Chris Piazza | The Gardener
The Gardener to the Illuminati a.k.a Licensed Electrician

Dimensions: Puppet 4 1/2 ft. tall - Box 10 ft. tall x 4’x 4’ (at base)

Materials: Mica, antique fabric with glass glitter, antique glass beads, copper foil,

copper leaf, porch post finials and refrigerator tubing.

Character:The Gardener is based on The Doctor - physician, gram-marian, barrister and pro-fessor of mutilated quotes and questionable philosophies culled from the vast knowledge he must continually bestow upon anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in the  drone of his monologue. A bed-ridden patient could easily weaken while The Doctor chats him up about everything but the cause of the malady. An opposing council could easily concede defeat in order to escape his unendurable, ceaseless eloquence. As both Groucho and W.C. Fields furiously rattled their endless soliloquies and mad inanities, so The Doctor always leaves his audience breathlessly astonished at what in the heck he was really talking about. The Gardener, however, is a professor of illumination: The Enlightenment, therefore he gardens electricity. Based on that branch of the freemasons who, freed by Diderot’s Encyclopedia, cham-pioned secular scholarship, The Illuminati were the radical branch of the intellectual revolution of the late 1700’s. The Gardener tends that circuitry - a horticulturist to the lightbulb.

History of The Gardener: On one of my visits to a store called Tinsel Trading, which sells leftovers from the golden age of The Great White Way, I saw, lying on the floor on a pile of garbage about to be thrown out, a dazzling piece of old fabric. It was essentially just cheesecloth, but with faded, aniline-dyed glass glitter glistening on it like fairy dust. I remarked to the store owner on how beautiful it was and she said, “Oh that, you can have that for nothing”. That rag was the beginning of The Gardener. I kept that piece of fabric for years, knowing I had to do something very special with it.

While digging through Arty Alexander’s junkstore I came across mica that had been die-cut for use in electrical plugs. With their pre-drilled holes they looked like mineral sequins that had the same magical quality as the fabric. Somehow I determined that this gentleman was a gardener of some fantastic nature, like a character from Jules Verne or a Georges Melies film. So I started making lots of flowers out of glass beads I’d dyed with similar pale colors, but I kept wondering at what he was really gardening.

One day I wandered into Canal Surplus, a place that used to sell an odd assortment of things made mostly from metal. And standing there, staring at the copper foil, copper wire, copper mesh, copper grills and chains, and coils, and springs and die-cut shapes of curiously indeterminate purpose, it hit me – “Well, of course, he gardens electricity”! So I bought rolls of copper foil and set to work on his garden shed with it’s six hundred roof tiles and copper leafed trellises threaded through with refrigerator tubing wisteria vines.