Abbreviated biography by Dr. Lizzy Cobb
She’s picky, she’s sassy, and she’s got a lot to say about her American life; it’s quite different than the life she lived as a child in Tenochtitlan, Honduras. “In the early sixties, our family lived in a mud house outside of the capital. We wore newspaper or burlap sacks as clothing and ate whatever we could catch in the yard. Subsequently, we ate a lot of perro carnoso and malt-worms. That’s probably why I can’t resist AMERICAN FAIR FOOD to this day!” exclaims Maya with red rimmed eyes.
As the infamous ‘summer of love’ kicked off in ’67, her parents became migratory, making the dangerous trek across the borders and through the woods. They secured work picking fruits and vegetables as countless families did– many becoming fruits or vegetables, themselves, along the way. Following a trail of tears and other bodily fluids through Baja California and the Southwestern United States, the Nez clan finally landed steady employment in the Texas-based circus outfit, The Boundless Turistas. The family was initiated into carnival culture by way of an elaborate, secret initiation. This blasphemous heathen rite culminated in a grueling, mass tattooing. Maya wasn’t even seven years old and she would be covered pigs to wig in hearts, skeletons, flowers and devils!
When not attending to the inexhaustible, utterly abusive needs of her fellow carnies, Maya took up sculpture to express her complicated inner landscape. Her first pieces included historical figures such as LBJ or, then Honduran President, Ramón Villeda Morales, carved out of the horse dung which had, from birth, been so plentiful in her life. At 110 years old- and 1968’s reigning title-holder as oldest living bearded woman- her mother proudly displayed these maquettes on her “bumpier” until the day she expired. The centenarian collapsed August 9th, 1974 from systemic shock after her first fast-food meal at Whataburger.
Catalyzed by a less-than-honorable interest in Maya’s overdevelopment, the now legendary Malachi D’urban Moffer, highly lauded mesmerist and banner painter for the Turista’s Sideshow, conscripted her as an apprentice. During her tender tweens, she worked with, and, for a “mercifully” short time, was one of the spouses of M. Moffer. Theirs was the quintessential carny lifestyle with all the underbellied trimmings. “It was non-stop trapeze orgies, dwarves, robbery, livestock and substance abuse.” She states rather whimsically. “It was common for us to share the tranquilizers used on the animals. Ha! I barely remember my childhood… really can’t say that I ever had one.”
By 17, Maya Nez had practically done and seen it all. She’d traveled across this great nation of ours a handful of times, sometimes by literal handfuls. She’d been married, tattooed, a junkie, contracted multiple STI’s, been kidnapped from the carnival and sold into slavery. During the latter scenario, the young Maya would be retrieved in a dramatic climax worthy of a Hollywood Summer Blockbuster. At the last minute, a cavalry of Texas Rangers rammed through both front and back doors of the miner’s cabin, dispatching the group of local business owners gathered there who’d abducted and leased her to their affluent friends. The Rangers lost one of their own but killed all of them and transported her safely back to the fair grounds where the Turistas had set up a temporary shanty town. “I expected D’urban to be really happy to see me. Like when a couple is reunited in a movie- there are the strings and the kiss and then a bunch of blurry stuff. But, it wasn’t like any of that… apart from the blurry stuff… there was plenty of that. But, D’urban was… what is the word? Underwhelmed.” In fact, he insisted Maya express her gratitude to The Rangers in some very personal ways, in front of a jury of her peers and with a movie camera present. The Rangers, numbering about fifteen, were only too eager to accept this token of her esteem and availed themselves of Maya’s spoiled spoils until their collective concupiscence was slaked.
