Thursday, March 31, 2011

"The story of Mr. Clucky in Miami", 12x16, oil on wrapped canvas


"Mr. Clucky in Miami", 12x16, oil on wrapped canvas (Note: you can click on the painting to see a close up of the texture.)

I painted Mr. Clucky back in the summer of 2009. I had just returned home from a trip to Key West and had to laugh at the way the roosters just strutted their stuff in the streets as if they owned the place. Here's a picture that I took not far from Mallory Square and Duval Street:

When I got back I decided that roosters were the perfect thing for me, a colorist and contemporary impressionist, to paint, since they are so colorful! I painted a couple roosters which always sold quickly, and I found myself having more and more fun with each rooster that I painted.

One night I was tired after working on a landscape painting all day long. Still left on my palette were gorgeous bright globs of ultramarine bleu, manganese blue and cadmium scarlet. Although I was tired, I didn't want to let these beautiful blobs of paint go to waste. So I started enthusiastically globbing the left-over paint pieces onto a fresh white canvas with my palette knife. As I stepped back I could see the inkling of another rooster beginning to appear- or at least that's what I suspected it wanted to be. The rest was easy, I just had to work a little on his head to make it believable, and mix the blue and yellows on my palette to get the background greens in. Last but not least, I started slicing through the whole thing with my palette knife like Jack the Ripper.

Alright . Maybe I didn't need to do all that slicing, but after listening to Jimmy Buffet all afternoon and having a glass or two of wine in between paintings, I didn't care all that much about whether my rooster would be a masterpiece or not.

The next day I looked at the two paintings I had done the day before and I got angry. The Florida landscape that I had worked on for hours on end looked labored. But that darn rooster that I had done in about an hour looked spontaneous and effortless. I immediately knew he was a winner and decided to enter him into my first major art competition- The American Impressionist Society's annual juried show.

The next thing I needed to do was to figure out what to call my rooster. I took the painting over to Collector's Gallery and Framery in downtown Venice to have it framed and I asked my friend and gallery owner Leah Sherman what I should call him. Being from Miami, Leah was quick to tell me that roosters are mascots and harbingers of good luck in Miami and therefore I should consider calling him Mr. Clucky in Miami. According to Wiki:

The term mascot – defined as a term for any person, animal, or object thought to bring luck[1] – colloquially (informally) includes anything used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team, society, military unit, or brand name.

So I said,"Bingo, I shall name my rooster, Mr.Clucky in Miami, and he shall bring me good luck!"

Sure enough, about two months later I was very happy to find out that Mr. Clucky had indeed been juried into the American Impressionist Society's 10th annual juried show at the Saks Gallery in Denver, Colorado, which ran from October 23rd through December 1st, 2009. The show was judged by incredible impressionist artist Quang Ho and I felt very lucky indeed to have been included in the show! I even was given a paragraph or two in American Art Collector's coverage of the event in Denver, with a prominent photo of Mr. Clucky included!

Around the second week of December my painting was shipped back to me from the Saks Gallery, since it had not sold and the exhibit was officially over. I immediately decided to enter Mr. Clucky into another prestigious competition, the Paint America Top 100 annual show, and I filled out the application, just meeting the deadline and sent it on its way. Then, just three days before Christmas, I received a voicemail from the Saks Gallery in Denver. Someone had seen Mr. Clucky in the AIS show and wanted to purchase it for a relative for Christmas. The voicemail said that if it was still available, I needed to let the gallery know ASAP and it would need to be shipped overnight back to Denver.

I felt a little overwhelmed by the voicemail. I felt happy to think my painting had a potential buyer, but since I had already entered Mr. Clucky into another competition and the AIS exhibit had ended a few weeks before, I was unsure what to do.

So I put the painting back into the big airfloat system box I had purchased for the event and rushed over to Fed Ex. I almost had a heart attack when they told me what it would cost to overnight the painting from Florida to Denver. Since the gallery had not indicated that they would cover the shipping charge in their voicemail, I called them back and told them that the painting was now unavailable. I felt sad for the potential collector who had been so excited to give Mr. Clucky for a gift, but I also knew that I was under no obligation to sell it to her, since the AIS exhibit had ended three weeks before.

Christmas came and went and my family told me that I should never sell Mr. Clucky. He had become part of the family and brought good luck as well. In January, I entered him in an art show in Sarasota, and to my delight he received a ribbon in the show.

A week later I was pleased to find out that my lucky Mr. Clucky had won a coveted spot in Paint America's Top 100 annual national competition! My family was a little annoyed to find out that Mr. Clucky was going on tour for a year, but I assured them that he'd have a loving home to come back to at the end of the tour.

Over the past year, I found myself sort of missing Mr. Clucky. One day I happened to google him just for fun and to my amazement I discovered that Mr. Clucky of Miami actually really exists and is a real rooster!
I avidly read his story.

According to building codes in Miami, roosters are not permitted to live in homes as pets in South Beach. Mr. Clucky had been rescued from death by his owner, Marc Buckley, and had subsequently become a beloved pet, but due to the city's code he faced eviction from his home!

At that point Mr. Clucky of Miami became a celebrity and a cause célèbre for avian rights! He evidently was already a fixture in South Beach, and could often be seen doing the Mango Strut in Parades in Miami, and even did a couple television appearances including the Travel Channel! There were actually rallies held in Miami to prevent his eviction, but plucky Mr. Clucky lost the battle and was not allowed to even testify in court!! I do not know if Leah Sherman knew all this when she told me to name my rooster Mr. Clucky, but I laughed out loud to discover that I was not the only owner of a rooster named Mr. Clucky in Miami! If you wish to read some of his stories, see his various charity causes, and visit his website, you can go here and here, and here.

At any rate, a collector in Mississippi discovered my own little piece of poultry last week, and promptly purchased my "Mr. Clucky in Miami" through Paint America Top 100.

Ironically, he had just ended his tour of duty with Paint America, but I am happy that he sold through such a worthwhile organization. My eldest son and his wife were a little upset with me when they learned that Mr. Clucky is not coming back home. For me, although I'll miss him, I am very happy that he has found another good home, just a short state away, where he will hopefully bring good luck to his new owner!

Au revoir, Mr. Clucky in Miami!

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Sue Awes said...

Maryanne - I just discovered your paintings thru a search for illustrations for my little personal blog - ( - and I think you do amazing, beautiful work - and if ever I had the gift of painting - I would want to paint just like you. I love your colors!! What a treat to have discovered you. I would love to have permission to use one of your paintings to illustrate a blog one day.
You are fabulous!

Susan Roux said...

Oh Maryanne, I think this subject fits your style of painting to a tee! It's lovely.

Paintdancer said...

Dear Sue, Thanks so much for visiting my blog and for your sweet comments. I love your blog! I felt right at home there!

Paintdancer said...

I am really lousy at following up with comments, as you have probably gathered. But thanks for hanging in there and posting comments to my blog.

I am thinking about taking the workshop with Don Hatfield. Please let me know if there are openings left and which sessions. If there are openings left, I am going to call you with some questions. Just let me know;0)