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Monday, July 7, 2014
Starbucks Jungle Girl
I never thought I'd save this photograph. I did an artwork for a barista friend at Starbucks, to his specifications. He wanted an appealing, moderately sexy portrait of a tribal girl from the Amazon in her traditional state of (un)dress. I actually did research into what jungle tribal girls wore. They were painted with body paint, wore lots of colorful beads around their necks, and had tattoos on their upper arms. I was pleased with my painting although by tribal standards she is probably too skinny. And there was always the issue of authenticity and appropriation of indigenous images and people. Nevertheless I painted it but after I photographed it and gave it to the barista I found that my photo was very bad. Some camera failure (this was before the advent of digital cameras) had wiped out all the color and contrast. But now so many years later I was able to save my coffee jungle girl's image and restore it in Photoshop. In an interesting effect of coffee tribalism, this barista still works occasional hours at Starbucks, though he has gone on to be a professional "fine artist" showing in galleries and other art venues. I wonder whether he still has my jungle girl portrait. "Jungle Girl" is watercolor on illustration board, 6 3/4" x 10", May 1995.