Beatriz Martin Vidal: Between Dreams and Reality

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(originally published on the Coilhouse blog, September 22, 2010)

A young girl in a scarlet hoodied romper stares gravely up into the heavily furred, ferociously fanged face of a black wolf.  A lesser creature might be shamed by the child’s frank gaze – her features set earnestly, courageously, eyes alight with curiosity, and perhaps, even compassion.

Is the wolf to be deterred by this sweet faced thing, obviously unafraid?  Will it stray from it’s monstrously predictable fairytale course?  No, it is not. Will not.  Cannot — after all, that is what it wolves do, isn’t it?

And before you can blink it has swallowed the girl whole.

But, wait…

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See our little heroine, pale and grim. Watch her crawling through the gaping, bloodied hole she has snipped with her flashing silver scissors and her small, clever hands right through the thing’s engorged belly, its tough hide. See her gaze in the last panel; her no longer-quite-innocent, yet still entirely cherubic countenance is now  impatient, determined, pissed off:  “Wolf, I will fuck your shit up”, it declares.

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Beatriz Martin Vidal’s modern interpretation of the oft-told tale of The Little Red Riding Hood  –with it’s evocative art and unexpected outcome– is a marvelous example of the slightly magical, mythical places she creates for the young people who populate them.  Never cutesy or twee, her subjects instead reveal the beauty and bravery and curiosity of children, and their effortless interaction with the world.

Originally from Valladolid, “a medium size town in the middle-north of Spain” Ms. Martin Vidal chose a career after high school “which didn’t fit her at all” – Law –  and though she stuck with it for some time, she eventually continued on to the University of Salamanca to study art, which is what she maintains that she had wanted to do from the beginning.  Of her time at the University and influences found therein and elsewhere, she says:

“I think the five years in University gave me a very valuable knowledge about art history, among other things. A lot of my influences come from 19th century painting, I think. I keep going back to old masters when I’m trying to find my own path, to Viennese secession, Renaissance drawings, Golden Age illustrators. It’s not I’m not interested in contemporary art of illustration as spectator, but, when it comes to making images, that’s the path I feel attracted to. Anyway, inspiration comes from everywhere.  Sometimes things so unrelated to my work that I feel I’m the only one who can see the relationship.”

For an artist, the pairing of children and fairytale themes would seem to go hand in hand.  When asked what it is that draws her to these subjects, she remarked:

“…Of course, there’s a practical reason for it, as picture books, and most of the illustrated books belong to the children/young readers field. But, the truth is that I find children a very interesting subject for my work. Children live halfway between reality and dreams which inspires me a lot.  They’re funny. If you observe children in a park, they’re doing a lot of things more than the adults. They’re living little stories, running, jumping, talking to themselves. I find their relationship with myths and tales is very natural, very essential… I think almost all my work talks about a flexible reality. A place where you can mold the world …which doesn’t mean it’s going to be a wonderful world, as humans have fears as well as bravery and sadness as well as happiness. ”

Ms. Martin Vidal is currently preparing a picture book, a story by Gustavo Martin Garzo, about children and wolves for El Jinete Azul. As for what’s next:

“…. I’m going to work in another picture book of my own about fairy tales. I love to do my own books, but it’s hard to find the time for it. For the beginning of next year I’ll do a story about a girl and a pixie for Oxford University Press, and a novel for El Jinete Azul. I think my Little Red Riding Hood is going to be published in Australia, so in some months there’ll be an English edition.  Lately I’m trying to focus on my own picture books. That’s the thing that makes happy the most and I think that it deserves the risk [of making them first with no pressure or external limits and then trying to find the right publisher for them.]”

See below for for more wonderful examples of Beatriz Martin Vidal’s work, including selections from her Carmilla, Tarot, and Russian Tales series.  Visit Beatriz for updates and to view her complete portfolio.

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Novemberish

5156343776_1f6f1dff21_oIt is November and I feel myself curling inward. Wrapping up in several layers of blanket burrito. Cocooning myself from everything in the world while I’m feeling weary, heartsick, vulnerable and, well…Novemberish.

November has always been a tough time for my family. I have awful memories from when I was a teenager of a certain Thanksgiving meltdown involving my mother and a broken freezer. This in itself is probably nothing unusual for families, and I bet everyone has dreadful stories of Thanksgiving meltdown trauma, but hers was fueled by addiction, and after the holiday we were motherless for a month or so while she was in a rehab facility. At least, that’s the way I remember it. My recollection of many, if not all, of my teenage years are hazy because they were just so wretched, and I think I have purposefully forgotten most of the details.