Obviously, the reunion with D’urban was less than ideal, but it was compulsory. For some reason, his affections had cooled considerably. She was determined to find out why! So she did what any red-blooded, American wife would do: she started snooping. It was with horror and disgust- during the course of her ‘investigation’-that she began to realize she was then, potentially, D’urban’s least favorite spouse in their group marriage of a dozen or so others (some of whom weren’t even human). Her worst fears were further muddled one afternoon in the spring of 1971, while he was off on one of his outrageous and well-documented benders. Prying into his forbidden, ENTER UNDER PENALTY OF DEATH steamer-trunk, she gleaned more about her husband’s private world than he had ever willfully revealed. Within the coffin sized compartment, she discovered wretched clumps of soiled underwear, a bolt of skin, several small jars of teeth or fingers, a fortune in silver bars, 12 sheets of blotter and numerous phials and prescription bottles. Yet, none of these disturbed her as much as the sodden manila folder containing hundreds of photos of porcine, hirsute women, and obese men with enormous penises, sandwiched between large sheets of plate glass. Their mounds and folds were pressed to imperfect flatness between the panes. Each photograph had one to ten hearts carefully drawn in pen along the borders. Some of them had negative hearts: black, deformed and upside down. Some had stars and hearts. She remembered he’d squashed her between pieces of thick plate glass when they first started courting. He acted like it was something special between the two of them, like it was a new idea to him. She felt like a star. But, alas, there was no photo of her to be found in the raggedy folder. And all of this wasn’t so bad, until she came upon the last two pictures. These were of the same man, his front and back. This man- whom she first thought an ape as his pelt was a carpet of impenetrable, black fur- had the highest heart rating of all! Literally hundreds of frenetic hearts and stars spilled over each border into the man’s image- all carefully drawn and filled in. On one, the man’s ass shone as ruddy islands in the surrounding pitch; on the other, his enormous phallus appeared as if a pink elephant trunk had been grafted between a gorilla’s legs. His face was kind and soft featured, the large eyes smiled from the tufts. Who was this man? And why had D’urban never introduced her to such a thrilling creature? Maya felt grossed out, cheap, turned on and betrayed. Obviously, D’urban had more up those vacuum-packed sleeves than even she realized. But, she was still young and quite dumb.
As a newly single, highly-activated teen- and with a head full of big ideas- she threw herself into social causes, including several “union busting” demonstrations. A legendary story in the carny circuit goes something like this: Maya drove a tractor full of dead poultry into a tent where the TURISTAS BOYS CLUB attended their quarterly meetings to aggressively destroy case after case of Wild Irish Rose whiskey. The chickens had been creatively acquired to keep them nourished in their current location, but, due to “union worker neglect and depraved abuse,” had perished and were starting to stink. Their purloined spoils had been wasted, and Maya was furious! Standing on the seat of the tractor, in iron cross pose, she demanded equal pay for equal work. When the men began to laugh and flick lit cigarettes at her, Maya saw red! She jumped into the trailer and started chucking the rotten, limp chickens at them, shouting obscenities and deep communist rhetoric. The driverless tractor continued into the group killing three of them, two of which were brother husbands, pulled under trying to stop the advancing machine. Predictably, Maya never got equal pay for this stunt, however, she was severely beaten, re-kidnapped, re-branded and “stored in a filthy peek-a-boo box” for five years. Here, she was visited by thousands of familiars and three-legged apparitions. Upon his return from his ‘lost weekend’ (a weekend that lasted five years to the day) it seemed he couldn’t wait to get to her. At least that’s what it sounded like when he finally found her. However, as soon as he pried her out of the greasy, splintered, hole-filled box, her delirious perceptions corrected themselves when he asked her for a $10,000 loan. He revealed how he’d fallen out of favor with The Touristas and needed to disappear. “I asked him if he was worried about helping me and he told me that with all the trouble he was in, he didn’t give letting me out a second thought. I was excited to be leaving with my brother and sister husbands.” As much as she wanted to help him, she was penniless “because… y’know… I was in a Peek-A-Boo box for five freaking years.” Her face tightens. “So y’know what that sonofabitch does? He announces that he and our 11 other spouses are leaving. As he’s saying this to me, not even looking me in the eye, Toby, Fortuna, Turdstick and Freller are trying to stuff me back in the box.” Maya’s crying and screambegging must have done something to them. She recalls, because “D’urban stared deep into my eyes, master mesmerist he was, and said, ‘Look… we won’t put you back in the box as long as you promise to fuck off.’ Then he points to the others, ‘We all agree you smell like hell down there… and then… there’s that little thing of you killing two of us with a tractor, hotdogging.’ Men and the people that marry them, I concluded, are only useful as methane producers and I’ve never taken one seriously since then.” She pauses for effect, “Unless I’m running low on methanes.” She laughs a little and phlegm catches in her throat. It’s obvious that from this experience, she’s emerged a true and independent visionary beyond the ordinary pale of pale men.
In her early twenties, she yearned to make her own paintings. Paintings that moaned and belched and pleaded for spicy love… that said PAY ATTENTION TO ME I’M GROTESQUE! PAY ATTENTION TO ME I NEED ATTENTION! True Carny paintings! She set a goal to attend some art school, any arts school, even though she’d never had a formal education. She’d been routinely attracting some disturbing attention during her tempestuous marriage/apprenticeship under the 48-year-old D’urban Moffer PSI, and had gained some high powered contacts who offered a modicum of real help. It was while vacationing as a toy for a chic crowd of overly fragrant bankers, that she was introduced to and “interviewed” by arts maverick Lew Blum. He was so enthusiastic about Maya’s DSLs, talent and youth, that gave her a modeling stipend as well as paying her tuition to La Gueule de Beaux Arts, to study on their pastoral campus in Prestonsburg, Kentucky. Maya enjoyed the freedom this afforded her as well as the generous stipend granted for posing, dancing and massaging Blum and his moldering arts clique.
