Monday, April 2, 2012
We love our crown, scepter and bouquet so much! Leave it to women artists (and a few men) to always perform brilliantly whenever called to anything.
The multi-talented Kariana Diana Supreme (in her more sedate life, Karen Perkins, retired art teacher recently famous for speaking for student artists everywhere in the face of the misguidedly patriotic/irrational complaints about using The Flag in a mural. Excuse me: Art! Embrace the concept) made our crown and we love the brilliant use of romex cable to form the ring which fits any (even a swelled) head and is comfortable and adjustable in aspect. She even put dried Jell-O on it for feather-and flower-like decoration and the attached emptied boxes and copper-wire boingies plus fabric flowers are artfully arranged in perfect framing. It's as if it were designed for our silver head (but of course it was!)
We're particularly grateful for the romex idea because now we realize it is perfect for mounting those Jell-O wings so that they can be more easily worn. Wrap with ribbon, et voila! Thank you Karen, for this treasure we will probably wear rather more often than might be advised. We had to be reminded to take it off when we got home but it is close at hand for any state occasions which might arise if we do.
The bouquet is similarly inspired for long life and uses perfectly planned contrasting wrapping paper and ribbon, with a plethora of box blossoms, including the sought-after Royal brand gelatin whose lettering works perfectly for our additional "Royalty" page in the book, allowing us to only have to fake one letter. There are lots of details made with pipe cleaners and beads and we love the way it uses space and is again boingie which is about as jiggly as you can get with paper. We love it!
The scepter also features the empty box (Cherry, presumably to signify our eternal virginity and purity, set off with bright red spangles to refer to our flapper era) and some lovely silk flowers appropriately vintage in appearance for contrast and in homage to our advanced but never faded mature beauty. We always say that women grow more attractive with each passing year and we love the subtle shadings of the silk and the hidden bird which we identify as a Bewick's wren, a bird that has brought much pleasure as we watch it look for insects in the crumpled bark of the butterfly bush outside our essential chairside window. The scepter cleverly uses recycled materials such as a CD on the back which can double as a mirror to check our make-up if we ever form the habit of wearing any, which is of course unlikely at this point. If there were a time when we should have had some on, it would have been Saturday night, but as it happens Larry had quite enough on for several Angels and we seemed to glow and blush most adequately without it. And we love the blue and gold polka-dotted ribbon decorating the (what? We can't just call it a stick) holding apparatus and the clever spool at the bottom. All beaded and ribboned of course. Any number of the actual graphic artists and multi-media artists in our midst could have crafted these items, but since Radar Active does everything else, she probably did it. Our one goal is to somehow wrest that cape out of the hands of the Court Curmudgeon because really, how often will he use it at Burningman if he doesn't even go? We desire to at least get a chance to perspire in it.
Of course the photos are inadequate, but you try taking pictures on your lap folded into a recliner. We couldn't wait any longer for the allotted "up time" today to pay homage to the brilliance of these artists. Oh and while we're on the subject, there was some Jell-O at the show besides that made by the royal we. A few pieces of note:
Big Diva of course got lots of press with his comely mustache and pringled wall piece, which was rumored to be made with the assistance of several real potato chips. Representing his 16 years of participation, which can never match the 24 of at least two of us, alas, this piece showed the high level of technical expertise he has learned and the commitment it takes to buy gelatin by the 25-pound lot. He told us about some experiments with balloons that we can only hope to try at some point, which sound brilliant. You might remember him for his past pieces, some of which can be found on his Facebook profile where he goes by the pseudonym David Gibbs, presumably because he has some kind of a job outside of his Jell-O Art career. He has done magnificent self-referential pieces such as representations of his kidney stones, his goatee (now eclipsed by the mustachio-full bearded look, and he is to be admired or reviled alternatively for only gelling his mustache and not the whole dealio) and his Thanksgiving dinner, among many fabulous and sometimes theme-related pieces. I suspect he invited that Deen woman, with his zest for life and ability to make gravy and all. Since he has gotten quite enough attention with his front-page appearance in our local paper (He lives in Portlandia, so he is naturally more press-famous) here we see him stealing my images for his own personal use with some kind of big-city electronic device. His leisure suit is both authentic and tasteful though, and he donated items to the Jell-O Art Museum, for which we are eternally grateful and do hope won't mold in the bad way. One word, Diva: lampshade! Balloon lampshade!
