Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pumpkins & Dress Up

We are now a few days past Halloween, but in my little corner at least, the really good stuff didn’t show up until this morning. I got email from a friend with some photos of carved pumpkins attached. Almost couldn’t believe my eyes looking at pictures of these fantastic creations. Very obviously, the art of pumpkin carving has come a long way since the days of a zigzag mouth, a triangular nose and eye holes. This kind of halloween fun is clearly unrelated to the half-sharp knife and Mommy’s help that many associate with carving pumpkins. The wonderfully ghoulish pumpkins in the photos here are the work of Scott Cummins and Ray Villafane in Bellaire, Michigan. The background of these October marvels is rooted in Ray’s work with D.C. and Marvel comics designing models. The two artists use such tools as spoons, garden spades and scalpels to carve and slice their vegetable monsters.

Ray says that the choice of a pumpkin is critical, that weight plays a big part. A lightweight pumpkin is indication that the wall is not thick enough for the extreme carving. He also likes irregular pumpkins, those that have knobs and ridges which can enhance the ugly misshapen features.

Ray got his start carving pumpkins as an art teacher when the school asked him to do some Halloween decoration. His inspiration was to treat the vegetable as a piece of clay with infinite possibilities. Well, it worked.


Still dazzled by the pumpkins, I read a story on CNN by their weekly columnist David Frum, telling me that the origins of Halloween are not to be found in Celtic folklore—as many have long believed—but in modern gay culture. Huh? Wait a second. Run that by me again. Quoting directly from the former GW Bush aide’s CNN article… ‘To understand the GLOBAL APPEAL of the Halloween holiday, go back to it’s origins. Those origins are not found in mythic Celtic folklore, but in modern gay culture.’ Ah, okay. It’s the origins of the holiday’s global appeal the writer is getting at.

Mr Frum reminds us that Halloween has become overwhelmingly an adult holiday, with adults spending substantially more on costumes for themselves than for children. He traces the “adult dress-up party” to San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, which blossomed as a gay mecca in the 1970s. According to the writer, the craze for “Gay Halloween” spread to other cities, and by the 1980s had reached West Hollywood, Key West and Greenwich Village. Apparently Frum drew some of his evidence from a 1994 book by Jerry Kugelmass, Masked Culture, which describes Halloween (in 1994) as an emerging gay “high holiday.”

And now, he says, the straights are imitating the gays.

Complete article here.

1 comment:

  1. Wait, wait, wait. What about the Global Appeal of carving pumpkins with sharp knives? Probably according to "writer" David Frum, the modern art of carving pumpkins is a redirection of the obsession to actually carve people up. Unlike Hannibal Lecter who removed skull caps and feasted on brains (with a good Chianti wine), these guys must just be content to imitate the act by tasting pumpkin innards while carving their scary creations.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America