her father and mother.  Immediately upon being born she speaks perfect English and is able to fly.  Not long after that, she leaves Earth altogether for a few years.  When she returns she is four years old, still as naked as the day she was born but much, much wiser, having explored the galaxy and encountered many alien races, one of whom she married, as we will soon learn.  But that’s not the only shocking thing she did while away from Home System: she also has sex (albeit in an artificial body).  In a funny scene in Miracleman Book Three: Olympus, when Winter reveals she’s had sex, her father, who is perhaps the most powerful being on Earth at this point, reveals he is a typically worrisome parent, and for all his intelligence and prudence, he has no idea how to handle his super-precocious four-year-old daughter.

John Totleben - Miracleman - Book Three: Olympus (pg 116, pls 2-4)

John Totleben – Miracleman – Book Three: Olympus (pg 116, pls 2-4)

As the scene progresses, we see that Winter is dissatisfied with her father’s “redecorations” of Earth, and this is likely intended to foreshadow Winter’s eventual rise and challenge to her father’s supremacy.  Winter, it seems, is being set up as the eventual villain of the Dark Age.  But for now she is simply a super-powered, super-intelligent 4-year-old girl who, like Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen, has transcended the need for clothing.  We are aware that she has no particular attachment to human notions of modesty or conventional morality; it is perhaps a short leap from there to the understanding growing in Winter’s consciousness that humanity are as ants to her, or simply toys for her to play with as she pleases.  Or destroy.  Notice Totleben’s delicate Art Nouveau-infused work on Winter’s hair and the background designs here.

John Totleben - Miracleman - Book Three: Olympus (pg 116, pl 5)

John Totleben – Miracleman – Book Three: Olympus (pg 116, pl 5)

Soon Winter is an active participant in her new world.  But what does she do?  She makes it easier and more comfortable for women to give birth to a new strain of genetically modified super-babies like herself.  Hmm, why is Winter so interested in bringing more of such children into the world?  Is she perhaps creating her own army of super-children for an eventual takeover of Earth?  Notice Winter teaching the super-babies how to fly.

John Totleben - Miracleman - Book Three: Olympus (pg 117, pl 1)

John Totleben – Miracleman – Book Three: Olympus (pg 117, pl 1)

In Book Four: The Golden Age, after Neil Gaiman took over writing the series, Winter takes a backseat to another little blond super-baby, Mist, who, like Winter, tends to float around naked.  But Winter does make a prominent appearance in a peculiar way–she is the heroine of her own children’s book (which, incidentally, is being read to Mist and to her normal, non-superpowered half-brother by their mother).  The book is called Winter’s Tale and details what happened during those first few years when she traveled and explored the galaxy on her own.  The comic cleverly presents the pages of the book as part of the storyline, with occasional interjection panels where Mist, her brother and their mom discuss the book.  Here is the first page of Winter’s Tale:

Mark Buckingham; Sam Parsons - Miracleman - Book 4: The Golden Age (pg 94)

Mark Buckingham; Sam Parsons – Miracleman – Book 4: The Golden Age (pg 94)

Perhaps one of the more interesting parts of the story deals with Winter’s meeting with the Lantiman of Sauk, who immediately asks Winter to marry him, which she does.  The context is important here–let’s remember that this is being revealed through a children’s book that exists in Miracleman’s reality, and that it is being read to two children at the same time the reader is experiencing it, one a miracle baby herself, the other not.  The Lantiman reveals forthwith that Winter is simply the newest in his collection of child-brides, and the reader understands that we are now looking at an alien pedophile, and that he is presented positively in the fictional book.

Oddly enough, Winter and the Lantiman never have physical sex.  This fact is not presented in the story, but we know it’s true because the writer points out that Winter is looking for the Qys system–she has not yet met the Qys, the hyper-advanced species that introduced her to sex, at least by Winter’s account in Olympus.  It makes sense that the Lantiman’s relationship with his child-brides is not a sexual one in any conventional sense, given that it is not bound by species, and also owing to his gigantic size, which would make sex with Winter (and presumably most or all of his child-brides) nearly impossible anyway.

