Saturday, December 6, 2008

Jeff Dunham (and friends)

When I saw these pictures, drawn by my six-year-old nephew a few weeks ago, two questions crossed my mind: Who the heck is this guy? And what does "Jeff Dun Ham" mean?

I had to ask my nephew to explain. And then, with the help of a few quick searches, I learned a lot more about ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, and Guitar Guy (pictured with Jeff, above), and Jeff's pals.

Apparently my nephews had watched Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special on Comedy Central. Note the dialogue below from Achmed the Dead Terrorist:

Compare Jeff Dunham's face in the first picture - where he was addressing the audience as himself - to the tight-lipped, dead-faced version in the other pictures. Then watch the trailer (linked above) and see how Jeff Dunham holds his face while speaking through his characters. (Note also the detail of Jeff's arm reaching into Achmed's back, where the controls are located.)

Here is the character Walter. Note the elements in this picture - the coffee cup, the Christmas tree, the microphone. There's probably plenty of other stuff I'm not noticing.

When I was a kid I used to watch Edgar Bergen on TV and marvel at his skill at creating characters like Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. There were other ventriloquists active back then, like Wayland Flowers and Madam, Shari Lewis and Lambchop, and Rod Hull and Emu - some technically better, some who made no effort to keep their lips from moving. It's good to know there are people still carrying on this art, and that kids still find it fascinating and funny.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Star Wars collection, Volume 1

My nephews' love of Star Wars came via a circuitous route: they first experienced it by way of the video game for the PS2, and only later saw the movies and understood the backgrounds of the characters they were playing. They have watched all of the movies multiple times on DVD and on television, and have seen both the Clone Wars TV series via DVD and the Clone Wars movie in the theater.

As with many fans, their love for the Star Wars universe is expressed in art, and the two of them have created many works of art on this theme. Here is a small selection:

Jango Fett
by Jeffrey
Summer, 2008
black ink on white crinkled paper, cut to shape
approx. 7" high x 6" wide

(after image in Star Wars Insider)
by Joseph
July 2008
graphite pencil on looseleaf paper
8" x 10"

Joseph, the older nephew, did a straightforward rendition of the draw-along image presented in Star Wars Insider. A shiny, dent-free C-3PO gazes into the sky above the desert planet of Tatooine, the twin suns and some dwellings (possibly part of the Lars homestead) in the background.

(after image in Star Wars Insider)
by Jeffrey
July 17, 2008
graphite pencil on page cut from composition book
with chocolate ice cream
8" x 10"

Jeffrey's version of C-3PO more closely resembles the oxidized, beaten-up, unplated version seen in Attack of the Clones. Rather than dreamily gazing upward, he seems to be looking at the viewer with a mix of shock and fear - perhaps this is the moment that he realizes The Maker has returned?

by Joseph
Summer 2008
blue ink on page cut from composition book
8" x 10"

Yoda casts a sideways glance with eyes fully of deviltry as he stands, strong and straight, in his hut on Dagobah. Has he perhaps just heard the arrival of the Son of Skywalker as he crashed into a swamp? All this is we have to work with, hmmm? Son of the greatest pilot Obi-Wan ever met cannot manage a simple landing? Make lemonade, when lemons life hands you. Into character time to get.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Scooter on Hassock, by Jeffrey, 9/11/08

Scooter on the Hassock
by Jeffrey
September 11, 2008
Pencil on lined notebook paper, 8.5" x 11"

Scooter the Cat smiles happily as he poses on a hassock in the foreground. Background elements and details, from left to right: Pantry closet door; doorway into kitchen; kitchen table and chair, with hanging light (turned on) above; Joseph; parlor lightswitch; endtable with lamp; couch with tissue box and tissue, above; far right: edge of coffee table with remote control holder and oversized novelty pen.

This ultra-realistic composition displays a layout that exactly corresponds to the area depicted. The smile on Scooter's face lends an air of whimsy to his serenely Sphinx-like pose. Note the detail on the lamp base and tissue box.

The Virtual Refrigerator

The refrigerator is the traditional posting place for children's artwork. But the refrigerator has several disadvantages as an exhibit space: it has relatively little space for the artwork; the posted art is constantly subjected to stress as the doors of the refrigerator and freezer are opened and closed; and the refrigerator is usually located in the kitchen, where humidity and smoke and aerosolized grease can adversely affect any exhibited art. In time the artwork becomes weathered, and desperately in need of restoration. Sadly, it is too often the case that funds for proper restoration have not been budgeted, so the artwork is often shelved or, in some cases, discarded.

Not so with The Virtual Refrigerator. Here, artwork can be preserved electronically and shared with visitors from around the world. So I officially open this exhibition space with a portrait of myself, done by one of the two artists whose work shall be the primary focus of this site. Enjoy, and come back often!

If you would like to post some of your little artists' creations here, just drop me a line!

Portrait, June 21, 2005
by Jeffrey
pencil on pink notepaper, 3.5"x3.5"
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