The Portrait Society Of America conference was a total blast of hanging out with great friends, some best and most exciting living artists pushing the noble figurative realism to were it belongs in our century.
Yet, the most incredible part of the excursion was an accidental meeting with Eddie Tigner at Atlanta’s Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. Upon digging up a tip on this perfectly authentic spot our rowdy gang that included Scott Burdick, Jeremy Lipking, Tony Pro, Romel De La Torre headed there right after Face Off Demos.
We came just for great ribs, but found something even more extraordinary. A great band was playing blues with wonderful sax player from France Raphael Imbert joining in; yet what absolutely struck me was the keyboard player. His demure statue set a perfect contrast to the unbound kindness of Spirit pouring out of his glistering eyes. It was Eddie. He turned out to be 85 years young and there was the whole wall of Fat Matt’s plastered with his photos and portraits, as he has been playing with bands there for the last 25 years and still going strong every Thursday. We just were that lucky to turn up there at his night. Incredibly, he is the only person I’ve met so far for whom the smile is not a temporary muscle function, but a “basic skull structure.”
In a rat chase world of ours Eddie is Nature’s iconic rendition of Genuine Kindness. He is a Generous Soul who lived his life right. His secret? “If you ain’t loving it, it ain’t worth doing.”
It was deepest honor and joy that incomparable Eddie agreed to pose for me and Jeremy right there in the Fat Matt’s next morning. Jeremy had to get back to the conference, but I was enormously fortunate to spend the whole day with Eddie in a magic dialog of Souls that painting portrait live is all about.
To be ready for moments like this is what worth all the training and what Realism means to me.
photos by Olya Vlasova