Eugene, Oregon is home to a unique art form: Jello. This long-standing tradition is a single day of wiggly, bright, and funny art that takes place each year at the Maude Kerns Art Center.
Hear from the Slug Queen of Eugene, the artists, and the crowd as they discuss the humorous, witty, and edible aspects of the show.
Jello Art Show
Transcription by Jade Rainsong
(Karen:) So here we are at the Jello Art Show at Maude Kerns Art Center and the year is 2018. I’m really excited to be here. There’s all kinds of activity. It’s a really fun scene with incredible Jello art and we are here speaking with this wonderful woman, Diane who is dressed… I can’t even describe what you’re wearing. Help me explain to the audience what you’re wearing.
(Dianne:) Well, I’m the queen of Jello are so this is one of my many queen costumes inJello. We like to reflect the colorfulness of it and the playfulness of it. So I like to mix patterns and colors..
(Karen:) And your headdress!
(Dianne:) My crown, this is my official crown.I have other head things that I wear, but I was crowned in 2012 in a surprise show. So I just it was supposed to be Queen for a day but I decided that I didn’t want to give it up. So now I am the one and only Queen of Jello art.
(Karen:) Do you have a piece in the show?
(Dianne:) I have many pieces in the show because it’s the 30th show. I brought some of my older pieces back. I work in dried Jello mainly which is kind of permanent. So I’m able to spend a lot more time on it and do really complex pieces. I don’t they don’t jiggle. I’ve lost the jigglebut I still have the great qualities of the transparency and the colors.
(Karen:) And they look like bouquets of flowers where the petals are really transparent with all these different colors and it’s such an interesting medium. I never thought you could do that with Jello.
(Dianne:) Yeah, I like the flowers because the pieces as they dry, they sort of distort themselves. And so they make petal shapes and leaf shapes really naturally. So it’s really fun to make the flowers. It’s kind of like making paper flowers. You just kind of the same techniques.
(Karen:) And where did you get the idea to make those?
(Dianne:) I’ve been aJello artist for 30 years. So I always challenge myself to try something different and someone else actually pioneered the use of dried Jello. She brought flowers one year and I didn’t do them at first. I like the jiggly pieces, too. But once I tried the driedJello I didn’t want to let go of it. I really I’ve done some amazing things with it. I’ve screen printed on it. I’ve made a heron that’s as tall as I am. I’ve made big pieces. It’s just completely fun.
(Karen:) I love how when you say that you’ve printed on it there. It looks like plastic like clear almost it’s so transparent. It’s hard to believethat’s Jello. How did how did you get it like that?
(Dianne:) Well, I challenged myself to make flat Jello because I was talking about Jello and I told somebody well, I don’t think you could even make flat Jello so then I had to try it and it wasn’t as hard as I thought. So once I have the flat Jello it because it’s like paper to me. I thought well, I’ll draw on it. I happen to have a broken heel at the time. So I was laid up in my chair and I decided to make an autobiographical piece and that’s what that is. And itkind of goes through my life as an artist with some of the aspects. That’s great in printer. So I tried screen printing on the flat pieces and that did work. So, you know, it’s really fun to try different techniques.This year I had to make gold Jellobecause it was our theme.
(Karen:) I see it right over here in this bouquet.
(Dianne:) It’s easier than I thought it would be and I just love it. It’s really glorious.
(Karen:) How did you get a gold like that?
(Dianne:) I just I had some powders that like you mix into. So I just mix the powder into the gelatin and voila. It was a lot simpler than I expected.
(Karen:) Wow. It’s beautiful work. So 30 years, Wow. Have you done other artwork to and other mediums? There’s this primarily your medium?
(Dianne:) I’m a crafts person. I’ve sold at the market since 1975. So I have done many other mediums mostly screen printing. I’ve been doing that forabout the same like the time 30 years and I did I made this at design. I do I sew and I do all kinds of different things.
