The Finders’ Keepers

“The Finder’s Keepers” depicts catlike, vampiric creatures toying with 52 images of Jesus based on famous historic paintings of the Lamentation of Christ.
The piece was about manipulation and mis-use of a martyr’s image, or the life works of a visionary by those who seek only power.

At the time of its creation, I was living in downtown Memphis TN.
Rents had just doubled, artists, including myself were now fleeing the area where they once flocked to.
Friends and fellow artists Reed and Ellis Chappell where being pressured to sell thier building (they owned for 20 years) to the National Civil Rights Museum.
This museum was no stranger to evicting people from thier homes, as it was built within the Lorain Motel where Martin Luther King was shot. Prior to the creation of the museum, it served as low income housing. These people had to go….
I had the pleasure on a number of occasions to talk with Jaqueline Smith, one of those who lived there. She has held a protest vigil for 22 hours a day, every day since she was forcebly evicted in 1990. Last time I heard – about 2011, she was still there.
Jaqueline explained to me that the museum was not about celebrating civil rights, but to commemorate what happens to those who stand up for them. ( and what will happen to those who continue…)
I believe her.
Ellis did have to sell his building and it was assimilated into the museum. I imagine that now, where his bathroom once was, is a special place where one can have his or her photo taken peering out the window that James Earl Ray used that fateful day…perhaps there’s even a dummy rifle there to pose with.

The finders' keepers
“The Finders’ Keepers”
woodcut on fabric. 48″ x 108″
detail
That’s me at work in Marshall Arts in Memphis TN.
My studio was pretty transient, Pinkney Herbert let me work in the gallery space for awhile. (thanks Pinkney)