"Revenge is Sweet, You Bastard!"

Dixie Otto

The final painting in the Otto Triptych is from the artist's Around-the-Bend period leading up to Ms Otto's commitment in Arkham Asylum for the Socially Deranged in Arkham, Massachusetts. Having descended into full-blown psychosis, her anti-smoking crusade became a mania, and she traveled everywhere with a 12-foot blacksnake bullwhip named Harriet, which she used to snap cigarettes out of the mouths of passersby, sometimes successfully, but more often snapping off an ear or popping out an eyeball. In the tradition of Carry Nation, she haunted tobacconist shops, where she belabored the counter clerks with the lead-filled handle of the bullwhip.


The incident which was the immediate cause of her confinement occurred during her preparation for painting this, her final work. Having found to her great glee a headstone for a Philip Morris¹ in the cemetery where her youngest brother was buried, she returned at midnight with a dark lantern and a sexton's spade, broke open the modest casket and purloined the contents, which she dragged through the streets to her studio, posing it against a funereal black velvet background. Once the skull and skeleton were daubed in to her satisfaction, she added a 200mm Marlboru cigarette from China, the longest she could find in the ruins of a tobacco shop she had stormed.


In a matter of minutes the painting was complete. She then gave it the present title, and was standing before it laughing hysterically when police, having followed the trail of mud, cerements and small parts from the churchyard, broke down the studio door and carted her away in a buckled canvas garment delicately known as a camisole restraint in the psychiatry industry. She has been at Arkham Asylum ever since.
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¹ It should go without saying that the unfortunately-named Mr Morris whom she resurrected was not the founder of the cigarette dynasty which bears the same name. The original Philip Morris was a tobacconist who had a shop in Bond Street, London, England, in the mid-19th century. That Mr Morris  is safely entombed in a rather ornate mausoleum in Highgate Cemetery, London. Ms Otto's cadaver, unlike its namesake, was a Mormon who had eschewed tobacco all his life.

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The completed painting was claimed by the heirs and assigns of Ms Otto's model and auctioned off to pay the costs of his re-interment. The Museum of Depressionist Art was the high bidder at $17. Little did the heirs and assigns realize that they had let the third panel of the Otto Triptych slip away for such a pittance. Our board of directors just laughed and laughed.

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