Life on a String
Expressive, emotional faces, delicacy, and a tone of appealing weirdness shading into the sinister characterize Venturi's puppets. I liked a wacky lamb with a skewed, Picasso-perspective face that Venturi named "Suretogo," as in "Everywhere that Mary went . . ." A white shadow puppet of a snowy hill with a bare tree comes from a recent collaborative art project with local poet Arwulf Arwulf. When Arwulf read a line about how the snow was full of eyes, Venturi whisked away a shield masking the hill so that light streamed through the two dozen eyes she'd cut into the snow.
The show also includes puppets Venturi's collected over the years, including pouty kewpies and a glaring Indonesian-style man plucked from eBay, and you can see the three puppets Venturi's mom made a generation ago, including the pigtailed girl in an orange-brown dress representing Venturi as a girl (photo, lower right corner), displayed with her "brother" and "sister." The show continues at the Dreamland Theater through July 13, by appointment only; call 485-3454.
[Originally published in July, 2002.]