So, what is this love the Lantiman has for young girls of every species that compels him to marry them if it isn’t sexual?  I reckon it is something akin to the feelings many of Pigtails’ readers feel–it is not conventionally sexual in itself, but it recognizes the holistic beauty of children, which includes their sexuality.  It is the timeless fascination that little girls hold for some adult males like myself, the recognition that they are a kind of ideal human.  Not that I would ever want to marry a little girl, but for me this blog is analogous to the Lantiman of Sauk’s marriages; it is born out of something that transcends mere beauty or sexuality or any other such physically rooted concept.

And in that light, Winter, who is herself a transcendent version of the little girl–a little girl who is near to achieving her perfect potential–is a natural fit for the Lantiman.  Unlike child-brides in traditional cultures, the Lantiman does not seek to control Winter.  Indeed, he gives her an entire planet, a world for her to play with and control.  He is apparently not interested in her merely as a physical form (though the notion that he also finds little girls physically beautiful is not excluded here); he is interested in her as a little girl who is fully able to express her every desire because of her godlike abilities.  Hence, the Lantiman’s feeling that Winter was the best bride he ever had.  Notice that when Winter is ready to leave him, he does not stop her from going.  Granted, the account is being filtered through Neil Gaiman (as the proxy writer of the children’s book) for the children of the Miracleman universe, so we may not be getting an accurate account of what actually happened between Winter and the Lantiman.

Mark Buckingham; Sam Parsons - Miracleman - Book 4: The Golden Age (pg 100)

Mark Buckingham; Sam Parsons – Miracleman – Book 4: The Golden Age (pg 100)

And now, I have something really special for you.  This is the first actual illustration of mine I’ve featured on this site, and it is my interpretation of Winter Moran.  This piece is 11″ x 14″ pen & ink on Bristol board, done mostly in pointillism (I was going for Virgil Finlay-esque), frameable, signed by me on the front and back, and it is for sale.  If you’re interested, you can contact me off the board and we will arrange something.  Meantime, I hope you enjoy it!  This is the first of what will likely be a series of pieces I plan to post here with little girls as the common theme, most of which will be offered for sale.

Pip Starr - Winter Moran (2015)

Pip Starr – Winter Moran (2015)

Lucas Cranach: Charity

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553) was a German Renaissance artist. He was the court painter to the Electors of Saxony for most of his career and is known for his portraits and nude subjects drawn from mythology and religion. I find it interesting that Cranach was close friend of Martin Luther (the leading figure of the Protestant Reformation). Because he is also regarded as an innovator for his nudes, Kenneth Clark commented that “Cranach is one of those rare artists who have added to our imaginative repertoire of physical beauty.”

Lucas Cranach - Rest on the Flight into Egypt (1504)

Lucas Cranach – Rest on the Flight into Egypt (1504)

The playful almost comic mood of Cranach’s paintings gives his work an appeal not found in the work of most of his contemporaries: Albrecht Durer, Mathis Grünewald and Hans Holbein with the exception of Hans Baldung. The earliest large work by Cranach is The Rest on the Flight into Egypt of 1504. Behind Mary and Joseph stands an old fir tree and birch tree that would more likely be found in Germany than in Egypt. Busy angels who make music, bring water and offer the Christ Child birds take the form of cherubs and child nymphs. To the left of Mary’s feet sits an angel in gold that plays the flute; the style of the gown appears to be that of a girl’s because of the style of the sleeve.

Lucas Cranach - Venus Standing in a Landscape (1529)

Lucas Cranach – Venus Standing in a Landscape (1529)

Cranach seldom painted the nude beauties he is known for until the late 1520s—well into the Reformation. Of the standing Venus paintings, this seems to be the most famous; her slender form, tiny breasts an narrow hips, the rounded forehead, are the physical characteristics of an adolescent girl or young woman. We tend to think of the ideal as a busty beauty but that was not the case until the mid-twentieth century. Nudes in the German tradition drew their inspiration from Gothic art which had a juvenile air. Cranach’s innovation was that he took the stiff figures of Gothic art and gave them the grace of Botticelli.

