‘White Lightning’ Strikes at ICAST

Ladson, SC – Picture old oak moonshine barrels, rusticated tractor seats, Pontiac hubcaps and ChatterBait® bladed jigs.

Wait . . . what? As in, what exactly do these contrasting elements have in common? Why even pose such a preposterous question? And, what’s any of this got to do with ICAST?

Anyone curious or quirky enough to learn the answer is warmly invited to show up at the Z-Man® booth (#4808) during this week’s ICAST show.

An unconventional, yet down-to-earth departure from the usual blitz of shiny new tackle, perplexing electronics and neon-lit exhibitions, Z-Man is set to reveal a truly unique showpiece—a conversation starter and must-see work of art, to be sure— headlining the company’s ICAST display, July 12 to 14, 2023.

Created by Z-Man kayak pro and talented Appalachian artist Jody Queen, the unique, larger-than-life work of folk-art depicts a certain iconic Z-Man lure as you’ve never seen it before. A celebration of artistic and angling innovation, Queen’s giant must-see ChatterBait®—codename White Lightning—will be on display during all three days of the upcoming sportfishing tradeshow.

 

THE UNVEILING

Official unveiling will launch at 10am, Wednesday, July 12. Queen and Z-Man staff will be on hand to present the piece to the ICAST audience and answer your burning questions—including . . . Why?! Attending media, tackle reps and all fishing industry attendees are welcome to pose for pictures, video, etc. Word is, the giant bladed jig will also surprise folks with a certain, let’s just say, action.

THE CONTEST

During and after the official unveiling, Z-Man will launch a ChatterBait giveaway, open to show attendees as well as the public. To commemorate its new, hot-off-the-press ChatterBait Elite EVO™, Z-Man will award a complete set of the lures via its social media channels. #ChatterbaitART

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THE ARTIST

A native of scenic Bluefield, West Virginia, Jody Queen was born for two things—fishing and creating amazing, thought-provoking works of art. Since first hopping into a kayak at age 50, Queen has become one of the most admired and recognized names in the sport of competitive kayak angling, winning numerous national tournaments on the Hobie BOS and KBF trails.

Somehow, amid a 200-day-per-year fishing schedule, Queen finds time to create truly authentic, thought-provoking folk art—many of the subjects merging his love of fish and nature with his local community. Queen’s recent artistic commissions include Bassquatch, a 9-foot-tall creature coalescing various elements from Queen’s hometown with his passion for catching fish. (Ask him about the creepy Appalachian legend of the ‘squatch.) So, when Queen sat to ponder the idea for a larger-than-life replica of a legendary lure—the Z-Man ChatterBait—he knew from whence inspiration would flow.

“From the first day I discussed this idea with my friends at Z-Man, I knew the elements to create a unique piece were all around me,” explained Queen, whose hometown lies in the heart of the awe-striking Appalachian mountain range. “Our quiet little community has a rich history of craftsmanship, industry and a spirit of innovation. I think when you see the piece, those elements will shine through.

“But one of my other goals with White Lightning was to draw attention to the concept of a truly original lure—something that’s not all that common in fishing these days, but that Z-Man strives for in all their designs. It’s one of the reasons I and so many kayak anglers remain loyal fans. Z-Man thrives, in part, because a great group of salt-of-the earth people do things the right way.”

The value of the free-thinking, creative process, adds Queen, can’t be overstated. “Nor can the value of encouraging local artists, giving them a unique place to create, which fosters and inspires the free flow of ideas,” he says. A pillar of the Bluefield community and the homebase for Queen’s artistic endeavors, Gary Bowling’s House of Art provides a captivating, bohemian artistic venue—and an open-to-the-public art museum— set in a century-old brick schoolhouse.

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THE CAUSE

“The House of Art really gives local, young and up-and-coming artists a place to network, exchange ideas and exhibit their work through a variety of exhibitions and events,” explains Queen. “This incredibly special venue also provides plenty of space and resources for artists to complete their pieces.

“When we first moved in many years ago,” he continues, “the building required a lot of TLC and renovation. Every time it rained, for example, we were carrying 30-gallon totes of water outside because the roof was essentially shot. My wife Vicki was instrumental in writing a grant that ultimately helped fund a lot of our building restoration.”

During convening years, Queen says Gary Bowling’s House of Art has hosted numerous art schools and public exhibitions. The building’s remarkable history also includes visits from seven former U.S. Presidents, the Vienna’s Boys Choir and Ripley’s Believe It or Not. As a publicly funded enterprise, Queen hopes to shine a light on the historic venue and appeal to the good nature of his friends in the angling community. The goal, to sustain and support his workplace.

“The next phase of our restoration project is to bring all the floors up to code. Once we’ve secured the funding and finish the renovation, we can begin offering studios and classes to local artists. After that, we’re hoping to get our auditorium up and running for musicians, community theater and other speaking engagements. As a self-funded project between Gary (Bowling), Vicki and myself, we knew we’d eventually need additional funding beyond our initial grant to make the dream a reality.”

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WHITE LIGHTNING

Reflecting elements of fishing, nostalgia and an Appalachian vision of Americana, Queen’s White Lightning—headlining Z-Man’s ICAST display— provides a welcome respite from the business and frenzy of ICAST.

“When you stop to see the piece, you’ll recognize a variety of elements, such as an old ‘mash whisky barrel and the condenser ‘worm’ itself, which represents the lure’s head and trailer keeper,” notes Queen. “Timeworn Pontiac hubcaps make up the lure’s eyes, which reflect the migration of local workers who once left jobs in our coal mines to migrate north to the car factories.

“Lots of other neat little touches you’ll recognize, too, as well as a surprise you’ve got to be here to see—or rather, to experience,” he laughs.

“Z-Man’s mantra, The Science and Art of Fishing™ really resonates in the angling and artistic communities,” notes Queen. “The ‘science’ is all about appreciating special aquatic environments, learning all we can about the fish and their behavior. While the ‘art’ speaks to the creative process, drawing inspiration from your surroundings and your experiences to craft truly original works, be it a painting, sculpture or an innovative lure.”

Whether he’s on the water or in the studio, Queen contends, “It’s all a labor of love.”

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