Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Clowns Never Lie"

clowns never lie
Originally uploaded by A/V Geeks
Ever since my first trip to Houston, I've loved visiting the Orange Show. I found a kindred spirit with creator, the late Jeff McKissick--a man whose orange obsession grew to a monumental scale. During that first visit, I got this shirt (seen to the left). It's my favorite t-shirt. I wear it all the time. In lines, I can see people moving their lips reading the shirt and then wrinkling their brow in bafflement. Occasionally, someone will ask me what it means. I try to explain the Orange Show as one man's tribute to the orange fruit and that the text is from one of the exhibits.

In 2007, when taking my Dad to see the Orange Show, I met the head of the organization. She was very enthusiastic about me doing a film show there. I was super excited. On subsequent visits to the Orange Show, I realized that my favorite shirt was no longer available for purchase - it was out-of-print and there were no plans to reprint it. My shirt was getting pretty ragged and I wanted to get a new one. I decided that I would create a film show based on the t-shirt in the hope that new shirts would be printed. Sure enough, they did print new shirts (although now they are a burnt orange - almost brown - shirt). While not listed on their website, email or call them to buy a shirt.

I put together a presentation with films that were influenced by the Orange Show, films about clowns, lying and of course, oranges.

Citrus On Parade (late 194?) Sunkist
Shows orange and lemon groves where year-round pickers clip the fruit. Demonstrates packing and grading and suggests ways to serve the fruit. The film was in beautiful Kodachrome and was filled with glorious assembly line footage AND shots of various citrus recipes! An 9 year old girl next to me kept saying "This is just a commercial for Sunkist!"

Self-Image: If Mirrors Could Speak (1976) Sandler
Robbie, Laurie, and George all are able to make positive contributions in their class. Instead, all have become 'clowns'. Robbie is the sad clown. Laurie is the sneaky clown. George is the mischievous clown. We see their antics in the classroom, in the lunch area, and on the playground. The results are always the same, but they remain oblivious to the reactions of their friends and classmates.

Lying (1975) Filmation
A seven foot tall, morbidly obese urban African-American kid and his gang (aka Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids) learn how lies can get you in trouble. Explains that the gang's friend, Eddie, is back from Florida, where he says he wrestled alligators. Relates that the kids believe him and ask him to show them how to do it. Tells that everyone winds up covered with mud and wringing wet. Concludes with Eddie telling them that they should make up a story to tell their parents to avoid being reprimanded. At this point the kids realize that Eddie is a liar and has cried 'wolf' one too many times.

Toothache of A Clown (1972) Encyclopedia Britannica
I've shown this film a bunch (Best of 4, Schooladelic, Save Those Teeth) since it is such a crowd pleaser. Not only does it feature a creepy clown but it has some outrageous dream sequence with a kid dentist and teeth with hands and legs. The need for regular dental care is shown in this charming story about a sad clown with a toothache. As they treat the aching tooth, the dentist gives advice about cutting down on sweets, brushing properly and visiting the dentist regularly. The 9 year old girl next to me commented that this film would have scared more kids than it would have helped..

Orange and Blue (1969)
Provides a visual perspective of the world as seen by two child-like personalities, orange and blue. Juxtaposes visual images with a musical score. An experimental film using color and music to create moods. Follows the adventures of an orange ball and a blue ball as they play in the countryside and in a junkyard. Besides having an orange ball, all the metal and junkyard footage is very reminiscent of the Orange Show. While I was screening this film, a 12 year old kid wisecracked "This film was made by a hippie with a movie camera in a junkyard with two balls!"

A Boy Creates (1971) Encyclopedia Britannica
I just saw this film days before the show and had to add it to the screening. Besides featuring clowns, the film typified the Orange Show of Visionary Art experience. It pictures a young (African-American!) sculptor as he creates his masterpiece of 'JUNK ART,' pointing out the ability of an artist to transform existing materials into meaningful and imaginative figures or patterns. This film was very well received by the audience. Watching again, I'm pretty sure I saw this film as a kid...

Photos from the event can be found here.

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