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The rantings and ramblings of Kimberly Allison

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Timberlake and the Trouser Snake

Fair warning: This is going to be an "R" rated posting. If you are easily offended or have zero sense of humor, please close this blog and go back to your Kindle.

Alright... is it just us adults? Good.

Like you, I have fallen into the warped web of "Political Correctness". Everything I do is second guessed. Will I offend someone? Will this be censored? Trust me. This isn't such a far reach. I got my fingers slapped by a show censor as well as having several over-critical moms call me on the carpet about the inappropriateness of an image of Betty Page. In a bikini. Come on! A bikini on a pin-up icon from the 1950s?!?

It's rampant. A couple years back a local art gallery received a complaint. It seems that a VERY abstract painting of a reclining male nude inspired the ire of a toddler's mom. Understand, this painting was so abstract that you needed special glasses, a cheat sheet and a bottle of gin in order to see the offending organ. As a mother, I found this nit-twit's complaint laughable. This (of course) was her first child. A son. And as a mother of 3 boys, I can confidently tell you that boys will discover this fantastic new toy ALL BY THEMSELVES. They don't need a hysterical mother pointing at a slew of oil paints yelling "OMG... it's a PENIS!"

Last week, I settled down to watch "America's Next Great Artist" on Bravo. I love this show. I adore the energy and creativity. But last week, in a nod to street art, I found myself getting a bit wistfully envious. Two artist collaborated to make some randy tigers. As they giggled, they drew some whimsical penises. Wow. Talk about balls. (good pun, huh?)

I found myself wishing that I could do that. But the fear of offending that one-in-a-hundred person is a millstone around my neck. What if they revolk my artist license? Wait. Being an artist IS my license.

Enter Justin Timberlake.

It's one of my favorite viral videos. A SNL short of Justin swaggering around, wearing a suit and a gift wrapped box around his goods, singing about his "Dick in a Box" (excuse me... "**** in a Box" as the censors would remind us.) My mind wanders as it does. Could I make a tiny monster and name him Dick, and place him in a box? But then naughtiness gets the best of me. Why name a monster Dick when I can make the real McCoy?

So, I bought some boxes and some flesh toned socks. I made some small, cheerful penises so I now have my own Dick in a Box.

Censors be damned. Enjoy.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Warning: shallow water ahead

I am gritting my teeth.

Once again, my life is being touched by shallow depths. Unlike most shallow water, which may carry a current of warmth, this one chills me. It's a water which bares no substance, nor does it quench any thirst.

It's the shallow depths of the beauty pageant world.

What is it about the beauty queen wanna-be that I find so repellent? Some of my readers may know a wonderful girl who proudly wore a homecoming queen tiara. Maybe you yourself were crowned. It isn't that rite-of-passage that has me so riled up. It's a grown woman squeezing a size 22 ego into a size 2 evening gown. it's the pageant-mom parading a young child before judges, quietly assuring them that while "it's inside what counts", the outside package had better sparkle more if they want to get ahead in the world.

I have known these women. Several of them... and pretty well as a matter of fact. They showed me nothing in their world that had me eager to drink that crystal-studded kool-aid. I knew the women in their personal lives as normal women; warts, pimples, body odor and all. I saw them scream at their kids, belittle their husbands and generally knock people down when it suited them. But, shine a spotlight on them and suddenly, they became the epitome of what they believed people believed them to be. Polished. Smiling. Gracious. Perfect.

Excuse my retching.

What drives an normal women to prove herself more desirable, more attractive, more intelligent, more talented, more (fill in the blank) than others around her? What pushes her to stomp on her competition's toes in her stiletto heels, while she holds that hand in "sisterly support"? What is missing from her life that she values the opinion of a faceless judge rather than cherishing the honest opinion of friends and family?

Yes? You in the back. I see you waving your hand. You are commenting that I simply must be jealous. This is what drives to to voice my feelings in this rant. Actually, there isn't a jealous molecule in my body.

There is something honest and true to working with your hands and heart. I don't wake up and look into a mirror to practice smiling. I don't practice answering questions in words that I feel would best suit another person. Instead, I put my soul into a piece of art. You are seeing the world through my eyes. And, you can either gasp with delight or gasp in horror. it doesn't matter to me. I am, first and foremost, being true to myself. You can see my life's journey. You can join me on that journey or you can slam the door to the vehicle. Whichever you wish, as I will travel this road with or without you.

Maybe together we should create the "Anti-Pageant". All contestants much be at least 18 years old. No moms allowed within 200 yards of the venue. No make-up. No hairstyles. Absolutely no cosmetic surgery. All clothing must be purchased from the local thrift store. All money saved from forgoing cosmetics and clothing would be donated to charity. Next: talent. No archaic, artifical abilites here. Extra points awarded to a woman who can rebuild a computer or change her own oil in her car. Then, it's question and action time ladies! The judges would ask them what they would change in our world.... then expect them to actually show us by her actions. Do you wish to banish hunger? Then, I expect to see you slinging a ladle in a food kitchen (without using it for a photo op!). No crown or prizes would be awarded to the winner. Instead, she could chose a worth charity.

And that, would be the definition of deep beauty. Certainly not shallow.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It Ain't Easy Being Green

Erwin (an Escondido Humane Society rescue) reluctantly donates his winter coat to me.

Nothing like that proverbial "turd in the punchbowl" feeling that comes with seeing an official looking man with a clipboard, wearing an expression that says "Lady, I haven't smiled since I kicked that puppy across the street in Spring of '92". His eyes squint at my work as he asked me in a humor-less voice:

"So, tell me EXACTLY how you consider yourself green."

It's Earth Fair in Balboa Park, in America's "finest city" of San Diego. I am surrounded by thousands of people, browsing hundreds of booths. My neighbors include funky electric cars and vegan fare featuring, I am sure, free-range, no cruelty carrots. Not too many people seem to have a sense of humor... let alone one as warped as mine.

