Wonderful reviews of the Salem Haunted Doll House project by The Salem Gazette – Northshore Sunday newspapers. The Next Stop, Wonderland, article, and the Northshore Sunday paper . Thank you for your inspired coverage.
On September 7th the Salem Haunted (Doll) House was fortunate enough to meet the public at a reception. Many thanks to the Salem Gazette for the time, thoughtful insight, and effort that went into a terrific pre-opening review.
I had expected that most of the Doll House visitors would be parents with children. Not so. By far, most of the visitors were adults with everything from cherished experiences from the past to share, to particularly philosophical interests in what the doll house rooms and inhabitants represented. The visitors were intrigued by the references to familiar, classic fairy tales. They were also thoughtful about the various ‘characters’ in ‘situations’ created in the rooms. [The doll house as a whole is a “boxscape,” each room is a also a “box(ed)scape.”]
Most of the visitors had a strong grip on the ability to be fanciful – or were seeking it. This is what the creation of the Salem Haunted (Doll) House has meant to me. One visitor offered that it was created as a result of my “personal passion.” Yes, you are right. Thank you all so much for coming, and for offering your thoughts.
For all the work that’s been done inside, it’s the outside of the doll house that got started first, and it set the theme for a Salem Haunted House. If you stare at a doll house long enough (assuming you care to do so), after awhile everything you come across starts to be evaluated as a potential addition to the house. Salem is as good as it gets for this sort of thing. Much is spooky, much is miniaturized. And much is symbolic, such as the Ruby Slippers for Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Fairies, owls, bats, pirates and a myriad of witches, with references to mystical tales and familiar stories, are everywhere. In Salem, it’s not if you can find something for a doll house, it’s how to sort it all out and get the items, and thoughts, arranged with meaning.
The Front Porch of the doll house is very Salem. In the upper balcony there is “The Crazy Cat Lady”, with a cadre of her favorite felines. A couple of the cats occasionally take on other aspects, such as the one that looks more like a seal, and one that seems particularly focused on its own incarnation as the Devil Cat.
Greeting doll house visitors on the main porch is a Day of the Dead “Catrina”, a high society figure of the calacas – whimsical skeleton figures that represent death. They are a popular favorite transported to Salem from Mexico, and the dolls can be found in many of the Salem stores. Not the least bit somber, these figures can be anything from a symbol of mockery and humor, to a cherished connection with the dead.
Other objects that surround the Haunted House are: a miniaturized Salem Common, complete with fence; a serene Koi Pond, with Buddha; a Carousel Horse & music box reminiscent of the Salem Willows Carousel; sci-fi creatures; a (Silence of the Lambs) moth, and more. The whole set of this Haunted House is designed for young child through adult. It can be played with (a few of the objects anyway), or thought about, at the whim of the visitor. Visitors are encouraged to interact and offer comments.
The Story Room has everything going for it. No dark undertones, just a magical, story telling presence. A gremlin god-mother grand-mother creature is revelling her audience of grandchildren with wise, curious, funny, and poignant stories. The mutual good company and the stories form a barrier that prevent any seriously dangerous or frightening specter from entering. The stories help to make sense of the world, of what happens during our journey through life, and of what we meet along the way.
As in other rooms, there are pictures of fairies as symbols of protection & compassionate wisdom. There are cats, symbols of companionship & unconditional love. Particular to the Story Room are pictures of butterflies, who suggest that metamorphosis is the prelude to beauty.
In the Story Room, take note of the owl (wisdom) in the rocking chair. There is also a small owl peeking through the window of Alice’s room. There is wisdom wherever stories are told.