I always listen to my daughter Becky when she recommends something. In this case she sent me the file to download to watch “Gumby Dharma”, a one-hour documentary film about the artist and filmmaker Art Clokey who created Gumby. Am I correct to assume that most of you know who (what) Gumby is?!

Gumby is a character and iconic figure made out of clay that starred in a stop motion animation series on TV and in the movies in the 50’s and 60’s. Gumby became very popular again in the 80’s and beyond: you could (can) buy rubber Gumby products, including erasers; there were spiritual short films made then with Gumby, tours of US cities with sold-out crowds waiting to get into the theaters. As shown in the film, Gumby was adored by children, and became a cult figure to adults.

Why write about Gumby and this film? Aside from the title, the film presents the spiritual side of the creator, Art Clokey, as well as Gumby himself. I’ll give you some paraphrased examples of messages spoken in the film:

  • Art said: “We’re all God, everything in me, all the characters.”
  • “Gumby is about innocence, adventures, that nothing is impossible; he’s an explorer of life.”
  • In speaking about Gumby’s color (green), Art said, “I didn’t want blue – this would be Krishna; black would be African American; brown would be Mexican or Latin American. Green is racially neutral, like chlorophyll which turns light into food; life comes from light, and Gumby is a product of light, and light is love.”
  • The quote in the title of this blog comes from the theme song of the Gumby animation series: ”If you have a heart, then Gumby’s a part of you.”
  • In showing the cult status of Gumby in the 80’s, the film presented a placard saying, “The Candidate with a Heart: Gumby for President”.
  • In speaking about his father, Art’s son said that Gumby and the other characters had qualities of Art’s human personality, however “Gumby was his soul”.
  • Gumby and Gumby stories were described as “magical, reaffirming for childhood and for Americans, acts of love for all children”.

I won’t get into the details of Art’s bio, except to write that he was abandoned by his mother, adopted by a very giving man, went from being a family man in the 50’s and 60’s to a divorced hippie experimenting with drugs with Timothy O’Leary. Very important to him, and for many of us to feel a connection with him, he and his wife were very devoted to Sai Baba. After being interested in Sai Baba since 1974, they finally went to Baba’s ashram in India in 1979. During darshan, Baba came right up to Art and stood in front of him as he was seated on the floor. Art held up Gumby for Baba to bless, which Baba did by placing vibhuti (sacred ash) on Gumby. From that time on, Gumby again became very popular, and Art’s financial situation (being broke) dramatically changed.

As I’ve written in other blogs, Art’s creation was an expression of who he truly was, of that spirit that flows when you’re devoting yourself to what you love. Art mentioned that the creation came from operating on existence, in a trance, not from feelings, out of the core, with “God creating through us”. I loved the freedom and joy of Art dancing with Gumby and Pokey (Gumby’s pony) at the end of the film. Our freedom and joy comes from this natural self-expression, bringing to life our soul and spirit through what we create when we are really loving what we’re doing, how we’re living our lives.

This documentary reminded me once again of the importance of this form of self-expression for me, of going for it, being an innocent, joyful child on an adventure during this life. Art spoke with fond remembrance, touched and touching, of his six years in Sausalito, California (where I used to live), when he created and worked at Premavision Gumby Studios. “Prema” which is Love, of which Sai Baba spoke so often and incarnated in human form. Vision of Love … if you have a heart, then Gumby’s a part of you …

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