|Jell-O Art show 2017|
And on the subject, while I'm at it, is it just me, or does the term "arts and crafts" ring dissonantly in your ears, fellow craftspeople? Do you share my distaste for being seen as a "vendor" in a "stall"? I'm channeling our champion of old, Gil Harrison, when I say call us artists, artisans, call us crafters if you must, but please focus on our highest aims, not our commonest? I do not vend. I bring my inspired creations to display for public acclaim and make myself completely vulnerable with the goal of appreciation of my efforts and those of my membership. Selling my wares is a tiny part. Self-expression, creating beauty in our daily lives, sharing wonder and delight, furthering the accomplishments of master craftspeople, creating community: so many other goals are in my mind when I pedal myself downtown. We create our culture, so let's keep trying to elevate it. Arts and crafts is what they do at the kids table. We are a gem on the Park Blocks, a precious and fragile brief occurrence of the moment, different every time, a day that cannot be replicated. I don't want that to be reduced.
|Sunday Streets booth|
But I did attempt to "vend" at Sunday Streets, in half my booth, while in the other half I brought my best, most delicate and unbelievable gelatin art sculptures, and I'm guessing you missed it. Here you are, a blurred and shadowed facsimile of a display you will probably not get another chance to see. Next April Fools, (probably March 31st, 2018) we will put on our 30th Jell-O Art Show! I brought a bit of a retrospective downtown and in the parade, with the great help of my fellow Radar Angels, and it was a technicolor sight to see!
|Ready to go|
I always feel like I have to explain the Jell-O Art, but very simply, the gelatin I make (which is air-dried, glued with gelatin pieces made into actual sculpture with meaning and wonder) is an art metaphor as well as being actually art. It's the purest art I do, much less productive than screenprinting and much less consumable (though I have fascinators for sale for the brave and glamorous.) It is technically edible, yes. It is a medium for self-expression and it is the medium that allowed me to be a real artist. We put on our aprons and bring Jell-O out of the kitchen, show how accessible and easy (just add water) art-making can be, and we promote outsider, non-credentialed, un-buyable, non-professional ART in it's purest forms. We say everyone can be an artist, put your creation on a pedestal in a real gallery, and put yourself at the same level as every other artist in the land. You can do this when you are five years old with your gramma, and you can do it when you are eighty-five years old from your wheelchair. We do it so you can do it. All of you.
And this Queen thing is the same: you too can be a Queen in your own self-created universe, and sometimes you can get other people to go along with it, too. When I was crowned in 2012 by my fellow Radars and Jell-O Artists, it was a gift, but I earned it with my dedicated application of a creative process to a silly, uncooperative medium and to the way I built an art life around that. I've been in every single Jell-O Art Show and each year I try hard to be original, to test a boundary, to say something meaningful from my inner and external life experience, and I put it out there for everyone else. As ego-free as I can manage.
|My coronation, 2012 Jell-O Art Show|
|Load Number One|
|Float in the "driveway"|
But it's no one's job but my own to promote myself and it seems that the harder I do that, the more it puts me into the "crazy lady who must be ignored" category. Friends took photos, but despite my clear signs and careful presentation, I felt invisible. I know, it seems impossible. But here you have the recording of the historic event, which I do not think will be repeated. I do not believe I am the crazy lady. I will fight that to my last breath. I bring you pure and simple joy and it is not really about me. This is something I repeat almost daily: this is not about me. I represent.
As with any gift, its beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so whatever you think, you can take it or leave it. Plenty of people do let me know I am seen (like the woman who told me I was quite beautiful when I wear a tiny cocktail dress and lipstick...apparently at other times I am not.) Plenty of people do get the point of the gelatin...the ephemeral nature of it, the taming of the wild medium that rarely does what you want it to do, the inexpensive accessibility of it, the empowerment of the 50's housewife legacy reversal, all of it. Plenty of people encourage me and would be sad to see it end, and I am committed for life to my Radar Angels in whatever form we take. Jell-O Art made me an artist. I can't quit it, but I might take my light back under that bushel for awhile. Until the winter anyway.
But here you can see that we paraded our 30 years right down Broadway, that we were stupendously glorious and talented and determined (despite being drowned out by the boombox behind us) and that we did represent, amazingly, unselfishly, and in full color. I was so over-excited by it all that I went into my usual persona-state that is not really me, not too grounded in daily reality, but in that exalted space of bigger-than-life that attracts most performers, so if I didn't see you in the crowd, or didn't thank you for your cheers and stole your photos without attribution, I'm giving you a lame excuse here. It was a big deal on my day off on July 30th, 2017.
|Radar Angels! 30 years of the Jell-O Art Show!|
I don't know if I've ever been more exhausted than I was that night when it was all finally stowed away at home again. I don't know if my feelings are always this mixed...I suppose reading back in all my after-show posts the same ambivalence would come through. It's hard to make yourself vulnerable time after time, for me twice a week all season, with the big explosions of Fair and Jell-O Art Show, it's confusing and draining and exhilarating and gorgeous, and I'm the luckiest person in the world and also maybe the least-confident Queen in the Realms, (though guessing the Slug Queens might include a few on that level).
And yes, we got some recognition at the Coronation of Babosita of the lime-green embroidery. She had to work pretty hard too for those cheers and accolades. I had a bit of Jell-o-sy going when that Knight got all the attention for
It's just that I have to write about every little aspect so we can all appreciate ourselves that much more. David has paid his dues on the vulnerability scale. He was glorious. We just had to sit there and heckle, too, not get up and sing and dance and get voted on. We don't have to be evaluated and scored, thank the goddesses. We're the luckiest royalty of all. Talk about no rules. So I certainly don't fault him in making the most of his (mere) 20 years.
In the Realm of Gelatinaceae, there is only one rule: put your whole, honest and true heart into it. Get up and add the water. Throw it on the compost of society's evaluative critical system and mix it up again. We didn't win the cash in the parade. (We did get runner up though.) I didn't draw the crowds to my once-in-a-lifetime downtown "stall" number +25. I didn't get in the paper and didn't get on TV. Their loss. A loss to our fair city. There were people who didn't even know there was a parade.
|only photo I could find of me|
Plus after all these years, what would I do without it? Watch TV? Write my book? Oh yeah, I might write my book(s). They need to be written. Perhaps that will be my display for the 30th. No one else can write it, after all, the Book of Jell-O Art. The book of the intersection of serious play, real creativity, pure bliss and out-of-time transcendence. Someone could write their version. But the book I would write, should write, might write, that would be all about me. The trick would be to bury that in there so that you couldn't tell. You'd think you got a piece of it, anyway, you could fall into my story and think it was the real story, but of course the minute I finished it, the story would keep going and become another story. So here's your taste, here's the short version from August 2017.
There will be other chapters. A sequel. Or not. We'll see. In the meantime, if you have one of my art pieces, dust it off and think about the value of something you probably got for free. Go find something else at Market and pay the artist for it, and take your place in this grand universe. It can't really happen without you. And do remember how grateful I am, how humbly I thank you for your support. There is no Queen without her public. It's really all about you.