Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Black Madonna

The Black Madonna, 14 X 17, copr William Cook, 1982

So I'm innocently walking around the corner,and this spectacle catches my eye.
Couldn't whip out the camera quick enough.  How odd that that everything in
this doorway was spotless exceptfor the statue's face.  I actually thought it
was a little strange--the Queen Of Heaven in blackface.  Had the
thing been vandalized or was this an accident of nature?  I dubbed
her the Black Madonna, and did this piece--knew nothing of the legends.

Years later, to my surprise, I ran across references to the Black Madonna,
and that there has been a great deal of hoo ha made of Mary statues
with black faces for hundreds of years all over Europe.  Much of it consists
of local legend or superstition, some of it is mystical and 'dark',
some of it just sounds ridiculous--like the warning not to get her
upset or she'll throw your kid off a cliff.
I must have stumbled on some weird coven--a sort of Baltimore branch
office of ever greater reaches of strange.  Baltimore has its share
of kooky legends. I mean it is possible. We're prepared
for this here, and my imagination was doing handstands
--like this guy.  

Then I ran across a study from back in the thirties that concluded these
poor statues had probably just gotten filthy over the years,
and that started all the goofy legends.  Apparently, whoever
went to church here agreed. Today she's all
cleaned up, good as new.

So much for the legend of the Black Madonna.
But I still wouldn't get her upset.
What do you think? 



hw (hallie) farber said...

And this is the first in your '82 series where the sculpture is in the light. Didn't want to upset her, huh? Wonderful drawings.

William Cook said...

Hi Hallie--Absolutely not--risky. Thanks. Always a pleasure to hear from you in sunny soVa.

Linda Roth said...

You made me laugh. I really never would have suspected that Baltimore had any spooky folklore. Great drawing Bill. I love your style. Distinctive.

William Cook said...

Hi Linda--Baltimore has more than it's share of weirdness. We have ghosts walking around at Fells Point, and fading away at Fells grave in a one plot cemetery between two row houses. Around the corner is an old establishment called 'The Admiral Fell Inn' I kid you not. Then there's the Poe thing where someone puts a bottle of wine and a red rose on his grave--every year on his birthday--no one's ever figured out who. Then there's the Black Aggie, a grave sculpture that has nasty weird powers. She used to be at the
Druid Ridge Cemetery, but had to be moved because of all the visitors. Then there's Johnny Eck, star of "Freaks", the one with the entire lower half of his body missing--he walked on his hands--Baltimorean. We have notable weirdness and spookiness here. I could go on and on. Yep. Thanks for dropping in.

Jane said...

You are a magnificent observer, I don't think I would ever have noticed the black face in the middle of all these figures and details . I think you did well in not wanting to upset her :-) Didn't realize you were back at blogging, good to see you again .

William Cook said...

Hi Jane--So great to hear from you! I guess I did disappear for a while--lots to to sometimes.