By Andrea Papagianis
Did you know? Elephant Parade: Welcome to America artist Oliver Benjamin founded the religion Dudeism and the Church or Latter-Day Dudes based loosely on the Coen Brothers film The Big Lebowski (1998), and the pre-Lebowski religions of Taoism, Zen Buddhism and American Transcendentalism.
His “Mellowphant” creation may make a little more sense if one has seen the movie starring Jeff Bridges, even though the religion has no official affiliation to the film itself.
Benjamin paid homage to the free-wheeling, unemployed avid bowler, Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, from Los Angeles, in the form of a 6-foot tall baby Asian Elephant statue. Complete with Lebowski’s signature attire—a robe, white T-shirt, plaid shorts, sandals and sunglasses—the statue epitomizes “The Dude” who finds himself in a slew of trouble after being mistaken for millionaire tycoon, Big Lebowski.
Every week the Dana Point Times is highlighting one local or regional artist’s contribution to the Elephant Parade: Welcome to America open air exhibit. The event is the Asian Elephant Foundation’s largest fundraiser to benefit the endangered species, and is on parade around town until early November.
ARTIST: Oliver Benjamin, the Los Angeles-born journalist and author, who founded Dudeism and the Church of Latter-Day Dudes
LOCATION: DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Doheny Beach, 34402 E. Pacific Coast Highway