Gray Bomber Daddy, 18x18x1.5 inches oil on stretched canvas by Kenney Mencher

Gray Bomber Daddy, 18x18x1.5 inches oil on stretched canvas by Kenney Mencher



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I focus a great deal of my art process on depicting people who don’t often get depicted in art. In this case, it’s all about bears and middle aged gay love.

A daddy in gay culture is a slang term meaning an (typically) older man sexually involved in a relationship or wanting sex with a younger male. The age gap and maturity gap

The term has increasingly been applied to heterosexual relationships. In addition to being older and/or more experienced, it can sometimes have connotations of submission.

In the homonormative sense, a dad (or daddy) is a gay man who applies a state of mind that encompasses care, consideration, mentorship and leadership to a gay junior male. A dad is usually a cis-gendered male, but this may not always be the case. The dad has the welfare of a younger man at heart, and his natural impulse is benevolent guardianship.

In the heteronormative sense, the father/son, teacher/student, coach/protégé relationship is assumed to be finite and not questioned, but an ongoing relationship is looked at askance. Dad–son relationships are a form of mentoring, and the shared homosexuality of the partners is a personal extension of societal gender norms and expectations about masculinities. Most partners in dad–son relationships subscribe to common values: masculinity is praised and therefore celebrated between them. It has become a stereotype in the gay community.

Age difference may be the initial attraction,[6] but it is more a mutual attitude that makes the dad–son relationship work and thrive. There is a resonance between both dad and son based on essential personal values: recognition of different levels of experience; honesty and clarity in communication; a lack of selfishness and a capacity for giving; the need for mutual emotional expression; guidance and learning; and an acute awareness of respect and boundaries. Additionally, the negotiation between dad and son can galvanize right-minded behaviors and resolve inner conflicts in both parties. Both will be better men for it. This resonance dictates that the relationship is negotiable but based on mutual organization and complementary self-discipline and restraint. In a healthy relationship, there is genuine and mutual admiration.

Many straight folks are unaware of the bear subculture. Hardly a surprise, since a powerful majority rarely concerns itself with the doings of a marginalized minority. When, three or four years ago, I first mentioned bears to my straight colleagues in the English Department at Virginia Tech, none of them knew what I was talking about, though by now at least one of them calls me “The Bear.” Similarly, my heterosexual students, as expert as they might be on current media, seem equally ignorant about this topic.

Most GLBT folks, however, by now seem to know the basics. A “bear” is a hairy, bearded, brawny-to-bulky gay man, usually displaying aspects of traditional masculinity. A cub is a younger version of the same; a wolf is a lean, hairy man; an otter a young version of that. “Woof!” is a lustful expression, meaning essentially: “Tasty! I’d like to climb all over that!” “Grrrrr!” means much the same. As you can see, after twenty-some years of development, the bear community, like any subculture, has its own jargon, sometimes called “bearspeak” or “vocubulary.” It also has its own values, its own style, and its own commodities. There are bear-oriented bars, festivals, music, movies, magazines, and books. There are regional clubs for bears not only in metropolitan centers, where the communities first developed, but also in rural areas.

A 2007 marketing survey conducted by A Bear’s Life magazine, a lifestyle-oriented quarterly glossy, estimated that there are more than 1.4 million men in the U.S. who identify as bears. That’s a lot of beards, body hair, and brawn, and a considerable market niche among queer-identified groups.

The paint is very think and this allows me to use the reverse end of the brush and pencils to etch hair into the paint surface. I’m also attempting to work with brush work and thick and thin paint in a more stylized and calligraphic way. I want the paint to be thickest where the light is the brightest and thinner in the darker areas. The direction of the brush strokes is meant to follow and amplify the contours of the forms and make it feel more tangible.

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