“It Tastes Like Whiskey” tells the story of a charismatic, murderous snake oil salesman, who peddles a miracle cure that offers to restore youth to its imbibers. By manipulating the fear of mortality and the hopes of his victims, Mordecai P. Wisecarver, he cuts a swath of death through the West. “While each panel stands alone as an individual story, the totality of these works weaves a complex narrative of misplaced hopes, deception, and retribution”, adds the owner of Black Maria, Zara Zeitountsian.
A staple of the American landscape during the turn of the century, the snake oil salesman mixed showmanship with impressive claims of miracle cures to sell “medicines” of dubious benefit to unsuspecting customers. According to the artist, the tradition of the snake oil sales man is still alive and well in contemporary America. “Infomercials sell everything from get rich quick schemes, to miracle weight loss products, and people buy these products on the word of the pitch man who tells you how much easier your life would be if you had his product.” Individuals looking for panaceas that will offer painless, effortless youth, beauty, and stamina are often shocked to discover the detrimental effects to their health caused by miracle cures such as Fen-Phen and Viagra.
Paul Chatem was born in Washington State and is currently living and working in the Los Angeles area. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Illustration from the Kansas City Art Institute, Paul has worked as a commercial illustrator and artistic director in the entertainment industry. Drawing from creative influences as diverse as Dock Boggs, Tom Waits, William S. Burroughs, John Fante, as well as artists such as Jim Woodring and Al Columbia, Paul’s works are notable in their emphasis on narrative structure and story telling ability.
His art works have been shown at La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles, Blue Bottle Gallery in Seattle, WA, and The Unknown Gallery in Salt Lake City, Utah. “It Tastes Like Whiskey” at Black Maria will be his first solo show.
Black Maria Gallery is located at 3137 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90039. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 12PM-6PM and by appointment.