Here is a painting I made in the mid-90s, after a fly fishing trip to Montana with my friend East Texas Red. This is a good-sized painting, 6 feet or maybe even a little wider, oil and spray enamel on canvas. It’s called Shack Nasty.
I exhibited Shack Nasty in an exhibition called c.1996. It was an exhibition in an old warehouse in Toronto. I recall the landlord was nervous about renting to a group of artists. He insisted on holding 4 of my paintings against any damage we did. It was one of a group of exhibitions a core group of us put together on a shoe-string. We funded them with a silent auction and an opening party and by making and selling catalogs.
Shack Nasty hangs in the living room of two of my dearest friends. I visited them the other evening, and so got to visit the painting as well – which also seems like an old pal.
With certain paintings I made a long time ago, I can recall specific moments painting them and this is one of those paintings. It was a painting that was giving me a really hard time. I recall being very frustrated with it – in fact I was about ready to abandon ship on it – when one day it all came together extremely quickly. I don’t have too much to say about this painting. The title came from an expression I heard or read somewhere about someone being in the bush so long he had the shack nasties.
I made a few paintings somehow inspired by that trip to the mountain west. There was one called Getting the Fuck out of Dodge. The title came from an experience in Bozeman Montana. East Texas Red and I were walking somewhere in Bozeman, maybe getting a bite to eat, and and there was a guy on the other side of the road who angled right for us. He said, listen boys, I just want to get me a six pack, hop me a freight and get me the fuck out of Dodge. Can you help me out? We did. There was yet another large painting I did after the same trip called Beef Trout Karaoke, the title from a sign in Hamilton Montana.
I don’t have words that can explain the relationship of these paintings to that trip. I will say though that without the trip the paintings could not exist. I think it was the same trip our car broke down outside of Hamilton Montana. We had it towed to a repair place in town but it was Saturday evening and the guy wasn’t open until Monday. We did the only reasonable thing we could do. Well, correct that. first we had chicken-fried steak for dinner. The next morning, we did the only reasonable thing. We visited the local fly shop, because fly shop guys know everything. The fly shop guy called the car rental lady at home and set us up with a rent-a-car and then directed us to the prettiest little cutthroat trout stream you might every want to fly fish. I really loved that stream a lot.
A couple years later, I was driving through Hamilton Montana again and so stopped at that fly shop to thank that fellow who gave East Texas Red and I such a nice spot two years earlier. He remembered me, and noted that little creek was fishing well again this year. I can tell you, it was.