A Blush Pink and Strawberry Red Love Affair

April 13, 2012

By Amy Zurcher  * Artwork by Marcus Kenny

Growing up, I was surrounded by strawberries, lots of em! They were everywhere, literally, due to my mother quite innocently mentioning how much she liked them. Her simple preference turned out to be the birthplace of an accidental “collection.” EVERYone for seemingly EVERY occasion began to shower strawberry motif gifts on my mother for EVERY single gift giving occasion. It created something of an unexpected, ecclectic strawberry vineyard in our very own home. I, too, was guilty of seeking out and securing every strawberry knick nack imaginable to honor her with, just waiting with anticipation for the next opportune moment to surprise her with another strawberry delight! Truly, I must say, I find it quite enjoyable to know something like this about a person, particularly someone you love. I liken this to an ongoing personalized “I SPY” game- that can and is played anytime I am out shopping, sightseeing, whatever. Imagine my surprise when years later, standing firmly as the roots of a strawberry bushel in the kitchen with her vintage strawberry wallpaper as a glorious red backdrop, my mother admitting that she might be sorry she ever mentioned she liked the sweet fruit and suggesting that, maybe, we could all stop buying her things with this parictular iconic fruit plastered, embroidered, painted, whatever-ed upon it?!

I admit I felt somewhat betrayed upon hearing this news. Wasn’t she just wearing a strawberry printed skirt with ric rack yesterday? Where did the love go? As a result, for this strawberry post, I might need to go less literal to save myself the reminiscent pain of my mother’s ended affair with the strawberry– you understand, right? I will tell you that now this many years later (count em, 20+) she seems to have swept the strawberries out of her house and wardrobe save a few inspirational cards and mementos adorned with their sweetness. ( I have included two images from my childhood to commemorate the strawberry, an example of the vintage strawberry wallpaper from our kitchen and the A-line strawberry ric rack skirt that is like the one my mother wore often.)

I had my own fondness for them as a child, (and still do). Twice a year, every year for as long as I can remember, my extended family gathers together at a place we call “the farm” where we all eat, camp and talk until we feel we might burst like an over-ripened, well, strawberry. During these visits, I would always fill the bottom half of my t-shirt folded up to the hem with enormous, fresh picked, sun-ripened wild strawberries that grew out of control by a pile of rusty forgotten tractor parts, then eat to my heart’s content.

Sigh…without further adieu, in my less literal but still inspired eyes, I see strawberry color explosions emitting from a new sculpture by SCAD alumnus Marcus Kenney. What, you don’t? Ok, I know you might be freaking out over this two headed deer and be thinking, “what the??” But, once you move past this horrified initial reaction of the duplicitous implications of this two-headed, once alive and now mounted artwork, I assure you, you will see what it is I really mean. (Nota bene: no deer were killed in the making of this piece. Remember, dear reader, this particular Salted and Styled writer is a vegetarian.) Marcus loves vintage ephemera and the deer heads are no different; they are all reclaimed taxidermy. I will let you in on a secret little “if/then.” If you are lucky enough to 1) live in Savannah, GA and 2) have time to go to yard sales on Saturdays, as well as 3)having the pleasure of knowing Marcus Kenney, then you will most certainly run into him on the hunt, gathering the discarded remnants of the locals and turning them into unexpected high art.

While there is nothing strawberry specific on this particular piece, I contend there is this a feeling of the berry—so strong, so bold, so bright and I will even submit the word—sweet. Maybe these two heads portray an unusual case of Siamese twins, but I prefer to see these as a tangible depiction of a love affair in blushes of pink and strawberry red, don’t you?

I really love this work by Marcus. How can I not be taken with the general outrageousness and fantabulous color? Those crazy long plaits that remind me of the locks of my old dear friend named Pamela! How I coveted her hair all those years and now it is available on a two headed deer! Well, gollleeeee! If the vintage red ticking and pink pepper berries didn’t seal the deal for me, then surely the crowning adornment (earmuffs) made from vintage Gucci pumps did! The little girl in me back in the strawberry printed kitchen feels such an overwhelming sense of the warmth and familiarity of a mother’s love for her daughter and, of course, strawberries that I knew so long ago.

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