July 31, 2012

Long live cheap art

Last Sunday, we fell down a rabbit hole.

One that led us to a wonderland of open fields, free-spirited people, and larger-than-life puppets. And art. Whimsical, touching, down-and-dirty, cheap, and above all, irresistibly human.

This wonderland is called Bread and Puppet. Have you ever heard of it? It is tucked away in the hills of Vermont, in the village of Glover. Composed of full-time members and volunteers, Bread and Puppet is a "political theater": their representations and pageants are largely inspired by the political and social injustice happening around the world. Without lecturing, they will make you laugh (at the world? at yourself?) and get their message across.

We toured the old barn filled with puppets. We watched the Possibilitarian Circus perform in a field. We participated in the pageant! Do you remember dressing up and putting on shows for your parents when you were children? This is what it felt like. Hand-written posters, makeshift costumes, and boundless enthusiasm. Kids of all ages making art happen. And in the midst of it all, Peter Schumann, the founder, rocking the tallest stilts I've ever seen. Forget about age! When you step out onto their field, there is an irresistible urge to take your shoes off and be part of it all.

What struck a chord in me is their cheap art philosophy. "Art is food!" "Art is cheap!" "Art is for everyone!" they say. Anyone can make art. Look around you, use what you have, and let your creativity loose. Isn't that a great way of thinking?

Have you ever been to Bread and Puppet? Have you heard of them? Would you like to go?


  1. Never heard of this but it sounds really good. I like this kind of art, with an obvious meaning but still interesting to look at and enjoy. (don't like the kind of paint-thrown-at-a-canvas-because-I'm-angry art much!) Something that can actually capture your imagination and is meaningful at the same time is best! :)

  2. Yes! I'm not much of an "angry art" person myself. If I make something, it has got to be made out of passion or fun or positive inspiration and I look for the same features in other artists.