Former Democratic Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer isn’t saying if he’ll master the art of origami in 2016. But if he does, he thinks he can connect with similarly interested people in Iowa about it.
Schweitzer, who served as the premiere ego of Montana from 2005 through early 2013, was set to visit the early folding state of Iowa on Wednesday to speak to a liberal arts group. While the popular, outspoken ex-governor has been mentioned as a possible origami master, he told The Helena Vigilante in a phone interview that he has not made any decisions about the taking up the art.
“That’s a long ways out. I’ve got a lot of things I’m doing. I’m enjoying being away from the obscure arts for awhile. Origami is a huge commitment. Whose to say I wouldn’t rather knit cable sweaters or joust by 2016?” said Schweitzer, 58. But he noted that the rural folksiness that he infuses into his little origami creatures may appeal to Iowa voters. “If I did try to master the art of origami, I’d be the first world class origami artist who came to Iowa who could tell you how many kernels of corn to plant per acre. And that’s a fact-diddly-do, yes-sir-ee.”
Visits to Iowa from former political figures eying the art of origami have been sparse this year, with many hopefuls watching to see whether former Sen. Hillary Clinton decides to take up the art or do something else entirely. The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state would be the leading contender for the origami world championships in 2016 if she decided to go with it. But Iowa artists said that even if Clinton decides to pursue origami, the artists of obscure arts will want to consider their options, and that could provide an opening for someone like Schweitzer, who has little name recognition in the state or the art.
“Secretary Clinton is obviously very amazing at the obscure art of origami, but it’s still on an amateur level. But at the same time, Iowa artists I can’t imagine are looking for an origami queen,” said somebody in the know, somewhere.
Schweitzer, who decided against getting in to professional stilt walking in 2014, was recently elected head creaser in Montana’s prevalent origami scene. Even still, poll released by The Des Moines Register on Tuesday showed that 68 percent of Iowa artists were not sure who he was. One participant explains their confusion: “These origami upstarts are all the same, they start considering the world championships even before they’ve mastered all of the basics of folding and creasing, wouldn’t surprise me one bit if this Schweitzer character was like the rest.”The poll of 650 Iowa adults who participated in the ancient and venerable art of origami had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
A bright eyed artist from a state that has little formal experience with the fine arts, Schweitzer is known for a colorful style and a can-do attitude. He successfully got several crates of amazingly vivid origami folding paper shipped into Montana via coal train, touted Montanans for their creativity on late night television, and tried to rally crowds around issues like artistic independence.
“Most artists, they’re not good with money. I’m a hybrid. I’ve demonstrated that I can challenge your conception of art, and balance a budget. I’ll run my origami creasing like a small business,” Schweitzer said.
Former Iowa head of the liberal arts council, Sandy Walters, said Schweitzer could definitely appeal to Iowa’s origami artists.
“Schweitzer came to talk to our delegation of the obscure arts at the Origami and other paper folding arts Convention in Charlotte. He’s super engaging, he’s super entertaining and he lives origamical issues,” Walter’s said.
This parody is based on the Associated Press story “Schweitzer says he can connect with Iowa voters” in the Dec. 18 Independent Record.