Friday, July 22, 2011

Dreams of a Bolles Girl

The other night I had one of those dreams...I saw a Bolles girl.   She was up in the clouds, smiling down on me.  It wasn't just any Bolles girl, but the face from a painting that had been taunting me for years, always just out of reach.  The scene abruptly shifted and next I was walking down an empty street in a strange town.  Everywhere I looked I saw pictures of her. It had to be one of those feverish dreams I must endure from time to time, a hazard of my fixation. There were other variations, in one I actually meet Bolles, get to ask him all those questions that have been burning in me, see art never before shared. In another I find the veritable closet full of paintings. Always I awake with that brief moment of confused exaltation, only to be pulled down as the weight of reality sets in.  It was just a dream.  Only a dream. But this felt different, somehow more real. 
Next thing I know I'm walking down a long street and spot the living embodiment of a Bolles girl. Not just any Bolles girl but that same cowgirl I've been in the hunt for so long.  The closer I get the more real she seems.  And then I'm inside and there are more Bolles girls, a chorus line of them...and in the middle of their dance I see it.
The painting. Only it's not a dream.  I'm awake, not hallucinating, and am surrounded by Bolles cowgirls.  And there's the painting, perched on an easel, not one of the several copies that have shown up over the past few years but the original.  The long lost Whoopee girl.

A few months ago, after a  four year search (full story here) she was pulled out of a crawlspace in an old house, amazingly none the worse for wear after lying buried for decades.  All those false trails, the impostor paintings, and finally she emerges into the light. The painting, used for a 1934 issue of Film Fun, is in near perfect condition.  A month after the issue hit the newsstands, Harmon Peery, the mayor of Odgen, Utah wrote a letter to Lester Grady, editor of Film Fun to ask if he could have the original painting to use as a mascot for a rodeo he had started.  Just a week later the painting shows up in the mail and her second career as the Whoopee Girl began.   This year marks the 75th anniversary of her serving as the official mascot to the Pioneer Days Rodeo, which is being held now.   
Mayor Peery's grandson, Robert Peery King and the Egyptian Theater Foundation graciously invited me to the official unveiling of the painting to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Whoopee Girl and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.  The event was fabulous, and painting simply amazing.  If you are interested, you will be able to purchase giclĂ©e prints of the original painting directly from Mr. King. I've seen a version done on canvas board and it looks as close to the real thing as you can get.  Some of the proceeds will be used to help build the Pioneer Days museum, which once completed with become the permanent home of Bolles' Whoopee girl painting.

So remember fellow Bolles fans, never stop searching. Sometimes dreams do come true.

Friday, July 15, 2011

This Just In: Big Time Newspaper Says it's OK to Love Pulp Art!

Photo courtesy of Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

Ok, let's see how long I'm allowed to let this photo stay up before some big-time lawyer demands it removed. But since this site warrants nary a single blip even on the periphery of the big radar screen of blogdom, maybe we'll manage to fly off into the sunset undetected. today's edition of the New York Times there's an interesting review of a new show at  the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators featuring Robert Lesser's pulp painting collection.  It's a nice follow-up and high society validation of  what we have known all along, namely that it really is ok to love pulp art.  Indeed, the article acknowledges how pulp art resonates with both historic and modern cultural themes.

Coming soon: The final fate of a long lost Bolles girl.

Friday, July 8, 2011

July 8: Today is Collector Car Appreciation day

This cover from a 1927 issue of Film Fun is the not simply the sole example featuring an automobile, as far as I know it's the only car illustration in any of the roughly 500 covers he painted.  I do have one really great example from a clothing advertisement (I'm saving it for the book) and there is the all-important motorcycle cover, but given Bolles capacity to render things mechanical, it's curious he didn't do more of this for the myriad of automobile products that were extensively advertised back in his day.  Or perhaps he did. Within the past month I've found two Bolles advertisements for products I had no idea he was affiliated with, so maybe there's example or two out there yet to be found.