(Karen:) I do love your incredible crown, you’ve got Jello boxes of multi colors like a rainbow on here some someJello art in different fancy colors. It kind of reminds me of Mardi Gras this kind of wild and everywhere and these t-shirts are selling your fabulous to Jello goes gold. That’s a great theme for this year. All right, and guess who just walked in, theSlug Queen of Eugene is here at the JelloArt Show at Maude Kerns Art Center. So Mija is in all her incredible finery with really long eyelashes and let’s hear from her the slug Queen here at sunset. Eliza Refugio Babosita did I get that right?
(Mija:) Very close. Santa Frida Elisa RefugiaBaboSita.
(Karen:) Oh, thank you so much for reminding me. Yes. Yes indeed. So tell me a little bit about the Slug Queen’s role here at the JelloArt Show.
(Mija:) Well, I get to kind of start the party off and welcome everybody. Thank you so much for the wonderful welcome and welcome to all of you. I am Santa Frida Babosita Santa Elisa Refugio Babosita actually and I am not only your raining Queen. I am the patron slug of arts and culture and to me,nothing represents the culture of Eugene more than AnnualJelloArt Show. I really believe that art is a place where we can unite not only the culture that were born into but the culture that we create is a community and this is such a testimony the JelloArt Show to me is so Eugene and it’s asEugene as Skinner’s Butte, as Eugene Saturday market. Ducks and slugs, it is so Eugene.
(Karen:) And so does the Slug Queen every year come to the Jello show?
(Mija:) Usually yes, I think I understand there might have been a couple of like Queens who missed it because of prior engagements, but it is customary for the Slug Queen to be present. Yes.
(Karen:) So you’re reigning over the event.
(Mija:) Raining as presiding I in conjunction with the Jello Queen and JelloKnight. So there is Jello royalty here. (laughs)
(Karen:) I think I met some of them earlier and you have an incredible flower crown bouquet on all and colors of yellow and lime green chartreuse your incredible outfit. That is tell me a little bit more about that again, I believe it’s from Oaxaca.
(Mija:) Yes. Yes. It’s from a region of Oaxaca called Tehuantepec. And Tehuana culture is very matriarchal and the women wear these long skirts, a lot of them have big lace around the bottom and this one in particular which is embroidered velvet is one of their more special dresses that they wear for special occasions.
(Karen:) Yeah, and you have a slug crawling across your forehead, a green glittery beautiful slug. Tell us about that.
(Mija:) Well, it is my unibrow. Of course, it resides with me all the time and it is the myhomage of course to Frida Kahlo.
(Karen:) And she is your namesake and your icon here that you’re representing as a Slug Queen this year.
(Mija:) Exactly. Well, I am the patron slug of arts and culture. So Frida seems like she’d be the perfect icon for that.
(Karen:) That’s great. Have you ever made any Jello art yourself?
(Mija:) No, actually, I cannot say that I have.It is a pretty unique medium to use and I’ve enjoyed this show for many, many years. My daughter and I usually come to this and really get a kick out of what’s created here.To me,It’s kind of the epitome of Eugene and Eugene culture, which I really love just definitely a testimony to the creativity and imagination that many Eugeneans have.
(Karen:) Like a lot of the same people that come to the Slug Queen competition and coronation, which is a ton of fun.
(Mija:) Exactly. Exactly. Do you have a favorite piece here, too? I haven’t seen them all yet. So until I could see them all I cannot pick a favorite. One of the things I just wanted to say to you all to is that I really feel like the culture that we create a community culture that we create is something that we can do on a daily basis.
It’s something that we bring and created our community, but we can do it in really small ways even in the way that we greet each other on the street. And it can be in the way that we share and listen to each other’s stories, and it can be in the way that we not only share our talents and our passions but encourage each other’s talents and passions, and for each other to share them.And I think that’s so important because when we’re creating community culture we want to think about how will you do this on a daily basis?
What are we doing today? To really create the community culture that we want and I really feel like art is one of the best places to do that and that’s why it’s part of my campaign as a Slug Queen because it’s one of the ways that we can unite and heat and unify in our creativity and we all have ways that we’re creative.