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At any rate, a few years after that, my uncle died, and Novembers became a very sad time for my grandmother. I suspect Uncle Fred was her favorite, and she never quite recovered. With the passing of the years, each November would bring a deeper and deeper funk, and I believe that may have cast a pall over the rest of us as well. Then, a few years after that, my Aunt Carla died in November. A few years after that, my mother passed. Not in a November, but an early December. But still.

So…November-December is traditionally rough on my family. Now that both of my grandparents have passed (my grandmother just earlier this year) it is just my sisters and I–and of course our one cousin who is very nice and we aren’t as close as we should be and that is no one’s fault but my own–and while my sisters and are not exactly “lost”, we’re just feeling a little out of our depth sometimes, I think. I mean, everyone’s dead. We’re the “adults” now. Never mind that we’re all in our late thirties/early forties and have been adults for several years…it’s just that now we are literally all that is left. We have no one else to turn to for help or advice, or anything at all any more. Though to be honest, I haven’t needed to do that in a very long time (and my mother never had a lot of help to give anyway) …it’s just…we don’t even have that option now. They are all gone. It’s just us.

So, I guess I have some pre-Thanksgiving jitters. For the past 10-12 years or so, I’ve been doing the majority of the preparations and cooking for Thanksgiving, but my grandfather was around to peel the potatoes, which he always did with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade blaring in the background, as both my grandparents were terribly hard of hearing and neither ever wore their hearing aid. My grandmother would emerge from her bedroom wearing one of those festively seasonal old lady sweaters and a spritz of Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door. She and my mother would hover around me and insist that the dressing/stuffing (Which do you call it? We’re a “dressing” family) needed more broth–no, more broth!–make it soupy!–it’ll dry out in the oven! And answer all of my questions about how much onion or celery or sage do I need, and so on. I’d been making it forever at that point, and I instinctively already knew the answer to these questions,  but it was, I realize now, such a comfort and …ugh, I can’t believe I am typing this because I hate this phrase…but a blessing to have them both there with me, at the same time, in my adult life to guide me through the rigors and rituals of Thanksgiving dressing. With and without oysters.

Thanksgiving dinner has always been at my grandparent’s house, for as long as I can remember and no doubt even before that.  This year it will be my kitchen that the food is being prepared in. It will be my dining room table (and spilling into the living room, because our dining room table is not actually all that big) that my guests will be sitting at. We can have wine with dinner if we want! We never really did that before, what with all the rampant alcoholism that some people brought to the table. It’s just going to be weird. And different. Growing up, I always thought to myself, “when I do Thanksgiving dinner, it’ll be different!” I suppose I thought turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes seemed a little homespun, or common or something. I wanted fancy. Or maybe exotic. Like … curry or something? … tamales? Who knows what I wanted. I just wanted …different. And now that it’s all up to me, and I have all the control I could want over this holiday’s menu, I just can’t help but think how nice it would be if we kept it exactly the same.  Because things are already different enough as it is.

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My youngest sister is in town now, flown in from Indiana on an early morning flight to spend the next week with us. We are both in Orlando, staying at our other sister’s house, for the first part of her trip. She arrived exhausted, and is napping in the guest room, channeling my grandmother with her house-shaking snores.

I think we are all cocooning over this next week. Slowing down, resting quietly together. We are all processing how different this year has been, how different this holiday will be, and trying to get to a place where things feels okay again or figuring out if that place of normalcy even exists. And I know that all of us, in various ways, are currently trying to do the same thing. You get it, I know you do.

So from my blanket burrito to yours, I’m wishing you peace and quiet and a soft place to rest right now. If we don’t hear from each other for a while, we’ll know why. And it’s okay. We will see each other again when we emerge from our cocoons.

In the meantime if you post your Thanksgiving menus in the comments, you will have given me many delicious things to ruminate upon over the next week 💗

How To Wear A Bookstack

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Well, I don’t know about you, but when I have a Saturday afternoon all to myself and a pile of books crying for my undivided attention, I go all out. It’s true. I will slip into my most splendid finery, don my sparkliest baubles, paint my face, spritz myself with the most expensive fragrances on my shelf (sometimes maybe three or four at once!) and then…plop down on the sofa and begin reading long into the night.

Is that weird? I don’t know. I often get all dressed up to spend the day alone, and there’s no finer reason to do so than in the name of devouring a much anticipated stack of books. Here’s a suggested ensemble for the next time you have the marvelous opportunity to get all gussied up for your bookstack. (With some required reading, of course!)

