Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Bob’s Art Blog: A Cautionary Tale

“A Bird Just Being a Bird” by the Huckle Buckle Boys. Photo: Jana MacGinnes

Dear readers of Bob’s Art Blog:

What follows serves as a prelude to “What a Year in Art,” coming out in two parts in January. For now, we take you back almost a year ago to share a cautionary tale seen at the first art show of 2020.

In the art world today, there is much talk about intuitive painting, but what if, as an artist, you were actually able to foretell the future—see it in your mind’s eye before it happens and transfer it to the canvas? For all intent and purpose, intuitive painting is being in touch with your inner self, be it through meditation or some other means of self-reflection. For Garrick Dorsett and Zack Rudy, aka The Huckle Buckle Boys, that was truly the case in their outsized painting completed in the first week of January, well before COVID-19 reared its ugly head and reached our shores by February’s end.

For many cultures around the world down through time, birds have been viewed as “seers,” forecasters of future events, often prognosticating both positives and negatives such as love, sickness and even death. What does that make artists then who incorporate a bird as their main focal point? In a year that has turned the world upside down since mid-March, it qualifies them as vessels of vision. Those artists, Dorsett and Rudy, created an art opus that we first viewed exactly 11 months ago during opening night of the annual winter gallery show at Metropolis Collective in Mechanicsburg for its “Wintry Mix V” in January. Hannah Dobek, gallery director/curator at Metropolis, had invited the Huckle Buckle Boys as the featured artists for the show, along with Nicole Dube of Carlisle and Charlie Feathers of Harrisburg.

During the evening, Rudy and Dorsett unveiled a portrait constructed out of a massive, 4-by-6-foot wood panel featuring a bird as its main attraction. The painting is arresting in its bold vista and deft manipulation of color achieving a washed patina of soft turquoise and yellow bordering on a dreamlike rendering. Lost on us then but ever so telling in hindsight, the larger-than-life bird was wearing a mask, a face covering adorning its beak for the world to observe and take note. From its imperious position poised on a high wire of telephone lines, the bird was sending a communication to share with the world that its future hope globally was the need to mask up. Titled “A Bird Just Being a Bird” proved to be anything but–it was telling us then to wear a mask into the world and to adopt it as a means of safety, precaution and protection. Like another bird of childhood notoriety, the sky was falling and, within this prescient painting, we needed to heed the warning that danger was just around the bend.

The Huckle Buckle Boys, Zack Rudy and Garrick Dorsett (left), along with TheBurg’s Jana and Bob MacGinnes

Getting to meet the artists that evening was enlightening in the sense that here were artists that operated well outside of the norm. There is a coda that exists within the framework of the piece that shares vital data. The painting was completed a full seven weeks prior to COVID’s origins. Two views of a human face are found within the breast of the bird’s body. One is a mirror image representing the self, with the other facing left looking out to the world.

There is an underlying theme of hope on the horizon if we just keep focused on the bigger picture. By all indications, the vaccine is imminent, and it is a race well worth running. Every day is crucial with its importance of saving lives. But for present day, we must follow safety measures at all costs until everyone is inoculated. This massive work of art is and will be a timely piece perhaps for eternity. The bird was all too ready to let the world know its message as Dorsett and Rudy truly are intuitive painters. Their work foreshadowed devastation and uncertainty, informing us then more than ever we must stay the course, believing that one day this too will be a memory. But, until that day arrives, you will find me “somewhere over the rainbow,” with the bluebirds, way up high.

For more information about the Huckle Buckle Boys, visit their Facebook page or their Instagram at @thehucklebuckleboys.

Metropolis Collective is located at 17 W. Main St., Mechanicsburg. For more information, visit their website. 

Learn more about our arts blogger Bob MacGinnes and his take on our local art scene in the December edition of TheBurg Podcast.

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