BareBones 2020 · OFFERINGS: Artists Respond to the Mourning, Grieving and Fires on Lake Street

Margo McCreary

Auntie Dote

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Inspired by Dahnn Polnau’s powerful Shaman Coat for his impresario, Dr. Strombolli, Margo McCreary made one fitting for a character she works with personally, named Auntie Dote. “She holds my vulnerable and fleshy self tenderly, with humor, edge, and strength. I believe that she can hold more in our wide and diverse community. How can we be bold and tender at the same time? Can we be open to other truths and hurts? Can we feel the pain, and stay open?” said Margo. In transforming the handed-down garment that she has worn for years, Margo imbued it with roots of connection, compassion and openness to what is.

photos: Paul Irmiter

For the recent OFFERINGS live pop-ups, Auntie Dote, in her coat, had walked down Lake Street and connected to passersby. Oct 30, E. Lake St.

Reflections on travels of Auntie Dote on Lake Street

I took to the streets as my character, Auntie Dote on Oct. 30th. I had no idea what to expect. I brought along with me, a fortune teller/folded paper old school “game”. I had written messages of self-kindness, affirmation and a couple of silly riddles. In crossing Hiawatha, I came upon a passerby and said I was there to dote on her, and held my hands as if I was holding her face lovingly between them. (Covid distance). She was willing to play the fortune teller with me. She chose, “You have always been good, always”. She said quietly, “I am a good person.” I thanked her for playing and moved along. I greeted another passerby who happened to pick one of the riddles. She laughed heartily. She pointed at me and said, “that’s good, you old…” and went on her way.

When meeting another passerby, I said I was Auntie Dote. “Dote? What is that?”, she asked. I told her that I have love for her and she walked on. It was a pure experiment, and I learned that a more developed character will help me be present to the variety of responses I get. I challenge myself to be more curious about the people I meet and let them tell me more about themselves. What is the payoff for the person in engaging with Auntie Dote? Do they feel more heartened, playful, alive or connected? It’s a work in progress.

About the Artist

Margo McCreary is a puppeteer and visual artist. Puppet theater is the center of her work. Like so many puppeteers, Margo uses disparate materials at hand to create characters and move them. As a visual artist, she has worked in fabric, felt, glass, watercolors, dryer lint, paper sculpture, recently metal or whatever works. “I am pleased to take part in this unusual distanced gathering of artists, some new to Barebones, like me, and some multi-year veterans. OFFERINGS is beautifully led by Harry and Lelis, the co-facilitators, and getting together with Tara Fahey, my Barebones mentor, and other artists is helping me know that I am connected to a vital crew of collaborators,” noted the artist.