Monday, March 30, 2020

A Show!

Maude Kerns made a wonderful video compilation of some Jell-O Art Shows...this made my day in so many ways. 

Art, we need it. Please support the gallery if you can.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Show That Wasn't

I will write the Jell-O blog. This coming Saturday, March 28th, would have been our 32nd Jell-O Art Show. Of course it is not the most significant thing that has been cancelled in our new coronaworld but it was big to us. When the plug was pulled, everything stopped so abruptly.

By the time MKAC told us, we were already there. Some of us felt unsafe to come to practices, though we were reluctant to quit. We were pretty close to having the performance pinned down. It was the fifth rewrite of the script, all of the songs were in place and mostly learned, and I had made a few props and bought the shirts. I can hold onto those, I guess, but they are odd colors that I won't use probably. Unless I think of some great apocalypse idea and a way to sell them. I'll just plan around them for next year. I'm sad not to add to my collection, though.

 We can maybe use the same theme, Jell-O Obsession, next year. You never know what will seem funny in the future. That's always a concern for us. When we start in January, we intentionally keep things loose for as long as we can to be able to bring in the timely and take out the inappropriate. We like to honor the recently dead when we can...I wanted us to have a Ram Dass character but we didn't write it in. It's a good thing we weren't considering Jell-O Fever!

Our dress rehearsal would be Friday is always exciting to run through the whole script and test out those complicated costume changes and prop managements. Usually most of us wait to reveal our full costumes in the Green Room before the show so we can add or subtract accessories, get a good look at each other for maximum laughage, and just to make it as fun as we can. We share snacks and eyeshadow, gloves and hats, and parcel out the aprons for the songs that require them. I'm pretty sad about the Jell-O Jibe costumes that I didn't even really start to work on.

We were already planning for a fairly simple set and I held off making it since things didn't look too promising. But I would have spent the last two weeks with lots of cardboard and posterboard crammed into my living room making some kind of a laboratory setup and some oversize items. I already had the coffee cups ready to paint. I was going to make them look like Fiestaware and the shirts were mint and tangerine.

It was going to be a fiesta of joy! We studiously avoided politics thinking that everyone would rather have just silly joy this year, as things were already grim enough. It seems so odd to notice now how the virus was really not on our radar. I guess we started thinking about it in February.

I also had an extensive plan for a Jell-O making workshop that would have been last Saturday. I know I made the right decision to cancel it, though we could have done some distancing and made it relatively safe. It will only be when we can look back from beyond this that we will know if we were truly safe or just in deep denial.

For a minute we had a plan to film ourselves or perform in an empty room, but we are mostly older folks and were actually all at risk, as we are all now at risk and the myth it was older people only has fallen. It felt brutal to just stop singing the songs and put everything away. I spent some time still singing a couple of them. I feel terrible that we didn't even run through the script once.

It was kind of simple...we learned last year that trying to include too much just makes it impossible. My tendency as a writer is to bring in lots of digression, then tie it all together with little jokes that not everyone will get or even hear.
Hearing it all is always an issue, too, so we don't focus too much on small details in the songs, just try to get something fun and cute to build on. We had some really cute songs, I thought. A takeoff on Makin' Whoopee, that was of course, Makin' Jell-O.  A great version of Java Jive with big plans for the cute. We were actually going to sing a couple of songs without changing the lyrics to parody, which is unusual, but people were already sensing we were working too hard and I think they started just going through the motions a little before we quit. You can only honor "The Show Must Go On" when it isn't actually life-threatening, I guess. We were waiting to see a Tina Turner imitation that was promising...she didn't even get to come to one practice.

 I have a sense of tragedy going which is a disservice to our intent. It is just supposed to be fun and raise a little money for the gallery, but it is always more than that to me. Jell-O made me an artist. I have used it to start my art year, to focus true creativity aside from the thought of money-making, and to play with a medium. I did make some components for the workshop that have stayed out on my table, since I feel I should at least make one fascinator for myself in case we get a chance to celebrate, say for my birthday (May 5th will be my 70th) or for some other fun time. It does seem we will again have fun times. I could wear it the next time I have an online meeting.

