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The rantings and ramblings of Kimberly Allison

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Enter The Freak Show

Just a sad, little clown looking for love and popcorn.
     After a few years as a working artist... OK, you got me....after my first year as an artist, I finally had to confess something.  Being an artist is actually hard work.  Yes, I have gotten to rub elbows with some celebrities and I have sipped wine in art galleries while chatting about my latest creation.  I have seen my work in magazines and signed a few autographed copies (even though I was blushing intensely the entire time)!  And I am always and forever thrilled beyond words when someone gushes about how they love what I do.

     But there is another side you don't really see, and it's far from glamorous.  It's the unending mountain of supplies that never seems to get cleaned or organized.  It's breathing adhesive fumes while my sons are screaming they will get brain damage from it.  It's scrubbing paint out from under my fingernails that will never see another manicure. And since bills and show fees must be paid, there is a lot of what I call "Sweat Shop Sewing".  It's me, hunched over a hot sewing machine, in an over-heated room, with The Birthday Massacre blaring in the background.

     It's sewing not one, not two, but FIFTY dog collars, one right after another.  Or maybe it's a heap of wool pillows.  While it is fulfilling and satisfying, working with your hands and gathering the fruits of your labors, it isn't exactly rocket science either.   I can sweat and sing as much as I want, because my brain isn't exactly being put on pointe.  In fact, it's pretty much a 'clock-in-and-clock-out' kind of production..

     Now don't get me wrong.  I truly love what I do.  I am the captain of my own ship, as well as it's crew.   I can put on my most comfy dress, crank up that music and lose myself.   No one to answer to except myself.  And I can update my Facebook status whenever I want.

   But one thing was missing.  I make these girly dog harnesses that would never work on our BBW of a Basset Hound. I make pillows that our Puggle considers a rare, delicious delicacy; so they much be forever placed out of his reach and NEVER on my couch. And always, and I mean ALWAYS, my thoughts are this:

"What, exactly, do my customers want?  What can I make for them?  What would they like?"

     So, one day I hit an inevitable wall.  I stared at those dog collars and I had to admit it.  I was bored silly.  I needed so do something FUN.

    I wanted to feel that excitement that I felt when I was a child and my teacher announced it was time for crafts.  I didn't want to think about a price tag or a deadline.    I wanted to take out my mental crayons and safety scissors and do something simply because I felt like it. So, I signed up for a class at a local art gallery.  Maybe learning some new techniques, and being out of my Captain's Chair, would encourage me to explore new waters.

Class Project "War Machine" uses found objects, bullet casings and toy soldiers.
(Instructor Richard H. Freund)
     I returned with new supplies and some fresh ideas.  And for once, I didn't care if my creation was, ahem, marketable.  It could hang out in my studio for all I cared.  I just wanted to make a creepy doll.  I wanted it to look old, even ancient.  I wanted it to look as though it harbored a secret ghost or a dark past.  I wanted cracks and wrinkles.  I wanted Night of the Living Dead meets Mexico's infamous "Island of the Dolls".  In short, I wanted to do what I wanted to do.  A project just for me.

And it was FUN!!!!

   When my husband and sons got home, I couldn't wait to show them.  I felt like I was 8 years old again, fresh out of camp, yelling "Look what I made!"  I fully expected them to look at it, and ask, exactly what the hell I had been doing all day.   I did not expect my husband to look at it thoughtfully and say "You know, that is really pretty cool!  You should put that out at the show this weekend and see if it sells."  Honestly, I didn't expect it would.  After all, this was Art for Me.  I couldn't care less what the critics had to say.  For the first time, I really didn't focus on what someone else wanted.  I simply did what I wanted to do.

I'll be damned.  That doll sold almost immediately.

    Truth is. I love that old and creepy stuff.  I'm a Goth Gal at heart and I delight in what other people would term as spooky.   Not Halloween Store spooky, but the type that makes you feel there is another story that an object holds.  And I discovered I was not alone. For every customers that recoiled in horror, someone else would breathe "Holy shit!  That is AWESOME!  Do you have more of these?"   Never in my wildest dreams did I expect these things to be as popular as they were becoming.  I made more.  Again, they found adoring homes.  I made a few zombies and they shambled away as well. Maybe I was onto something.

Enter the Freak Show.

   Not everyone was as enamoured as I was.  In fact, these dolls sometimes got me into trouble.  Once I was put on notice by one of our bigger bi-annual shows that someone had complained that my dolls were 'scaring young children'.  There seemed to be a large divide between my customer-centric work and my 'Frankly-My-Dear-I-Don't-Give-A-Damn' dolls.  Some shows seemed eager to embrace it.  Others seemed eager to start spraying me with Holy Water and chanting prayers.  So we decided it was time to divide ourselves into two camps.  Thus, Freak Show Dolls and Curiosities was conceived.

   Contrary to popular thought, the name I chose has nothing to do with the TV Series... in fact, I only saw one or two episodes (I stopped when Jessica Lange began singing Lana Del Ray). Instead, I wanted to recreate a gritty, Victorian-style show.  One where people stared at things unknown and delicate ladies fainted from the shock.  Someplace where sensibilities no longer reigned.  A world where I could be as deranged as I wished.  A Ringmster into my warped imagination.

   So, you will now see two sides of me.  Siamese twins of the basest form.  A few of our dolls and curiosities will travel with us at our regular shows (soon to be behind curtained walls at our more sensitive venues!)  Other places, we will put our freaks on proud display.

   Likewise, we are expanding into different arenas.  While we will show at our regular shows, like Old Town San Diego, we are starting to branch out into shows of a creepier nature.  September will mark our debut at Son of Monsterpalooza in Burbank.  This is a convention for the horror genre, with Hollywood make-up artists and special effects specialists.  We seriously can't wait for this show!

So enter one...enter all.   Prepare to be horrified and amazed.  You have entered the Freak Show.

Please come see us at  Son of Monsterpalloza in Burbank CA, Sept 18 - 20, 2015

Recycled mannequin using "Special FX" textural techniques;
a first for me.  It took 5 days to complete this zombie!