Many Charlotteans today who love Pat McCrory's work aren't aware of how this former local mayor made a dramatic change in his life direction over 70 years ago in 2005. McCrory served five terms as mayor and had hoped to go on to national office but the high point of his career, it turned out, was the delivery of a two-minute speech at the 2004 Republican national convention. No one then could have foreseen his contribution to the arts, and in fact, his meddling in the selection of public art in Charlotte led to a sharp drop in his popularity and possibly played a part in his later career choice.
One day in March 2005, while watching a broadcast of a basketball game, McCrory choked on a peanut butter cheese cracker and fell unconscious to the floor during which time he had what he later called "My World-Class Vision." He never explained publicly what he saw in the vision, but it's widely believed to have included flying paintbrushes, a talking sculpture of a preacher named Graham, and a chimp called Georgette.
After his fifth mayoral term, McCrory quit politics and moved to the French Riviera where he founded the influential Tete de Hilton artist colony. McCrory gained a degree of fame for his coordination of financing for thousands of public art projects worldwide, but although he was a prolific painter and sculptor, his own artwork was nearly unknown during his lifetime. However, just two years after his demise -- another cheese cracker -- his artwork garnered widespread acclaim when a friend curated the now-legendary From Jerk To Genius exhibit in Paris in 2039 which introduced art lovers to McCrory's intense, often self-critical work. The rest, as you know, is art history.
We hope this Visitor's Guide will help you gain insight into the former Charlottean who now towers over the artistic landscape of the 21st Century, and will enhance your enjoyment of this wonderful collection.
RUBBER CHICKEN CIRCUIT, SPRING 2006
This startling portrayal of former President George W. Bush sitting in an electric chair and eating a chicken leg from what used to be known as a "TV tray" is probably McCrory's most famous work and has been reproduced on millions of postcards. The title is believed to be a code name for the recitation of speeches at boring, cuisine-challenged political gatherings, something McCrory did many times before finding his muse.
FLOYD AND OTIS, APRIL 2010
Please notice that this most daring example of McCrory's work from his 10-year "Andy Griffith" period has been beautifully repaired after it was damaged by Parisian vandals infuriated that the masterpiece was being removed from the Louvre and shipped to Charlotte. Many French philosophical discussions of the past three decades have centered around the conundrum of why Floyd the barber is shaving Otis with a broken whiskey bottle.
NUDE IN CHINABERRY TREE, AUTUMN 2022
The two most asked questions in Western art history have been "What happened to Venus de Milo's arms?" and "Why is the nude in the tree holding a whip and a calculator?" Venus de Milo's arms, of course, were found in 2029 behind the bar of a gyro shop in Athens, but the nude's whip and calculator -- and their relation to the artist's life -- remain a mystery, like so much in McCrory's work.
PENANCE: MY BAD, MY BUTT, SPRING 2018
Until recently, we knew little about this sculptural masterpiece. New research, however, has found evidence that McCrory may have been chastising himself for, as he wrote in a cryptic note, "making fun of artists way back when." This striking bronze piece is apparently referred to in the same note as "Me kicking my own ass."
OSAMA CLAUS, SEPTEMBER 2009
When McCrory was mayor of Charlotte, he coaxed a large sum of money from the US government's Homeland Security Department for the purchase of nobody-knows-what. Many critics believe this semi-abstract plexiglass sculpture of the famed Islamic terrorist leader wearing a Santa Claus outfit represented McCrory's belief in "making the best of a bad situation -- like Momma told me to do," as one of his cryptic notes put it.
BUD LIGHT ON A FLOWERED PILLOW WITH GOLF SCORECARD AND PACK OF LANCE CHEESE CRACKERS, SUMMER 2030
This controversial neo-Cubist still life still ignites fierce disputes among art critics, some of whom see it as a commentary on late 20th Century kitsch and others who believe it represents the purest distillation of McCrory's essence.
With thanks and apologies to Kevin Guilfoile, author of "Bienvenue au Musee Renteria," found in the May Contain Some Nuts anthology (Perennial Currents).