Liz Renay Bizarre Outsider Artist and Mob Gun Moll
Any artist admired by John Waters is at the very least interesting, he being an informed, if unconventional collector. This HAS to be especially true if the painter happens to be a former gun moll, showgirl and self-admitted lover of 2,000 men. Her autobiography was titled My First 2,000 Men and while I haven't read it, I believe her. She had two week long marriage at age 15. It set the pattern, but she survived.
Ms. Renay lived a rich life. She knew and consorted with Mobster Mickey Cohen, and she loved him, I guess. At least, she loved him enough to help him launder some money which came up during the investigation of the murder of mobster Albert Anastasia. That is not a small time gangster. That is a gangster when they were bigger than General Motors. Anastasia was said to have been done in by Crazy Joe Gallo.
Liz passed away on January 22, 2007.
One of the best ways to remember Pearl Elizabeth Dobbins, her real name, would be to appreciate the fabulously goofy outsider art paintings she created. There aren't enough paintings by showgirls.
Unlike most self-taught naives, Liz eventually went from obscure to big time, finally achieving a major show at adventurous and prestigious art gallery Deitch Projects in New York. Art snobs like to say an artist's background doesn't have anything to do with their artistic esthetics, painterly qualities and such, but I think Deitch knew a good story when he saw one.
The magnificent exhibition of paintings was put together by the Burlesque Hall of Fame and Deitch. Not only are they huge in scale and scope, they are bizarre and that's great. That whole "Low-Brow" art movement owes her a debt. The installation was a few years ago, but let's help it keep making some news. It is said she painted 150 works.
View the show HERE, which was installed with numerous objects from her career. Her work, which sold for a few grand in the 1960s is holding firm...see one for sale at 15 grand HERE
Deitch Projects is HERE. Burlesque Hall of Fame is HERE, and the images are theirs. A nice slide show also appears HERE on artnet.
My First 2,000 Men is HERE.