Crazy for You

Interesting headline in the L.A. Times yesterday: “Teddy Bear Chief Quits Board of Vt. Hospital.” It appears the Vermont Teddy Bear Co. produced a Valentine’s Day bear, dressed in a straitjacket and marketed under the name "Crazy for You”. This fact would have passed unnoticed, or with only slightly raised eyebrows had not the head of the company been a member of the board of Vermont’s largest hospital.

Advocates for the mentally ill and the Governor (not Howard Dean) deemed the product ‘insensitive’. While Elizabeth Robert resigned from the hospital’s board, the company did not take the product off the market…and it sold out last week at $69.95 a pop! (Look for them on E-bay soon and buy one to donate to our collection…)

- OH MY! Crazy Alert! I just checked E-bay and see that the ursine character in question is already being touted for as high as $15,000.00!!! Never mind…only donate one to us if you get one as a gift and don’t want it.

This reminds me of the time I produced a calendar made of 3” high felt bears as an art piece. I made a bear that somehow expressed or encapsulated each day of my life for a year. The piece appeared in progress at the Barnsdall Municipal Art Gallery in December 1978 as part of that year’s A Magical Mystery Tour Show – a long defunct and much missed L.A. tradition. Art critic Suzanne Muchnic drew the short straw and had to cover it for the L.A.Times. She called me for an interview and seemed much annoyed at having to ask me about the piece at all. She wanted to know why… and I answered that I was a toy artist (nomenclature that apparently means something in the current art toys movement, but was gibberish in 1978) and that the bears sort of were my personal art icon. The piece was my way of taking it a step further by having the bears stand in for a year of my life. (I could tell I wasn’t convincing her.) She asked me what kinds of events were represented -- like how did I represent the Jonestown Massacre? I told her that I tried not to censor myself, but that most of the incidents were personal, so that particular event wasn’t an issue. But I did admit to copping out on Easter and making a bear with bunny ears rather than on a crucifix. She didn’t laugh.

In fact I am seriously considering putting her description of my work on my tombstone: “It all looks too cute for a real live person.”