In the late eighties, then in her mid-thirties and having finally gained a hard won independence from her ‘patrons,’ she showed at the esteemed, cutting edge Gallerie Schnarrs, in New York, with mime paintings by Red Skeleton and “spew painter” Budi.
IT WAS FINALLY HER BIG BREAK!
She watched as people scoffed at her work.
She listened as people talked about her back shelf.
She cried when somebody asked her if she would take 35 dollars for a painting she had toiled five years over and spent 300 dollars of someone else’s money to create.
She hated New York. But, she didn’t want to move back to Texas, so she moved to Newark, Ohio, where many carnies, and sideshow acts, go to spend their sunset years in relative anonymity. In Newark she was able to set up her own sign-painting company. She continues to flourish in the rural lands of eastern Ohio and occasionally still paints banners for private interests. She is also very involved in keeping her Neurosicrucian/Santarian practice legal in Newark.
Maya maintains a loyal cult following that has its roots in a magical, yet polluted, soil located hundreds of miles away, with a body of work that spans the last five decades. She is known in the carny circuit, a world in which she was steeped until 1987, as The Loogy Log , a not-so-clever allusion to her short, stocky physical stature and nicotine coated throat. Yes, Maya loves to smoke, but insists that she’ll never sue her favorite cigarette company if she “comes down with cancer or the black lungs.”
There is a method to Maya’s sanity. Each piece purportedly contains sprinkles of EXPRESSIVE FLUID (no explanation was given for these terms) and deeply encoded messages gently persuading the onlooker to consume “something.” That “something” might not even be the painting or sculpture itself. You may find yourself compelled to comsume the remainder of the sweaty cheese on the refreshment table or the chardonnay from the lipstick-smudged glass that gassy art maven with the huge mouth is swirling. You may find yourself wanting to eat not only the canapés but the dude serving the canapés because it’s clear he’s got something to hide. In other words, everything in Maya’s world (our world), according to Maya, is ripe for consumption. “And the riper, the better,” she says with her whiskery smile drooping. These subliminal painting techniques were closely guarded secrets in the advertising industry/sideshow banner painter’s union, taught to her by D’urban who routinely used them in his seductively colored sideshow banners. Yes, fickle consumerism is at the core of Maya’s work. Maya is a charlatan, but she doesn’t care… just ask her!
What can be said about Maya Nez that wasn’t better said in The Art Freshener’s review of her show in Lima last summer. And I quote,
“Maya’s work has crusty skins of detached eroticism. Her palette is, at times, chaotic and jarring, but her harmonies never stop hamming… not even for a second to go get a drink. Maya is an athletic painter using a mashed sensibility to create a nothingness all her own. She provides us with the scenery, the characters, the blowing garbage, the hopped-up stinking thinking, and the gas pains that result from viewing adequate art in an inadequate state. MAYA NEZ SHOULD BE SHOT! Maya’s strokes are executed with the utmost fluidity and the horroraptures of her tableaux insight stiff reactions on both sides of our pants. Will we look away as Maya pulls us by our spindly, cocktail dispensing/consuming appendages into the realm of the tractor pull, the donkey show, and the cockfight? Maybe we’ll peek through the clammy, guilty hands that cover our eyes or maybe we’ll just eat the sweaty cheese at the opening and call it a night.”
-Ron Assid, Art Freshener
If you would like to contact Maya Nez or donate to the FREEDOM FROM NEUROSACIA FUND, please write to:
COLUMBUS OHIO, 43212
Dr. Lizzy Cobb is an eternal zelator grade Neurosicrucian. Her inability to do anything for herself has been her saving grace. She is a self-proclaimed medic, transhomunculus, and multiple attachment, gothic scholar/healer. Her greatest accomplishment has been to teach anyone who would follow her into the woods not to follow her into the woods. She regularly lectures from her front porch. She lives in the middle of nowhere, 20 minutes from downtown Newark.
The Pew Gordon Intentional Museum, Tuppers Plains, Ohio
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia
Branstool Sideshow Museum, Northrop, West Virginia
Ponquubonian Reliquary, Tenochtitlan, Honduras
Briscoe Labs Collection, Kirkersville, Ohio
Bulldog, Newark, Ohio
Museum of the Absurd, Baltimore, Ohio
It’s My Art Gallery And I’ll Cry If I Want To, McConnellsville, Ohio
Partners for Pork National Archive, Belpre, Ohio