Cowpoke Kid * and the Hostess **

by Richard Martin


The Cowpoke Kid drew his Colt 45 six-shooter from a genuine leather Rawhide (keep those doggies moving) holster faster than a stampede of mad cow dis-ease, narrowed his eyes into slits of little doubt, and riddled the newly refurbished Hole-in-the-Wall Gallery with a display of bullets that left the newly installed hostess of the gallery, Sir Moxie Mudd, in a state of abject alarm. As for the patrons, who moments before with vintage plastic cups of chardonnay and pinot grigio, had been making their way from one painting and/or sculpture to the next – sundry quantum landscapes and strange telecommunications/computer detritus telephone (totem) poles and sorry wrong number graveyards/landfills (i.e., rotary telephones, early incarnations of cell phones, as well as smashed hardware components from mainframe computers {predominately circuit boards} and paraphernalia from clunky personal computers {partially disassembled monitors and helpless "mice" {"I hate meeses to pieces!"} cleverly attached, fused, or pounded into cross sections of vertically assembled (shortened) poles and/or simply collected (dumped) into a non-olfactory pile or lump monitored by plaster-of-Paris seabird scavengers with laser red eyes and a pronounced ringing in their ears – they hit the sawdust floor as if the flying lead was meant for them.

The Kid, as he liked to be called, surveyed the chaos of his intended message, blew smoke rings into the air off the barrel of his hot pistol, winked at Sir Moxie, as he like to be called, and at one of the perspective art patrons crouched and shaking beneath a quantum landscape – (a froth and foam molecular frantic piece, playing a game of breath-taking peaks and plummeting valleys {within a plane of apparent nothingness} depending on the observer and angle of perception {or theoretical imagination}, causing a rousing disorientation in 3D space, equivalent to an accidental ingestion of a psychedelic substance {Woodstock generation, baby!}, which generally resulted in the viewer {observer-connoisseur} missing his/her mouth when sipping {pulling} on his/her chardonnay or pinot grigio, uttering ever so softly...God, as the cheap wine {really} dripped with abstract results on hip clothing) – and went out for a smoke on the street without the slightest impulse of escape via mounting his trusty hog (a Harley-Davidson XL 12007 Sportster) and heading for the badlands of his own invisibility.

The Kid enjoyed a good smoke and liked to reflect (revel) on each new disturbance he caused in the postmodern Club Art Scene, as he began to call it, after taking a pass/fail course in Art History offered by a reputable university (Art U. and the College of Refrigeration Repair), he stumbled across via the back cover of a packet of matches liberally placed in the "smoking bucket" outside of Chuck's Saloon and Firing Range (Front Cover: Visit Marty's Dude Ranch For a Taste of the Wild West, with a miniscule colored photo of Marty on bucking bronco inside a dusty corral, and a cast of visitors relegated to the rails of the corral with their arms in slings or shining white casts whooping it up) with the foresight to offer a Uniform Resource Locator address and the following tease in incredibly small print: Fluxus: part Dada, part Bauhaus, part Zen. Why shouldn't you know that?

Fortunately, the Kid's "wink" had "legs" and enough power to materialize into the words a "wink" would say, if a "wink" could talk, namely – "Shucks, people. I mean no harm to you, but I've had just about all I can take from the dang Art World and these dang new techniques that just seem to pervert and perturb the ordinary life of paint or so it seems to this (Dasein) cowpoke."

The Art correspondence course woke the Kid up into what he liked about art and what he didn't. And, as he followed the various movements from the Old Masters to the New Masters, he grew increasingly alarmed as the New Masters went up in a smoke of rival gangs (clubs) without a center and hopelessly detached like a planet free of orbital mandate.

The huddled patron and Sir Moxie Mudd had different takes on winky's words.

The patron mined her shot at wink interpretation by screaming an aria of terror while clutching a feather boa and nibbling on it with chattering teeth, indicating a real concern about the reality of the Kid's bullets and their aftereffects – the cascade (bullet initiated) of giant boulders (in actual truth, infinitesimally small and way beyond the naked eye) from the painting above her head and identified as The Total Illusion of a Collapsing Mountain After the Ravishes of Wind and Rain and Too Many Mountain Climbers with SUVs Up Their Sleeves on the placard next to it, actually doing her "noggin" literal harm.

The hostess, or Sir Moxie, as he liked to be called, moved from a state of alarm, after his interpretation of the Kid's wink, to the state described in the very next sentence.

The hostess was crestfallen.

