The Hollywood Museum recently added three new singular and diverse pieces to their collection this October in the form of eye-popping, glitter-copping portraits of Lucille Ball, Bette Davis and Marilyn Monroe. Respectively gracing the appropriately color-themed rooms of Max Factor’s erstwhile make-up facilities, Marilyn can be found in the Blonde room, Bette in the Brunettes, and Lucille Ball in that of the Redhead variety. The Chicagoan turned Brit–and aptly accented as such–in the form of artist Pegasus, is excited to open his first display at the classic Max Factor Building turned Hollywood Museum. From colorful to controversial the North London Stencil artist has illustrated the likes of Queen Elizabeth sporting Spice Girl Geri Haliwell’s Union Jack Swimsuit, Kate Middleton portrayed as the Virgin Mary with Prince George as the Baby Jesus inspired by the Madonna and child painting of 14th century artist Duccio di Buoninsegna, and a nude Prince Harry subsequent to his media-touted shenanigans in Las Vegas. Following in the footsteps of his idols: the great Andy Warhol, Mr. Brainwash and Banksy to name a few, Pegasus’ most famous and primary work encompasses an Amy Winehouse fallen angel illustration, inspired after–and in honor of–her passing in 2011 which still resides originally mounted on side of the Camden Information Center (Starbucks). Painted over in 2013, it was restored at the insistence of Amy’s mother Janis with whom he shares a close friendship to this day!
During the course of the evening, there is wine, merriment, a birthday cake the size of a Buick in honor of our artist’s date of birth which, wondrously enough, falls on exhibit night opening. Moreover, our presence will additionally be graced with appearances by a motley crew as varied and sundry as the celebrities Pegasus paints: from Barry Livingston aka Ernie Douglas from My Three Sons, Austrian born American Body Builder and actor Roland Kickinger, Museum founder Donelle Dadigan, The Pink Lady, and Pegasus’ Mom–flown all the way in from Chicago… and oh…an inevitable, magical visit from Ruta Lee to expound upon her beloved friend Lucille Ball in honor of the christening of Pegasus’ third unveiled painting!!!
Our artist’s story is fascinating. With a pristine British accent, the likes of which George Wendt would never suspect to have once possessed the possibility of chatting up ‘da bears’ 12 years hence, to his soft spoken, yet enthusiastic demeanor, one cannot help but be drawn into Pegasus’ story to the point of going far over expected interview time…
“[I got my start as an artist] kind of by accident,” he declares. “I actually knew Amy Winehouse and I’ve always been artistic…but when she passed away, I wanted to pay tribute to her in…a very personal way. [So] I went to the art store and I remember looking for canvas and paints…and I was going to do a mural and go down to the house. I actually live two blocks away from where Amy passed away. So I wanted to leave a painting tribute to Amy outside of her house…and when I was in the art shop I noticed a row of spray paints. So I decided the best way to pay tribute to our friend…was to actually go and do a stencil, a street piece of Amy for everybody to enjoy. So that’s what I did. And then afterwards it had gotten into the media that it was mistaken as a Bansky, and a few weeks later Banksy actually made a statement saying ‘It’s very nice but it’s not my work.’”
“[It was] my very first piece. I had no idea what I was doing. It was literally just homage and paying tribute to my friend who had just passed away… From there…I liked the feeling of doing street art and graffiti and stencil work. So I hung around a lot of skater parks. I hung around a lot of graffiti areas and watched a lot of graffiti artists do their thing. So I taught myself and it’s been a long process in a very short time.”
“[I met Amy because she] was a friend of a friend… I’m still very close to her mother and her father [and] very close to the Amy Winehouse foundation who do great work for children who suffer from alcohol abuse and drug addiction… They help rehabilitate them and…they do fantastic things for people who struggle with the same addictions that Amy had. So I do a lot of work for them and I donate a lot of paintings.”
“I initially started painting celebrities because I love everything about pop culture. My greatest inspiration in the art world is Andy Warhol. Since I was very small…I was kind of inspired to be that great… My manager owns a framing company and he’s framed for everybody. He’s framed for Elton John… But he also used to frame for Andy Warhol when Andy Warhol was alive and [still] does, because he’s an art dealer and art collector himself. [So] I see a lot of Andy’s pieces in and out of his workshop all the time and it’s always so amazing to see them… He has to kind of get me away from the art work ‘cause I’ll sit there looking at everything and I love to look at things really closely. It’s great. I also used to paint people I admired straight off but now I paint people that other people can get inspiration from.”
