Detail of "Hell" from Last Rites for Barbie.
Lord Byron's Wedding Night
Lord Byron did not want to get married. He wanted to live with his sister and have with her another child for their first (and only) child to play with. But she said no. So he married an heiress with a place in the country called Halnaby Hall, where they spent their honeymoon. On their wedding night, he woke up from a nightmare and, seeing the candlelight shining through the red bed-curtains, cried out, “Good God! I am surely in hell!”
(5ʹ5ʺ high by 3ʹ10ʺ wide)
In letters to Jacques Barzun, Ardyth explained how she created this piece (which she later sent to him):
My sight had degenerated to where I knew I couldn’t look for pictures, cut anything out or do anything like that ever again. So that meant saying goodbye to my colossal collage for From Dawn to Decadence. As you may imagine I was pretty sad and forlorn and old and ugly. But in the back of my mind I remembered your mentioning in this year’s favorite book a painter who did a little collaging on one or some of his paintings, cutting out headlines from the newspaper and pasting them on. Till I read that, I couldn’t imagine anybody pasting anything on a painting. But as I say, that stuck in my mind—and one day, when I had a handyman I hire to drive me around when necessary take me to some second-hand furniture stores to try to find a chest of drawers—why, in one of the places, one scarier than the other to an almost blind person, I sat down on a rickety office stool and right behind me was all this stacked up stuff with this big painting I thought was a pirate ship in front of it because I could only see a little of it, as it was quite concealed, but I felt it with my fingers. The owner of the store didn’t know anything about it except it was big (8 ft. by 4 ft.) and heavy as lead. Anyway, for some unknown reason it haunted me, and about two weeks later I sent my handyman the 15 miles there and 15 miles back to get it. Because no matter what it turned out to be, why, thanks to you I had an idea. And that was, if I couldn’t make a great big collage illustrating From Dawn to Decadence, I could take this painting and by doing this and that I could make something else and call it the same thing. Because that is what it would be, and as God takes care of fools and drunkards, that is what to my joy and delight it is. . . . It shows Decadence in two guises—a dinner which six bank clerks recently gave themselves at a cost of $62,569.00 of our time’s fictitious and obscene money. And a snow boarder whose reckless topsy-turvying down our slick slopes represents the actions of our version of what used to be called “Dope Fiends.” I wish I had had more room for examples of going to hell in a handbasket, such as America’s CEOs, Internet human babies arriving in litters, the melancholy of young navels out for a stroll, etc. but I didn’t think I had.
The Beauty Shop
“Marion Arbury speaking. May I help you?” “Can I have an appointment Tuesday? For a calamistration and to have the arches of my orbits plucked?” “Well, let’s see—”
“I also need an application of minium and ceruse—but the calamistration’s the important thing!” “Would three-thirty—” “Perfect!” “I will put you down—Cleopatra Ptolemy—” “Thank you, dear!”
Whatever the obfuscations of ideology and whatever the social and economic restraints, one clear truth about BEAUTY keeps breaking through: it is worth the price.
And while it may be but skin deep, as the Irish say, “oogliness goes to the bone.”
(6ʹ high by 4ʹ wide)
Ardyth Kennelly created many huge, colorful, strikingly imaginative collages, as well as unusual articles of furniture and mixed-media pieces. Her work was exhibited at the Elizabeth Leach gallery in 1996 and the Mark Woolley gallery in 2000. Below are photos of some of her collages and other pieces, with Ardyth's captions.
(Photos courtesy of Michael Massee and Ardyth L. Morehouse.)
In Ardyth's downtown Portland apartment, filled with her unique artwork and decorations. Here she held her famously elaborate parties, with amusing, unusual themes and programs, for various groups of guests. The chair at left was for the designated storyteller of the moment. Below is Ardyth with another version of the chair (she frequently revised her furniture pieces).
The Little King
[In two different versions over time.]
Detail from Elvis.
Below: Details from Comfort Me with Diamonds.
(The pink purse is one that Ardyth used and once actually vomited into.)
A small table and a footstool: some of Ardyth's unusual furniture, created with the help of her nephew Hiram George "Sonny" Olsen.
Below (in two photos, left and right sides) is probably one of Ardyth's last pieces, done in 2002 when her vision was almost gone due to macular degeneration. The frame reads:
Named after the irreplaceable Jacques Barzun’s irreplaceable book From Dawn to Decadence, this painting shows how decadence can move in on whatever and take over like a cuckoo bird and from then on it’s not itself anymore but belongs to the cuckoo bird. Thus the sinking sun and the attitudinous pastings-on.
Let There Be Light
While Edison is well known for giving us the light bulb, the phonograph, the car battery, and moving pictures, he was also a staunch supporter of the electric chair. To prove its efficiency, he once gave a public demonstration at Coney Island. He electrocuted an elephant named Dixie.
(7ʹ7ʺ high by 3ʹ4ʺ wide)
More detail from
The First Psychoanalysis.
Last Rites for Barbie
Although through the years Miss Barbie has been provided with everything a young woman could want, from an automobile to a palace, there has been one thing missing: a coffin. Here she is ready to ascend to heaven (the staircase to your left) and meet God, or at least His shoe. Notice also that only thin people go upwards, while fat people descend into Hell, where there is a friendly little bar and grill just waiting to serve them.
