Marty Allen mixes classical symbolism and sock puppetry for the creation of this remarkable piece responding to Amos 1:1; 7:1-6, 12-16.
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1 The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.
1 Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings. 2 And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord GOD , forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small. 3 The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD .
4 ¶ Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and, behold, the Lord GOD called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part. 5 Then said I, O Lord GOD , cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small. 6 The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD .
12 Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there: 13 But prophesy not again any more at Beth-el: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court.
14 ¶ Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: 15 And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.
16 ¶ Now therefore hear thou the word of the LORD : Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac.
I have made many Sock Puppet Portraits, but this is the first Saint. This also marks many other firsts. Typically, I build a sock puppet and take its photograph, doing little aside from cleaning the photo and occasionally adding an ‘old-timey’ filter for a few historical figures. Something in this subject inspired me to go further with both the piece and its treatment.
The sock puppet itself is seen with some specific symbolic choices, as was often the case in classical oil paintings. We see both the subject’s downturned eyes as well as a downturned sycamore leaf, attached to his shepherd’s staff. And we also see very plainly his exposed heart, all pinned against a beam of light from above. And ok, sure, much of this is a little on-the-nose, so to speak, but at the end of the day, we’re talking about a Sock Puppet Portrait of a Saint here.
Additionally, I’ve added my hand more than usual with some digital manipulation. In particular, I’ve taken the time to imply that the piece was painted long ago. Additionally, I’ve used a bit of digital wizardry to emphasize the light from above, though that image of a beam of light is, in fact, part of the original photo, too, in the form of some cut out craft foam.
This piece was a joy to create, and wouldn’t have been possible without the wise input and guidance of the good people of Spark and Echo. I sincerely hope it does Amos proud.
Marty Allen is a producer, writer, visual artist, performer, teacher, and musician. An idea man, a jack-of-all-trades, a local kook. All of which often rolls into the proud and ancient role of storyteller.
Marty is best known for making up The Sock Puppet Portraits, writing the related book, "Sock Puppet Madness," and for performing with rock band/art collective/giant monster/sock puppet, Uncle Monsterface. It's true, he does lots of other stuff, too, including (but not limited to) making really excellent sandwiches, writing artist bios in the third person, and walking his dog.
As an inter-disciplinary artist and creator, much of Marty’s work has a little story behind it. In his mind, he seems to have built a giant world of stories that has co-evolved with his art and ideas using whatever medium(s) seemed appropriate or inspiring at the time.
Marty is fascinated by using characters, storytelling, narrative, world-building, and creativity itself as a metaphor and method for making sense of this crazy world we live in.
Moreover, Marty is chasing a sense of wonder and moments of real and honest connection. Wonderful connection. To you, to himself, to the universe, to all of the stuff.
Marty has had four published non-fiction books (with a fifth coming in 2018!), writes a lot of stuff about pop culture on the internet, sings to babies, plays poker, and has worked with cool folks like Nickelodeon, The Henson Foundation, Barnes & Noble, Fab.com, Maker Faire, ZocDoc, many others, and mostly himself, running his own business of art sales for over a decade.
Among other things, Marty is currently working on a book that ties many of the smaller stories and artworks into their larger context, ‘Theodore and the Seven Layers of Space.’ He hopes that it’s gonna be good.
He lives in Brooklyn, if you’re ever around, come say, “Howdy.”