Lucas Cranach - Portrait of Martin Luther as Junker Jörg

Lucas Cranach – Portrait of Martin Luther as Junker Jörg (c1522)

Cranach was a close friend of Martin Luther from the beginning of the Reformation.  Luther was godfather to Cranach’s daughter Anna and Cranach in turn became godfather to Luther’s first-born son, Johannes. This special relationship with its founder enabled Cranach to chronicle the Reformation. At the time of the above portrait, Luther was regarded as an outlaw by the Roman Catholic Church. Luther is shown with the beard he had grown to disguise himself as the nobleman “Junker Jörg”. He was in hiding at the Wartburg, a strong fortress at the top of a mountain, under the protection of the local prince. In a small study in the castle, he translated the New Testament from Greek into German. To providence, Cranach owned the only publishing house in the area. Cranach illustrated and published Luther’s first translation of the Bible into German, which was the first time that the scriptures were translated from the Latin to be made available to the public.

Lucas Cranach-Charity Standing

Lucas Cranach – Charity Standing (1530s)

Cranach is known for conveying Lutheran religious concerns in his paintings, but I believe the influence of the Reformation on his series of Charity paintings has not yet been recognized. Charity is the foremost of the three theological virtues “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity” (I Corinthians 13:13) The word “love”, is a closer definition to the modern ear because the word “charity” has the implication of giving to the needy. The fourteenth century Italian sculptor Tino da Camaino was the first to represent Charity as a loving mother with three or more children. Italian Renaissance artists followed the Graeco-Roman convention of depicting children as only boys.  The Italian masters appear to have been caught in a “patricentric box of language”. In Cranach’s interpretations of Charity, one of the children is represented as a little girl which is likely the first nude of this kind in western art. I believe Cranach broke with convention for a reason.

Cultures have been structured according to two principles: patriarchal and matriarchal. The priority of matriarchal principles is unconditional love: a mother loves her children regardless of whether they are good or bad; they are loved because they are her (or another woman’s) children. The essence of this love is mercy and compassion. In contrast, the priority of patriarchy is conditional love: a child needs to work to be respected by the father. The essence of this love is justice.

Lucas Cranach - Charity Landscape (1830s)

Lucas Cranach – Charity Landscape (1830s)

In the course of the Reformation, Luther ended the devotion to the Virgin Mary, which resulted in the elimination of the matricentric principle that existed in western culture. Erich Fromm recognized the profound influence the removal of the matricentric principle had on the development of society.

“Luther established a purely patriarchal form of Christianity in Northern Europe that was based on the urban middle class and the secular princes. The essence of this new social character is submission under patriarchal authority, with work as the only way to obtain love and approval. Behind the Christian facade arose a new secret religion, ‘industrial religion,’ that is rooted in the character structure of modern society, but is not recognized as ‘religion.’

The industrial religion is incompatible with genuine Christianity. It reduces people to servants of the economy and the machinery that their own hands build. The industrial religion had its basis in a new social character. Its center was fear of and submission to powerful male authorities, cultivation of the sense of guilt for disobedience, dissolution of the bond of human solidarity by the supremacy of self-interest and mutual antagonism. The ‘sacred’ in industrial religion was work, property, profit, power, even though it furthered individualism and freedom within the limits of its general principles.”

The Virgin Mary was a predominant figure in Renaissance art—about 1 in 4 paintings of the period represent her. I suspect that Cranach sensed the dangers of the elimination of the image of the Holy Mother and I believe his Charity paintings were intended to compensate because the image of the mother ultimately represents the principle of what ought to be. Traditionally,the father would support the family by going out into the imperfect world; he would deal with objective reality with a focus on prosperity. The mother would remain with the children in the bonds of human solidarity which better reflects genuine Christian principles because they can be compromised in an antagonistic environment.

