Incredible Artworld Mysteries And Secrets Revealed!
By Teddy "Tex" Osner

The artworld is chock-full of hidden secrets and unexplainable mysteries. Often these impenetrable enigmas exist outside of historical timelines and are as difficult to understand, as they are to solve. Did aliens build the Sphinx? Is it true Julian Schnabel recorded a bad pop album? Was Matthew Barney once a J. Crew model? There is only one man who can answer these tough questions, the Robert L. Ripley of ARTless, Teddy "Tex" Osner. Reckless explorer and playboy millionaire, Tex is the only person who can say with authority, "Of course aliens built the Sphinx. Schnabel did make a piece of crap album. Listen to clips of it on Amazon if you dare. And if anyone has the J. Crew shots of Barney, send them my way."

As part of a new series in ARTless, Teddy "Tex" Osner has agreed to scour the globe for solutions to the mysteries that plague the world of art. So if you have an artworld riddle that needs some answers, send it straightaway to Tex at If Tex can't solve it, no one can. Believe that or not, Ripley!

THIS ISSUE: Will the real Roxy Paine please stand up?

Our question this month comes from a struggling artist named Tom, who writes:

Teddy, I am trying to make it as an artist, but not doing as well as I would like. I think what's keeping me from the recognition I deserve is my name. I think I should change it to something a little flashier, like Roxy Paine did. I find it impressive that an artist as recognized as Paine has kept his true name hidden for so long. In fact, I'm inspired. If you find out Paine's real identity, I will keep my own name. But, if not, I think a change is imminent!

Well Tom, it wasn't easy, but I did it. By the end of this article you will know Paine's real name. But before I divulge what I found I think it's necessary to explain how I found it.

It was easy to locate Paine's real last name. His older brother, John Middendorf, has a Web page with a section dedicated to his family. In the section "Family Creative Works," Middendorf has links to his father Bill, his sisters Fran and Amy and his brother Roxy. If Middendorf really is Paine's older brother, it's safe to assume that Roxy Paine's true last name is Middendorf. But that's only his last name. It's his first name that was the bitch.

As it turns out the key to finding Paine's first name is his father, Bill Middendorf, also known as J. William Middendorf II, a man who the Washington Post once described as, "composer, runner, art wheeler-dealer, financier, Secretary of the Navy for President Ford [and] campaigner…." He has also been, among other things, U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands under President Nixon and United States Representative at the Organization of American States under President Reagan.

At this point you might be thinking, "Interesting, but there's nothing on John Middendorf's site linking Bill Middendorf to J. William Middendorf II." Well, you're correct. In fact I myself wasn't sure if they were the same person until I discovered an article on J. William Middendorf II in the Providence Journal, dated May 28, 2004. The piece reports that Middendorf has four children, all of whom he is proud of, to which he adds, "my son, Roxy, is a sculptor and my daughter, Frances, is a painter -- both very successful, I'm happy to say." Everything connects rather nicely. (Another interesting tidbit from this article is that J. William Middendorf II married "Isobelle Paine" in 1953.)

With the family connection complete, I started searching for information related to J. William Middendorf II and his children. I found little to go on. Wedding announcements for Amy and Frances Middendorf and another article in the Washington Post from 1975, where Fran Middendorf, when asked why her father took to rowing on the Potomac, states, "We were going home one night and dad saw a rower silhouetted against the river, and he decided to try it again."

It seemed the trail had dried up until I came across an unexpected bit of information. In a brief article from 1974 in the New York Times, discussing children from families of politicians working in politics, it was reported that, "Martha Middendorf, 17-year-old daughter of Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf, is doing office work for Representative Louis Wyman." As it turns out Isobella and Bill Middendorf had a third daughter, Martha, who sadly passed away in 1979 from complications brought on by epilepsy. In her obituary from the Washington Post, the names of her immediate family are listed as "Isabelle and J. William Middendorf II, former secretary of the Navy," "sister, Amy … and another sister, Frances P." and "two brothers, John W. IV and Ralph H."

What is Roxy Paine's real name? Ralph H. Middendorf. So Tom, if you do change your name, maybe you should change it to Ralph H. Middendorf and see what happens. Roxy 's not using it.



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