I will enjoy making something. I can't let it all just disappear in the current miasma.

Well, for now, enjoy this gallery of shirts and enjoy your Saturday as it comes and you find other things to do. Let us hope for jigglier days. Nothing is ever over until it is really over, and there will always be a need for levity and cleverness. I know the Radar Angels will continue and if there is a Fair, they will be there.

As the story goes, there would have only been one Jell_O Art Show except that one good person approached Indi in the grocery store and asked when the show would be the second year...and that was enough popular demand to get it to happen again.

So keep wanting it. Keep wishing for the normalcy of Why Be Normal. Keep jiggling as we will, particularly with all of this comfort-eating. It's pretty likely there will be a reason for satire and joy in 2021. Even if there isn't a reason...well, when have we ever needed a reason?

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Is It The End?

I did not really think I would be around for the end times, but I am re-thinking that. Sure, it's dramatic, but this could actually be the pestilence and economic collapse and draconian measures we've feared...NAH!

This virus is serious, but like everyone, I'm calculating my odds and measuring my denial and I feel like there is a little window before all of the shit hits the fan, and that is where I am planning on inserting my Jell-O Art lens. If we prop it up quickly and then gaze through it at all of the things that do come true, we might be able to salvage our happiness this time.

It's three weeks from today...not even time to finish all the plans I've made. Our songs are set, we're all practicing (right, troupe?) and I got out costumes and have a sort-of plan for what I'm wearing. There will be improvement as I try things on...I am comfort-eating right now so some of those little short dresses might not even fit if I split them up the back as is my go-to tactic. You make an apron out of it, and then all that matters is the front and you do something hidey in the back. No one sees your back if you are doing it right.

Today I just went through the script to see what needs to be changed, which is pretty much all of it, but it's still two pages so no problem. The song sequence will work as is. There's funny in it, though we will have more as people improvise and take on personalities for their chosen characters. All of that can be pinned down tomorrow morning because I'm trying to loosen up today.

It's a Saturday in March, one of the most precious days in my calendar. I only have one more free one after today, since my Making Jell-O workshop will be the 21st. So I just washed the dishes so I can make some papier-mache for props. It promises to be messy and something different.

I have to say I don't think I will get around to much Jell-O, even though I feel the pull. I made the t-shirt design, and the shirts are here, so I have to do those for sure. It isn't polished yet but I am pretty happy with it. Delegated the poster, lined up the sound people, oh, still have to make the Weekly and RG submissions...tomorrow.

Loosening up! Got out my kazoo. Put some dinner in the oven. Worked this morning so I have touch-up work to do this evening if I feel guilty about not being productive enough. My March workload is unbelievable...and only achievable because I am driven and aim high.

The only hard wrinkle to get past is this damn virus situation. There is a good chance that at some point, no one will want to gather in public. I think that point is still down the road a bit. But is it three weeks down the road? What will get cancelled? It's a huge question for all of us and the last thing we want to think about.

I do think I have a kind of a plan though. Obviously the whole Tacky Food Buffet as we've always done it is impractical. No one can bring anything from their kitchen. It will have to come from a hermetically sealed commercially poisoned bag. Only commercial poisons will be allowed  from here on out...all your homemade potions and recipes have to stay at home where only you and your loved ones are at risk. But that isn't a huge deal. It saves me a lot of work, actually.

So then there is the problem of the public gathering...and the submissions, and the performance, and the fundraiser, and all that. Let's just take them one at a time. So, what if you dropped off your Jell-O sculpture as planned, but we just made a rule that nobody touched anything. Everybody brings their own pens, makes their own title cards, puts their own work on the pedestal, and nobody touches anything that isn't theirs. Like in a real museum. We can easily keep three feet apart and not hug...I don't know about you, but I could do with a lot less hugging. That's why we have that Queen's Kiss, where you don't actually make physical contact with your loved just smack in the other person's direction. Don't spit.

