"...the essence of a man who utterly adores females and the feminine form"
He's 82 and on June 29, a lifelong dream comes true when his artistic vision is validated in a Wade Wilson group show, a full-on, really major Canyon Road art gallery opening.
Well, a dream of 17 years, anyway.
And that's why we're here, SantaFe.com chief photographer Andrew Kastner and I, toodling around in a golf cart with artist Ted Flicker at his northside estate Flickfair.
The very first figure we see, mutually jaw-dropping, is a bright white life-size nude female, with a pixie-size angel perched on her shoulder.
It's "The Annunciation", which Flicker calls "my first Christian piece." But when you amble around it, there's more there--the very male little angel has an erection.
"Of course!" exclaims the ebullient Flicker. "He's come to tell this 15-year-old virgin that God wants to [eff] her."
[Eff] is his very favorite, most happy word, absolute, undistilled T.F. Further, if your name is your fate, then by block-printing F-L-I-C-K-E-R and sliding the L and the I together, well, you see what you get, and that is the essence of a man who utterly adores females and the feminine form. As he explained to me, "All beauty begins with a naked woman."
Indeed, he is surrounded by them, in wax, in bronze, in photo, in flesh, specifically his three main muses (he doesn't call them models), Nicki, Sondra, and Caline.
"The Annunciation" is one of three works selected by Houston gallery giant Wade Wilson for the debut exhibition at its new Santa Fe branch, in the former Hahn Ross space at 409 Canyon Road.
It can't have been an easy decision. The four developed acres of Flicker's sculpture garden are dotted with installations, some small, some larger than life, almost all of them au naturel.
After many colorful, productive, but turbulent years in theater ("The Nervous Set"), film ("The President's Analyst"), and television ("Barney Miller)", in his 65th year Flicker suddenly turned to figural art.
Once and always a storyteller--to wit, his novel "The Good American," about a Jewish soldier in the Revolutionary War-- Flicker first drew upon Greek myths for inspiration, though re-thinking them in contemporary terms.
His "Cupid and Psyche," for instance, imagines the star-crossed Olympian couple not as teens, but a half-century after they have met. Teddy bared all by posing for his own God of Love, perhaps not unexpectedly.
Elsewhere, "Daphne Gets it Right," second of the gallery's selections, posits a different outcome for the girl and the god Apollo.
Close by is his "Avenue of the Gods," a pathway lined with artwork based in classical legend, all posed by art-world buds like Dan Namingha, Carol Mothner, Michael Bergt and Paul Moore, among others.
There's even a remarkable dual study of Linda Durham, the revered arts maven, socially conscious world traveler, blogger on serious global issues, and, most significantly, original Manhattan Playboy Club Bunny. This towering "The Naked and the Nude," positions the adult Durham, sculpted from contemporary life, alongside her adolescent self, extrapolated from photographs.
His subsequent Old Testament period boasts a sculptural depiction of Judith, arrestingly armed with a chainsaw as she seeks the head of Holofernes. Oh, look, there's Tamar, and over yonder is Jacob wrestling with the angel, not to mention "Adam And His Two Wives" (the third of three Wade Wilson choices).
And then there is his masterwork, J, who, asserts Flicker, was a member of King Solomon's court. A poet on the level of Homer, she wrote the first draft of the Bible, and was the one who named Yahweh. J is shown wearing the mask of Moses as she raises Mount Sinai, inviting the Jews to join her...or else.
Like Cecil B. DeMille, whose epic movies ("The Sign of the Cross," "Samson and Delilah)" often combined reverent sex with lusty religion--or vice versa--Flicker imbues many of his pieces with a devout eroticism.
His oeuvre is always anatomically correct.
That impulse creates occasional heartfelt homages to his principal goddess, the former Barbara Joyce Perkins, now the empress of Flickfair. One of her many linkenesses around the grounds is "Barbara When We Met," a deliciously dishabille, dressed solely in blinding gold-leaf.
Aside from prepping for the opening, Flicker currently is upgrading his Web page, www.tedflicker.com, under the diligent tutelage of cyber-expert Luke Fitch. Towards that end, a laser scanning company is documenting his statues using 2,700 points of reference, with the finished results scanable three-dimensionally. He even plans to acquire a flying drone camera to shoot the garden collection aerially under his remote control.
A link, "In the Studio," will be an Internet first, with segments of an artist in earnest collaborative conversation with his subject. It's fairly intimate...which means that any woman in the picture is going to be clothes-free, yet a full partner in the endeavor.
He's also going gung-ho on a double portrait of noted locals Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson; on the bust of a woman joyfully breast-feeding her infant; and on a new series of miniature hotties, no more than a cubic foot each, with such Flickeresque monikers as Yes. Yes! YES! and The Oldest Profession.
After an hour of being saturated with those videos he shared with us, plus the cubic acreage of all that bare metal skin, as well as candid studio shots topless, bottomless, and pleasingly both, all sprinkled with the pure pheromone mist of the guy, well, it adds up to a pretty heady experience.
"Ted," I said after an exhaustive tour of his canon, "you are oversexed."
"No, I'm not!" declaimed the Great Northern New Mexico Flicker, flapping his wings. "I'm just lucky that at my age I can still have sex. And I do!"
His jubilantly horny rejoinder reminded me of the one question I've been too shy to ask, but have long wondered about:
When he's toiling alone in the studio, and he's really, really into molding those lovely, enticing little nice bits out of the moist, yummy clay, gee, does it ever turn him on?
To know the man is to know the answer.