/about the artist
Various paintings of Prince hold particular fascination for some because C.J. appears to have been the inspiration for the song "Billy Jack Bitch" on his Gold Experience album. In a chance 1997 interview with C.J., Prince denied that the song is about her but many who have worked at Paisley Park, several Web sites and other publications say otherwise.
"I'm guessing Prince belatedly realized what a mistake it was to call additional attention to a knucklehead like me, even in an attack song. Who could imagine that column items about his public antics, which have given discerning readers real insight into his personality, would irritate him so much. I also understand that he was furious about me nicknaming him 'Symbolina,' after his ridiculous glyph-for-a-name phase," she said.
Fabulous Tina Panas and So-so C.J.
C.J. delighted in capturing Michael Jackson's visage in ways that probably would not enchant the ethnically challenged pop star. "Through plastic sugery Jackson seems to have been transformed from a cute black boy into a rather scary-looking white woman. I decided that what Michael needed was skin tone. 'Michael with Melanin' is much closer to what he would look like if he actually had vitiligo." The vitiligo story lost credibility when, People magazine reported in March 2004 that at an auction of his possessions, among the items discovered was a tube of the professional strength, skin-bleaching cream Eldopaque. "Michael's apparent lack of comfort with his ethnicity makes him a captivating, if pitiful, portrait subject," said C.J.
C.J. is better known as the gossip columnist at the Star Tribune, the largest newspaper in Minnesota, than as an artist.
She began painting after a trip to Paris in 2000, developing a fondness for the fearless use of color in both abstracts and portraits. She has had three Twin Cities art shows: Frank Stone Gallery (Minneapolis, June 2003); Room for Art (St. Louis Park, December 2003) and aND Gallery (St. Paul, June 2004).
The columnist-cum-artist is part of what's been called the Outsider Art Movement.
"As much fun as my job can be, painting provides a freedom, limited only by my artistic vocabulary. I paint whatever I like, without 'outsider' editing."
Fans of C.J.'s art are intrigued by her celebrity portraiture because of what she does for a living -- writing about notable people.
C.J. with Nip/Tuck star Kelly Carlson
photo by Marty Dietrich
Once a tennis playing fool, C.J.'s other passion beyond painting is collecting novelty t-shirts. Someday she would like to get credit for a creating t-shirt message that is a classic that deserves mention right up there with two of her most prized old t-shirts. One reads "Edwin Meese Is A Pig" and the other is a mock ad, reading 'Good Mayor Wanted,' seeking someone for Marion Barry's D.C. job who was much less flawed.
C.J. with Duchess Sarah Ferguson
photo by Linda Cullen
C.J. also captures a little something different about Oprah with each new piece: "I'm trying to paint the perfect Oprah portrait. She's interesting with all that hair and the powerful set of her jaw. Even though she seems to have control freak tendencies, I love her aura, great intent for this life and how she enjoys her money and stature. There is something cosmically electrifying about my cycle on Earth overlapping Oprah's."
One of C.J.'s proudest moments in a nonexistent athletic career was winning a celebrity free throwing contest at the Timberwolves' arena in 1992. She had 28 baskets, which was more than Sean Salisbury(21), Cris Carter (06), Matt Blair (12), Al Newman, (22), Jack Del Rio (17), Henry Thomas (12), and Randall McDaniel (12). Oh, and although this then local celeb was no competition at all, TV sports broadcaster Inga Hammond (08).
"His ethnic issues are, however, not the main reason I would hope he has a standing appointment with a therapist.''
She has also painted a haunting portrait of Jackson as an African mask on a museum stand, with dreadlocks.
Other celebrity subjects include Kevin Garnett, Randy Moss, Diana Ross and Oprah.
"The Randy Moss painting is titled I Do What I Do because, in an interview with me, that was his partial explanation for an act of rudeness. The Vikings wide receiver, in the company of QB Daunte Culpepper, went to get Timberwolves playoff tickets a couple years ago and they were reportedly disrespectful to a ticket agent, who didn't recognized them. When asked about the incident Moss lapsed in vintage Randy behavior. Gesticulating wildly, either to 'accidentally' knock the tape recorder out of my hand or more likely to make me feel uncomfortable, he gave a rather blue verbal performance. Eventually he uttered a quote I'll never forget: 'Pep do what he do and I do what I do.' All the surliness you might expect from a person who would say that is captured in the Moss portrait."
C.J. with Eddie Montgomery
C.J. sort of with Jake Gyllenhaal