Charlie Parr Portrait Painting

Painting by Reed White

oil on canvas 48" x 60" 2018
Reed White Mankato artist portrait painting of Charlie Parr

So I walked into the kitchen to see my dog dead on the kitchen floor in a pool of vomit. She had done it up Hendrix-style, except her drug of choice was a burnt meatball. I’d just tossed it to her not two minutes prior; she started choking it down as I left the room. The choking was nothing new. She’s a French bulldog; they’re all neck, like a catfish--that’s just how she eats. She swallows everything whole, chokes everything up...try, try, try again until it stays down.

When I saw her sprawled out like that, I picked her up, stuck my hand down her throat and fished out the meatball, proceeding to wipe as much bile, vomit, and sputum from her face as I could, then put her whole snout in my mouth and blew her up like a birthday balloon: one, two, three, four, five…. Nothing. She was like a ragdoll and now her tongue was blue. I could taste her vomit in my mouth. At this point, I was committed. I figured, fuck it, she was dead. I got nothing to lose. I threw her down and slammed her with a Kung Fu palm strike to the torso--blam! And another, blam! And another, blam! With that third strike, she came back! Coughed a bit, finished puking, shook it off and went, again, for the meatball.

So I figured this was a great story to tell Charlie Parr as an icebreaker during our photoshoot the next day. Kinda loosen the tension, get some different facial expressions from him as I tell the story and snap some pictures. Charlie Parr is a singer-songwriter who plays resonator guitar with a slide and banjo; in my opinion, a god of sorts. I play slide and banjo myself so I can spot a god when I see one. He is also a dog lover.

I meet Charlie at the Palace Theater in St. Paul for sound check like we had arranged, still in shock that he had agreed to let me photograph him. His manager, Mark, lets me in. Charlie and his band are onstage. Aside from a handful of people all doing their thing, the theater is all but empty. I’m told to scout for a spot I want to shoot. I’m standing here awestruck, with a grin from ear to ear, feeling like I’m witness to my own personal concert. I know this shit-eating grin is a bad look. I try to resist dancing and stay in the shadows. After about an hour of sound check, it’s time for the meet-and-greet. I feel small. I feel like a stalker. I remember not shaking his hand because I didn’t want to give him my cough. I remember him saying he liked my paintings.

"Thanks," I said. Then, like a little boy meeting Santa at the mall, I bust into my story.

"You’re a dog lover, right? Yesterday, my dog choked, so I stuck her puke-covered face in my mouth and gave her CPR." Snap, snap. I took my pictures. "She lived."

I had been starstruck. Totally forgot about the meatball. Not much of a story without that meatball.

Ironically, the sheer confusion on his face made for a great photo.

Reed White Mankato artist portrait painting of Charlie Parr

Reed White Mankato artist portrait painting of Charlie Parr

Reed White Mankato artist portrait painting of Charlie Parr