Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jell-O Show details

Maude Kerns hasn't updated their website yet but it's fairly safe to assume that most things about the Jell-O Art Show will be the same as always. It is a one-night show, Saturday March 31, from 5-8. Note the early time. There is a performance at 7-ish by the legendary Radar Angels, and during that it is sometimes hard to see the art as it is jiggling too much from the laughter of the crowds. It is a small gallery and does fill up most years. If you really want to see the art at its best, come at the beginning.

To display your Jell-O creations, you have to bring them to the gallery at around 3:30 and pay a $3 entry fee to register. Nothing is juried; there is no bad Jell-O Art! People from toddlers to elders make entries. If you need tips on how to tame the medium, I will put some in the blog in the future. If you have a pedestal you can bring it, but the gallery has a goodly number of them for you to use. The lighting is pretty good in there, and if you are very special you might be able to use some electricity, but that is usually grabbed up by David Gibbs because he is definitely special.

The Tacky Food Buffet is also all-comers but it is asked that everything be edible and safe to eat. If you have any ingredients that might cause allergies, please make a little sign. Creativity is great here too, and the foods do not have to include Jell-O. "Tacky" is open to interpretation and the range can be wide. There is generally a lot of Easter candy like marshmallow peeps and the gallery staff brings crazy stuff like the cat-litter-box-with-tootsie-rolls-dessert kind of quasi-food. Often people make authentic vintage gelatin recipes like aspics and molded entrees and that can be delightful, especially when you are not sure if you really want to taste things. I've had chocolate covered brussels sprouts and tuna parfait and many odd and tasty treats. One of my most brilliant entries was Jell-O sushi which was real sushi with Jell-O strips substituted for the veggies and fish. Usually I just make plates of Jigglers using candy molds, most times the Christmas ones and things like the Virgin Mary so you can bite off her head. It's all in bad taste but one of the most fun parts of the show.

You have to take your Jell-O home at the end of the show at 8:00, because no one wants to throw away your art. There are literally no rules to your exhibit. Sometimes the actual Jell-O is hard to find among the props people use but generally it is the focus. You are certainly not confined to the theme, which this year is a combo of Occupy and the end of the world as seen in the Mayan calendar, or rather the popular conceptions of those two social memes. You can take things as seriously as you wish. I take my Jell-O Art extremely seriously.

There will be a donation to get into the show, usually like $2 or $5 per family, to support the gallery. The whole thing is a fundraiser for the gallery, by the Radar Angels.

Most of the Eugene artists do not make edible Jell-O creations, although we did have someone bring down some wonderful edible ones one year. Most of us do not even really use Jell-O brand gelatin for our art, because we need a lot. You can get the 32-envelope boxes of Knox for starters, for 8 or 9 bucks, but I have been buying it online for about $7 a pound and that is the way to go if you really want to get into it. You can remelt gelatin numerous times to start over, but I like having a lot on hand so I don't have to run to the store. I also use dye instead of food coloring because the palette of food coloring is so limited. When I make edible things for the buffet I do use the real Jell-O or the kosher variety of it, for the flavors and the traditional colors.

There are lots of techniques and tips and tricks and I'll get into those as we go. One thing I finally learned is that you have to let the plain gelatin "bloom" in cold water if you don't want it to get lumpy. I used to pour in hot water like you do with the dessert but it is much easier to make it in cold and heat it in the microwave for a minute. If you want it to be stable at room temperature you just make it a lot stronger than the package directions, i.e. less water. I use 3 ounces of gelatin per cup of water to make the dried stuff. It isn't a perfect science. There are many ways to do it right. Countless ways.

So that's a start. Stay tuned for the musings and development of ideas that can be so extra fun this time of year. I'll be working on it constantly for the next two months. That doesn't seem like long enough to do all the things I have in mind. Better make some today! (not a real slogan though it sounds just like one.)
I have a collection of Jell-O photos at photobucket in several folders if you want to see some delightful things from the past. Here's the AK-47 I mentioned in the last post. I know, you can't see it. You had to be there.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jell-O Show 2012

Hurray! The date has been set and the theme chosen for this year's Jell-O Art Show. It will be at Maude Kerns Art Center as usual, on a Saturday night from 5-8 pm as usual, but unlike the past two years, it will not be the first Saturday in April! It will be March 31, which seems like divine intervention for this Saturday Market vendor.

Now I won't have to try to do way too much in one day. The Jell-O Show is already a very big day. Not only do I "have to" make some kind of remarkable personal piece, I like to make lots of tacky foods for the Tacky Food Buffet, and I also enjoy helping decorate the hall and assist the performers if needed. In addition I make and sell the t-shirts, and they have to be brilliant, which is a big project all in itself. March is always very busy, particularly that last week.

I might even make some jiggly Jell-O for my display this year. I love the dried and will certainly do something with it, but the jiggle is a big part of the fun too. The wet Jell-O is such a frustrating and bewitching art material that I kind of miss it.

The theme is Occupy/End of the World for 2012. That should be a fascinating merge and I can just picture the Radars rolling a giant Mayan calendar replica out onto the stage and puzzling over it like the apes from the planet. (I would even be willing to help make the replica, if any Radars are reading this.) We could build it out of protest signs and turn it around into the Occupy mode. I'm sure the performers are already making lists of songs to parody and thinking about apocalyptic costumes. It's the Jell-Occupyocalypse. Cue the bongos.

Lots of us Radar Angels are political activists or were in the past at least, and are still radicals, so it will be a fun opportunity to add our humor to the political discourse. Political Jell-O can be tedious and derivative and repetitious and plebian just like any other kind of political art, and I have done my part in making political Jell-O. I once used an AR-15 (AK-47-looking rifle) to make a mold to put in a coffin surrounded by flowers and Jell-O bullets and clips and had a whole thing going about burying violence. I dressed the mannequin legs in camo.

Speaking of the mannequin legs, I had my doubts when I used them in last year's sculpture, Hope. I need them back. This winter I started taking parts of the display and putting them to other purposes. The mask can stand on its own, as can the bird. The floral panels look great on the walls of my living room, and the little seascapes with grass and waves are presently being made into little mermaid perches. The figure itself, which I appropriated glibly from Celeste, might be restored to its original condition, though the additional snakeskin will probably stay on it. For it to be a part of the Jell-O Art Museum, it should really be in its original condition, which was elegant and graceful. Hard to dance covered with orchids. So Hope will be transformed. That's the theme of the beginning of the movement.

The Jell-O Art Museum concept is alive and well and I am designing a sign for it and have in mind to build a scale model of it. I probably won't be making either one out of gelatin though I will try to work that in. I don't know how much of it will be realized in the short winter period I have for Jell-O Art.

I also don't know where I am going with the Jell-O Art retail I tried last season. It wasn't a failure, and had lots of fun aspects that could continue to develop, but it's pretty distracting at Market and cut into my clothing sales I believe. At HM it was kind of cluttered. I don't know what to do with it. Last night I dreamed I was eating all of the shells and flowers, and they were nearly all gone when I realized it. Not that I would, but it was funny as a dream. Apparently I want to be done with them. Maybe it just means I am hungry for transformation.

Make some Jell-O, artists! At least start thinking about it.