Whether it’s a way you bake your pie or do your hair or dress up we all have the ways that we’re creative in the world not just artists and dancers and musicians… we’re all creative and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to share with each other.
(Karen:) Well, we’re so glad you’re here gracing us with your presence and your beauty and your delightful love.
(Mija:) Of course, it is my pleasure.
(Karen:) Love to see this the queen out and about supporting arts and culture in our community. You do a great job.
(Mija:) So what I’m all about I’m reallybeing out there and encouraging people to be creative and support each other in their creativity and talents and skills and passions and I really feel like art is one of those places where we can come together and celebrate and so I’m happy to be part of it as well.
(Karen:) All right. You heard it here right from her slimy mouth… The Slug Queen of Eugene. Thank you so much.
(Mija:) My pleasure, darling.
(David:) Hi, my name is David Gibbs. I’m a Jello artist in Portland and Eugene. This is my 22nd entry in the JelloArt Show.
(Karen:) So this is an incredible work of art here. It really stands out in the show. I think.So,can you tell me a little bit about what inspired you and about what we’re looking at in this art?
(David:) Last summer I was trying to think because this is the 30th show I needed to do something, and I brag that the one art show I enter is not a competitive thing, but I always find myself kind of being competitive with myself of how can I have a….So I knew that I wanted to do something that I couldn’t bring in from the car like something that was going to be so big that it wouldn’t fit in the car or so delicate or…So when I got here at 1:30 none of this was attached to anything, everything was just in boxes.
(Karen:) This is the one with lots of different balls and almost look like floats from the ocean and they’re colorful and round like kind of like beads on a necklace strand with wire running through them.
(David:) Yeah, And so there’s a giant like two-and-a-half -two and a half feet across orb.And all these were balloons covered in gelatin. It shrunk down some. So the giant balloon, thankfully made it. There’s a disco ball in there just kind of to add light but it looks more like water than anything.
(Karen:) It’s fantastic. It’s spinning and glowing.
(David:) Yeah. Well, I made all these last October and I thought I’ll figure out what to do with them. And so they sat in laundry baskets for about four well until last week.
(Karen:) So there’s a lot of preservatives I guess in Jello-they didn’t go bad.
(David:) This is gelatin. So there’s not sugar in it and you know can sit out for a long period of time.And some ended up being really nice even spheres and some dried weird, but I wanted to show off just this the different shapes that it can take.
(Karen:) What inspires you to do this every year?
(David:) Like, once you just keep doing it.I mean, I’ve been knighted… on my 20th year Queen Diane knighted me.
(Karen:) Wow. So fantastic.
(David:) It made me up my game in the costume department.
(Karen:) So it sounds like it’s a creative outlet, just a lot of fun for you.
(David:)Yeah,I know there are people here who I only know through here and there people who I’ve known since I moved to Eugene in 94. Who always come to this.
(Karen:) And tell it sounds like a community.
(David:) Totally, totally.
(Karen:) And how long did it take you to put this together? How hard was it to make this?
(David:) I have no idea. I couldn’t even begin to guess how long it took to make the actual pieces because it was just like one continual mess in my dining room… like six different gooey balls hanging from the light while they dried.Yeah, I have no idea. When you’re doing a three hour art show… I put in a ridiculous…Ridiculous is the answer to that.
(Karen:) A ridiculous amount of time.
(David:) Yeah. I’m really yeah. I’m really pleased. I actually like the outcome better than the vision.
(Karen:) It came out great. Thank you for sharing Dave.
(Barbara:) My name is Barbara Council.
(Karen:) So are you an artist here with JelloArt Show?
(Barbara:) Oh, I’m an artist but I do not have a piece in the JelloArt Show.
(Karen:) And what is your favorite piece here that you’ve seen so far?
(Barbara:) I like this one over here by Pete Mason. It’s titled “Hail to the Chief”. I think it’s hilarious and very well done.
(Karen:) Can you describe it for me?
