Artists reinvent Jim Thorpe in Jim Thorpe
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Alex Ruff sees Jim Thorpe as an athlete, depicting him as a punter with his right leg high after kicking a football. As he moved the model about town, with his leg in the air, the Jim Thorpe model seemed to represent the sports hero as a show dancer, perhaps not so far off as Jim Thorpe won awards as a ballroom dancer.
Recently, half a dozen artistic reinventions of the community of Jim Thorpe's namesake, Jim Thorpe, have appeared as silhouettes, cardboard cutouts, and masks, all traceable to a five-day artistic workshop called the Jim Thorpe Project in Jim Thorpe.
The project, the latest in an annual series of storytelling workshops for graphic artists hosted by the Carbon County Cultural Project in Jim Thorpe, was led by Marshall Arisman, chairman of the M.F.A. degree program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and artist and illustrators Victor Stabin and Anthony Freda.
Arisman announced that the workshop's project was to create a cardboard cutout image of the town's namesake, Jim Thorpe, and move it about the borough of Jim Thorpe, to develop a story.
Lydia Grossov created a Jim Thorpe model in the vision of a superhero with big Jim wearing football pants and sporting a blue Jersey with the initials M & C for Mauch Chunk, the town's name before becoming Jim Thorpe.
She took photographs of the model set against backdrops in the historic district and assembled the images into a 10-page comic book, "The Adventures of Jim Thorpe."
In the book "Jim Thorpe returns as a ghost but doesn't know where he is," said Grossov. "He starts to walk around town, doesn't recognize where he is. It isn't Oklahoma."
Hal Drellich created a video slideshow that is viewable at: www.youtube. com/watch?v=1Uw-cE5wCF0. His silhouette depicted Jim Thorpe dressed in regalia, holding a sign reading "Oklahoma," and thumbing for a ride.
The cutout was photographed around town, with a final photo depicting him hitching a ride on a departing train.
Ryan Maguire's bent is toward science-fiction and fantasy. His model was of a Godzilla-like monstrous Jim Thorpe coming out of the ground and devouring the town and its people.
Alex Ruff saw Jim Thorpe as an athlete, depicting him as a punter with his right leg high after kicking a football. As he moved the model about town, with his leg in the air, the Jim Thorpe model seemed to represent the sports hero as a show dancer, perhaps not so far off since Jim Thorpe won awards as a ballroom dancer.
Stabin, an owner of the CCCP and host of the workshop, thought that he would serve as a workshop facilitator.
But Arisman drew him into participating in the project.
"I got a jolt when Marshall said we were going to do the assignment," Stabin said. "I had to suspend my opinion because he is a bit of a magician as far as motivating people and getting things to move forward.
"Marshall gave a lesson to create this painting of Jim Thorpe, which I turned into a mask. His technique is to fill the picture plane with gobs of oil paint and then wipe it off. I turned it into a mask and put it on my shoulder.
"I used this mask as a way of going up to people I had never made contact with before in town and sat down and had brief conversations with them.
"My existing ideas went into the closet, and then I made artwork like I had never made artwork before. I started talking to people that I had never spoken to before. They were delighted to talk to me. They were looking at my mask with curiosity. There was a kind of camaraderie because we are in Jim Thorpe, and he's Jim Thorpe. It was something new, completely different, and non-threatening.
"When you do a five-day project, you don't know where it will go," explained Arisman. "What you count on is the project will get people involved and these people have gotten really involved. They made things like films and comic books. The hope in any workshop is that after the workshop is over, it will continue."
The Carbon County Cultural Project is located at: 268 W Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA, www.thecccp.org.