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Last time on Betty Lou’s Treasure Trove…

The weekend skidded by, lost to prepping for the big art history exam on the Bauhaus that Tuesday.  Pauline huffed an audible sigh of relief following the test; she had identified the slides easily and felt confident in her essay writing.  Apparently, all of the studying had paid off, and now she could relax.  She had completely forgotten about the basement workroom until she pulled up to the store and a switch flicked on in her mind.

Chester was outside, moving some of the mannequins around to showcase the new front window display in the making.  He hefted the children away from the bench and strapped them to the pole with the flag waving Elvis wannabe and his doe-eyed girlfriend.  Pauline looked at the window and was taken aback; the lovely blonde mannequin was poised front and center, sporting a flowy teal formal gown with sequin accents from the late 1940s.  Her blonde hair cascaded over her shoulders.

Chester’s eyes met Pauline’s gaze and he waved an abrupt hello.

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“She’s a beaut, isn’t she?” he called out.  “Just finished working on her this weekend.”

Pauline waved back with a slight roll of her fingertips nodding, unable to speak.  She opened the door to be greeted heartily by Betty Lou, who was nestled in her corner watching the television for a change of pace, tuned in to an unfamiliar old game show in which a man dressed in a chicken suit was deciding something between a door and a box.

“You’re almost there, hon,” Betty Lou exclaimed from her ledger, taking note of how many hours she’d worked.  “You’ll have that mannequin worked off in no time.  I even put a SOLD sign on her for you.  One or two more days and she’ll be yours…  Now can you rearrange that front window?  Chester’s finished his newest creation, and I want to make sure she gets all the attention she deserves.”  She gestured towards the new blonde mannequin with her meaty hand.  “Just clear out all of that junk around her feet and finish setting up that dollhouse display.”

Pauline drifted to the front window.  The mannequin appeared much more static than she had when Pauline had confronted her downstairs, her skin less waxy and her eyes distant and dry.  She stood sentry, staring out into the parking lot.  Betty Lou’s voice drifted over, “She’s a pretty one.  Looks just like that girl Dinah, who worked here before you came along…”

Apparently Chester had just piled everything to the side as he readied his new mannequin for her debut, and he and Betty Lou had been waiting for Pauline to clear the things out.  Pauline picked up a couple of boxes of shoes from the heap next to the mannequin’s feet and hauled them to the shoe rack a couple of clothing displays over.  There was a dollhouse and a box of doll furnishings and accessories at the ready, and once Pauline found new homes for all four boxes of shoes and wigs, she set to work on putting the dollhouse together.  She could barely make out a trailing tiny and distant sound, like far away moaning, but it was largely drowned out by the television in Betty Lou’s corner.  In fact, it was only barely audible within arm’s distance of the new mannequin, and only if Pauline strained to hear it at quiet points in the show.  It was the same soft crying she had heard in the basement, but much more distant and muted.

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The dollhouse was vintage and was in relatively good shape but had remained unfinished.  There were some rooms that were more complete than others, wallpapered and floored in ways that were aesthetically pleasing, and Pauline could identify where the kitchen, bathroom, dining room, and two bedrooms were likely supposed to be, arranging furnishings from the box accordingly.  She set up a sort of parlor in another room, and a den in another, before she left for the day.  Every so often as she worked, Pauline would glance up at the new blonde mannequin out of the corner of her eye.  She had the distinct feeling that she was being watched, and the eerie sobbing was unnerving.  But the mannequin just stood motionless, silently staring out the front window to greet anyone passing by the store.

Mannequin legs, detail from featured image with the writer
Mannequin legs, detail from featured image with the writer
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

Jennifer Weigel is a multi-disciplinary mixed media conceptual artist residing in Kansas USA. Weigel utilizes a wide range of media to convey her ideas, including assemblage, drawing, fibers, installation, jewelry, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video and writing. You can find more of her work at: https://www.jenniferweigelart.com/ https://www.jenniferweigelprojects.com/ https://jenniferweigelwords.wordpress.com/

Original Series

AI Journey: Little Red Riding Hood, Part 2

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Continuing our AI journey from last time exploring Little Red Riding Hood herself as the Big Bad Wolf… All of these are based upon the AI generated art and prompts using NightCafe and then created as posters in Canva.

Little Red Riding Hood as a wolf, Sinister style, Aug. 1, 2023
Sinister style, Aug. 1, 2023

How very… Phantom of the Opera predatory… this is definitely not what I had in mind. Maybe something more cutesy?

Little Red Riding Hood woman with wolf head instead of her own, Anime V2 style, Aug. 1, 2023
Anime V2 style, Aug. 1, 2023

Ugh. Maybe not.

Wolf face peering out of red hooded cape, Sinister style, Aug. 1, 2023
Sinister style, Aug. 1, 2023

Wow, that seems like such a cop out, cropping off the head so you don’t have to depict it. And I don’t want to lose the Little Red Riding Hood reference completely.

