Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sick of Jell-O

What? You're tired of hearing about Jell-O Art and all of its many charms? Yeah, me too. But really I'm just nervous. I think I finished up my piece yesterday, though I have to try to take it outside to photograph today and could break it. Better to break it today than on Saturday when I won't have the time to fix it.

I'm tired of rehearsing, too, as we meet almost every evening to go through the show and the songs again and again. I need the practice, of course, and need the slight pressure of the timing of my lines and songs, to get comfortable with the speed of it all and most of all, to be able to relax and enjoy it.

That's been one of the big challenges of stepping up into more involvement. It's supposed to be fun. Last year I was so nervous it was more pressure than fun, until it was over, and then the emotional roller-coaster effect was still there, but this year I am trying hard to *get over myself.* Of course I'm nervous. Even seasoned performers have the jitters about things that they can't control. Gazillions of performers get up there and do it anyway, to our great delight and wonder. Them showing their nervousness does not make our experience better. 

So I will focus on smiling, laughing, and having a bunch of fun. That is supposed to be the point, over all of the other minor points like promoting the arts and the Maude Kerns Art Center and the Radar Angels and the Eugene arts scene and all of the other things that come with this. It is going to be fun.

One of the parts I like best is making the funky set pieces and signs and props we need to make our literary points in the short show. I get to make them any way I want to, so I haul out my rusty graphics skills and do some lettering on some cheap posterboard. I spend way too much money and time on things that will have a very brief life. My house is full of them, though I am getting a little more life out of a few this year by recycling them into new pieces. 

Here are a couple of the signs we'll be using for the performance. It's a game show, loosely based on Jeopardy, and it moves quickly so we need visual aids to keep the audience with us. Let's hope they are effective. My memory of past shows is that the uneducated viewer (as I was for years, being all wrapped up in my own Jell-O world) gets only part of the show as it goes by. The songs do persist if they are catchy. We have some really catchy ones this year, so we're all going around singing funny lyrics about Jell-O to ourselves. You might spot me around the neighborhood, or downtown, deep in thought as I try to not revert to the original songs we have hijacked for our silly purposes.

And while I am vitally interested in the deep meanings and connections of it all to the big cosmic pictures, hardly anyone else goes there. Most people embrace the silliness and laugh at my great capacity to take it all seriously. Some people get that, generally other Jell-O artists. Some work full-time at this like I do for this period of the winter and spring. We don't get paid. Our satisfaction is our reward, if we value fun like we should.

I'm still learning to value the fun over the seriousness, so I get some odd looks and have to remember to moderate my intensity. My Jell-O creations are really quite important to me and I am emotionally involved with every single one, even the hair ornaments and headbands. I remember them and love them and they are exalted in my memory and photographs, and there are still so few about the world that it is a pleasant shock to see them. Most of the recipients gamely found a place of value for them, though some have ended up as compost. It wouldn't be the first time someone's artistic creations were undervalued.

It's good for me to feel that sense that even some of my most important friends don't really understand or value this art experience the way I do. Most of my Market people make things every day and making things, however elaborate or impractical, just doesn't always impress them. People who work in precious metals or marble or wood have a bit of a hard time accepting gelatin up in their league, not to mention completely un-credentialed artists who put on gelatinous airs and show in real galleries.

Alas, they have also lost sight of the fun. Let's all try as hard as we can to believe in it, to put the value in fun that it deserves. This year's Jell-O slogan, if we are to believe an ad in Parade magazine, is *Fun things up this Easter* or substitute holiday I suppose, to seem like a new slogan every month or so. (*Fun things up this Memorial Day*?) Let us take our cue from Jell-O itself.

Be transparent, be colorful, be jiggly and be sweet. Melt easily at room temperature. Resist all attempts to tame you and make you ordinary. Be inventive (what makes Berry Blue, that unreal mouthwash color?) and be consistent (over 100 years of amazing desserts, not to even list the many salads and casseroles) but ever new. Re-invent yourself at least every spring, if not more often, and always, always, fun things up if you can.

Suspend the other rules for awhile. Make verbs out of concepts (just funning you here) and concepts into sculpture. Laugh at yourself when you get too far into it. Laugh at each other when you get the chance. Be encouraging to those who aren't where you are yet, and humble about how hard you have worked at this for these 26 years. Take care of each other and let others take care of you. Stay forever young.

No wait, that isn't one of our songs; I'm digressing again. Gotta make some Tacky Food today, and finish the props and my costumes for Dress Rehearsal tonight and Tech Rehearsal tomorrow. Gotta get up early tomorrow and watch Michael from MKAC rock the morning show on KEZI. So glad it is him and not me. Gotta walk my foot around and coddle my voice and eat well and sleep well and make this thing into history so I can get on to the other things in my life.

And put my Jell-O away for a year. I really plan to do this, to put it all up in the attic and not be a Jell-O artist for a bit. It will leak out of course, but I am going to try hard. And that reminds me, did you see the OPB special called Cold Case: JFK last night? It was good, but the best part was the ballistic gelatin. They fired bullets through the gelatin, which behaves like human tissue (sorry if this upsets you) and it was really outstandingly beautiful. I'm not sure why they always make it in that unappealing yellow, but the patterns in slow motion are graceful and fractal, and what's more, it closes back up after the bullet passes through, a completely unexpected effect that makes me think. 

Oh, forget it, I know I won't put it all up in the attic. I'm already thinking about my next piece. It's my true art form. I'm just lucky that I get to fun it up.

1 comment:

  1. Your vision is a true example of what art is. I somehow feel the more ephemeral, the more real. The truly brave artist does installations. And all of us live our lives as our very own works of performance art. Thank you for sharing yours. ~Andrea