Lucas Cranach - Charity (1830s)

Lucas Cranach – Charity (1830s) (1)

In all of Cranach’s Charity paintings, one of the children is a little girl. In some works, it is difficult to tell because only a tiny pigtail indicates the child’s gender. In two of the paintings, the girl holds a doll as her role model; the mother holds an infant. Cranach’s paintings are the only Charity paintings I know of that include this iconography. Feminine nature was to be valued and respected. Matriarchy has found expression in humanism and natural law: the idea of the sacredness of life and human equality.

Lucas Cranach - Charity (1830s)

Lucas Cranach – Charity (1830s) (2)

Art that follows the tradition of the Charity paintings has fallen out favor due to a patriarchal view that regards such work as regressive. While the Reformation had some positive points to the Protestant work ethic, it had the effect in atomizing society. Our perception of human interactions has changed due to loss of the matriarchal perspective. Nudity is interpreted from a subtext of self-interest and mutual antagonism which often leads to misinterpretation. It makes a great difference whether the body is viewed as a commodity or from the perspective of a loving mother who appreciates the sanctity of life. In the past, the matriarchal perspective colored the perception of even sensual subjects, as in Cranch’s Venus paintings; the figures reflect a gentle eroticism. I believe much of contemporary feminism is at fault in being compromised by the values of industrialization. It is actually patriarchal in it’s values; it takes part in what Fromm called the, “industrial religion.” Many artists from the beginning of the 20th century sensed the tendency of alienation and created work that embraced the bonds of human solidarity to counterbalance (eg. Lotte Herrlich, Ida Teichmann and Sally Mann), but the current barely exists today.

A Touch of Hypocrisy: Eiderlon Panties

As photography became the mainstay of advertisers, it became necessary to hire live models. Even though commercial art can be formulaic with occasional breakthroughs quickly spreading throughout the industry, sometimes certain campaigns manage to retain a certain charm. For me, Eiderlon panty ads hold that charm. These ads also give us a taste of the evolution of marketing and social standards in America.

Up until 1960, Eiderlon was still making extensive use of illustrators and their panty ads appeared to be watercolor compositions with simple comprehensible figures. By the mid-1960s, photographic models were used. Adult women’s breasts could never be shown in mainstream advertising—either posing away from the camera or having their flowing hair or arms strategically placed—but showing a little girl’s bare torso was usually acceptable. Also, the company was still engaged in a more primitive mode of advertising—focusing mostly on the product’s features, especially comfort.

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1965)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1965)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1969)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1969)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (c1972) (1)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (c1972) (1)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1975)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1975)

This focus on comfort took a bizarre turn and this is where we get a touch of hypocrisy. While using skin to create an appealing image for their product, they were making a tongue-in-cheek (and completely cynical) campaign against nudity in 1969 and 1970.

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1970) (1)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1970) (1)

As Americans began to feel the pinch of the inflationary period of the 1970s, the company put greater emphasis on the economy of its product.

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1970) (2)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1970) (2)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (c1972) (2)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (c1972) (2)

With the feminist movement and its subsequent backlash, the style changed again slightly. There was an attempt to seem more hip and make a “back to nature” appeal. At the same time, the company was starting to play on women’s insecurity about participating in a man’s world while maintaining their feminity; with Eiderlon, they could take comfort in being pretty underneath. This also illustrates a new realization that how customers “feel” about the brand is much more important than any particular features.

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1974)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1974)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1979)

Eiderlon Panties Ad (1979)

In the last example, we see a return to the use of illustration. Also, as publications became more streamlined, they shrank in size and in concert with exploding advertising rates, the ads generally shrank in tandem.

A Raw Emerging Artist: Kye Tanson

I received an interesting lead a couple days ago from one of our Australian readers. Raw: natural born artists is hosting an exhibition on March 26th in Brisbane called Grandeur.

Kye Tanson, the featured artist, was born in Australia in 1978 and is a self-taught Fine Art Conceptual Photographer focusing on the artistic exploration of the human form and its juxtaposition with nature as well as the development of societal values. As an individual diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and a product of a turbulent youth, his history provides him a unique view on the world. Having no other suitable outlet for expressing his personal emotional ideas, the artist uses this artform to express those concepts.

