Driving across the United States and seeing large Jackrabbits, I first heard about the Jackalope. My interest was piqued when a family friend, a trucker, insisted that he saw a Jackalope on one of his runs. While sketching for this painting, I became intrigued by the Legend of the Jackalope. It began when some Wyoming trappers, the Herrick brothers, amused themselves by mounting antelope (Pronghorn) antlers onto a taxidermy Jackrabbit. The story grew from there, and eventually Jackalope folklore even made its way into a Pixar short film called Boundin'.
I initially contemplated indulging this mythic icon and painting a Jackalope, but then I did some further research and was shocked by what I discovered. The existence of the so-called “Horned Rabbit” reaches back through the ages to Europe and Persia. Naturalists eventually realized that Lepus Cornutus was not a distinct species, as its antlers were actually the result of a cancerous disease: Rabbit Papilloma Virus. This revelation cast a bad light on the cruel joke to Jackrabbits, poking fun at a condition some of them have suffered from, even to the point of being choked to death.
As I worked on my Streams in the Wasteland series, developing a post-apocalyptic world where animals inhabit forsaken human civilizations, I pondered the question, “what would the liberation of animals from the bondage of decay look like?” I resolved to depict a Black-tailed Jackrabbit that has just shed his unfortunate ‘antlers’. He is sitting in a sand-swept western interior with the remains of a tea party, inspired by my mother's Russian blueware. Observers later commented that it is reminiscent of a scene from Alice in Wonderland.
The Jackrabbit has been mystically healed from his deadly disease — a passing shadow of the old world — and he now turns his gaze upon the dawn of the new world.
Available for purchase at the Jackson Hole Art Auction on January 18th, 11am (MST) / 1pm (EST)
P.S. Here are a few more images of the painting, showing all the intricate details