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My Mannequins Are Moving

February 20, 2011 1 comment

The following is a fictional account of how an artist sometimes draws creativity through odd objects and the telling of tall tales.  This practice was often explored by one of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, who developed unusual stories around the dark psyche of things and people.  Of course, in my case, let me stress the word, fictional, and the following account should be taken in the spirit of Gothic Horror or perhaps, a little Gothic Humor.  I recently gave a speech at my old alma mater, where I was honored as their distinguished alumni.  To create a memorable presentation, I included this somewhat offbeat and unusual tale. Unfortunately, I fear that I didn’t provide enough explanation and suspect my audience took my story seriously. If that is the case, then I should consider a well deserved, self-imposed, exile.  I hope you enjoy my story called, “My Mannequins are Moving.”   

I am an artist, printmaker, and professor, with a somewhat lackluster blog. My literary attempts may be endemic of a more serious dereliction. My words limp along, because

Monique, A Stealthy Succusbus

Monique, A Stealthy Succusbus

 I’m tired, and my creativity is equally waned. Artistic slump is difficult to overcome. However, I must remember that my introspection is often rejuvenated by the things in my studio. To this end, my words today are dedicated to all those artists who have unenlightened lapses and bland corners in their studios. Draw energy from them, my friends; don’t let your walls be empty.

Creativity is a strange thing. It is most elusive and sometimes paradoxical. It is the nexus where two parallel lines meet; it is the shadow realm, where puppets inspect their strings and clowns remove their face paint. It is a Tarot deck where all the cards are identical, except the one printed on the box. It is a genealogy chart where everyone is born on the same date, or Dada is rational. Yes, art holds all these allegorical secrets, like burning coals in the eyes of a snowman.

As a quest for this creativity, I converted my living room into a printmaking studio. I filled it with somewhat curious artifact. On my fireplace mantle is a reproduction of a Corinthian column. Situated just atop of its floral support is a boor’s skull. He stands vigil over my living room.  The joy of my life is a 2000 lb intaglio press, made by F. Reem, saved from the 1966 floods of Florence, Italy. I restored all its parts and graced its frame with chrome plated motorcycle bolts. Not too far to the right is a corner of oddities. I call this my laboratory corner. On its sagging Victorian shelves are chemicals, flasks, test tubes, a large tome entitled, “Ghosts,” by Hans Holzer, and a red covered 1958 text, “The Theory and Practice of Embalming. Every home should have an inviting corner such as this. A place to putter and create special blends of intaglio inks, dyes, and sundry printmaking tinctures.

Even though I live a gentle, quite life, I am not alone. My inanimate dog, Bowser, keeps me company on Christmas and Thanksgivings. Bowser sits next to the couch, usually

Monique Bowser and Myself

Monique Bowser and Myself

 beside my visiting Jehovah Witness friends. He doesn’t bark, nor does he eat. He is the best Plaster of Paris friend anyone could ever want or need.

Ah, but the mannequins are a different story. I don’t trust them. They think they’re so clever, inching across my oaken floors each night. Their movements are subtle, perhaps traversing only inches in the span of a week. I know their movements; I can hear them from the corner of my eyes and smell them with my ears. It’s difficult to hide sounds in a hundred year old house. It’s difficult to hide the foot falls of scurrying mice, disturbed by slowly shuffling plastic feet.

Last November, I procured the services of a security company to install monitored surveillance cameras. Additionally, I dead bolted all the interior doors. My friends seem concerned. It is so reassuring to have good friends who believe in my stories.