My source was only able to send a small sample of prospective images to be shown, but it appears that Tanson has always had a special affinity for young people. As early as age 15, he qualified as a youth worker and throughout his life has been surrounded by those much younger than himself. He feels it is just a natural part of his life and uses this contact as well as his personal experiences as a “street kid” to help shepherd young people in the right direction and give them hope for a real future.

The 14-year-old model in the first image is featured on the exhibit flyer.

Kye Tanson - Forest Spirit 2 (2014)

Kye Tanson – Forest Spirit 2 (2014)

Kye Tanson - (Untitled) (2014) (1)

Kye Tanson – (Untitled) (2014) (1)

Kye Tanson - (Untitled) (2014) (2)

Kye Tanson – (Untitled) (2014) (2)

Tanson’s body of work does contain some nudity as in the image below.

Kye Tanson - Ares III (2012)

Kye Tanson – Ares III (2012)

Ironically, because the premises are licensed to sell liquor, regulations state that only viewers at least 18 years of age may be admitted to this event.

According to Tanson, he has two ongoing projects: “Theoi” (started in 2012) and Dancers (which began this year)

Theoi Photography website
To order tickets online, go here.  Tickets are $16.50 online (plus applicable fees) or $20 cash at the door.

Maiden Voyages: February 2015

I begin with some sad news; Pip has informed me that Will McBride died a few days ago. This is confirmed by news reports and you can read more here and here. He died on January 29th in Berlin at the age of 84. The world has lost a great proponent for a better peaceful world and I believe that despite the controversies stirred by his work, his efforts are being vindicated in the light of reason.

Donations: I had intended to establish a PayPal account for those who wish to make financial contributions to help Pigtails keep running. However, quite coincidentally, I have been reading a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. and realized that despite the nobility of his work, there was still much infighting about the appropriation of funds. Operating this site is challenging enough without the stress of such considerations. I am nevertheless willing to accept contributions privately. You can email your interest to paypal@pigtailsinpaint.com and we will discuss the possibility. Monetary help will have to be conducted this way until Pigtails more formally becomes a non-profit organization. As it now stands, my priorities are: 1) Pay for the maintenance of the website and services associated with it, 2) Hire researchers (on a case-by-case basis) to do some of the legwork needed to complete projects now in the pipeline and 3) If there are sufficient funds and there is no other way to access the material, purchase hard-copy materials of interest so they can be used in posts. My accountant informs me that there are other considerations as well, but those would be more properly discussed in direct communications.

Snail’s Pace: I do recognize that new posts have been more gradual lately. Thank goodness there are the contributions of other writers now. This state of affairs is due to the enormous amount of information coming my way. Also, some artists and collectors have shown an increased interest in meaningful collaborations which will make this site stand out even more. In any event, the fruits of my current efforts will become apparent to the general readership in time; there are a couple of big projects in the works that need my ongoing attention right now.

Wish List: I made some small mention of the new Wish List page last month. Unfortunately, I think most of you have missed it as I have not gotten one inquiry or offer of information yet. I will continue to add/remove names as needed, but without the expertise of readers, many of these leads will kind of dead end and I will have to put up rather perfunctory posts on these artists.

Best of wishes to you all, -Ron

Little Whoopi Goldberg?

I can’t help it; it is in my nature to notice little things. I am always fascinated by Hollywood’s casting of children to represent the childhood version of some main character. Good casting requires that they not only have a close physical resemblance, but have something of the character of the particular actor. What struck me recently is that this has been done at least three times in films starring Whoopi Goldberg.

Goldberg was born Caryn Elaine Johnson in 1955. It appears she early had ambitions to become an actress and changed her name to sound Jewish, figuring that would give her an edge in Hollywood. Goldberg is also a skilled comedienne and I am delighted to have some excuse to mention her on Pigtails in Paint.

(School Photo of Caryn Elaine Johnson)

(School Photo of Caryn Elaine Johnson)

One of her most imaginative roles was that in Sister Act (1992). Playing a casino singer called Doloris, she witnesses an execution conducted by her mobster boyfriend and must be sequestered until she can testify against him. A very clever hiding place was needed and so she poses as a nun in a financially-strapped convent where her natural singing talent finally transforms the place. In the beginning of the film, we see a flashback of her as a Catholic schoolgirl being asked to recite the names of Jesus’ twelve apostles. Her younger self (Isis Jones) has a wise mouth and instead of giving the expected answer, she offers the names of The Beatles.