(Barbara:) Yeah it has two pictures of the Chief, Donald Trump, our President and it’s surrounded by these beautiful swirly colors, and his expressions are you know, very Trump-ish.
(Karen:) And so it’s got blobs of Jello,it looks like.In a rainbow pattern around it on like a flat pattern. It’s pretty gaudy I think, but fun.
(Barbara:) I think it is too. And it’s bright. And the shapes, um, Yeah, they’re pretty.. they’re pretty blobby.And they’re jiggling a little bit too, I guess.
(Karen:) Looks a little creepy around the face of him there.So do you come every year to the show?
(Barbara:) When I can. I think that this is my third Jello show.
(Karen:) Fantastic and what kind of art do you do in the community?
(Barbara:) Oh, I make illustrations and portrait paintings. So kind of some whimsical illustrations of characters and paintings of nature, things like that.
(Karen:) Fantastic.And so what’s your impression of the overall event happening here?
(Barbara:) I think every year there’s a really good hearted vibe, the people who make the Jello, it’s surprising how… to see how they manipulate it. So I’m kind of impressed with the work itself and it’s a … there’s always some beautiful stuff.Jello’s very colorful. So it’s really nice. And then of course they have the theme JelloGoes Gold. So this year is kind of about… there’s a lot of gold trophies and things like that paired with the Jello.
(Karen:) So it’s pretty fun, I think.
(Barbara:) Yeah, always fun.
(Karen:) Yeah, it’s quite a scene. It reminds me of the Slug Queen Coronation and Competition. So fun and colorful and so bright and creative.
(Barbara:) Yeah, I think so, too.That’s why people like it. It’s just a one-day little show was just so much fun, you know, and we can enjoy a show a good fun show by the radar angels and everyone always has a good time.
(Karen:) So great. Thank you so much.
(Karen:) So,Dave just won an award here at the JelloArt Show… and it’s a golden Barbie on some kind of a spaceship that she’s straddling with some kind of crazy duck in the front. It’s pretty wild but, it’s incredible. Congratulations, Dave.
(David:) Thank you. I’ve been awarded the Jello Freedom Award.
(Karen:) All right, it’s pretty… oh man. I need a picture of that is crazy.
(David:) Pardon me while I go update my resume.
(Karen:) This is an incredible piece of artwork over here. Can you explain to me what’s going on here?
(Holly:) Yeah, I’ve looked at the diagram over here. It’s not my art but I’ve read the diagram and the Writ of Habeas Tater Corpus. And so what’s going on and this happens every year here at the JelloArt Show is DoctorWangensteinsends his lab assistant over to put up his experiment of the year.His lab assistant’s over there. Andso every year we see his experiment of the year, but then it gets shut down by the SPCACT which is the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Anatomically Correct Tubers. The word on the potatoes right on the Potato Heads every year. It’s got the Potato Heads doing some sort of experiment.This year it’s not so bad this year. You’ve got he’s tricked potato heads to come in and play in poker.
(Karen:) So there’s a miniature poker game going on with some plastic Mr. Potato games.
It has Mr. Potato Head is here every year because that’s what Dr. Wangenstein specializes in is experimentation on potato heads. So this year he’s got them playing cards or playing Liars Poker or Blind Man’s Bluff. They’re drinking Spudweiser. And so there’s putting out a lot of hot air. So he’s got the collection hood here to collect all that hot air and you can see how comes over in the tube. And it comes over here to the gauge to measure how hot the hot air is and when the lies are particularly strong then the fractionator comes on…
(Karen:) And this device here on the table…it looks sort of Steampunk.
(Holly:) Well, it’s a high powered device. It takes a lot of electricity. So it has the extra ground in the back there. And then and then it takes the really toxic lies the really hot air and concentrates it here into the T-Rumps BaldFace Elixir.
(Karen:) It’s a blueliquid in a jar with a stopper on.
(Holly:) It has a lot of resemblance to blueJello.
(Karen:) Oh, yes indeed.
