Chasing Down the Muse: Our 'stooges' lend comedy to Sawdust prep

"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."

— Ralph Waldo Emerson


Instead of birds and breezes, I've been listening to power saws and hammers of late. Definitely not as soothing, but these sounds do have their place as the Sawdust Art Festival builds up — literally — for the summer show. This year, because of earlier inspection dates by the city, things seem really stepped up. When I look around the grounds, I almost believe we could open June 1, building is moving so fast.

As is usual for us, partner Suzette Rosenthal and I have my husband design and build our two combined booths. This year, he put further pressure on himself to complete the work early by wanting to take off for an expedition to Montana. To get this done, Mike brought on his childhood friend Jim along with his Montana buddy, John. Put these three together building the booth and you definitely have a comedy team of the ilk of "The Three Stooges" — only they are called McKenna, Doty and Caslin.

What is really delightful, I find, is their complete lack of hubris in regard to their own foibles and stupid mistakes. They are, in fact, the first ones to call them "stupid" and in so doing create a line of patter that is pure comedy.

Several people have mentioned to me that they have walked by the site of our booth only to be stopped in their tracks by the silly patter. You've gotta love it when they get going, I admit. Marty Gray — painter extraordinaire — who is building near us, stopped to tell me they "cracked him up" and that he had to go home and tell his lovely wife about it.

Our general manager, Tom Klingenmeier, repeated something he overheard that sounded like one of those "Who's on first?" skits. Grounds Manager Dan Haeflinger has his own part in several of the tales as he added his own wry sense of humor. Comedy Central, here they come!

Jim has been staying with us throughout the building, and so I am regaled with tales of their day's adventures each night. The retelling is probably a close second to the actual events themselves. I have been laughing and smiling a lot lately, it seems, even at the end of a grueling day.

The ability to tell these stories on themselves and make such wonderful comic images of them is one of the things I enjoy about men in general, though these three really take the prize. While I love the company of women, it is a special treat to have these three men around on occasion.

Sometimes, I just have to agree with Christina, queen of Sweden, when she said, "I love men, not because they are men, but because they are not women."

The guys are just about done now. Jim will head home. Mike and John will be off to John's home in Montana. I imagine that they will continue telling their stories on themselves all the drive there. And with them gone I will have the memories of their escapades to make me smile as I am busy in the studio making art. Summer will be here soon.

To see some of what is in store for the 60-some days of the Sawdust summer show, go to and check it out.

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer, counselor, always fascinated, inspired and titillated by the beauty and myriad mysteries of life. She can be reached at or (714) 745-9973.

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