Eight arms in eight different directions, Ophelia Octopus reaches through ocean currents swirling around the globe stitching together the flotsam and jetsam of what the sea brings to her. In her tentacles, she can weave tapestries of seaweed sashes or handbags with steam punk styled buckles taken from the gears of a marine chronometer Ophelia had found in the belly of sunken ship. A master of mixed metaphor, Ophelia combines unlike elements into gorgeously sewn accoutrements.
Oliver and Olivia Owls:
The Painter of the People, Oliver Owls makes massive public murals fluttering up into the eaves and rafters of government buildings and barnyards, anywhere “the people” may look up and witness a bit of beauty to enliven their workaday lives. While Oliver likes big and bold public art installations, Olivia Owls is the “Painter of the Personal” whose work is pensive and private, exploring the inner life of an artistic Owl’s mind in the modern world. While Oliver passionately swoops and dives wildly through the air with a brush in his beak, Olivia balances on a branch calmly controlling her brush with a few accurate, technically controlled, sweeps.
Max got his musical big break on the mean streets of London, holding a tin cup for change and performing somersault flips while his master cranked away on street organ grinder. The busquing life honed Max’s musical brilliance till the day he escaped his master, and set off on his own as a traveling minstrel toward the mythical town of Missoula. Whether it’s wind, percussion, or strings, Max can play four of them at one time while doing handstands down Higgins street.
After defeating the Troll under the bridge in the famous Battle of the Billie Goats Gruff, Gustaf retired to the landfill hills to fatten himself up on trash. The only thing Gustaf loves more than eating trash is tinkering with trash until it becomes an entirely new and beautiful thing. If it’s not edible, then it can probably be cut, glued, mashed up, and mutated into a number of new possibilities. Gustaf gathers from the back alleys of Missoula, always keeping a suspicious eye out for any new Trolls that might appear under Missoula’s bridges.
Bisty and Billie Birds:
When Billie met Bisty, it wasn’t just the bright colors of her feathers and her fiery beak that drew him in, it was also the bangled wires she wrapped around her wing tips and the petal wings she smoothed into her crown. Que bonita! he said and flew down stealing a Christmas ornament hook, a holly berry, and a scrap of string—all of which he fashioned into a ring and married her on the spot. Billie and Bisty line their nests with sparkling stones or shining copper wire or a scrap of ribbon flung from an opened present. Each year, after the children have finally flown off, they get sad, so they take their empty nests and twist them into jewelry gifts for all the four and two legged animals to wear.
Stocky, thick, and barrel chested, when he stands on his hind legs on his longboard, Brock Badger looks like a California beach Bro’, but when he’s not surfing Brennan’s wave, he’s testing out his latest backpack designs while clawing his way to a peak. Despite his vacant stare, Brock Badger does appreciate the finer points in life, namely watching the way the flies he ties cast and drift. Brock may not be the smartest of the bunch, but his big heart for the outdoors makes him everyone’s favorite badger Bro’.
Ella Elk was born three decades too late. She makes up for it by crossing New Jack Swing era hats with Fame era leg warmers and faux Polynesian Tiki grass skirt styled dresses. And she pulls it off fabulously! So much so that many a missoulian looks to Ella’s fashion sense to get the latest in mixing and matching of all things wearable. Ella leads the pack with her own eclectic style often designing her own clothes or raiding her mother’s attic for the latest in moth ball couture.
Sammy Skunk smells—everything! That precious pink nose of hers can sniff out the strongest roots and herbs for any ailment. Banished by the other forest animals who feared her stink and used to laugh and call her names, Sammy spent her formative years alone with no one to talk to but the plants. And one day, the plants answered her with bitter and sweet odors that revealed each plant’s healing strengths. Sammy became a healer and soother of animal ailments. Then all the reindeer (and other animals) loved her, and they shouted out with glee, “Sammy Skunk, you’ll go down in history!” And she did. Sammy Skunk is now a voluptuous sex symbol with her own reality TV show, a twitter feed twice the size of China, and a fine line of her signature fragrances and cosmetics exclusively available at the Missoula Made Fair and other high end retailers. She has no time or interest for reindeer games. Nobody laughs or calls her names.
