Bonnie and Clyde Series

While researching for this series of paintings, Max and Malinda made many attempts to separate fact from fiction, but found it impossible. The legend is too strong. They definitely were lovers. For sure they roamed the Midwest from 1932-1934. They drove stolen Fords and robbed banks. Clyde killed some lawmen -– some might say in self defense.

They frightened everyone. When Max was very young, four to five years old, his family vacationed in Iowa. There, he was not allowed to leave their cabin. His mother was worried –- Bonnie and Clyde were said to be in the neighborhood. Boy, would he have liked to meet them!

After Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and killed in 1934, Henry Ford toured the Death Car, a Ford, around the Midwest. Max’s dad took him to see it – as an object lesson. Rather than being horrified he was fascinated. Years later he loved to recall the red Louisiana dirt on the fenders and the red blood stains in the car. For the rest Max’s life Bonnie and Clyde flirted on the edge of his imagination and was finally unleashed onto canvas in the 1990’s with this series.

Max and Malinda retraced their routes, their struggles and their downright foolish behavior and discovered Bonnie and Clyde had left their aura behind in the form of photographs — they were avid fans of the brownie camera. One fateful spring morning they played around photographing each other smoking the SAME cigar. Left behind in an ambush, the photos were published and Bonnie became a “CIGAR SMOKING GUN MOLL”, Clyde a “SKILLED WHEELMAN.” They had unwittingly created their own wanted posters!

They did encounter danger from The Law –- literally living out of their car and camping out. “Getaway” was a way of life for them. BUCK, Clyde’s brother, also had his less famous run-ins with the law. Fatefully Buck joined their gang and was mortally wounded. They took Buck to Dexfield Park where they dug his grave at the exact spot shown in the painting. Max even mooed to attract the attention of the cow shown in the background. It is a distressing and eerie spot. In Arcadia, LA the legend is alive and well. People recreate bank robberies while waiting in line at the bank. When Max & I visited there in 1989, they were eager to help us out. Someone provided us with the morgue pictures and the scribbled report. We devoted a couple of days to figuring out what was written down — frightening facts transcribed by a frightened person. As locations go — a back road in a hollow near Arcadia, Louisiana – is the spookiest of them all. Here, the “Two Facers”, a posse of frightened and heavily armed lawmen, ambushed and killed the two lovers. Bonnie and Clyde were finally dead, dead, dead.

“Prime-Evil” is one of Max’s masterpieces and his final homage to Bonnie and Clyde. Here stands Malinda, surrounded by the death and evil which pervades this spot. Today there are still trees on the side of the road where the ambushers were hiding, but the Bonnie and Clyde side is barren — nothing grows there. Yet Bonnie and Clyde will always be “Lovers to the End” coming at you “Head On” in their stolen 1934 Phaeton.