I’ve not posted here for some time because, well, I’ve had my hands full with giant puppetry. Yes, that is correct. In late January, I was selected by La Reunion, a Dallas arts organization, as one of 15 local artists to create massive puppets for The Parade of Giants, one of several signature events to commemorate the opening of the new Margaret Hill Hunt Bridge that spans from downtown Dallas to West Dallas. For the better part of 6 weeks, I’ve been pretty much immersed in building a very big puppet. How big? About 14 ft.
The puppets represented West Dallas notable figures; most were honorable citizens, a couple weren’t. I was happy to have one of the latter: Bonnie Parker, the notorious bandit/poetress from the 1930s, who, with her partner Clyde Barrow, remains infamous to this day.
The event was designed as a community affair to bring awareness to West Dallas history, so each artist was teamed with a West Dallas organization. Mine was The Fort Worth Avenue Development Group and they are a great bunch of people. I couldn’t have built Bonnie without their assistance and enthusiasm. I documented my progress in photos on my facebook art page, The Gretchen Show, so hop over there if you’re interested in seeing how she started as nothing more than a humble piece of cardboard and some bamboo poles. This is a great video clip from the Dallas Morning News of the parade itself. See more of Jeff Baker’s work here.
The weeks of preparation and the parade itself were an inspiring experience for me. To see all of the artists’ and volunteers hard work come together in a visually dazzling procession, displayed against the magnificent backdrop of the Calatrava-designed bridge and the Dallas skyline, was a once-in-a-lifetime event. Thousands of people lined Singleton Avenue and the bridge itself; to parade my artwork down the middle of it all along with the other giant puppets, artists and volunteers and see so many delighted faces was a thrill and an honor.
Many thanks to David Lyles, Catherine Horsey, Nicole Horn, Janet Longstreth, Jan and Richard Doherty, Jennifer Snow, Katherine Homan, Ken Smith, Deborah Carpenter, Savannah Deering, my mom, Annie Byrd Goetz, who crocheted Bonnie’s giant beret, and Ron Veech, the brave man who actually carried Bonnie on his back (under her skirt!) for the better part of two hours; having a real person walk the puppet brought her to life.