After all this, I couldn’t help but be curious as to what his exact medium was.
“I only use spray paint acrylics and they’re all multilayered stencils which I cut and draw myself.”
As to the sparkly lips on all our starlets Pegasus could only divulge the following most juicy tidbit, “If the light was a bit more dim in here you’d see them really shine. ‘Cause they’ve got diamond dust in them!”
Diamond dust folks!—DIAMOND DUST!!!
As to the favorite celebrities he has painted, the three gracing our presence fall certainly within the top ten in his arsenal of most beloved. “…My favorite celebrity of all time is Bette Davis… I saw the dress up here [in the museum] yesterday night and I got goose bumps! I also love Marilyn. I love ‘em all… My most prized possession at home is a scarf that was owned by Lucille Ball. It’s a pink chiffon scarf and it’s got her snot on the scarf. It’s gross but…I’ve got it framed!”
As to the ruling class and one of his more famous paintings of the venerable old Queen in what look like undies (but are really, Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack bathing togs) I can only inquire, “Is that a satire of the queen? ‘Cause she’s in an outfit that she normally wouldn’t be in.”
“It’s not really [a satire]. It’s me paying tribute to her. A lot of people did take it the wrong way. They thought I was being offensive and inappropriate but I made her look beautiful. [In] one of the media posts when that story went live, an ex-member of staff at Buckingham Palace said when she’s at home she still wears the royal gowns with pink fluffy slippers so only Prince Philip actually sees what she’s really like behind closed doors. I don’t know if you heard about this, but our Prime Minister came out in the media [saying that] did something very inappropriate with a dead pig when he was in college. And I ended up doing a piece and portraying that with Miss Piggy… Of course everybody was freaking out. I pushed the button a little too much.”
“Well she’s foam rubber y’know. She doesn’t have any nerve endings; so what the hell?” I can only muse. Then as an afterthought– “Did you ever hear from the queen ever after you did this? Did she see it?”
“Um…I did,” our artist differentially admits. “The funny thing is, [I have] two followers [who have been with me] since the very beginning [of my career] and one of them…is a school friend of Prince William’s and I had another guy who was one of the Royal guards… I’ve done a lot of Royal pieces, I’ve done Prince Harry when he did his naked thing here and was crazy…in Vegas… I’ve done a pregnant, nude Kate Middleton. So every time I do something on the Royals I get these updates…just to say, ‘They’ve seen them and they’ve had a little giggle.’ So…they seem very cool and they seem very accepting. They seem like they have a great personality and sense of humor about it all which is great! So I’m lucky I haven’t upset them or offended them yet… They seem like a really fantastic family. They’re the new Royals aren’t they?”
“Yeah yeah, I still wish…I would be so curious to know what it would be like if Diana was still alive. That would be fascinating,” I muse. “Did you ever do anything on Diana?”
“I would like to…” are Pegasus’ ultimate words before he is whisked off to another photo shoot and on to the special birthday surprise!
The final treat of the evening, after a most sumptuous slice of cake, would have to be the arrival of Ruta Lee. In a most softly velvet and magical cadence, she speaks to the artist in the Redhead Room revolving around her close friend Lucille Ball.
“What do you think of his rendition of your friend?” I ask her.
“Well, I love it because I think he is an outrageous painter and I think ‘outrageous’ is almost too small a word for what this adorable artistic talent does. So I thank you and I love Lucy and I love Marilyn and Bette… Oh my God, that’s the queen in my mind. But [Lucy] was my personal friend so I love looking at her because that’s her! It is without a doubt her and what we know her best as: She wasn’t that personally…not at all. Personally she was sort of quiet and reticent. She wasn’t funny at all, but Lord what a great gal. What a great human being, and isn’t it wonderful that television will keep her alive for centuries to come? One good thing about the movies and television is that those of us who were in it will live onnnnnn until they burn every piece of film and tape!”
“It’s kind of like 2D time travel,” I exclaim.
“What a lovely way to look at it. Thank you. I’ll use that,” Ms Lee will enthusiastically state after which I can only return a fervent nod in the affirmative.
Pegasus’ celebrity endorsed work is now on display at the Hollywood Museum in the Blonde, Brunette and Redhead rooms respectively and irrespectively.
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