Artist Ed Bisese and his Peter Rabbit Paintings
Ed Bisese is a College Park based artist and has exhibited his work in many solo and group shows both regionally and nationally. His new exhibition “SupaMonsta” is currently on view at the Greenbelt Community Center Art Gallery, and on February 5, I speak with him at a reception for the artist.
Ed Bisese lives in College Park and has a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Virginia Tech and a Master’s of Fine Arts from the University of Maryland, College Park. Here he stands in front of three large, 64-inch-by-64-inch acrylic paintings. They are painted on un-stretched canvas and are hung on gommets, and Bisese calls them sideshow banners.
Each of these painting features a bunny man that is based on Peter Rabbit, the beloved children’s story character by Beatrix Potter. Bisese describes the center painting: “I was invited to participate in a show at Montgomery College with the theme of food, and so my first painting was Peter Rabbit sharing a carot with Farmer McGregor.” This episode is described in Wikipedia: “Peter Rabbit made his first appearance in 1902 in The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Peter disobeys his mother’s orders and sneaks into Mr. McGregor’s garden, eating as many vegetables as he can before Mr. McGregor spots him and chases him about. Peter manages to escape, but not before losing his jacket and shoes, which Mr. McGregor uses to dress a scarecrow. Peter returns home weary and ill and is put to bed with a dose of chamomile tea.”
“And I realized he is putting himself danger so I thought of the second painting that Peter Rabbit is having a fox over for a birthday party, so again putting himself in danger, which is kind of the theme with Peter Rabbit.” This painting, shown here on the left, is titled “Cake Eaters.”
The one on the right, showing the bunny man leading a crocodile into a pond, is titled “Careless.” It is based on a Japanese folktale “The White Hare and the Crocodiles.” A rabbit wants to cross the sea and he tricks a group of crocodiles to line up so he can step over them. He cannot help boasting his cleverness and is later caught up and attacked by the crocodiles.
Beside these sideshow banners, the exhibition also includes painted collages showing images of Superman on monsters’ heads (thus the title “SupaMonsta”). Here Bieses talks to Elyse Harrison of Bethesda. Harrison is also an artist. She was the owner of Gallery Neptune in Bethesda before it closed in 2010, and she is running Studio Neptune which offers art classes for children and teens. I ask her what she thinks of Bisese’s work, and she replies, “He is one of my favorite artists.” When asked why, “You never know what to expect,” she says, “It’s ironic and reflects something very wonderful and strange about human behavior.”