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1. Louisianna Purchase tee $35 // 2. Black pleated skirt $38 // 3. Paige cropped velvet jacket $400 // 4. Altuzarra ankle boots $1310 // 5. Gerbe Paris By Night tights $55 // 6. Hopeless Into The Night collection $65-$170 // 7. Maison Michel Lace Bow Rabbit Ears $519 // 8. Well Read Woman pouch $10 // 9. Swankmetalsmithing evil eye ring $625+ // 10. Goldengrove Dust To Dust ring $150 // 11. Bloodmilk Belonging To The Darkness ring (discontinued) // 12. Tiger’s Eye bracelet $200 // 13. Pamela Love rosary $225 // 14. Bloodmilk mourning strand $250 // 15. Goldengrove onyx skull ring $545 // 16. Smith & Cult Shattered Souls nail lacquer $18 // 17. Rituel de Fille Frenzy inner glow pigment $29 // 18. Jardins d’Ecrivains Wilde Eau de Parfum $110

The Books…
Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix
The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
Mapping The Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

Looking for more suggestions? See below and click on the images for details!

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The Witch Wave Podcast

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At Haute Macabre today I introduce you to my new favorite podcast, scholar and mystic Pam Grossman’s The Witch Wave, where “art is magic, magic is real, and reality is stranger than dreams.”

I am admittedly late to the love of podcasts, and to date, I am only regularly listening to a grand total of one*…which makes The Witch Wave officially, the second podcast I have become obsessed with and quite possibly cannot live without!

*Bad Books For Bad People, you know you have my heart forever.

CANTANKEROUS

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Wow. What a day. A not at all good day. These fabulously cantankerous pins from Wormwood & Rue, however, are very, very good, and arrived just in time to tell you about my current feels.

TiCK Kickstarter

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Photographer and filmmaker Ashlea Wessel (Ink) has teamed up with award-winning director Kevin Burke (24X36: A Movie About Movie Posters) for a new project they describe as a “live-action horror/sci-fi short exploring North American colonial relations in a post-pandemic age. With Vampires.”

Currently on Kickstarter with a goal of only $15K, TiCK is the “heartbreaking, blood-soaked, pulse pounding story of a young girl finding her strength in the face of shame, fear and adversity”, that takes you through a fractured, post-pandemic society, after vampirism begins to appear in a small subset of the population. We follow one such girl, Nishiime, who lives in hiding from the organization who kidnapped and enslaved her family.

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I got a bit of the scoop from Ashlea Wessel with regard to the film’s origins, and story concept…

“I’ve revisited the history of North American Colonization quite a bit of late, and I realized that there was so much that we weren’t taught in school or that was fully whitewashed. I think that because of that (among other things), people don’t understand what a huge problem there is in North America for the indigenous population and how colonialism is till alive and well. I thought of a future North America when many people believe that they are in a post-colonial, egalitarian society, but when a pandemic hits, they realize how wrong they had been. This is the basis for the world in which the story unfolds. I also love the idea that disease is what brings the power shift, much in the opposite way that it did in the early days of North America.”

Ashlea also shares with us some personal revelations with regard to Nishiimee, the main character…

“..her journey is almost a coming-of-age story, albeit a brutal one. Though she looks like a child throughout the film, for much of it, she’s actually an adult. She lives in a suspended state of childhood, afraid and ashamed and not realizing her own power until the end. I have this very weird connection to my childhood full of guilt for things that are absolutely ridiculous, that I had no power over, and I feel like Nishiime is a manifestation of that.”

And finally, she enthusiastically spoke to some of TiCk’s inspirations…

“Blood! When I got the idea for this film, and I realized I wanted it to be a vampire film, I was immediately filled with glee because I had an excuse to do scenes that are just DRENCHED in blood. Beautiful, full-tilt slow-motion, glorious blood. I’m giddy just thinking about it.”

There are some really neat backer rewards offered right now (that pink balacava!) so drop by the TiCK kickstarter site and give generously in exchange for some fantastic perks, and to ensure this sci-fi/horror gem gets made!

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Looming Spectres, Lurking Shades: The Art of Becky Munich

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(Back in 2016 I got to interview my favorite artist in all the world, and dear sweet friend, Becky Munich. I am re-posting the feature today because I love it just that much.)

It’s the rare well-dressed, bloody-faced siren that causes my jaw to drop to the floor and exclaim, breathlessly: “I want to wear what that vengeful ghost is wearing!”

