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Mar 7, 2018

My Forrest Gumpy Life: Aliens Cometh

The "Rocky Group" promoted Rocky Mountain College.
The "Rocky Group" that later became the Montana Logging Ballet and Co. was on a tour in rural Montana in 1975, the year that there were a series of troubling cattle mutilations in the area. We'd been hearing for months that about every night cattle in north central Montana would be subject to mysterious attacks, which all had similar characteristics: the left ear and genitals were cut off the corpses and all the blood would be drained. In fact no one knew of any machine that could drain blood so effectively. And there were never any footprints. So the rumors circled around aliens and UFO's. Some ranchers had even pooled a reward of $1000 to anyone who could crack the mystery. We were tempted to dive in like a bunch of real gumshoes just because the story was so intriguing.

So it was that one night after a series of concerts the four of us ended up staying with a couple in the tiny town of Belt, Montana. We stayed up late with the woman––an old college chum of Fitz and Rusty's––telling jokes and drinking ginger ale, when suddenly she launched into a story that amazed us all. She said that she actually didn't work in a print shop like she said, but a secret government lab that is researching the cattle mutilations! We were beside ourselves with curiosity and begged her to tell us what she knew. Here is her tale.

She said there are at least three labs around the nation, researching different elements of the phenomena, each in isolation from the others. In fact, all she knew about the others is that they received frozen samples from a lab in California, did some tests on the samples, then expressed them on to another lab in Missouri. What their small team was charged with was trying to determine what material was used to cut the flesh of the cattle. So far over the few months they had been working they had not been able to identify any material that left the markings that they were seeing in the flesh samples, which only served to underline the alien theories.

Needless to say, we were all stunned and amazed to be let in on as much of the secret as she knew, which was not enough to determine anything. Obviously, this woman had been busting at the seams trying to keep her secret in this small town, secrets that we––her old friends from far away––had allowed her to let out of the bag. She told us we had to keep the secret for years, which we of course did. Now I think it's safe...

There was never a resolution of the mystery. To this day there has been no attribution of responsibility. The thousands of cases across the country over decades remain unsolved. But the MLBC is still hoping to get that $1000. Maybe we could record a song about not being good enough sleuths.

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.