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The Wild Creativity of Mark Mothersbaugh

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Film director Wes Anderson announced last year that he wants to create an amusement park. He says that it would have "hundreds of animatronic characters and creatures, rides through vast invented landscapes and buildings, extensive galleries of textiles and sculptures, plus an ongoing original music score piped in everywhere," and he wants the whole thing to be designed by a musician named Mark Mothersbaugh.

I know this is just my opinion, but humankind has a sacred obligation to do everything in its power to make this happen.

Mark Mothersbaugh is best known as front-man for Devo, the art/new wave band that set absurdist satire of government propaganda to minimalist rock beats in the '70s and '80s. Mothersbaugh’s mind is the kind that would think of having his rock band wear rubber hazmat suits and plastic flower pots on their heads.

He’s touched your lives in ways you might not know, like with his hundreds of soundtracks, including some for Anderson. He did Mystery Men, the Sims game, and a famous Apple Macintosh commercial. Kids shows are a speciality: "Pee Wee’s Playhouse," "Rugrats," all the way to The Lego Movie. He’s also an author, and his visual art has been shown all over the world. Not only that, his line of fashion eyewear is way cooler than anyone else’s line of fashion eyewear.

Connecting all his work is his style: childish, irreverent, surreal, subversive. Like when his band wore plastic John F. Kennedy wigs or performed while running on treadmills. His art puts you in a different state, forcing a new perspective on familiar things.

And this is why, in my opinion, an amusement park designed by Mark Mothersbaugh would be mankind’s greatest achievement. But if that is only a pipe dream, Wichitans have an opportunity for something nearly as good. There’s a local push to make Mothersbaugh the official artist in residence for next year’s River Festival. I can’t tell you how happy that would make me.

Mark Foley is principal double bass of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and professor of double bass and head of Jazz Studies at Wichita State University.