For the performance, we can't stop now...there's too much time invested and it would break our hearts. So, we could livestream it! We could put it on a YouTube channel, send out the link, (you will have to sign up or check how to find it) , and then all of you who watch will send in your contribution to Maude Kerns Art Center based on how much you enjoy it from your little personal quarantine.

Nobody has to miss a thing. Personal time at the gallery will be minimal and with full consent of those who are willing to risk their health for art. Anyone who can't risk that, can stay home but still be in on the fun. It's not ideal, but it's a lot more ideal than cancelling the whole shebang.

I don't know about you, but in my Jell-O Art heart I am still 28 and invincible and dedicated. I will do a lot to make this happen. I have the luxury of a robust immune system and as an artist I am used to taking chances for my art. I feel like I can still do my part, and also make it easier and safer for you to do yours.

So that's the plan from today. We'll have to see what happens in the coming weeks. We know there will be a lot to deal with and there will be grief and travail. But there has to be a way to still have Jell-O. There just has to be. I don't know what we'll do without it.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Jell-O Craft Workshop

Makin' Jell-O The Workshop!

We've changed the date to March 21st, the Saturday before the Jell-O Art Show. Still 1-4 pm, still tons of fun! 

I'll have lots of types of Jell-O, show some techniques, and then you all will play with it! Some of you might even make something worthy of a pedestal, or get a start on it at least.

It's kid-friendly, so plan to bring the whole family. And don't worry, no one will be eating any.

Though you might get some ideas for the Tacky Food Buffet.

Fundraiser for Maude Kerns Art Center. 1910 E. 15th, Eugene

Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Jell-O Art Season!

Oh, Jell-O, you always turn us on!
The season is open! The Radar Angels started meeting in January and every week we get a little closer to a firm narrative and song array for our performance at the Jell-O Art Show. For a fifteen to twenty minute show, we do an immense amount of work, which is code for hilarious joking and stretching our imaginations to make every possible effort to find something funny in our lives of quiet desperation and advancing age. Wait, too negative?

We try super hard not to talk politics but of course it comes up, so we try to pick the most stupid part of politics, like the year we held the Golden Commode Awards, which turned out to be one of our best shows since I've been on stage. There were some fantastic shows in the past, but I didn't pay as much attention then...I was usually in the other room with my t-shirts trying to be supportive but not really getting how it worked. Now I pay attention to all of it, as overwhelming as that can be.

Politics just isn't funny again this year and we're avoiding it. I can't tell you what we are not avoiding, of course, because it is still amorphous and it's more fun to keep it secret. In fact, it changes every week and will keep building until we get on that stage March 28th, but you can know that we are building on the foundation of the theme, which is Jell-O Obsession.

I do not think of myself as an obsessive person but of course the proof is in the Puddin' cups and if anyone is Jell-O-obsessed, I am in that tiny group. Again this year I have agreed to do a workshop.

It will take place on Saturday March 14th and this time the focus will be on craft. We will be Making It! I watched that show on TV with Amy Pohler and Nick Offerman and got inspired to channel it, but rest assured that we will not be in competition with each other and no one will be eliminated or evaluated because there is no good or bad Jell-O art, which you know if you have paid even a little attention for the last 32 years. We will just be using gelatin to play, wet and dried, jiggly and not.

This is a big year for crafting in Eugene, with the 50th Anniversary of Saturday Market on May 9th and a big Makers conference in town the first weekend in June (look up NOMCON, or Nation of Makers.) The Makers movement is a bit like the 70's Craft Renaissance as people reinvent ancient practices and get excited about them as if they were all brand new. Of course it has always been true that people hand-crafted all manner of useful and decorative objects and there is merely a continuum with a few key historical points when other people took notice, Over the last fifty years people in Eugene have been taking notice every Saturday and there has been an amazing and gratifying life to it all, and many of us have built our lives on our micro-businesses and ways to amplify them. The Makers movement happening now is bigger and broader as companies all claim to be "crafting", all the way from McDonald's through Ninkasi and right down to the littlest business on Etsy, but the more the merrier I suppose. Appreciating the ways people create things is postive for all of us and will help diminish the intense consumption practices of western society we hope, if only we don't throw away all that stuff we bring home from the craft store.