Joseph Howard and Emile Ardolino - Sister Act (1992)

Joseph Howard and Emile Ardolino – Sister Act (1992)

In another role even further outside the box, Goldberg plays Lucy in the TV movie Call Me Claus (2001). It seems that every 200 years, a new Santa Claus must be recruited and trained. Lucy is destined to be the next one, but there is a catch. As a little girl (Tinashe Kachigwe), her Christmas wish to Santa was for her father to come home from Vietnam. Instead, the family returns home to learn that he was just killed and she has since been disillusioned about Christmas and the current Santa (Nigel Hawthorne) must convince her to embrace her destiny and take on this great challenge and opportunity.

Paul Mooney, Sara Bernstein, Gregory Bernstein and Brian Bird - Call Me Claus (2001)

Paul Mooney, Sara Bernstein, Gregory Bernstein and Brian Bird – Call Me Claus (2001)

The third example is not a flashback; in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called Rascals, a transporter accident somehow turns a handful of crew members including Guinan (Goldberg) into 12-year-olds (Isis Jones, again). Guinan is a mysterious character of indeterminate age who tends bar on the Enterprise and offers periodic wisdom to the crew. Goldberg accepted this role enthusiastically because Star Trek had a special place in her heart. The original series was cutting edge in many ways and perhaps one of the most significant was that a Black woman (Uhura played by Nichelle Nichols) played a starring role. Before then, Black women tended to play stereotypical subservient roles such as maids, cooks and nannies. Here Guinan and Ro (Michelle Forbes/Megan Parlen) discuss their predicament.

Gene Roddenberry, et al - Star Trek: The Next Generation: Rascals (1992) (1)

Gene Roddenberry, et al – Star Trek: The Next Generation: Rascals (1992) (1)

Another scenario worth mentioning on this episode is that another crew member, a botanist called Keiko (Rosalind Chao/Caroline Junko King) is married and her husband Miles (Colm Meaney) is in the awkward position of trying to be a supportive and comforting husband.

Gene Roddenberry, et al - Star Trek: The Next Generation: Rascals (1992) (2)

Gene Roddenberry, et al – Star Trek: The Next Generation: Rascals (1992) (2)

This little observation makes me wonder: is there some record as to which actor or actress has been portrayed as a child the most?

Drawn and Quoted: Adrienne van Eekelen + Carol Shields

This is one of those lone images I collected years ago and wasn’t sure what to do with.  It seemed like a good choice for a Drawn and Quoted post, and so here it is.  The website Noorderlicht explains that this image was one of a series in which the photographer documented tens years in the life of a girl, Raphaëla.  Van Eekelen wanted to bear witness to the changes in the girl’s body, as she wished to reconnect with that part of her own life, a time period she had trouble recalling.  I’m pairing the image with a quote from Carol Shields’ novel The Stone Diaries:

“A childhood is what anyone wants to remember of it. It leaves behind no fossils, except perhaps in fiction.” – Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries

Adrienne van Eekelen - Raphaëla

Adrienne van Eekelen – Raphaëla

Construction of Girl Identity

Diyan Achjadi spent her girlhood in Soeharto-era Indonesia before settling on the trendy Canadian West Coast as associate professor of visual arts at Emily Carr University.  Sometime in the early 2000s the idea for her Girl character came to her as an understated and ironic way of commenting on heavy issues.  Her first show set Girl in various hot-topic settings usually in play or where people were naive to the danger or seriousness of the subject.  Achjadi commented,

“I have been particularly interested in the potential of illustrated narratives, and in the ways the fictionalized environments have the potential to unpack real-world situations, and question and critique the world that we physically inhabit. I use a visual vocabulary borrowed from children’s media – toys, books, objects, and other forms of productions aimed at children – which often depicts the adult world in a miniaturized, simplified, and sanitized form, representing it under a guise of play, innocence, and harmlessness.”