Julie Sannes bravely dressed herself, her not-yet newborn, her girlfriend, her husband and his partner (speculate as much as you like about their family constellation, but let us warn you she makes no secret of her politics, as is entirely appropo) in turq-wazz (as Mildred Hodittle always says) which matched David's self-adornment as if planned. She always makes Jell-O and dresses in tandem and her brilliance is more quietly stated. The rolled-up supports for her piece even looked tasty if stale, and we love her contributions to the show every year. It is lovely to have people to count on and she is one. And she of course did promote the show,as we all do, and we're sure it was her idea to invite Sarah Palin, and Newtie's wife, whom we soundly defeated for the title. We mean really. Not many public quasi-officials have what it takes.
Because of our propensity for Jell-O names and our inability to properly view the show this year from a scooter, we don't quite know whose piece is whose in some of the photos. We saw Miss Mary Clare bring something in and it might be both of these. The layered pie and all the symbolism are more than pleasing, and we do always love to see the theme addressed with thoughtfulness and the appropriate level of rage. Let me take this opportunity to state for the record that the Jell-O show, despite the unfortunate purchases of corporate food-like substances, is anti-corporate as hell and has always been. That's kind of the point. The political is personal, etc, etc, and if you knew what some of us did in our younger days you would be appalled, not to even bring up our proto-feminist grandmothers. Mainstream or even liberal we are not! So maybe people didn't really get the connection between Occupy, the End, and a notoriously inedible Kraft product, but if art has to be spelled out to you, maybe you need to fetch a freakin' clue. We shall stop.
Our personal favorite piece (besides our own, and we know we will be forgiven for that) was the waffle breakfast by Leah and Jeff, who also get credit for the Etch-a-Sketch we believe. The suspended syrup bottle (hopefully also a Kraft product, certainly a corporate one) was beyond inspired, and we don't even need to know how many tries it took to execute. And this was not dried Jell-O folks, which provides the opportunity for leisurely exploration over months. We poked the egg and waffles and they were still jiggly. The colors were perfect, the use of the menu and props were excellent. This was world-class Jell-O art, partly because the perfection might have even led you to pass over it as something normal to view. While not strictly tromp-l'oile, it did fool the eye and we just loved it. And the guffaw factor of the etch-a-sketch, not to mention it's timeliness in current political news, was stellar.
This is getting too long but we do want to mention that one of our Old Angels, if we have such a thing (admitting that all of us are of somewhat advanced age) sent a piece from The East Coast! It was appropriately slightly moldy as one would expect after making its way through the halls of the USPO all the way from Rhode Island, but if we had prizes this would certainly have won one. It was small but well-conceived, as would be expected from this spicily-seasoned artist who is missed every year. We were thrilled to have her contribution and tempted to put it on the Tacky Food Table as it contained beef, which is as tacky as it gets.
We must go. We do so regret pretty much missing the Tacky Food due to immobility and lack of hunger since we brought a lunch.We assume there was some, and we got a glimpse of a radical version of ambrosia with peanuts? There is an artist who reliably prepares actual Jell-O recipes from real cookbooks and we have no idea what she brought, to our dismay. Perhaps she will let us know. This is just one more example of "If you blink you will miss it" which ought to be one of our slogans. We are afraid the Jell-O company itself seems to be remiss in creating the annual slogans and in even advertising their classic products, having converted predictably to the wasteful but oh-so-tempting single-serving-wrapped-in-lots-of-non-recyclable-petroleum-product-toxic-waste stuff they are trying to foist off on the overworked parents and kids of our modern world. Plus the fact that they are too small to even satisfy the American stomach, necessitating the brilliantly conceived over-consumption of multiple packages, they taste reliably like crap (not that we would know, except for in the hospital when we did eat some tapioca and several cups of custard because that was the only choice we thought we had until we heard about the sandwiches. Needless to say we consumed no Jell-O.)
So yes, anti-corporate to the extreme, full of punditry and derision, we remain your quietly jiggling eminence, reviewing for you some of the highlights of this year in Jell-O. We have barely begun to expound, but remember, you encouraged us. Oh, and if you still want a t-shirt, we have a few left, which are free at this point, though donations are encouraged. Even a couple of the pink camo. To Jell-O!
Sunday, April 1, 2012
I thought my piece was finished and the gallery show is over for a year, but there was one piece of flat Jell-O left and now I know why. Those divinely silly Radar Angels made my night legendary.
