Princess Kennedy: Bad Ass Battle Axe Bitches – March 2009

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My introduction to the art world came when I was working at an ultra-hip hair salon called Glama-Rama. It was housed on the ground floor of a spacious Victorian we decorated with a 50s poodle/punk aesthetic - vintage Barbies, old Hollywood vanities, a 60s peepshow machine and 70s Brit-punk memorabilia. With vast amounts of wall space we were able to book our amazing artist friends’ work in a heavily trafficked venue at virtually no cost. This is how I was schooled in art appreciation. I lay no claim to being an art critic - I do, however, have an opinion. My belief is that anyone can be an artist and everyone has some form of ability. What separates the true artist is the desire to create. Therefore I find appreciation and respect in the effort alone. I’ve really been missing this influence in my life.


Photo: Michelle Emerson/Adam Dorobiala

As you can imagine, I was peeing myself when asked to profile some cool chicks doing art, living the dream and bringing it on like Donkey Kong. Each one different from the other, the Battle Axe Girls use the power of three to mesh a perfect brace of danger and femininity into a little project they’ll be featuring at Oni Tattoo Gallery. I was able to sit down with the charmed ones and chat about art, pugs and ass play.

Brought together by a mutual acquaintance, Shauntay Ramsey, Michelle Emerson and Sarah de Azevedo quickly became bosom buddies and share a bond not commonly found in la femme de trois. “We were really put off by gratuitous back-patting cliques of the SLC mainstream art world,” Ramsey says. “We don’t take ourselves that seriously.” They joined forces last year and put on their first collaborative art show. “Shauntay had come up with the idea for the show, but we couldn’t find an agreeable space.” says Emerson, “That’s when I thought of asking Mason [Noftle] at the Broken Record.” (Emerson bartended there at the time.) “I’m not even sure a big gallery event crossed our minds.” de Azevedo says, “We were totally focused on a more urban raw setting.” In other words, someplace that could handle their independent, alternative feminine wiles.

For de Azevedo, a tattoo artist at Oni, strong personality is essential for how driven she is. I immediately found a connection when she showed up late, bejeweled like a Christmas tree. “Sorry,” she says, “I almost forgot this was happening. And no I’m not all dressed up for you.” (OOOO snap!) de Azevedo is a SL native with strong roots and exuded support for all things local more than once. She showers love on her menagerie of two pugs, a boxer, pekinese, pomeranian, persian and turtle. Miss de Azevedo’s whimsical charm comes through strongly in her art. “For lack of a better term, I call it cutesy-creepy. It’s stuff I’ve been drawing since I was a kid,” she says. Admittedly, I only have so much tolerance for “kinder art” but when done with stylistic panache, it can transport you into the artist’s own personal Where the Wild Things Are. She is definitely a chick that has her finger on the pulse of Salt Lake. With her ambition to succeed, we’ll be seeing work from her for years to come.

The Femme Fatale of the group is Ramsey, hailing from the bay area and begotten by biker folk. As quiet and demure as she tried to come across, I have a feeling she’s the fashionista with a wild streak. Ramsey says, “My dream outfit would be a knee length latex skirt.” Latex Shauntay. Girrrrrl, I found your drag name! Adoringly referred to as the Punk Rock Martha Stewart, her art is raw DIY mixed medium. With spot-on taste and a creative eye, she scouts out odds, ends and found items to form an impressive collage of what goes on in her head. Mixed medium art is definitely one of my faves yet it’s hard for the artist to find a clientele with the luxury of a space to accommodate these usually grand scale pieces. In this particular show, the Mistress Ramsey will be scaling back size and going outside her comfort zone to a more muted palette of pastels and fluorescents. “My pieces this time are all based off of 40s through 70s women, but all big titted and bushy with bunnies,” she says.

Rounding out the trio is Emerson, everyone’s favorite mixologist. Definitely the matriarch of the three, she’s full of secrets. Little known fact: she pushes numbers by day in the accounting offices at Snowbird. “I wanna be Goth really bad.” she says, “I’m just too lazy to keep up with the maintenance - all the hair dyeing, make-up application and corseting.” Extremely revealing for a girl who spent time on a drill team in Texas (that’s cutthroat, honey). I’m positive this cherub-faced dolly was a gay sailor in a past life - there is no 86ing the 69 talk from this broad. When recently asked if she was a lesbian she says, “Haven’t you heard all the cocktalk coming in and out of my mouth?” Emerson’s genuine attitude shines through her art. Her photographs are important from not only an artistic point of view, but an anthropological perspective too. It’s her art, years from now, that will help chronicle a time in history, from the clothing to the settings and the mood of her subjects. “I love capturing people the moment they’re getting a photo taken.” Lady Emerson said, “The way they adjust themselves in their skin.” In this pretext she’ll be exploring the title Hand Gestures.

All dog owners, it was no surprise to hear the Battle Axes have worked out partial proceeds from their show to benefit PUGS (Pugs in Utah Getting Saved). More specifically, the kind people of Dogs R Us periodically foster a pug and the girls are more than happy to donate to make life easier.

I enjoyed my time with the Battle Axe beauties. We lost hours enraptured in stories of super hero powers, crackheads, Hassidic Jews and, that’s right, the aforementioned ass play. In lieu of detail I suggest finding out for yourself at their huge opening, Saturday, March 21 at Oni Tattoo Gallery from 8-10 p.m. with an after party immediately following at the Trapp Door.