Mabe-y The Best Festival Ever!
There is a pantheon of artists that I consider to be "Proto-Extreme Craft"...the primordial soup from which Extreme Craft emerged. There are Ceramic Funk Artists like Robert Arneson and David Gilhooly, Feminist artists like Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro, Art pranksters like Jeff Koons and Mike Kelley...and then there's Joni Mabe. Joni Mabe rose to prominence in the 80's with her Museum of Everything Elvis, her glitter paintings, and her obsessive clothing items, like her Elvis Button Coat. Her work is a perfect convergence of art, personality, and obsession that captivates the Elvis Faithful as well as the casual viewer.
Last weekend, I attended the 6th Annual "Big E" Festival in Cornelia, Georgia. The Museum of Everything Elvis currently occupies the top floor of a historic boarding house. The festival attracts Elvis obsessives from around the country (and world!), as well as many Elvis Tribute Artists (ETA's), including an impressive roster of Child-Elvii. Among the Child Elvii was Demi Downing, a 7 year old female Elvis impersonator who showed up with her own tour RV and a CD that she recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis. There were Peanut Butter Banana Sandwiches aplenty, and the Museum was open for viewing. Joni, who emcees the event, was resplendent in the gold dress that you see above. The museum features a wart that Elvis had removed in the Fifties, as well as a "maybe" toenail that Joni found in some shag carpeting at Graceland. Pay a visit to Joni's online gift shop, and block out some time on your calendar for next year's fest.