For the sake of Gretchen and all my English speaking friends I shall do this post in English. People keep telling me I should do all my posts in English and maybe I will one day. Anyhoooo, I wish you all a happy new year and let us pray the world will become a better place for everybody. Perhaps wishful thinking but I am a true optimist and think that it’s never too late to change our ways and become better human beings 🙂
Photo: David LaChapelle
Today I shall introduce you to a very talented painter/photographer who has had her share of sadness but is still on this earth for some special reason. Her story is one of a kind, that’s for sure! Gretchen Ryan is one of a kind. We met when she accompanied David LaChapelle to Stockholm for the grand opening of his HUGE exhibition – Burning Beauty – at Fotografiska.
Well, I’d be lying if I said that we met. Actually I noticed her right from the beginning as she sat close to David in her wheelchair, she looked like an angel and was kind enough to let me take a picture of her. Then – as the reporter I am – I found out her name and contacted her via Internet. The rest is history.
This painting is called Accident and Gretchen tells me it is a metaphor for the accident she was in as a teenager, when the driver drove off a cliff. He got off lightly with only a few minor injuries but has since disappeared into thin air. She hasn’t heard from him in over 20 years (unbelievable!!!) and went on the Ricky Lake show last year to send him a public forgiveness which I think was both brave and generous considering he left her paralyzed. Check it out:
About the painting, which now belongs to Courney Love by the way, Gretchen says:
”The girls, who are really all the same girl, are following a bird who is gently but steadily guiding them off a cliff. The bird kind of represents fate to me. It’s about the question of destiny versus free will. The girls are on a path, they are innocents and naive, unaware of what is in store for them, going willingly to their doom, but they could just break away at any time, really. They could say, ”This looks dangerous, maybe it’s not such a good idea,” and turn around, like I could have. Or maybe they/I couldn’t, I don’t know, that’s the question!”
Gretchen paints the most adorable portraits and they are very life like. Some of them actually remind me of David La Chapelles photographs! A coincidence? You tell me 🙂
She is drawn to talking about (and painting) the innocence of children and animals in a dangerous world. The children are connected to her own experiences as a child growing up in Boulder Colorado. Life as she knew it took a swift turn when she went off that cliff. She realized the physical safety she had felt in the world was an illusion and she grew up fast.
”So these little girls are so perfect and angelic but vulnerable and changing. They will all grow up, they will all get hurt in life and all these thoughts come into play.”
Gretchen got to know Tinley when she was involved with beauty pageants at age five. She has made many paintings of her and documented her growing up. ”She has been a little muse.” Later Tinley lost interest in pageants and became a competitive cheer leader. The colourful pictures of the cheerleaders are actually photographs.
This painting is called ”Fred and Romeo” and it is a collaboration with David LaChapelle. Fred worked closely with David for may years and David took his picture for Gretchen to make a drawing of. Fred is holding her turtle, Romeo, whom she has had since she was a little girl. One could say he’s been with her through thick and thin.
I wonder: how can people not love animals???
Amanda Lepore seems to interest a lot of artists and photographers. These are Gretchens interpretations of her. Amanda is one of New York’s most influential transvestite, drag, and transgendered performers. A fascinating person in my mind.
Gretchen is a huge lover of animals and is actively involved in animal rights, and helping animals and raising awareness about the abuse they suffer in the food and clothing industries. She has only eaten a plant-based diet for over ten years and feels so much healthier for it.
”I want to let people know that we can actually live longer, healthier and more beautiful lives, prevent the suffering of billions of animals, as well as do big part to protect our environment by choosing not to eating animals and animal products.”
….personally I could never ever give up eating meat, but I try to keep it down to a minimum….
Last but not least, Gretchen – who now lives in Los Angeles – informs me that she paints portraits on commission: For a charcoal or pastel painting, they are $2,500, and for an oil painting they begin at $5,000. Interested? Contact Gretchen on her web site.
So. I wish you all a fantastic and magical 2013. I will do my best to keep up the English posts. Please stay with me so I can UP the amount of visitors during the year to come. Lots of love to all 🙂