Opening Saturday May 17th at
William Baczek Fine Arts
Northampton , MA
“Before They Were Villains or Heroes”
New Paintings by Travis Louie
Rhinochops circa 1881
Defender of Rhinos and other larger animals during the rise of big game hunting at the end of the 19th century. He was the nemesis of every hunting enthusiast from Central West Africa to Northern Cameroon. During the Boer Wars he was referred to as “Rhinochops” because of his signature look. After maiming several soldiers who were “practicing” their marksmanship on black rhinos he became a target himself. Just before WWI, stories circulated in that region, that he had strapped explosives to himself and blown up a pack of hunters in their camp. Some decades later, spectators claimed to have seen him at the Cricket World Cup in 1975 sponsored by Prudential Assurance Company.
Miss Nancy Circa 1880
When Miss Nancy was a young girl, she spent her Summers at her uncle’s mansion in New Rochelle. He came from a relatively wealthy family. He enjoyed hunting and liked to display his trophies from his excursions around the world. He had just come back from South Africa, as he was also an English military officer during the first Boer War and told her stories about a rhino that terrorized his battalion. The stories were fascinating, but she always felt a little uncomfortable when she saw all the taxidermy in his study. She was especially spooked by the large bison head that was mounted over the fireplace. There was something about the sad, fixed gaze that bothered her. One Sunday afternoon during a garden party, she was getting bored with her uncle’s guests and went back inside the house. She thought she heard voices coming from the study and had to investigate. Just outside the pocket doors she could hear a muffled conversation. When she slid the doors open, the room was quiet. All the taxidermy seemed to be staring at her. She looked at the bison head over the fireplace and thought she heard it say, “no one speaks for us” . It was right then and there, that she decided once she was old enough, she would “speak” for the bison. She went out west in the 1880’s and became an aggressive anti-hunting advocate. After many skirmishes with hunters and cattleman she became a wanted outlaw in the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Nebraska.
Concerns a young lady who after surviving a fire in 1893, developed a “smoking problem”. At first, she merely gave off the scent of burning wood which was ignored by her classmates who felt bad that she lost her home along with all her belongings.
But as she got older, her hair began to release smoke into the air as if her head was smoldering. She eventually was no longer allowed in public buildings as the smoke would fill up enclosed spaces.
She became a villain of sorts as she tried to take over a small town and turn it into a sanctuary for “smokers”