Becky Munich’s gruesome muses, both beautiful and grotesque, evoke that very reaction– and more. On the surface these sinister, ethereal wraiths simultaneously menace and beguile, but in a strange and playful twist, there’s sly and creepy-clever mischief to be found in the details. Whether it’s a lone eyeball spinning lazily in a bare skull, a duo of ghouls gossiping idly, or a grim-faced Medusa in a party hat looking both threatening and eager for the fun to begin, one gets the feeling that Munich takes her spooky business quite seriously whilst winking at us playfully at the same time.

I recently spoke with Becky Munich about her passion for the femme fatale, the beautiful and the monstrous, and being kissed by darkness. See below for our interview with this enigmatic artist and stroll with us for awhile amongst the shadows, with Becky Munich’s looming spectres and lurking shades.

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Has art always been a passion? Tell us a little bit about your artistic background.

Becky Munich: Art has always been a part of my life, even at a very young age. I hoarded my coloring books, hating to share with other children who would wear down my crayons to nubs. My mom worked at an office, and I still remember my excitement when she would bring me interoffice envelopes filled with pristine letter-sized Xerox paper. I was like a troll with gold, keeping this paper boon to myself. I would even steal my teenage aunts’ Bambú rolling papers to doodle on, much to their annoyance, ha!

By the time I entered seventh grade, I knew I had to attend the High School of Art and Design. I had an art teacher who helped me develop my portfolio, and I was accepted into the program. If anything, my high school years exploded my brain: visiting museums, galleries, seeing art house films. Growing up in New York was the best education to go in hand with what I was learning formally. It was natural that my next step would be to attend college in my home state as well. I’m incredibly fortunate to have been so passionate and focused at an early age to pursue art and live in an environment that fed this goal!

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Your work heavily features the monstrous feminine; ghosts, demons, and all manner of she-devils seduce and threaten us from the page, sometimes, I think, simultaneously! It’s clear that you have a love for horror and strange, unearthly beauty; I would love to hear about your influences in this vein, and how they inform your work.

Both my parents worked full-time jobs, so my extended family would babysit me during the day. I was surrounded by the women in my family, all of different ages, attitudes, both scary and loving in their own ways. I was free to read and watch whatever I wanted, as long as I didn’t get into too much trouble. I was told the strangest stories as a kid: about a babysitter so vain the children in her care all died, women who were dragons, dragon-women kidnapping princesses to lure the knights they were ruthlessly in love with, cautionary tales about bargaining with the devil. Added to this, one aunt would let my cousin and I pick any movie to watch after school from the local video rental place. I would pick the goriest, scariest, or most fantastical VHS box I could find. This is how I saw In the Company of WolvesExcaliburThe Wicker Man, etc.

I was allowed to stay up late on the weekends and would watch any Hammer films showing. I would then go to the library looking for books in this vein: mythology, horror, sci-fi, fantasy. My mom even bought me my first comic books! What I learned from consuming all of this is that I found the femme fatales–the woman wronged, the witch, the beauty hiding the monster within–to resonate with me. Here was my muse, she who is kissed by the darkness and more than what she seems.

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I also get the feeling–just from a tilt of the eye or a playful curve of the lip, or well, a spooky witch in a tiny hat–that they/you are having a bit of fun with us? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Oh, yes, anytime I can I want to imbue my ladies with a sense that they are in on the joke or plan, and you’ll never guess what it is. No matter in what physical state you see them, they are not victims of the darkness they inhabit. Even if they seem passive, I want the viewer to be uncomfortable, and question the nature of the scenario. I often aim for a disturbed and dangerous quality, to hint at a backstory that isn’t fully explained. Here is where there can be a bit of an interactive quality to the illustrations, giving room for the viewer to ponder on what has happened, and come up with their own stories. All of this feeds into the life of the drawing, gives it more power.

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Your ghastly ladies are usually gowned in dark, elegant clothing–they’re very fashionable creatures! Can you talk about how fashion influences your art and from where you draw your inspirations?

I have always loved fashion, and originally intended to study to be a fashion illustrator. I would even draw clothes as a kid, so my mom would take pity and take me shopping for the outfits I imagined. By the age of eight or nine, I was aware of Oscar de la Renta, Halston, and Yves Saint Laurent. This was due in part to my mom bringing home fashion magazines (like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar) watching shows like Dynasty (where fashion often took center stage), and reading trashy paperbacks by Jackie Collins, because, again, I had complete freedom to consume all types of entertainment.

