Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Jell-O Art Show Review

My piece
It's hard to explain just how satisfying the Jell-O Art Show is for me. It's the beginning of my art year, and I work on it for a full three months, the offseason of my retail Saturday Market experience, with them both opening at the same time, April Fool's (roughly). It's sad when it's exactly the same day, because Jell-O takes precedence, so I miss out on the equally exciting Opening Day, but there will be 32 other Saturdays and only one Jell-O Art Show. A lot is packed into that day.

Jell-O Go Boom! by Radar Active

David's corner
Making something from nothing is probably the activity that gives my life the most meaning. Just the art alone, trying to interpret the theme or explore some technique gives me pleasure. Since my coronation, I have also loaded myself up with royal duties such as greeting each artist, showing interest in their piece, and taking their photo with it whenever possible. Since I have no staff this can get hard, but for the hour and a half pre-show I try to greet everyone. Many return each year but we always have some very interesting artists who are showing for the first time. Sometimes they take it seriously, but sometimes they are into the silliness, and often they take the opportunity to make an environmental or political statement. Many do it for time with their kids, to encourage a lightheartedness about art-making. Many drag their kids along and I always try to engage with them so they get how easy it is to enter. Whenever anyone tries to talk about "winners" or "Best of Show" I try to quickly remind them that there is no good or bad Jell-O Art, and that the art and the artists must be taken on their own terms. There is no critical structure, just participation. And the audience is an important part of that, of course, so I try to be as appreciative and generous with the patrons as I can be.

Jell-O Experts
Trying to make all the performing parts happen on time is hard and I do have to engineer my own costume changes and all that too. I even wear make-up, as much as I hate it. Glamour takes work. Again, though, the audience makes this satisfying. I took a photo of them when I got on stage, to remind myself that there is a symmetry between them and what happens on stage. We make something out of nothing up there, but without the willing participation of the fans, there wouldn't be much point in it. I go through a little sadness each year, as it seems like such a huge, explosively creative endeavor, yet none of my family and few of my friends (outside the Jell-O circle) have any idea it is even going on, much less how much effort is going into it. That's just life though, all of the huge things we each do and think are important, that get little general notice in the clamor of messy public life. Oh well. I can live with the ephemeral nature of it all. That's part of the charm of Jell-O. There isn't much substance, it's mostly glamour, but there's a vast lot of metaphor in there, and authenticity, at least when we get finished with it.
Mobile by Ren and Joanna

Not Tacky at all

There were two big hits in the show, this mobile by Ren and Joanna, and the Christmas Corner by David Gibbs. Ren and Joanna, Radar Angels, entered their dried gelatin for the first time and really landed on the art side of the equation, and said they'll be back. Even though they had a price tag on their piece, they were glad to get to keep it. Joanna also dressed most appropriately and brought this awe-inspiring and hardly Tacky Food. The table was quite loaded. I ate a few olives from Holly's dish but did not try the Unicorn Poop. I did eat a slice of the gorgeous blueberry Vegan Wave which was made from agar-agar, but I was too nervous to eat much before the performance.

David was knighted for his 20th year of participation and several of his photos showed previous pieces. He claims to already have an idea for his next year's piece. Julie and Doug and their friends (names forgotten, sorry) came back after a year off and dressed the whole family as usual. Maile was our youngest (perhaps) with this great piece and Marion may have been our oldest with her miniature explorations. She had a blast taking lots of photos. She said last year the Jell-O was not exciting so I hope she liked it more this year. Apparently she used cabbage leaves to make at least one of her teensy pieces.

Angela may have come the farthest (from Seattle) and Annemarie brought a piece that she made for the performance last year, sliced, and dried in the food dryer...that was a new technique. The layers made a frilly hat that I wish I had gotten a close-up of too.

Might have to write another to include more of what was great. Might be another year when Jell-O Art just doesn't stop.