At Adam Ende’s studio in Dockton where he creates his Jawbone Puppet Theater Wondershow, guests would be as likely to receive a visit from two curious kittens as they would be to run into a puppet version of Rudy Guiliani, broken instruments or the skull of a dead animal. And while the kitties provide some sweet comic relief, the rest is essential to Ende’s vision for his art, which will be on display at the Museum of Pop Culture this weekend.
Ende creates puppet shows with puppets he makes himself out of paper mache and sets he builds out of junk — including the aforementioned instruments, animal skulls, dolls, bike parts, plumbing fixtures and whatever else he finds or is given that suits his style. To understand that “style,” think Kafka meets garage-sale junkie.
After studying writing in college, Ende explained that all of the reading he did basically scared him away from it as a profession. He took up pottery in his final year and found his creative outlet there, describing himself as a “potter with the sensibility of an underground comic book artist.”
For a decade or so from the mid 1990s until about 2004, Ende lived and had a pottery studio on Vashon. It was during that time that he became involved with Islewilde and the art of puppetry. Though in hindsight, his path has not been too much of a surprise.
“Without realizing it, I was essentially training to be a puppeteer since I was a kid,” Ende said. “I loved reading literature and folk tales. Combine that with the writing and art … it just brings it all together.”
Due to his involvement with Islewilde, he was invited to perform at various venues in Seattle, which ultimately led to an opportunity to go to Taiwan for a few months to perform at schools and libraries, all as part of a project to bring arts and culture to the community.
When that project was finished, he returned to Vashon briefly before seizing another opportunity to return to Taiwan — this time for six years.
It was during this second stint that his son Ling Ling Endelin was born.
From the age of 2, Ling Ling has accompanied Ende on tours, as well as performed with him in various capacities.
“We moved from Taiwan to New York City, and I wanted to create shows, short ones that I could do with my son,” he said of involving Ling Ling, who was then 4, in his art. “So we busked in the streets of New York and went on tour in various parts of the world for two months.”
Ling Ling began contributing his own vision to the shows, and this father-son puppet theater partnership was born.
Eventually, after more time in Taiwan and also Puerto Rico, Ende and Ling Ling landed back on Vashon, where with family in the area, they have decided to settle.
And now, the Museum of Pop Culture has come calling.
Formerly The Experience Music Project, MoPop, as it’s now known, will host a “Maker Faire” this weekend. Described as “a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do,” the organizers reached out to Ende to offer him and his son a space to show their art and perform.
“We’ll do a number of shows, some of which Ling Ling (who is now 9) designed and directed,” he said of the pair’s repertoire. “They’re funny, surreal and violent, rich in imagery … fascinating. It’ll be family-friendly, but edgy.”
All of which speaks to Ende’s philosophy regarding children and art/entertainment.
“When people make things for kids, it’s either sickly sweet or they shoot jokes over the kids’ heads to appeal to the parents,” he explained. “Kids are smart. We don’t have to dumb things down as much as is typically done.”
Adam Ende and Ling Ling Endelin will perform their original shows from 10 a.m .to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Maker Faire this weekend at the Museum of Pop Culture at Seattle Center.
Look for the Jawbone Puppet Theater Wondershow outside.