I am doing my part, as I rarely if ever throw away anything that could conceivably be used for an art project. Jell-O Art needs a lot of inspiration as it basically involves the one ingredient, gelatin, and some water and some coloring and a plethora of simple tools and accessories, if desired. The dried gelatin I like the best is just gelatin pieces glued together with gelatin and made fabulous, so I know you can do that and could potentially really enjoy this workshop.

I discovered I had two slow-cookers left over from candle-making and each one will hold about a pound of gelatin mixed to my special recipe of 3 ounces of gelatin per cup of water. It will stay molten longer in the cookers so we are planning to supply this glue to about 25 people so they can make things from the hundreds of gelatin pieces I will bring to donate to the artists. I have too many of them and this seems like a great plan. They're all separated by color in plastic tubs, so picture yourself rummaging through them to find the pink petals for a flower or the yellow shapes to make a model of your Labrador or your blue sailboat or whatever you think you can do in three hours. Maybe you will make several things! Maybe we'll even have a Fast Craft Challenge and a Master Craft Project like they did in the show, (I don't remember the actual terms they used) but we will make all the stupid craft puns like they did if we want and anyone who wants to play Nick or Amy should come and help me so I don't get too serious and forget to have any fun. The last workshop was just history and talking about the things I and others have made and it was a little frustrating for the attendees, who wanted to go deeper, so this year we will satisfy in more tangible ways. At least that is the plan!

I need to refine my techniques a little so we don't all just sit there with our fingers stuck together wishing it were more thrilling, but I expect that the participants will astonish me with all the things they think to do that I have never considered, because that has been my experience at every show so far. If people would rather work with almost-dried pieces to take home and dry later, we can do that too. It's fun to see what's going to happen when you cut and twist and stretch the stuff, which happens at about the 24-hours-in stage, so I'll bring some of that. I will also bring some of the "Jigglers" type of firm but still wet Jell-O that can be used for more unpredictable constructions that will probably fall apart on the way home, but will still qualify as Art and Fun. Fair warning, don't go over the railroad tracks on your drive. And do feel free to come prepared if you are already into it, so you can expand your sculptural plans and feed off the energy of the other participants.

I'm pretty confident that we will have some laughs and not all be completely disappointed with the results. Remember, all you have to do to start over is remelt the gelatin and you can begin anew. You can also toss it on the compost pile and feed your neighborhood rodents if you feel a lingering despair. You will have two weeks to restore your faith and get your piece made for the show.

So Save the Date! March 14th!There will be a small charge to participate but let me know if you want a scholarship because I will be happy to pitch in if your budget does not allow such things as craft workshops in trivial and mostly useless object-craft. It's only ten bucks. I'd gladly pay that to see you get a hilarious moment or two of escape from our hellish apocalyptic future and present. Like I always say, "Thank Gawd We Have Jell-O!"

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Working It

The "Workshop" went okay, let's just say "lessons learned." I could feel that people were disappointed that they didn't get to actually play with any Jell-O. You have to blame the RG for that, as I never said anything about participation like the normal expectation of a workshop. In fact, I said I couldn't do that. I wish I would have insisted that it not be called a workshop, but maybe a salon or something. It was kind of an exhibition, with a lot to look at, but the set-up didn't work for that as most people had to sit and listen to me pontificate until they got restless and snuck out. I wanted to call it "Ask the Queen" but you know how that whole Queen persona goes over. (I see you rolling your eyes!)

I tried to show why we couldn't make it there, but that didn't really transmit. I mean, if we were all going to make what I call "Wet Jell-O," the jiggly kind, we would need a wall of refrigerators and an intermission of about 4-6 hours to let it jell. It could be done in two days, but the first day would take about ten minutes while we all stirred the powder into the water. So a jiggle workshop could be done, but over a few days. There will never be a time when I have an extra few days before the Jell-O Art Show.

