One of the fabulous perks of working at MICA is the chance to snap up amazing artwork before anyone else. A few years ago, in a basement studio exhibition at the college, I spotted the strange and wonderful painting pictured here. The artist of the piece is Chuck Wing, a former MICA student and ex-painter who now lives in L.A., where he works as a technician in the movie industry. This painting, which features recurring images of a “Friends”-era Jennifer Aniston overlaid with a Smurfette motif, is entitled “Lactose Intolerant,” and was originally accompanied by a large piece of sculpted cheese that I discarded, since it was a little unwieldy.
When I asked about the title, Chuck told me that, at the time he created the piece, Jennifer Aniston reigned supreme as television’s “It” girl. His friends had crushes on her, he told me, and he seemed to be alone in his immunity to her cheesy, plastic appeal. Chuck saw Jennifer Aniston as Hollywood’s latest version of the Smurfette, who, as Smurf fans may recall, was manufactured specifically to serve as the love interest of every single Smurf.
Warhol is obviously a strong influence, as Chuck admitted, as are other pop artists like Lichtenstein and Jasper Johns, but there is a kind of mysterious sadness to the picture that makes it a true original. I like the painting so much, in fact, that I have re-designed my bathroom around it (see image), painting the walls bright purple to match the painting’s vivid fluorescence. I’ve always preferred taking baths to showers, so I got rid of the shower and installed a claw-foot tub, a bargain acquired from Second Chance Architectural Salvage. I refinished the tub myself, and painted it purple with gold feet. The black chandelier was purchased for a song on eBay. Since the faucet seems to have been lost in transit, I am still waiting to take a bath, but when I do, you can bet it will be a long, deep, hot one—with bubbles.
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