Outrageous Wake

This picture says it all. Captain Outrageous, who, as per his name, died last week.

Naturally, Captain Outrageous had some of the best of Key West making up the funeral/party procession from Caroline Street to Bahama Village. In the picture above, Kwelvis, Mike Mongo, Joe Forte, and Erin Herwig – all painters!

Captain Outrageous was one of the best and most prolific graffiti artists on the Island. (He is my favorite artist on Key West Island.)

It’s funny how he never truly thought of himself as a graffiti artist, though in conversation he accepted that people might think of his style as “graffiti.”

It’s interesting how few of his influences have ever been mention. Obviously, Robert Crumb and Roy Lichtenstein. But his use of painted lines and benday dots (“How many dots did Captain Outrageous paint?” quipped one of the wake’s guests), in conjunction with the many pop culture icons – ranging from the Florida influence of Mickey Mouse to the Warhol’s NYC – gave Outrageous’ work something of a dimension to it that supersedes the flatness of his body of work.

And what a body it is! Thousands of painted pieces, ranging from folk art to fine art. The man is what people commonly hail as “a genius,” but without the obvious imbalance, contempt, or aberration. It’s a virtual world of post-consciousness, an ode to all that is right about all that is wrong. Disposable pop made Sunday pretty for Saturday play.

At the wake, there were two groups. There was the group that were friends with Outrageous when he was alive and admired him, and the friends who were friends with Outrageous when he was alive and thought he was over-rated. The result was that one group laughed and yukked it up around the bar, while the other tried to manage a semblance of formality. Together, it worked. Between the constant back-and-forth between the two types of his friends, the party – I mean, wake – was actually outrageous.

I laughed the entire time. I miss him, too. But not because he’s dead. I miss him because he’s gone, and there are damn few decent characters left around these parts.

Captain and I worked out some crazy plans, so we’ll see what comes of that.

In the mean time, it’s nice to see Captain get so much attention. He’s earned it!

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