We're deep into rehearsals, meeting three times this week and two last week to finetune our lines, our songs, our harmonies, and our props and actions. This takes a surprising amount of organization, rewriting the scripts and lyric sheets according to what is decided at each meeting. And we all have to get our costumes together, two or three for the Queen. I usually build on existing costumes but this year I had to start from scratch for one and I'm still not ready. Plus I needed a costume for the workshop.

And I have to make a few props, even though I handed over the set job this year, which I usually love to do but takes several weeks and a lot more room than I currently have in this livingroom full of archives. The ones I am making are fun as can be but also still need to be finished.

I had to dust all the pieces I took to the gallery, and my plan was to leave them there for this weekend, but that turned out to not be a great idea since they have spring break camp and we weren't even in the main gallery. So I will take a different set on Saturday, maybe. Since I don't need examples to teach from, that works. And then my car wouldn't start and I had to ask the neighbor to jump it. (It's fine now, but I almost broke it. I probably should stick to biking.)

I took a lot of headpieces to show the amazing variety but a few people wanted to buy them and I hadn't planned ahead for that. I am not the best at making decisions on the fly so it's best if I leave the ones home that I don't want to let go of. I looked through them today and I do have a few I can sell, but of course now it doesn't seem like enough so I decided about an hour ago to make some more.

I brought some bright yellow gelatin to the show to illustrate the ways you can manipulate it while it is drying, but didn't really get to spend much time on that, so I felt my demo was minimal and not very satisfying. There were some good questions, so thank you to those who were thinking about what they needed to know! I had hoped it would be mostly questions, but of course you have to have some background to ask things.

Some did. I saw quite a few of the regular Jell-O Show attendees there, and I know they wanted a much richer experience. I feel like I want to just keep making excuses. Being a Queen trying to serve my adoring public is really a hard role to play. I disappoint myself if I can't please people.

So next year (of course they want me to do it again next year) I will have to come up with an entirely new plan. Somehow I will have to set people up to make something they can take home. Something simple, maybe, like a flower or another type of object that is a mix of fantasy and representation. A still life. I have a year to think about it.

But today, I have to ramp up my speed and get more things on my list accomplished! I have enough nice pieces to make dozens of flowers but that would be kind of crazy, and anyway I gave away 60 of them last year for the 30th. That was then! I also made and gave away participation awards but that can't happen in this time frame either.

So this year it is up to you. You still have time! Make some Jell-O. I heard it was on sale this week so go ahead and make some Jigglers or find something to use for a mold and make something silly with it. Use my instructions (about 3 oz gelatin per cup of water, mix in cold water, let bloom for 10 min, melt in the microwave for 1 minute at a time, don't let it boil, be careful not to get it on you) and make something out of dried gelatin. Just glue the pieces together with the molten gelatin. Then hold them or clamp them for about 90 seconds and let them dry for a couple of hours.

Just make a start at it, make a beginning. That is what jenesis is all about, jenerating some joy.

You're on your own! I'm busy! See you Saturday at the Jell-O Art Show!

Monday, March 18, 2019

We have T-Shirts!

I managed to get some t-shirts made. After seeing the poster made by an actual graphic artist, I felt a bit intimidated but forged on anyway. We wanted to honor St. Aretha of Franklin this year so I took an iconic photo of her and Jell-O-ized it.

Being lazy, I only wanted to make two screens and print two colors, but it just wasn't enough, so I've ended up taking my Sharpies and coloring in her earrings. I do like it better that way.

I also spent a few hours dusting off a lot of Jell-O pieces for the workshop and show. I like taking out the Jell-O Art Museum for a spin once a year, even though it isn't really the whole thing. I have an attic full of odd pieces that I don't think I'll bring out this year. For one thing, one carload is plenty. I don't want to make too many trips across town, risking things falling apart and getting damaged. Plus dusting and repairing them takes a lot of time I'd rather spend gardening on these beautiful spring days we are having right now.

But shirts had to be made, so here they are. I held back from filling up the open space with more information or drawings. Let it be inferred that music began with St. Aretha. No reason to stick too closely with the theme, anyway.

Original print, without the hand-coloring:
Improved version