Diyan Achjadi – See Girl, 2004

Diyan Achjadi – See Girl, 2004

Shortly thereafter, in the wake of the tsunami that wiped out coastal Aceh in northern Sumatra, Girl became a way for Achjadi to explore impressions of the way reports of disasters were covered far from her new locale.  Distanced from her homeland, Achjadi’s only connection with the enormous things happening in Indonesia was through the internet, television and telephone.  Her Girl works from 2007 through ’09 featured her signature character in the midst of invasions, bombings, tidal waves and volcanic eruptions.  Girl largely maintained her indifferent composure—maybe an allusion to the tidak apa apa resignation of Indonesians or the passive nature of the stereotypical little girl?

Diyan Achjadi – We Expected Hysteria (Hark! Listen), 2009

Diyan Achjadi – We Expected Hysteria (Hark! Listen), 2009

At the end of the decade, Achjadi’s use of Girl shifted again.  Now she began to play with the machinery informing identity.  Achjadi had grown up in a new nation, with shifting boundaries, and threatening to rip apart in violence.  The dictatorial government bombarded the people through every medium with nation-building propaganda.  Achjadi herself was made to participate in considerable flag raising, marching, “group calisthenics” and singing to the glory of her recently manufactured country during her school-girl years.  In retrospect she had a kind of fascination with the process.

Diyan Achjadi – Onward, fearlessly, 2007

Diyan Achjadi – Onward, fearlessly, 2007

As the series progressed, it became deeper, and took on a kind of eerie metaphysical character.  Achjadi writes,

“Girl is both singular and plural: she is a figure that exists in a world populated only by other Girls, seemingly identical in features and dress. Sometimes she is alone and isolated; other times she is multiplied into a perfectly uniform army, marching, saluting, and exercising in formation.”

Diyan Achjadi – Ceremony, 2007

Diyan Achjadi – Ceremony, 2007

Far from cute and innocent, the girl becomes something surreal as endless uniformed girls salute in allegiance to the image of themselves.  The following piece might remind one of the North Korean Mass Games.

Diyan Achjadi – Stadium, 2008

Diyan Achjadi – Stadium, 2008

This all culminates in her “The Further Adventures of Girl” show.  Critic, Malakoteron, wrote quite insightfully on this compilation of works,

“From wall to wall one encounters the face of the iconic ‘girl’ who is multiplied in each medium. She’s a flat and simplified medley of many of the cliches of girlhood rendered into an easy to swallow and mass produced form. Cartoons, posters, flags and little sculptures reminiscent of lawn ornaments all cross reference her figure in a series of reds and lush colours. Sometimes it feels like looking at Dora The Explorer filtered through a post-Superflat version of Maoist propaganda.

It starts out seemingly innocuous, like a little bit of children’s TV and, through its repetition and its re-articulation, gradually becomes obvious as a technique of aggression.

They’re attractive and decorative and this is self-consciously reflected in the work, with the girl waving flags of herself, perfectly enclosed in her own narcissistic paradise. As Momus once said in respect to certain trends in Japanese youth culture, it’s a celebration of ‘cute fascism’.”

Diyan Achjadi – Oboro gallery, 2010

Diyan Achjadi – Oboro gallery, 2010

By her later showings of Girl, it would be difficult for most to intuit a commentary on Indonesian national identity.  At face value, the show had evolved into an analysis of the coding of girl identity itself: the girlification of girls.  But Achjadi does not regard girls as made of “sugar and spice and all things nice”; instead, we are shown a process of violence, mass indoctrination, intimidation, superficial molds and robotic conformity.

And then like almost anything artificially impressed into the living body, it is rejected.  Girl finally screams, gesticulates, riots and rebels against herself; she fights herself, tears herself down and attempts to escape the Girl space.

Diyan Achjadi – Protest, 2011

Diyan Achjadi – Protest, 2011

Diyan Achjadi’s personal site is here,  while she delivers a thorough lecture on Girl at this link.  An animated assemblage of her Girl work is also available.