(Holly:) And you use it for when the truth just won’t do. The average BS just gets vented off here over in the afterburners in the burners here.And I think that’s part of why the SPCACT has shutthis down is that would be really hazardous for us to have that on now, right? Definitely.
(Karen:) There’s another tater tonic bitters jar that’s orange fluid in the back.
(Holly:) This was from last year’s experiment. And so this was from it was the Tater Tonic Bitters. He was actually compressing the tubers last year in distilling the essence of the spud into the tonic bitters.
(Karen:) It’s T-Rumps Tater Tonic bitters, which is great.“Good for what ails you” it says on there.
(Holly:) Right but this year there’s just a lot more BS.A lot more hot air.
(Karen:) Exponentially going up. I can see the crowd laughing here behind me.
(Holly:) Just that’s why it’s the Elixir this year. It’s stronger than bitters.
(Karen:) So do you think this year will get a more stronger concentrated dose of The Boldface Elixir here from all the hot air being generated?
(Holly:) There’s a lot of beer been drunk a lot of Spudweiser has been drunk there hasn’t it? And there’s been a lot of card playing and I can see that there’s somebody’s got some good cards and somebody’s got some bad cards.So there’s got to be a lot of bluffing and BS going on there exactly.
(Karen:) Thank you very much. And what is your name?
(Holly:) My name is Holly. I just made a different art over there.
(Karen:) Oh great. So you’re an artist here at the Jello Art Show.
(Holly:) It’s the only art I can do is Jello.
(Karen:) And why is that somehow?
(Holly:) I’m not intimidated by Jello.
(Karen:)I hear you. I think yeah, I wouldn’t be either that sounds like a lot of fun, right?
(Holly:) Everybody should make some art out of Jello and bring it down every year for the Maude Kerns Jello Art Show.
(Karen:) And how many years have you been doing?
(Karen:) Wow. Fantastic. That’s a lot.
(Holly:) I don’t do any other art. That’s the only art I know how to do.
(Karen:) So you’re passionate about this show in particular,itsounds like.
(Holly:) So anybody can make a Jello art if I can, right?
(Karen:) There you go. And what was your artwork that you put in the show?
(Holly:) The slugs going for the gold.
(Karen:) All right, great because it’s a gold theme this year. Thank you so much, Holly.
(Karen:) I see you looking around at the Jello art here. Is this your first time to the Jello Art Show here? Or have you been here before?
(Unknown:)This is my first time for me and my boys.
(Karen:) How old are your kids?
(Unknown:) I’ve got Vaughn here who’s 4 and Cash is 9.
(Karen:) And are they enjoying themselves?
(Unknown:) They are there especially enjoying the pancake cupcakes and all the Jello snacks that come along.
(Karen:) Right, I’m sure that’s probably a big draw for the kids. I see a lot of kids here today and the Jello art is amazing. There’s so many different things here… did you have any idea you could make these this amount of things with Jello?
(Unknown:) I had no idea. I’ve especially the …on the wall…they have the hanging of the yarn that was dyed with Jello. It’s fascinating that just great. It’s more than just a mold.
(Karen:) Who knew, right? I’m and the incredible amount of things…there are flat. There’s things that hang on the wall, there’s sculptures. There’s even a woman that makes bouquets of roses with the plasticy looking very thin transparent Jello. So are you an artist yourself? What do you do?
(Unknown:) No, art appreciator, but not so much.
(Karen:) Have you been to Maude Kerns Art Center before?
(Unknown:) I have, I grew up in the area. So we used to come down here quite a bit for different exhibits.
(Karen:) Are you looking forward to anything else here tonight?
(Unknown:) Looking forward… I know the boys want to see the Slug Queen. So we’re excited for that. And spending some time with friends and watching the Jello art.
(Karen:) We’re glad you’re here. Thank you.
(Mija:) So without further ado, really what I want to do is I want us all to participate in some celebration together and Carlo is gonna start us up. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to do dancing and we’re gonna dance like Jello. So I encourage all of you to do your best Jello dancing imitations and I’ll get y’all started. Dance with the queen. Jiggle it!