Art meets Play

Art is how I play at Life. Life doesn't make any promises, and some of the packages it delivers are just plain hard to take. That doesn't mean they aren't delivered to the right address. We have the ultimate choice of learning from everything. But when I am stuck on wanting my own way, I have to bust through it and art is how I do it.

My serious nature is best composted through regular exercise of the ridiculous. I love the humor of animals, very young children, pantomime, rhyming and puns. I prefer Deaf humor and the Blue Man Group to most other funny business, because it is so intensely visual and physical. My cat is the comic yogi of all time, in his enchantment with wiggly objects. He has a ruthless hunger for play only punctuated by his...um, distinctive appearance. This pan-faced, flatheaded cat looks bit like a bass with hair...in an owl hat. He received honorary membership in Fred Flinstone's Order of the Water Buffalos as a kitten. Though I find him totally adorable and cunning beyond belief, he looks...funny!

When guest curator Elizabeth Lamb contacted me about a show of works on paper called "Play for Keeps" at the Tribute Gallery in Portland's Pearl district, I immediately thought of favorite author, James Thurber. I grabbed a 1957 book cover I'd salvaged from a torn edition of the delightful allegory, "The Wonderful O". It is a must-read tale of how the letter "O" is stolen from the alphabet, begetting all kinds of communication mayhem and what happens to restore the O to the people of the island. It is classic Thurber: exquisite, linguistically superb, hilarious and intelligent. The title alone evoked a tangent of visual puns in paper that broadcast like waves of music, enjoining other humorous takes on the meaning of "O". How can one resist a little scintillating innuendo? But I noticed after it was done, my deep connection to the orgasmic humor I enjoy because of my cat. And, well, another double entendre. Good, deep humor is as sensually tantalizing as any other joy. Smart girls know the value of a good O:

"The Wonderful O
should not be so, so.
Nay, rather it be,
spectacular glee"

Then I noticed what the piece looks like! Puns. Wow.