Wilhelmina Worm literally lives and breathes in the mud. No, really. It keeps her skin moist so she won’t dry out and suffocate on the sidewalk. So while she’s above ground, she stays busy on her pottery wheel wrapping her body around wet clay and spinning it up and out into beautiful forms. Shy at first, Wilhelmina would leave her finished pottery pieces out to bake in the sun and quickly vanish underground. Her pottery created such crowds and commotions down at Caras Park that eventually a kind curator from the Missoula Art Museum offered to collect her art. Wilhelmina Worm still prefers to keep a low profile and kick it underground; she lets the ceramics speak for themselves.
Injured in a logging accident while downing trees for the Beavertown Dam, Winston Woodchuck retreated to an isolated cabin in the woods to lick his wounds and do battle with the existential demon that now plagued his life—how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck couldn’t chuck wood?
One year later, Winston Woodchuck emerged wearing a black turtleneck and horn rimmed glasses for the unveiling of his magnum opus entitled Gnash. Immediately, Gnash sent shockwaves through the art world and intelligentsia, garnering landslides of critical acclaim.
“Such bite marks! Such controlled fury in the lines!” wrote one art critic, “clearly it’s as if Picasso himself has been reborn among us bearing powerful buck teeth against the ennui of our angst ridden world!”
“No other artist has so boldy faced the post-modern crisis of identity with such masticated frenzy and passion,” wrote another.
Tormented by the publicity, Winston turned his back to the galleries and endowments, and changed his name to the “the artist formerly known as Winston” immediately after the release of Gnash. His sophomore work Gnarl doubled his fame and acclaim, forcing “the artist formerly known as Winston” to change his name again to “W”.
Older, re-married, a father of two, and freshly out of rehab, “W” released the much more private and personal work entitled Chew. Absolutely nobody noticed.
Happily, “W” changed his name back to “Winston Woodchuck” and moved his family to Missoula, Montana where he enjoys making chainsaw art and long walks on the beach.
Shunned by the Easter Bunny, blacklisted by the Union of Santa’s Elves, Bonnie Bunny took matters into her own hands and founded the Mercenaries of Merriment Guild (MMG). What started as small, calculated hit and run raids leaving toys on sleeping kids’ heads in the off season while her rivals rested, has now swelled into Black Friday-esque pushing matches as throngs of parents fight for the chance to shove their kid on her lap for a picture. Don’t be fooled by little Bonnie with her big doughy eyes and balloons. She’s an up and coming kingpin hungry for the lion’s share of the market. If her numbers keep going, she’s predicted to edge out the Easter Bunny this coming Spring and engulf Santa’s Elves in 2014. Twitter is aflame with photos of Bonnie Bunny and Tooth Fairy discussing business in the park. Many speculate that the alliance would help Tooth Fairy to re-vamp her brand and contend with the Big Two of Children’s holiday mascots. When asked about the rumors of behind the scenes egg throwing fights and tinsel battles between MMG and its rivals, Bonnie Bunny simply states “I neither confirm nor deny my involvement in said activities.”
Shelby and Sherman The Ladybugs:
Shelby and Sherman bumped into each other in the dark room over a developing canister when their antenna first touched. They danced the night away under an enlarger light set low. As ladybugs who can only see in black and white, the duo has led the resurgence in vintage dark room photographic dreams. While Shelby plays shutterbug about town, snapping gritty images from the cracks and crevices of urban life, Sherman prefers the clean, cool, cloistered life of the dark room under a red lamp watching Shelby’s images float and bloom in trays chemistry. When asked if they will ever consider going digital, Sherman scoffed, “Does a bee use a gasmask to smell flowers?”
Sloths typically feel unsafe on the ground, and prefer to be up in trees hanging upside down. But not Sylvester Sloth. One day his claws slipped and he tumbled from the rafters right into the cushy embrace of an Eames Lounge Chair. From that chair he was instantly imbued with a desire for all things found in a smoky 1950’s Gentleman’s Club. He could hear jazz music and yearned deeply for an elevator ornate ash trays. Sylvester has since moved on to other chairs and revamped his décor accordingly—modernist cube chairs, baroque era thrones, etc. His latest interior design choices take their cues from the Sanford & Son and Mama’s Family dvd box sets he had unknowingly ordered while half asleep and surfing amazon.com late one fateful night. He still wonders if the donuts on his belly clash with the pile carpets at his feet.