“Ventriloquist Dummies and Skeletons”
by Jeff Fuson
Jeff Fuson is a St. Joseph native who currently lives in Kansas City. As part of Magoon’s annual Halloween costume party on October 27th, Fuson is bringing prints of his satirical pen and ink drawings for a one-day art show called “Ventriloquist Dummies and Skeletons.”
For over 20 years, Fuson has worked as a freelance graphic artist with his own business, Big Ape Studios. “I started doing graphic design for printing and in 1997, I began designing commercial websites. I was into web design fairly early in that industry and it turned out to be a profitable addition to my creative art business.”
Over the years, Fuson has helped build printed marketing materials and web-presence for clients such as Sprint, Everlast Boxing, Price Chopper, as well as smaller firms, and even political candidates.
Fuson’s more creative aspects have included producing a Kansas City public access cable TV show called “Gizmosis!” This program featured performances and interviews with musicians, artists, and other regional celebrities. He has also worked as a writer, set, and prop designer for other professional and amateur video productions.
Magoon’s Famous Delicatessen
632 S. 8th St.
St. Joseph, MO
October 27, 2018 (Halloween)
12:00 noon-7:00 PM
Along with the upcoming show, “Ventriloquist Dummies and Skeletons,” his gentle nod to the macabre included his acting role as a zombie in the independent film production, “Zombie Blood Bath.”
“I’m actually a fun, light-hearted guy,” he laughs, “but the chance to dress up in ragged clothes, stagger around, and pretend to eat someone’s brain was just too absurd to pass up!”
After years of creating commercial art for customers, Fuson decided to focus on his personal work. “I sat down with a sketchbook, some pens, and a cup of coffee, but no idea of a direction. I didn’t want to draw from life or try to make anything too realistic. I just wanted to see what was in my head and I was thrilled at what came out on the paper.”
What he has developed is a visual style inspired by film noir, old horror movies, and black and white photographers like Arthur Felling (better known by his pseudonym, “Weegee”). Fuson’s artwork is populated by strange ventriloquist dummies and skeletons as magicians, criminals, and other odd, if not gloriously improbable characters.
A number of his original prints will be for sale at the Magoon’s event. “Of course, skeletons and ventriloquists are appropriate for Halloween, but many of my prints and cards can be used for almost any holiday.” “After all,” he adds laughing, “who hasn’t wanted to send someone a skeleton print for Christmas? — and don’t get me started on the appropriateness of the subject for Arbor Day, birthdays… even weddings!”
Why Ventriloquist Dummies and Skeletons?
“After drawing tons of other stuff I stumbled into using ventriloquist dummies and skeletons as a theme. They just seemed to fit well together. The dummies can’t talk unless others put words in their mouths, so they can symbolize people who don’t think for themselves.”
“Skeletons,” he continues more seriously, “can traditionally symbolize death, but there’s the Day of the Dead where skeletons represent the spirits of those who’ve died but are still with us, so to me, they are actually a positive image.”
“I think in the case of my work, the skeletons are just people. I wish I could remember the comedian’s name who said, ‘I had an x-ray taken the other day and found out there was a scary skeleton inside me.’ None of us can live without one and they are everywhere.”
The skeletons will certainly be everywhere at Magoon’s on Halloween.
Photo credit: Lydia Diabendia Artwork Credit: Jeff Fuson
Permission granted for reprint of copy, artist photo, and graphics.
Big Ape Studios, Owner, Jeff Fuson