Early in our fifteen year lifespan in San Diego, the Ranger was ambling along on 29th street and saw a curious and sparkly sight atop a flat roof of an unassuming white stucco, building. Many spinning objects, zig zagging the sun, and making it hard to concentrate on driving. One day, she stopped the car and took in the scene: Dr. James Knot, Dentistry. Inside were hand crocheted doilies and a lamp made out of seashells and maybe an orange hooked rug. Down the hall was the dentist, an elder gentleman with thin redgrey hair and a homemade looking magnifier epoxyed into his eyeglasses. Sitting in the window, was a fishtank that contained a set of clacking teeth bubbling underwater to entertain the goldfish and frogs and patients.
Several years later, when our offspring appeared, we had to move to a home with a washingmachine that was in the same neighborhood as the curious dentist. The choice for their toothcare was clear and not based on anything rational except how eccentric it was going to be. During the children's first toothcleanings and Dr. Knot introduction, I strolled down the hallway lined by shelves containing hundreds of sets of teeth, castings of many years of many mouths in a slightly yellowed hydro-cal plaster, all at eye-level and poorly lit. Very casual. Very mummy.
Wow I was wowed! And it only got better as the children's teeth got worse. One day, Dr. Knot was wearing an American Flag bandaid on his nose. He explained his recent skin cancer removal and somehow shared the fact that as a kid, he had accumulated 52 cavities which made everyone feel great about their own teeth. As the dental work continued, so did the Ranger's admiration of his whirligigs. Through our dialog regarding dental adhesives, casting materials, and sculpture; we became colleagues of a sort. People who like, and probably need, to make things with our hands.
In January 2000, Art Ranger had an art installation of "Paratools" (celebrating y2k paranoia). For this occasion, we commissioned Dr. Knot to create a set of teeth made out of corn kernals. He took to the job, and fashioned them using cherry jello and play dough as the gums, and embedding the kernals in place according to shape. He came to the art opening wearing a hat with a rattlesnake hatband. We strategically placed a set of his business cards on hand saying:
Dr. Knot, Dentist
If you got 'em floss 'em
Here is an interview (boiled down to 5 minutes) featuring Dr. Knot in his retirement after forty years of whirligig making and dentistry: http://vimeo.com/19504445