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 V.19 No.47 | November 25 - December 1, 2010 

Culture Shock

The Holy Trinity: Turkey, Stuffing, Hand Art

Thanksgiving. It's the all-American holiday. A day of repose, a time to gather and reflect and celebrate violence by watching football.

Thanksgiving's origins date back nearly four centuries. The Puritans would order Indian takeout and beat each other senseless with wooden clubs once a year. President Abraham Lincoln would later make it a national holiday during the Civil War as a way to mock the hungry rebels down the road. Killing each other and eating too much while proclaiming that we are, in fact “No. 1,” is something we as a nation love to do. It is our raison d'être.

It is important while eating the aforementioned turkey and stuffing to also remember an important movement in American art. Thanksgiving, while arguably the most delicious of all holidays, also spawned what is arguably the most homegrown of American art forms: the turkey hand drawing.

The turkey hand drawing, or THD, is a latecomer to the Thanksgiving tradition, but is no less important. Some say Jackson Pollock invented it in 1953 during his much-celebrated finger-painting phase. Others credit its invention to the original inhabitants of North America—a few petroglyphs do seem to evoke a certain “hand turkeyness.” No one really knows.

The THD is at once a symbol of American individualism and something that every single school kid does. No two people have the same hand, yet most of us have four fingers and a thumb. We are simultaneously dissimilar and the same. No other art form captures the spirit of America so perfectly.

Send your THDs to johnb@alibi.com. I’d love to see them and will post the most interesting ones on alibi.com. Have fun. Be creative.

Buy Local

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Festivus are right around the corner. You’re already being tasked with buying presents for your loved and not-so-loved ones. They demand it.

But what to buy? You could get some ideas by standing in line outside Wal-Mart on Black Friday, but that can lead to rioting and trampling other shoppers to death. And that’s no fun. Unless you like that kind of thing. Then I can’t help you.

Solution: Buy some art.

In honor of the gift-giving season, we’ve been profiling galleries that double as boutiques in the Alibi Arts section. (You’ll notice that fearless reporter Christie Chisholm has one on Panda Robot running right next to this column.) Let’s recap:

The Cellar Door (147 Harvard SE) has all things creepy in arts and gifts. My favorite is the bloodthirsty humanoid war pig. Pick one up today. (Gallery Review, Nov. 4-10)

The Talking Fountain (4207 Lead SE) is a little more eclectic. Katie Calico and her crew of artists offer pieces to fit any price range. Inexpensive prints of local artists’ work are available along with a wide selection of jewelry and other crafts. My favorite print: “El Narco,” by Sergio Sandoval. $20 makes you an art collector. (Gallery Review, Nov. 11-17)

... Then again, you could just buy your friends some Shake Weights and “a special” director’s cut / collector’s edition copy of Avatar. The choice is yours.

 
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