By the time I entered college, I had more income and access to buy foreign fashion mags. Clothing and accessories are the armor for my dark ladies, and secretly manifest my desire for the haute couture fashion that my wallet can’t afford. To this day, my reference file is filled with photos of beautiful fashion editorials, and the muses in my head go “shopping.” Seeing photos of Helmut Lang and Alexander McQueen’s fineries set fire to my hand to start drawing. Also, the clothes and accessories help to suggest more of the backstory of my dark damsels.

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Oftentimes the subjects in your illustrations and paintings are bleeding, whether from the eyes or or nose or mouth–can you speak to the significance of blood in your art?

I’m probably going to come across as a cliché, but to be completely honest, I was traumatized when I started menstruating. Puberty hit me early, and I had my first period when I was a ten-year-old. I felt like my body betrayed me; I didn’t know what the hell was going on. Also, bleeding when I lost my virginity and the discomfort associated with the act the first time (though I was warned), was a milestone. In some ways I’m trying to make peace with all the blood loss, reclaim it for myself and what it means to me personally.

There’s so much symbolism and power to the red stuff that I want to use it as a sign of strength. Add to this mix the fact that I was raised Catholic, and it heightens this all to include ritual and otherworldly flavors. Exposed blood for my women is a show of power and the threat of a weapon. It could be your salvation or death. They are fountains overflowing with life and destruction. Even when my ladies are dismembered, opened, or parts severed, I want the viewer to be wary, and wonder if that is her blood, or someone else’s we can’t see in the picture?

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Tell us about your creative space. What is life like in your studio? Do you set aside a specific time to create or is your muse on full-time? Do you listen to music or podcasts, or do you prefer silence as you create?

Since I live in New York in a small apartment, my dining room table doubles as my work space. My entire apartment is basically my studio. I’m surrounded by the works of other artists I admire, stacks of books, animal bones, all matter of knick knacks, and my cat. I work a full-time gig as a graphic designer in publishing, so I make it a point to fit art time in at night and on the weekends. I always carry a sketchbook in my bag, so I can draw during my long commute home, or when inspiration strikes. There are often times when an idea is “marinating” in the back of my brain all day till I can get home to work. There’s always music, regardless if I’m designing or illustrating. Music is essential and puts me in a creative meditative state. On my regular playlist you’ll find the soundtrack to Blade Runner, Jacaszek “Dare-gale,” and newer albums like Sexwitch.

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I know that you have recently designed some posters for Spectacle Theatre and have contributed to several of Heretical Sexts publications — where can one see more of your work? 

I use Instagram as my gallery for all the personal artwork; my professional portfolio that is more design-centric is over on behance. I’ll post to Twitter as well, and share other artist’s work there too! Also, I’ve recently opened a big cartel online store to sell prints. I’m hoping to do more Spectacle Theater posters when they’re done with the renovations in early 2016. I had so much fun designing some recent film posters. They sell those on their Etsy shop.

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Can you share any upcoming projects?

I’m really fortunate to be working on some fantastic projects currently, that will carry over into early 2016! I’ll be contributing, with other artists, a few illustrations for an upcoming Heretical Sexts publication on the history and significance of gothic literature . I’m also collaborating on a T-shirt design with the band, Sabbath Assembly, that should be available for their spring 2016 tour. In between these gigs and my full-time job, I’m also collaborating on an Occult Activity Book, because who doesn’t enjoy a mad lib that might also summon a demon?

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(This article was originally posted at Dirge; the site is no longer active. I have edited to include current, up-to-date links.)

 

she was not made for any man

she was not made for any man from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

A new mix, full of old magics. Well, not old, but certainly not new.
The comfort of familiar, beloved sounds.
{image: Ellen Rogers}

Track List:

Familiar by Agnes Obel | Blue Crystal Fire by Arborea | Adolescence by Brown Bird | Witches by Vaginapocalypse | Strange Moon Rising by Smoke Fairies | Serpents by Sharon Van Etten | Curse The Night by The Raveonettes | Spinning Centers by Chelsea Wolfe | Crown by Myrkur | 13 Beaches by Lana Del Rey | Margo by Haroula Rose| Love by Daughter | Whispers by Ayla Nereo | Sleeping Dead by Emily Jane White | Female Vampire by Jenny Hval | Blood I Bled by The Staves | Buried Alive by Hannah Rosa | Cross Bones Style by Cat Power | What the Water Gave Me by Florence + the Machine | Wild Eyes by Mariee Sioux | Eye of the Whale by Frankenpine | Harmonica by Anna von Hausswolff

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