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Nuts and Balls: An XXX-Mas Craft Show

by Judith Ann Moriarty

Ho. Ho. Where can you find an XXX-Mas Reindeer Cock Cozy with silvery balls that jingle-jangle, stately nutcrackers depicting ex-cop chief Arthur Jones, Marilyn Figueroa, and Mayor John Norquist, or a wee Madonna that explodes when you light a firecracker inserted in her nether parts? Seek and you shall find much to roll your eyeballs at during local artist Jimmy Von Milwaukee’s (JVM) annual Christmas Craft show. This year’s event goes by “Santa vs. Satan.” The Von isn’t just any old artist. In fact, over the years, he’s been widely covered by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel art critic, James Auer, who knows a genuine nut (cracker) when he sees one. His rated XXX is anti-art at its finest, so expect nasty t-shirts, greeting cards, underwear rivaling Fruit ‘O the Loom, and (perhaps) a saintly Mother Teresa nutcracker by JVM. “It’s Milwaukee’s only ‘Adults Only’ Christmas and craft show,” JVM claimed recently over pancakes at Cookie’s restaurant in the soon-to-be defunct Hotel Wisconsin. At interview’s end, he added, “If you’re looking for rich, fake art go to the Milwaukee Art Museum. If you want art that’s poor, real, and underground, come to ‘Santa vs. Satan,’ but leave the little ones at home.” Incidently, JVM is infamous for operating the now-defunct Leo Feldman Gallery, which this writer hopes will be back in action before long. And yes folks, he’s also exhibited at Luckystar, most recently with a Harley Hog bowling ball, which by golly, sold to a little old lady with silver hair and new teeth. Let it be said that JVM’s balls are widely collected these days. I mean, face it, don’t run-of-the-mill ornaments just make you retch? All those cute Santas a-glitter with fake snow and such? What’s needed is trash with attitude, items that will set grandma’s hair ablaze when she slices her 50 pound fruitcake. Mike (Ringo) White, international king of junkdom, usually contributes a few zingers, as does Else Klink, a.k.a. Sister Cashbox, who exhibited her demented Mel Brooks-style fairytale paintings/books recently at Luckystar’s “Hell’s Belles” exhibit. We’re not promising she’ll appear, but there will be loads of other local artist dipsters drawn to the lure of fame and the chance to make a few bucks. Noted photographers Julie Lindemann and John Shimon likely will motor in from Manitowoc to take shots of Bob Watt, posing with revelers — a little something extra to tuck in everyone’s x-mas fishnets. Maybe you’re thinking Milwaukee doesn’t have much to be thankful for as we head into 2004, what with some of our finest bureaucrats serving, or about to serve, time in the slammer for being bad boys and girls. Holiday craft fairs, like politicians, come and go. Your Usinger’s Gift Box may be devoured in a flash, but the one and only XXX continues on Saturday, December 20, at the Uptowner, around 8 p.m. Go ahead, take a bit of the wurst of “Santa vs. Satan (Part III).”