Wolf in sheep's clothing as Little Red Riding Hood, Artistic Portrait style, Aug. 1, 2023
Artistic Portrait style, Aug. 1, 2023

So no surprise there, I knew that was too many references to work.

And we continued to devolve, join us again next week for the final installment to see how this ended… And again, if you want to catch the last AI art journey, you can find it on Haunted MTL here.  To see more such devolutions into AI generated art, check out the Will the Real Jennifer Weigel Please Stand Up? blog.

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AI Journey: Little Red Riding Hood, Part 1

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And as promised in Big Bad Poetry, we shall embark on our next AI journey, this time looking at Little Red Riding Hood. I had wanted to depict her as the Big Bad Wolf one and the same, although maybe not so big nor bad. But it just wasn’t happening quite as planned. All of these are based upon the AI generated art and prompts using NightCafe and then created as posters in Canva.

Little Red Riding Hood beautiful woman with red cape hiding her wolf face.  Sinister style, July 29, 2023
Sinister style, July 29, 2023

So I actually like this even better than my original vision, it is playful and even a bit serene (especially given the Sinister style). The wolf is just being a wolf. It’s quite lovely, really. But it wasn’t what I had in mind, so I revisited the idea later to see if I could get that result…

Little Red Riding Hood with wolf face, Artistic Portrait style, Aug. 1, 2023
Artistic Portrait style, Aug. 1, 2023

Well, that’s not quite right…

Wolf face Little Red Riding Hood, Artistic Portrait style, Aug. 1, 2023
Artistic Portrait style, Aug. 1, 2023

Yeah more of the same…

What part of wolf face don't you understand?, Hyperreal style, Aug. 1, 2023
Hyperreal style, Aug. 1, 2023

And as you can see this is starting to devolve quickly. Join us again next week to see how this continued to develop… And if you want to catch the last AI art journey, you can find it on Haunted MTL here. To see more such devolutions into AI generated art, check out the Will the Real Jennifer Weigel Please Stand Up? blog.

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Nightmarish Nature: Horrifying Humans

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So we’re going out on a limb here in this segment of Nightmarish Nature and exploring one of the most terrifying, most dangerous, most impactful species to walk this planet. I’m talking about us of course. Sure, as humans, we may not seem all that horrific to ourselves, but to many other creatures we have been a force of nightmares.

Humans male as drawn by Jennifer Weigel
Humans male as drawn by Jennifer Weigel

Why are we terrifying?

Humans are among those species that engage in massive modifications to our environment to serve our needs, like beavers who dam rivers, elephants who eat all of the new growth scrub to keep the savannahs tree-free, and so on. Yeah, all creatures have some impact on their surroundings, but some take it up a notch, and we do so at an order of magnitude higher still. And we have gotten so good at it that we have managed to exist and thrive in places that would otherwise be inhospitable. We are outwardly adaptive and opportunistic to the point of being exploitative. We are the apex predators now.

Sabertooth cowering as drawn by Jennifer Weigel
Sabertooth cowering as drawn by Jennifer Weigel

We have forced many creatures into extinction, intentionally and not, and have sped up these effects enormously. The National Audobon Society chose the egret as its symbol after it made a comeback from being hunted to near extinction, and it was one of the lucky ones. Many weren’t so lucky, especially if they came in direct conflict with humans, such as wolves and the big cats who were in direct competition, or those who were really specialized in really specific niche circumstances that we pushed out of the way. And this is in only a very very limited scope of our earth’s history, and has since been even more ramped up with industrialization.

Humans female as drawn by Jennifer Weigel
Humans female as drawn by Jennifer Weigel

But humans aren’t all bad are we?

Depends on who you ask… We have created all sorts of incredible opportunities for some species too. Take mice for example. And coyotes. And kudzu. And a whole host of animals whom we’ve domesticated, some of whom wouldn’t have continued to exist otherwise or certainly wouldn’t exist in anything resembling their current forms. And the most massive extinctions occurred long before our arrival, when the earth was still forming and underwent rapid catastrophic changes and swings, decimating critters as they were trying to get a foothold. Nothing is constant except for change; that has always been true.

Wolf begging for cheezborger drawn by Jennifer Weigel
Wolf begging for cheezborger drawn by Jennifer Weigel

So it isn’t my goal to get all eco-con​scious and environmentalist here. Just that I feel if we are going to explore some of the more terrifying aspects of nature, we need to look in the mirror. Because if a consensus were taken right here, right now of all living beings globally as to what is among the most terrifying creatures among us, I’m sure we’d appear on that list.

If you enjoyed this closer-than-kissing-cousins segment of Nightmarish Nature on Horrifying Humans, please check out past segments:

Vampires Among Us

Perilous Parenting

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Freaky Fungus

Worrisome Wasps

Cannibalism

Terrifying Tardigrades

Reindeer Give Pause

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Komodo Dragons

Zombie Snails

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