Acrylic, oil and vinyl on 24″ x 24″ wood
Jimmy Valiant has been wrestling for nearly fifty years. Keep that in the back of your head while I tell you a little more about the man. Born James Fanning in 1942, he debuted in the squared circle in 1964 as Big Jim Vallen. After cutting his teeth in the 60’s, he went to the World Wide Wrestling Federation as Handsome Jimmy Valiant, holding tag team gold with his storyline brother Johnny Valiant. Also during this time he won his first World Championship defeating Bob Ellis in the World Wrestling Association. Towards the end of the decade, he became one of the main draws in the Memphis territory, feuding regularly with Jerry Lawler. The Valiant/Lawler feud would go on through the 1990’s, becoming one of the most storied and notable rivalries in wrestling history.
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s he worked the NWA’s Jim Crockett Promotions as both the hated Kim James Valiant and the ‘Boogie Woogie Man’ Jimmy Valiant, a fan-favorite whose followers were called ‘The Street People’. He also had a masked persona called, and I love this, “Charlie Brown from Outta Town”. Word. Although how a mask would confuse anyone with that prodigious beard, I have no idea.
In 1990, he twice beat Jerry Lawler for the USWA World Title. He has since transitioned away from regular in-ring competition and instead focuses his energies towards his wrestling school and his writing. But he also wrestled as recently as November 2012! When I was at the 2013 Cauliflower Alley Club reunion, Valiant got up on stage, still strutting, still cutting captivating promos. A young wrestler sitting next to me turned to the table and said, “God damn it, he’s still got it!”
About the piece: I did this all with sponge brushes and house paint. Like, the kind of sponge brushes that you get five for two bucks at the craft store, and some cans of paint from the hardware store. Anyone that tells you about needing fancy supplies to make ‘real’ art has no clue what they’re talking about. All that you need is practice, patience, and experience.