Beatrix and Her Knees by Liese Martin, Deadpan Alley.
Congratulations to my Internet friend Liese Martin, who just made her hundreth sale in her Etsy shop this weekend. Stroll down to Deadpan Alley and check out the wares. You can get originals for the price of prints and free artwork with every purchase. In the honor of Liese's milestone, I have interviewed Deadpan Alley creation Beatrix (and her knees).
I was fascinated by Beatrix from the first moment I saw her. When I finally had the priviledge of meeting her, I asked her whatever came to mind, and she was gracious enough to answer all of my questions. We had tea together in my studio, and our conversation went something like this:
a: Your clothes are quite stylish. Do you have a favorite designer?
B: All my clothes were designed by Charles Fredrick Worth, but since he perished in 1895, I must take great pains to keep my frocks from getting tea splashed on them...watch your cup now...
a: ARE you looking at your knees--or something else?
B: Darling, I'm looking at YOUR knees. And lovely knees they are! *wink*
a: Do you have trouble finding clothing that fits?
B: I don't have any trouble with the dresses, but I love a nice bonnet to match, and that is just something I'd rather not talk about...*sniffle*
a: I once knew a beautiful mule who looked a lot like you. Are you a donkey or a mule?
B: Actually, my breeding is much rarer than your average ass! I am a hinny, you see. My father was a horse and my mother a beautiful donkey...
a: How do you occupy your time when you are not posing for artwork?
B: I lead rather a life of leisure, I'm afraid. You know, a bit of gardening, reading up on quantum mechanics, reveling in the fact that I have opposable thumbs... that sort of thing.
a: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
B: Well, since I seem to have dodged the knacker with all my human attributes, I just might find time to write that book I've been knocking around, "My Life, My Knees".
a: What sort of exercise do you do to keep your beautiful legs in shape?
B: Outrunning all my suitors and curious scientists has kept me fairly well toned, I think.
a: What is your favorite movie?
B: That's an easy one. "Au Hasard Balthatzar" Bresson's brief, elliptical tale about the life and death of a donkey. Really, you should watch it, you won't be sorry. It's a masterpiece. *shakes head sadly*
a: Do you have a partner?
B: That question is so VAGUE. Partner in crime? Business partner? Is it some sort of tool? I'm confused...
a: What sort of advice can you give to others who want to become artwork?
B: It's just something you're born with, my dear. Either people are compelled to immortalize you or they're not. You just can't TEACH something like that.
a: How much time do you spend on your mane?
B: This old thing? I just keep it trimmed and brushed. I'm a simple girl/hinny despite the fancy clothes... Blue silk feather rosette boudoir mules for sale at 1860-1960
a: What is your philosophy of art?
B: It should be relevant and immediate, not overworked. It should be beautiful, and you know... it should have my knees in it whenever possible.
a: Did you ever dream that you'd become an original for the price of a print?
B: Actually, I'm an inexpensive print right now, since my artist painted me in a watercolor sketchbook her husband made and is unwilling to free me from its pages as of yet.
a: Do you follow politics?
B: No, I live in sort of an idealistic bubble, you see. I find delving into politics makes me feel lied to and always one step behind. No one likes a depressed hinny/girl. I prefer gardening to television.
a: Where did you grow up?
B: I grew down, actually. I was born with my feet 5 feet off the ground, and I knew I was fully grown when my feet touched the floor. Isn't that how it works for everyone?
a: Are you close to your family?
B: Not really. I think you full-humans are overly attached to your parents and siblings. I mean, we're not dogs. We'd recognize one of our own if we passed them in the street, but we don't carry on moving back home all the time either.
a: What is your next project?
B: I was hoping my toes would make it into the next piece, it seems that the artist ran out of room before she ran out of me...
a: Would you call yourself a pessimist or an optimist?
B: Why, Darling, I am an irrepressible optimist. That's what going around with a human body and the head of an ass teaches you. You can't let yourself be glum, it's a HUGE waste of beautiful soup! erm.... I mean life.
a: If you could be any animal you want, what would that be?
B: What do you mean? Animals and humans alike want to be ME! I am IT, darling!
a: What sort of music do you enjoy?
B: I prefer Cab Calloway (that fella could SWING!), Billie Holiday, Louis Prima, things in that vein. Soothes the savage beast in all of us, you know...
a: What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
B: Well, my being "different" has made me stronger than most, but I will admit to a certain "stubbornness"...
She chuckled and let me know that she wasn't at all convinced that her stubborness was a weakness. I thanked Beatrix for her time and for being a good sport. She inclined her head toward me slightly and said, "I am honored that you thought of my knees when you decided to do an interview."
Unknown clown with mule
(Thanks to Liese for Beatrix's answers.)
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