Muscatine Artist’s work on A&E TV: ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ will feature Austin’s artwork
By Cynthia Beaudette of the Muscatine Journal
MUSCATINE, Iowa — One of the most meaningful events in the career of Muscatine artist Elizabeth Austin is coming to television screens across the nation on the A&E network.
Austin’s portrait of the late Barbara Katy Chapman, daughter of bounty hunter Duane “Dog” Chapman, is included in the Tuesday, April 10, episode of Chapman’s television series, “Dog the Bounty Hunter.”
Austin said that, on May 27, 2006, Dog’s wife, Beth Chapman, asked her to create the painting.
“Dog’s wife and I began communicating approximately two years ago,” said Austin. “We got to know each other through my artwork.”
Austin’s work, described as pin-up art, focuses on the ethereal quality a woman’s features take on through the perfecting touches of airbrush, striking detail and luminescent highlights.
Beth Chapman told Austin that Barbara Katy Chapman, 23, was killed in a car crash, on May 19, 2006, near her home in Fairbanks, Alaska — the day before Dog and Beth’s May 20 wedding.
Beth asked Austin to memorialize Barbara in a portrait.
“Barbara’s nickname was ‘Fairy Dust,’ this due to her love of fairies,” said Austin, 47.
“Beth sent a picture for reference and described Barbara as ‘a gentle fairy child.’ Therefore, I rendered her as a fairy. I titled the painting ‘The Eternal Fairy.’”
Austin created the 20-by-30-inch painting as a memorial and a gift.
“Because of the great loss, I just couldn’t charge them for that,” said Austin, who estimated the value of the work at $3,000.
Austin and the Chapmans have a history of giving to one another.
Several months ago, Austin’s father, John Ellison, was in a Veterans’ Administration Hospital in California, where he was diagnosed with cancer.
“To my dad’s great surprise … Dog called him with get-well wishes,” said Austin. “My dad was the hero of the day. Everybody, the nurses, patients and staff, were really impressed.”
When Austin’s brother, also named John Ellison, lost his leg in a jet ski accident in California three years ago, Dog sent him encouragement in the form of an autographed T-shirt.
Austin said the producer of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” contacted her several weeks ago and asked her permission to use the painting and Austin’s name on the show.
According to the “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Web site, the painting appears in the Tuesday, April 10, episode, titled “The Mystery of Mona Lisa.”
The show begins with Beth and Dog receiving the painting of Barbara Katy. Soon, Dog’s daughter Lyssa, a member of his bounty-hunting team, points out that the fugitive in his next case has the same birth date as Barbara. This inspires Dog to capture the young woman and persuade her to avoid the same mistakes his daughter made.
Austin said she doesn’t know all the details surrounding Barbara Katy’s death, but various media reports state that the young woman was in a stolen vehicle when the crash occurred. She left behind a 4-year-old son.
Austin said her delight in having her work featured on the show goes beyond gaining public recognition.
“This painting is by far the closest to my heart,” said Austin. “When a family puts the memory of a loved one in your hands, it’s probably the highest honor an artist can ever wish for. I was so very honored to be asked to do this for the Chapman family.”