Poptarts, Gumby, and Clokey

Today I opened Google to do a quick search to see this:

Today’s Google Doodle is an interactive celebration of Art Clokey’s 90th birthday– the creator of Gumby. I found myself clicking balls of clay to watch them bounce and form into the many characters I have loved since my childhood. Who needs to search information when there is Gumby, Pokey, Goo and Prickle with two arch-nemeses, the Blockheads! How many times have I wanted to walk into any book like Gumby and his pony-pal Pokey, too? Just about every time I read a novel!

As I poked the clay balls I remembered all the early mornings my sister and I sat in front of the tv eating technocolored Pop Tarts (I liked Strawberry with the freakish colored specks, my sister preferred chocolate) and watching the Adventures of Gumby. Hours and hours we spent ingesting food and images. Those shows have left a strong imprint on my psyche; on my visual of life. Episodes and images from Clokey’s masterpieces have followed me, interjecting themselves into my mind’s eye. Some of the images are frightening, like ovens going out of control spitting out more and more pastries, becoming monstrous in size – or the ice cycle people on the moon chasing Gumby around who is saved by his firefighter dad on a really long ladder

But most of the stories are silly and fun: Prickle building a super-humongous crate for the parsnips he knows will come (build it and they will come… )

Or the adventures in the Hopi Nation teaching us about rain spirits, maize, the sun, and Hopi symbolism

Many may not know this about me, but Clokey is huge in the formation of me. As an adult, I went to a retrospective on his work and was blown away – again – by his more art-oriented pieces. Psychedelic kaleidoscopes of shapes morphing into new shapes. Object d’Arts (pronounced object dart if you are a true Gumby fan) moving to music. I sat in that theatre realizing, wow, this is why I think the way I do!

Do yourself a favor. Celebrate Clokey’s birthday by watching an episode or two of Gumby. If you have a child, sit down with him, her, them, and let your minds be blown by the power of art. Truly mind-expanding stuff. Just a small caveat – just watch the Gumby episodes. There are interviews of Clokey talking about his drug use and other “hippy” experiences. Not quite kid-fair.

Thank you, Google, for reminding me of this great man!

For more on Art Clokey, see the official website: http://www.gumbyworld.com/
You can find several episodes on YouTube.

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