The Bungled Jungle

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Bungled Jungle in the Press

Monster Makers Create Bungled Jungle

by Jennifer Dempsey
Special to The Mall
The Mountain Mail, May 20, 2008

monster makersWalking into 132 First St. is like walking into the Little Shop of Horrors - or maybe the prop room at Disneyland; it definitely could be Who-ville.

"We like to think of ourselves as Dr. Suess gone bad," Pat Landreth said.

He, with partner Suzanne Montano, are the creative geniuses behind Bungled Jungle.

Packed with hilarious, eccentric creatures and monsters, the store would, make the Grinch feel right at home.

Hanging from the ceiling, a green, one-eyed flying creature smiles revealing a buck tooth. Jutting from the wall is a jagged-toothed purple-headed dragon.

In the middle of the room is a busty, 4-foot, lounge-lizard mermaid, dressed in gold glitter, microphone in hand.

"We have talked to Universal Studios," Landreth said, "but they want you to do what they want you to do. We make what we want to make. We seldom do custom orders. Besides, we're very unreliable and unstable people."

For more than 20 years creatures from Bungled Jungle have gone into homes, businesses and galleries throughout the United States, into Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

"We've been going to Austin, Texas, for 14 years," he said. "It's a wonderful city for us because it's employed."

Originally from Washington and Texas, Landreth and Montano had regular day jobs before becoming monster-makers.

"I loved making creatures as a kid, but when I had to become a responsible adult, I became a nuclear physicist - and I taught psychology," Landreth said. Montano is a former geologist.

"1 met Suzanne when the bottom dropped out of the geology market. Because of the oil crisis her career was on temporary hold," he said. "We like this - it's Much more fun."

Landreth and Montano use as many as 13 different materials creating their creatures, including plastic, rubber, metal, plaster and clay.

"The process is similar to paper mache in the layering, but our creations are much tougher. They can fall off the wall and not get hurt, except for maybe losing a tooth. But we offer free dental coverage."

All their creations are one of a kind and developed from their imaginations. Most construction is done at their home in Howard with final touches in the shop.

"We can get as silly as we want. Art shows are juried and you have to stay within their guidelines. Here, we can be just as crazy as we want and experiment with different materials.

"We're not running low on ideas. The more creatures I do the more ideas I have," Landreth said.

Four years ago, he and Montano lived in a two-story school bus on a farm outside Fort Collins. Friends suggested they see Salida.

"We have found the place we want to live the rest of our lives," he said. "We love hiking and developing new ideas and teasing the public with them.

"We are the proverbial starving artists, always trying to make ends meet, but I wouldn't trade it. Our customers are always laughing."

This summer, Bungled Jungle will be featured at the Telluride Blue Grass Festival June 18-21 and at Artwalk in Salida June 26-28.

Bungled Jungle creations can be seen at www.bungledjungle.com. For store hours call 539-3759 or e-mail bungledjungle@yahoo.com.

"We come in almost every day and we will open for anybody," Landreth said. "We're not proud."