Tuesday, July 23, 2013

ConVENTion Autopsy

Matthew Rolston's Photo
I often wonder what goes through the mind of the staff at the Airport Marriott in Cincinnati when the Vent Convention comes to town. Although the room count remains the same there are twice as many entities that populate the lobby and banquet rooms. The hotel goes from hosting high tech conferences to a group of performers talking to themselves. 
Besides the fun of hanging out with friends like Dale and Leslie Brown, Lisa Sweasy, Annie Roberts, Al Semock, Brook Brookings Sammy King, Pete Michaels, Tom Ladshaw and Lesley, Jimmy and Betty Nelson, Buddy BigMountain, Mark and Jody Wade, Tom Crowl, Lori Bruner, David Crone, Gary Owens,  Bob Baker, Mark Merchant and Ken and Ruby Groves.. (to name only a few) there were new friends and former acquaintances I got to connect with as well. And although they were pretty much swamped with autograph seekers I did get a chance to say a quick hello to Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator. 
Reluctantly I did not get a chance to connect with Taylor Mason. His show was definitely a highlight of my trip. I am a big fan of his work.
As always the thrill of visiting Vent Haven makes the trip for me. Lisa, Jen and Annie have turned a once dusty personal collection into a world class museum. These curator ladies always have some new fact about the collection and performers represented. This year a "never unwrapped.. never used Marshall figure has joined the collection.  That find is as rare as the Hope Diamond. 
It was a great pleasure to introduce Matthew Rolston at the convention.  I attended his book signing in Los Angeles some months ago where large prints of his "Talking Heads - the Vent Haven Portraits" book were on display.  The picture above does not do them justice but you can tell by the relationship to the photographer in silhouette how impressive the scale of the prints are.  It is shame that they were too large to bring to Cincinnati. It is also a shame that the price keeps me from having one of my own. 
Matthew has elevated the status of the Museum to the level of art that it deserves. His book and prints expose the legitimate Art world to the world of ventriloquism.  It is a status that I have spent a career waiting for. It makes me very proud to be associated with the collection even more.
On a personal note connecting with the Dean of American Ventriloquists Jimmy Nelson, a man I refer to as the Godfather of ventriloquism, is always special.  Betty Nelson has bestowed upon me one of the greatest honors I could receive.  She tells me that I am part of her family and refers to me as "Half-Nelson." Thank you Betty and Jimmy... you don't know how proud that makes me. 
I am off to another retreat this week.  I will be without radio, television, cell phone, computer, internet or even iPad for my stay. I am not allowed to talk much about this event, so even if I could blog about it... I would get in trouble. However, it will let me contemplate my Vent Haven experience without electronic interference. I am looking forward to that.
As you were,


Anonymous said...

I miss you already, Jay! 51 weeks til convention!!!! Lisa

Paulette G said...

No Technology??? WOW! ;))

Kenny Croes said...

Great to see you, Jay. Hope we can "tip a few" in the hotel bar next year.

P. Grecian said...

You and Jimmy Nelson and Terry Fator in one place at the same time, and I wasn't there. Dang. One of these days, Jay...one of these days.

Tom Farrell said...

Thanks for posing with me for the snapshot.
We July birthday boys stick together. I got my
picture taken with the great one's this year.
Jeff Dunham, Terry Fator, Jimmy Nelson
and the technically best vent on the planet,
Jay Johnson. See you next year.


Timothy's comment was taken down. It didn't make sense and when I checked out the source it was an advertisement for exercise bikes...no covert links here.