(7ʹ8ʺ high by 3ʹ4ʺ wide; the shoe belonged to Clyde Drexler.)
(6ʹ2ʺ high by 2ʹ5ʺ wide)
Copyright 2016-2019. All rights reserved.
Underneath the overhanging Money Tree lies the world of rock and roll. Beneath a Las Vegas chandelier, one can see Graceland and the bathroom where the King died.
(7ʹ8ʺ high by 3ʹ4ʺ wide)
About indecent exposure on Broadway & Jefferson. He flashes. Obscene clouds pile up. The first and finest peripteral Doric temple splits at the seams. Children squawk and run. The axes of the vision of the eyes of beautiful women light on different objects. Produce bloats like the drowned. Roses turn blue. Jim Morrison in Paris sinks and dies. Black holes open. Immediate filth jumps out of the sugar bowl into the midgets’ fire. Ignite the missile! He comes in through the window onto the furniture, crash, bang, the last movement of the instrumental composition.
Helmut the Adventurer
A Medieval Astronaut ready and willing to travel forth and people the stars with his DNA.
(9ʹ high by 2ʹ8ʺ wide)
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night
(7ʹ high by 3ʹ wide)
Collages and Other Artwork
Ardyth at her home.
Jealousy of Pink
Peter the Great’s daughter Elizabeth Petrovna considered herself the most beautiful woman in the world, changed her outfits six times a day, and once had a lady of the court whipped (and the end of her tongue cut off) for wearing PINK, a color Elizabeth reserved for herself.
Jealousy of Pink is about all the other mean things she did to her rivals in St. Petersburg in 1720. Fourteen little ladies hang by their necks till dead in a “hanging tree.” One lady’s head has just been struck off with a scimitar. A hearse goes by with a coffin in it containing a corpse in a pink corset (but you can’t see her).
The picture’s frame is supposedly covered with shreds of pink clothing riddled with holes made by harquebus bullets fired at close range.
Where in the progression of atoms to objects do the quantum effects leave off and where does hard-edged reality begin?
How do the rules of the quantum realm give rise to the certainty of the real world?
It’s all a FRAME-UP. Nothing is diverse as we suppose. Like different kinds of bakery goods all baked out of the same dough, EVERYTHING in this world is made out of the same waves, particles, electrons (neither waves nor particles but a barely fathomable amalgam of both), motional and electronic ions—!!
Make your complaints to
Assault in Gold upon Maiden Virtue;
or, Dirty Old God
This is about the seduction of Danae by Zeus, the supreme deity of the ancient Greeks. His technique was rather unusual. When in pursuit of a love object, he would transform himself into a creature like a white swan or a fine young bull, then at the psychological moment revert to his real self.
A shower of gold tumbling across her bed worked fine with Danae. How surprised she was when the shower turned into Zeus! “Ooh!” she cried, spilling a drop of her ice cream onto her bare bosom. “What do you want?” What but a mother for the hero then in his loins, Perseus? who would kill the Gorgon and save Andromeda from the sea monster!
(5ʹ6ʺ high by 3ʹ10ʺ wide)
The Scatterer of the Red Hordes of Hell
Portrait of a Green Beret. Also a display of all the medals the U.S. bestows upon her heroes. Sometimes they are dead and don’t get as much of a kick out of the ceremony as they would otherwise.
(6ʹ5ʺ high by 2ʹ9ʺ wide)
A Stranger in the Night Exchanging Glances
Bubba Camel, cousin of Joe, goes to a Singles Club with just one thought in mind: to find somebody to talk to about Boundary Functions.
Comfort Me with Diamonds, for I Am Sick of Love
“Sick of love” does not mean I have had it up to here with love. It means I have contracted the hot contagion of love. And diamonds is the coolingest thing in the world.
(5ʹ8ʺ high by 3ʹ11ʺ wide)
(5ʹ11ʺ high by 4ʹ2ʺ wide)
Details from Jealousy of Pink.
The First Psychoanalysis
Below: some details from The First Psychoanalysis.
The title is too naughty to print. It is the same as the title of the unchaste picture in the oval frame behind the innocent little nipper on the piano stool.
(1ʹ10ʺ high by 1ʹ9ʺ wide)
Poseidon, God of the Ocean
Although commanded to do so by its giver, Poseidon, King Minos of Crete did not make a sacrifice to Jupiter of his birthday present, a white bull from Paphos. Poseidon therefore cast a spell upon the King and his Queen that caused the Queen to fall in love with the white bull and the bull with the Queen, and made them run away together and in due time have a monster child, a Minotaur with a human body, a bull’s head, and a disposition so unpleasant that King Minos had him confined to the deepest labyrinth in Crete, forever. But forever is relative and so was the hero, who went down into the maze of tunnels and killed the monster. He was the King’s half brother, Theseus.
(3ʹ2ʺ high by 7ʹ wide)
Ardyth on her "gondola couch."
Kitsch Me, My Sweet
There is no end to the lengths some people will go.
Details from the untitled collage.