Indi set me up right in the main hall with my table of shirts and all of my Jell-O that I had been selling at the Market last season. I had shirts from previous years too (thanks Joanie), and hung my wings on the wall, had my foot on a pillow and Jell-O in my hair, and I joked many times that I felt like a queen. Just an ordinary queen, though.
For a year they planned a skit based on *Jell-O Queen for a Day* and put four lame candidates on stage last night. One was Newt's wife, quite whiny, one was a pushy Sarah Palin in a red suit, who kept trying to monopolize the mike. The third sang a sweet song on the ukulele but still couldn't get any votes, and the fourth was a wonderfully-made-up version of the Deen diabetes character (barely recognizable as Larry), who swore she lost weight on a deep-fried Jell-O diet. (I expect to see that particular item on next year's Tacky Food table, if I have to make it myself!)
I was sitting right in front with my poor foot on a pillow, and I remember thinking it a little odd that Angela got a chair and sat right next to me. No one ever gets a chair, but as it happens 8-months pregnant Julie got to sit too, so it wasn't that odd. Then as the skit went on, and we voted with our uptwinkles in a perfectly entwined nod to the Occupy theme, I said to Angela, "They need more candidates!"
None of the four got many uptwinkles, mostly down, though plenty of laughs. Finally the lovely assistant and the guy on piano (aka Rico Suave) announced that there was no clear winner. "No clear winner!" (obvious Jell-O reference.)
Well, you have figured out the tale already: they crowned ME! For a year they kept the fabulous secret and brought me the royal crutches and a box of tissues and put me on stage in a throne with a cape, scepter, and bouquet of Jell-O boxes, and I babbled some sort of a speech in my giggly confusion. I didn't stop grinning for an hour at least.
They proceeded to sing a special song, (Time Warp) and I got to sing along, fulfilling a lifelong dream to actually be one of the performing Angels, something I'm always too chicken to do. They made me sit there while everyone took pictures, many pictures, and posed with me. The actual Slug Queen even bowed to me! This was a moment supreme and I am still suffused with pleasure as I sit here at five in the morning, ready for my April Fools Day.
I'm only Jell-O Queen for a Day, mind you, but I take this to mean an entire 24 hours and what better day to bask in my glory than this. Sunday after the show is always a soft entry back into what passes for a normal life in my part of the world, as the creative year is launched and as we have all now blinked and the Show is over for another 365 or so days.
I've said before how essential Jell-O Art is to my self-concept as an artist, how seriously I take the free self-expression it has opened for me. I sincerely doubt I would even be a real capital-A Artist without it. Somehow though I never expected that it would bring this much satisfaction as a person in a community. I'm such a hermit and iconoclast that I seldom feel an integral part of a group, and tend to hang on the fringes wishing. I think this has changed now that I am in my sixties.
This level of friendship and honor is a wonderful, dreamy and for the moment, very tangible gift. I want to keep repeating "I'm not worthy" but I'm dropping that poor-me attitude every time I hear it come out of my brain. Apparently I am. I respect and admire the Angels and associated Angels in training so much, that if they think I am royalty, well, I would be quite foolish to argue. In fact, that would be insulting. And now I have the crown, scepter, and bouquet for the Jell-O Art Museum, a slew of photos on Facebook, and a roomful of people as witnesses.
Twenty-four years of Jell-O Art dedication is a symbol of how I've lived my life, trying hard to be authentic, loyal, dependable, and giving. My subjects have seen me, and they have crowned me. Once my day is over I will have to get back to the mundane work of being an ordinary hero, but for one glorious night I sat in a throne and felt so humble and deserving that my brain didn't have a poor-me thought in it's recesses. I was so proud. I was so ecstatic. My heart was so full, it was flying around the room spreading glitter and flakes of gelatin everywhere.
So I will make one more page for my book today, and luxuriate in the peak life experience of 2012. Is it the end? Did I Occupy my soul?
I think it is the beginning. I think I can put self-deprecation aside and keep that moment on stage in the front of my mind. Yes, there was a Jell-O Queen for the blink of an eye, and I was her. She! Me!
There is certainly no bigger honor, no more appropriate designation. And now we have 365 days to figure out a way to top this. I'll be testing recipes for deep-fried Jell-O if anyone wants a taste.
Thank you, thank you, thank you very much. Long live gelatinous glory! Long live Jell-O Art! Long live the Jell-O Art Show! Maybe tomorrow I will be able to sleep.