Saturday, June 2, 2012

"Tranquility did not exist" by Hunter Brumfield III

This is "Tranquility did not exist" by the late Hunter Brumfield III. It's the first piece entered in the show for the Poetry Scores Art Invitational to Phantom of the dreams' origin. That event isn't until Nov. 9 at Mad Art, but this painting was in my collection and I was anxious to find a title for it in Greek Surrealism's first masterpiece.

I very recently acquired the painting, originally executed as a portrait of the American rock star Iggy Pop, from my good friend Fred Friction. In fact, Fred just sold me the painting at the previous Poetry Scores show.

Fred owns a print by Hunter that Poetry Scores just put in its spring Art Invitational to Wole Soyinka. As a courtesy, Schlafly donates a few cases of its delicious beer for Poetry Scores art shows so we can thank our contributing artists with a couple of drink tickets . When I asked Fred if we could hang his Hunter print at Mad Art, I offered him Hunter's two drink tickets if Fred took me up on the offer. After all, Hunter is dead and not drinking.

Fred arrived for that show with his typical grand entrance. He was playing art collector and maven to the hilt. Before I could even slip him his dead friend's drink tickets, Fred was trying to move a new piece by this artist in his collection, Hunter Brumfield III. Fred already had written out a bill of sale for the painting. This bill of sale is now in the document collection of The Skuntry Museum, and I seem to have paid Hunter a small sum, posthumously, for his paints, cigarettes and whiskey.

Fred Friction has been outsmarting me outsmarting him for a very long time. If I can give Fred Hunter's free beer, then I can pay Fred for the whiskey Hunter enjoyed while making this portrait of Iggy. I got it.

But how did we get from a portrait of Iggy Pop to "Tranquility did not exist" as a statement on a Greek Surrealist poem?

The translation between poem and visual art in a Poetry Scores Art Invitational can work in many ways. One I really like is reading the poem with an existing work of art in mind and sight, and then trying to find the art and its impulses in the poetry.

I had a terrific time reading Nikos Stabakis' brilliant English translation of Phantom of the dreams' origin while thinking of and looking at Hunter's painting, and of course a haunted portrait of a queerly insistent and slightly crooked young man was everywhere in a poem like that. I wanted Fred in on this title thing. I popped him an email.

Hey Fred,

I have been reading the poem we are doing next and have narrowed down possible titles for Hunter's "Iggy" portrait:
"Catamount asylum"
"Tranquility did not exist"
"Terrible are the momentary facts"
Do you have a preference?

Fred got right back to me.

My preference would be "Tranquility Did Not Exist" because I think it fairly describes both artist and subject.

So that was that.


Here is the piece as presently curated into The Skuntry Museum. I have it situated with a portrait of Sunyatta by Colin Michael Shaw, gift of the artist.