Jeff Semmerling's ART SIDE OUT STUDIO & MASK SHOP
The Halloween Gathering Parade is the perfect antidote to the failed Red Moon River parades.....
Our Parade was for everyone. Next year you should join in..... I have to thank the four or five families who did this year. They made the day a joy!
The Brada Family Fouer + friend were great help at Sunday building sessions. They have some skills! They were the rocks of the parade as well. Then the Small Family, the canoeing crayfish family, who got our feature shot in the Chicagoist's coverage of the parade. They built on Sundays and played our family of canoeing crayfish in the parade! Heather and Justin Paxton Remack made finishing the puppets on time possible, helped make masks in the park and really did a lot of parading with us all day, Debbie and Megan made a mother daughter team extraordinaire, and the friends and family of Madeline O'Connor, my studio assistant, added the spice of seasoned paraders! We also had a special visit by the 12 foot Trout, by Jacob Mills, my very good friend. I have to say we had the sweetest Krewe. We kept things simple and low to the ground this year. What fun!
We started our day loading in early to the Tent in Millennium Park, later we would make Blue Heron Masks with the crowds that would pour through. Then we were off to parade along the newly opening "River Walk" with the new Commissioner of Culture, Mark Kelly and his wife and "Environmental Encroachment" a great local activists band. I got to talk at length with Commissioner Kelly along the walk and we seemed to agree on quite a few things, particularly that culture needs to be nurtured from the ground up not sprinkled on from outside sources.... I like this guy so much. At one point his wife said, standing between us that she felt she was hearing stereo speakers because her husband and I were saying the same things.
So next year will be better and if you know of any fun parties or festivals that would be interested in dancing fish and herons and canoeing crayfish, tell them you know a guy.......
Jeff's first job, after years of serious childhood play with marionettes and puppets, was in a professional circus. Great America's Centennial Circus (1976) turned Circus Fantastic in 1977 & 78. There he went from usher to feature clown to ringmaster, picking up juggling, unicycle and other skills along the way. Then he graduated from Northwestern University after 4 years of training in the Theatre, where he never touched a mask. Upon graduation though his interest in mask was re-inaugurated by the need for masks in actual theatrical production. "If we needed to be old, or monstrous or more than one character, masks were the obvious answer. And the audience was entranced by the masks...."