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Apr 17, 2018

My Forrest Gumpy Life: Dad, The Source of Our Comedy Genes

Dr. Rev. Bob Holmes, was a remarkable man. He was also my Dad! The only reason my siblings and I exist is because he had such a beautiful speaking voice. My mom was writing film scripts for the Methodist publishing world when she hired him to narrate a film, and then another. One thing lead to etc. and soon they were married!

My folks kept comedy alive with Spike Jones numbers.
While in seminary, Dad exposed a particular love for comedy and music. He played jazz piano and for a while was leader of a big band. In the early 40's he started a string of comedy musical groups that did a lot of goofy stuff that was quite popular. Here one can see someting like the early genetics of the Montana Logging and Ballet Co. (MLBC). He also pulled my mom (kicking) into that business. Those two got quite a reputation performing old record pantomimes for church events and the like when we were growing up. Such that––at 8 and 10–– my brother Steve and I would copy in our room numbers that we watched them pantomime.

One such number changed my life quite abruptly one day in 9th grade when, with a single performance, I was instantly launched from the bottom to the top of the social order! At a school talent show I presented a pantomime called Preacher and the Bear. Where I'd one day been the runt of the class and the butt of jokes, the next I was a star and everyone wanted to be my friend, because suddenly I was funny. (Maybe football isn't the way to impress girls!)

In high school Steve and I performed some of these comedy bits for one show and another, and were soon known as a comedy team. Years later when the MLBC got going, this was one of the threads that survived in our repertoire for many years until all our material was replaced with original work. (It was one of these pantomimes that nearly got us shot in Philly. I'll get to that, hang on.)

The last I recall Mom and Dad performing was at their 50th wedding anniversary when so many of their friends gathered to watch them act goofy at nearly 80 years old! It was a real treasure. I suppose I will continue to perform comedy, as I always have. If I last until age 85, that will mark 100 years of goofy comedy in my family, an intellectual and spiritual place where––seriously––it really has no place being!

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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.