Diane McWhorterPhoto by Paul Neevel

Happening People

Diane McWhorter

Inspired by Woody Guthrie, who traveled the West as an itinerant sign painter during the Great Depression, Delaware native Diane McWhorter picked up a brush early in the ’70s to try her hand at sign-painting in the remote Four Corners region of the Southwest. Sidetracked by a short-term romance with a Carmel Valley cowboy, she came to Eugene to visit an aunt in 1975. “I found the Saturday Market and set up a sign-making booth,” she says. “My first client was Humble Bagel. I’m still in the market 43 years later.” McWhorter moved on to silk-screening, making cards at first, then t-shirts, tote bags and caps. She’s had her own booth at the Oregon Country Fair since 1984. She got to know The Radar Angels performance troupe at the Fair, and took part in the Angels’ first Jell-O Art Show at the Maude Kerns Art Center in 1988. “I’ve been in every show,” she says. “This one is the 30th. I’ve used it to express what was going on in my life. A Barbie doll was my alter ego, remodeling a bread box with building materials made of Jell-O.” Her discovery that thin sheets of dried gelatin won’t rot and turn to mush has allowed her to construct elaborate sculptures that last and to fashion hair ornaments and flowers for sale at her booth. Ever since her surprise coronation as Queen of Jell-O Art in 2012, McWhorter has joined The Radar Angels on stage in song and dance. The 2018 Jell-O Art Show can be seen 5 to 8 pm Saturday, March 31, at the Maude Kerns Art Center, 1910 E 15th Avenue in Eugene. Follow McWhorter’s musings at gelatinaceae.blogspot.com.

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