I guess people have come accustomed to 'Green = no humor factor'. To acknowledge being "green" is to plant on a holier-than-thou simper, and speak in a soapbox whisper.

Come on folks. Loosen up.

I took Mr Oh-So-Official on a tour of my booth. I pointed out that my sculptures are hand-made using recycled, sweaters, remnants and vintage fabrics. Almost all of it comes from thrift stores, garage sales and the occasional donation.

The felted wool-works that I show are especially "green". So many local students and farmers have the critter come shearing time, but no need of the fleece. I "rescue the wool" at shearing and then do all the skirting, scouring, dyeing, combing and carding *by hand*. Imagine nearly 200 pounds of wool rescued from local landfills!

How about my gorgeous and funky vests? Created with piles of useless neckties, even the buttons are recycled. I NEVER use "new" buttons. Where is the fun in that?

Finally, I pointed out my ceramic pendants. I use real leaves, flowers and seashells to capture the beauty of nature. You can't be any more green than that.

At this point, Mr "I Have No Humor" has agreed that I have earned my space at Earth Fair. I am indeed "green". But, I do have my twisted humor. I ask him excitedly "Come on! Don't you want to see my recycled cashmere zombies with the retractable guts?!?" He ushers a speedy "No thank you" like I had asked him to participate in a voodoo sacrifice and high-tails his clip-boarded self away from me.

Ok. It ain't easy being green. But it IS a lot of fun!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Don't chicken-shit.

One recent evening, I found myself in an unexpected scene. I was sitting in a tiny restaurant in Pahoa, Hawaii with 2 of my dearest, long-time friends. We sat in a state of suspended-animation, with our breaths held, listening to a native song of longing and loss. All 3 of us threatening to burst into emotional tears at any moment.

Auntie Emily's song was haunting and beautiful. She sang it as a memorial to my friend Jamie's dad, whom she had just learned had been killed in a tragic motorcycle accident. After the last note had faded, Jamie gave Aunt Emily a hug. "You know, my dad had really wanted to ask you out. I had told him you were single and he told me that he would do it. But, he was chicken-shit and never got up enough courage. He was still trying to work up the nerve when he was killed."


As my friends and I sat over our meals, I was struck with how strong a message this redneck phrase packs. How many times have we all gone chicken shit?
It's missed opportunity. Fear holding us back. Something that holds us back from the thresh-hold of what "could be". It's human nature that risk breeds fear of the unknown. But, without that risk, we cannot reap life's harvest.

Jim was a true character. A hard-riding, tough-talking rebel with a heart of unalloyed gold. No gathering was complete without a tale of Jim's antics. (How about a 70 year old man getting pulled over by an astonished cop for passing traffic while doing a motorcycle wheelie?) He was recently widowed by the passing his beloved Clara. But as life carries us forward, he started thinking about a future. Might that future include this strong Hawaiian woman? But, hesitation (read: chicken-shit) got the best of him. Now, a vibrant life cut short, with questions left unanswered.

I look to my friend Debi. A force-of-nature designer, she has spent several years auditioning for a well known designing show. Each year, she applies, auditions and dreams the dream. But, her dream has not been realized AS YET. But she knows that a rejection letter, while stinging, hurts a whole lot less that drowning your sorrows in a pint of Hagen-Das while screaming out at the TV "Hey I could do better than that... if I only had the guts to audition!"

Yes. I have been guilty of being a chicken-shit. But, the years (and grey hairs that I have seen in my mirror) have encouraged me to step up and take risk. It's allowed me to pour out my heart and soul into a piece, then submit it for judging. Yes, I have gotten a few of those stinging rejection letters, but I have also won ribbons and the occasional publication. I have stood outside more that a couple galleries, hyperventilating until I work up the courage and confidence to step inside and sell my work and talents. More often than not, the risk has paid off.
There is no gain without risk. There is no winning without some loss. And one of life's greatest lessons is to look it in the eyes... and not chicken-shit.

But... Bullshit. That, dear readers, is another post all together.

The incredibly beautiful final resting place of Jim and Clara.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Putting On Your Best Face!

One of the most common comments I hear at my shows is the utter delight at my sculpture's faces. I really put a lot of thought into each character. I don't like that "generic" smile that is repeated on every single face. Indeed, all of my sculptures have their own personality, and I like their features to convey that.

As a means of sharing the process, I thought I would share a picture of a bunch of "yet to be born" sculptures. These 4 guys are nameless and without character. They are sewn and assembled... just waiting to make their debut.

All of my faces are needle sculpted by hand. Using an insanely long needle, I take infinitely tiny stitches and coax the fabric into folds and curves. Then, I use my special wool roving and needle felt eyes and features. As I work, each character begins to tell me his story.

Here are the results!

Meet Leland! Ever have that drunk beside you try to tell you a dumb joke, but blow the punchline every time? After a while, you can no longer feign politeness. Eye rolling is all but inevitable.

Meet Sven! Can be found at the lodge, hanging out with the ladies, attempting to impress them with tales of harrowing ski trips down the black diamond runs. (Truth be told: he has never gotten beyond the bunny slopes.)

Meet Sadie! A true lady. Drinks tea with her pinkie extended and is always on time with perfectly written "thank you" notes. But when she has had a bit too much Oolong, she has been known to shake her "groove thing" to vintage Disco.

Meet Harris! First, he slept on his freshly showered ears the wrong way that resulted in the mother of "Bad Ear Days". Then, he spilled coffee on himself. Since he was late to a very important meeting, he just pinned a button over the stain and is hoping for the best. Now, he just discovered his hot rod has a flat tire. Yup. It must be Monday!