Gumby events in Port Hadlock, Port Townsend celebrate 50 years

PORT HADLOCK — In 1956, young filmmaker Art Clokey took a lump of clay in his hands and fashioned it into human form.

Naming his creation a variation of “gumbo” — the name his grandfather gave to backroads after a rain — Clokey built a backdrop, set up his camera, and using stop-motion animation, brought Gumby to life.

This weekend, Clokey, now 84, is in Port Hadlock for the opening of a tribute exhibit which will be attended by his family, friends and artists who worked with him on his early television episodes.

Held at The Art Mine gallery at the Inn at Port Hadlock, the exhibit will celebrate the 50th birthday of Clokey’s green creation, who has delighted children and adults for generations with his warm heart.

‘Something magical’

“There’s something almost magical about it,” says Joe Clokey, Art’s son and president of the company.

“You’re taking inanimate clay and making it move.”

The exhibit is one of four anniversary Gumby exhibits, two last year in New York and Los Angeles, and one in Atlanta.

That Port Hadlock shares the billing with the big cities is due to two facts.

Patrick Lauerman, who handles distribution of Gumby merchandise, lives in Sequim.

When the inn’s sales manager, Marilyn St. Clair, met Lauerman at a Sequim Rotary Club meeting and heard about his job, she introduced him to Eric Swangstu, director of The Art Mine.

“He just picked up the phone and called Joe Clokey,” Swangstu says.

“I gave him an idea of what we do here, and asked if he’d entertain the thought of having a Gumby exhibit here. He was very enthusiastic.”

ART CLOKEY AND his family will be at the opening of “Gumby and the Clokeys” in Port Hadlock on Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The exhibit, which is free, is in The Art Mine gallery at the Inn at Port Hadlock, 310 Hadlock Bay Road, Port Hadlock.

For more information, contact Art Mine director Eric Swangstu, 360-379-8555 or go to www.theartmine.com.

A benefit reception will be held today from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Art Mine. Tickets are $25 and benefit local scholarships.

For more information, contact Patrick Lauerman in Sequim, 360-681-0563, or Eric Swangstu, 360-379-8555.

On Saturday, a 90-minute retrospective of Clokey’s work, including “Gumbasia,” and “Mandala,” will be shown at The Rose Theatre, 235 Taylor St., Port Townsend. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children.

For more information, call the theater at 360-385-1089.

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