It was not easy, after all, to be the hostess of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gallery. For starters, the moniker "hostess" for a gallery director was a real pain in the ass. Sir Moxie Mudd, as anyone could see, was a robust and virile man, less than a step away from the moniker, "street fighter." As he confided to his friend, Kleptoe, a nickel–n-dime thief in the neighborhood: "Kleptoe, my good man, I've never eaten a Twinkie in my life and will never serve the dastardly things at any "opening" at the gallery once I take control of it."

Kleptoe simply nodded, scanned Moxie's pad for lout, responding:

"I don't know, man. Twinkies are pretty good."

The Hole-in-the-Wall Gallery (or rather the series of gallery directors {hostesses) proceeding Sir Moxie) had always served Twinkies at openings, ever since the founder of the gallery, Hilda Doublebatter, a rotund soul with an intractable addiction to Twinkies, had scattered unwrapped packages of them around the gallery during a Pop Art Retrospective. Soon after, Ms. Doublebatter started calling herself the "hostess with the mostess" and subsequent gallery directors followed suit, dropping with the mostess for obvious reasons.

But it was much more than the term "hostess" that got Moxie's gizzard awash in Prilosec OTC and revolutionary fervor. It was the denouement of the gallery itself, with its present focus on derivative art, and recent "hostesses" (female and male) that treated up and coming innovative artists and their creations (whenever one of them happen to land a showing) with disrespect, bordering on taunting, along with inadequate press and flyer coverage for the rare events coupled with last-minute sloppily "hung" shows. This was too much for him.

"As a member of the Gallery's board," he complained one day to Kleptoe, "it drives me crazy to stand by and do nothing about it. There is art out there now, beyond movements (partial alphabetical listing: Abstract Expressionism…

Baroque…Cubism…Dada…Expressionism…Fluxus (partner)…Group of Seven…Harlem Renaissance…Indian River School…Minimalism…Nabis…Op-Art…Pre-Raphaelites…Surrealism). Art that resists categorization of any sort. Art that is traceless. Art that has moved inside the invisible, or at the very least, has made its acquaintance. This is what the "Hole" in Hole-in-the-Wall needs to be about. Call it Wormhole. Call it Portal. Call it a Passage into Complete Awakening."

"You go girl," Kleptoe said.

And with that, Sir Moxie connected with an uppercut to Kleptoe's jaw, and later that night at the Board's quarterly meeting staged a coup 'art by staging a violent temper tantrum (actually holding members of the board as hostages for a short time while screaming incessantly you stupid sons-of-bitches in the decimal range of a 747 taking off and/or a home security system on the blink as a squadron of electrified cats). After the standard time with law enforcement and lawyers to straighten out the mess – Sir Moxie had to foot the bill for the onset of tinnitus in the ears of two board members and agree to the moniker of "hostess" sans Twinkies for the first two openings; he took control of gallery operations, quickly assuring promising artists a new venue for their inexplicable forays into the unknown and unseen.

Not if the Cowpoke Kid had anything to do with it.

"No, ma' am," he said, mounting his chrome steed at the sound of sirens in the neighborhood.

* The Cowpoke Kid's actual identity cannot be directly revealed to assuage the consumptive curiosity of the causal reader. In the pantheon of masked and unmasked superheroes with identity protection issues – the Lone Ranger, Batman, Green Hornet, Zorro, Batgirl, Spider Man, Wonder Woman, Superman, Supergirl, Spider Man, Spider Woman, etc. – the Kid feels safer and more comfortable wearing a textual mask (or disguise – guns ablazin') rather than a material one. However, thanks to the legitimate acid test of deconstruction and many long hours in the fields (or mines) of signs and signifiers (by fans and detractors) the following information has come to light about the Kid's identity. The Cowpoke Kid is actually a very mild-mannered post post modern individual – (when it comes to art the post post modern individual tends to believe that "art" needs to move {it's little doggies} past the molasses {quicksand} of newness and originality and once again grapple in a new and an original way to be about something. In the words of the Kid: Hot lead into snobbish crappola restores content.) – not, however, mild-mannered in the sense of Clark Kent. The Cowpoke Kid is no goofball or klutz in love with some hot uptight journalist babe. However, like Mr. Kent, he does go through a process of change – a quick transformation or transmogrification, if you will, though the Kid is not forced to utilize archaic phone booths (especially in an age when designer clothes cannot only heat the body but recharge the cell phone simultaneously {New Futurism, etc.}) or to quickly dash (as if struck with the sudden urge to go to the bathroom) around a corner into alley etc. to become something other than what he actually was (is) or vice versa. Nope, partner, the Kid is a figment (like many of us) of something he read – a being, then, composed of words and more or less an afterimage of some specific, though unknowable content.

** Hostess is the brand name of a US bakery corporation known for Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Sno Balls, and other fine and delicious snack foods.