Mandela effect in Minturn? New Gel Z mural hasn’t always been there…
Local artist finishes work on large piece behind town hall
Gel Z recently finished a mural near the town hall in Minturn.
Or did she?
The Minturn local, real name Angelica Clemmer, said while working on the piece, numerous people asked if it was a new piece she just created, or if she was touching up an already existing work which had been there for years. After it happened for the third or fourth time, she said she began to think it was a little strange.
“I had couples come and they’d be fighting,” Clemmer said. “The husband would be like ‘I came and talked to her earlier, I told you this wasn’t here.’ And the wife would be like ‘I thought it was here before.'”
Clemmer says she can’t help but think the circumstances are somewhat familiar to those described in “The Mandela Effect,” a phenomenon of collective consciousness that occurs when a large group of people remember events or occurrences differently than what proves to be true. The effect is named after Nelson Mandela, who did not die in prison in the 1980s, but was wrongly remembered as being dead by a large group of people who learned he was still alive in the 2000s.
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In the HBO show “How to with John Wilson,” in addition to visiting Vail at one point, Wilson explores the Mandela Effect, attending a conference in Ketchum, Idaho, with Chris Anatra, president of food distribution software company NECS.
Antra made headlines in 2019 when he blamed the Mandela Effect for changes made in his grocery store stocking software. Anatra used common grocery-store items – like Kraft Stovetop Stuffing, Raisin Bran and Febreze – to present his case.
“Febreze, I always remember it being spelled with two ‘E’s,'” Anatra said. “But it’s Febreze, and it’s always been that way. That’s the point that I want to make, that’s it’s always spelled this way, it’s never been spelled with the two ‘E’s.'”
Wilson, the show’s narrator, said he also thought Febreze was spelled “Febreeze,“ and so he followed Anatra to his office to learn more.
“I still didn’t have all my groceries, but I was hypnotized by his elaborate theories,” Wilson said. “And I soon learned that this was more than just a hobby for him.”
Anatra told Wilson about the first official Mandela Effect conference, which took place in Ketchum in 2019. Wilson attended the event, camera running, and met some of the most fervent Mandela Effect devotees.
“The more I talked with people, the more I realized that they didn’t think of this as a memory problem, at all,” Wilson said.
The explanation, Wilson learned, is alternate dimensions.
“In their minds, their memories were perfect,” Wilson said, “and they were the chosen few who could remember details from alternate dimensions that they once inhabited.”
Anatra, in an address to the Mandela Conference attendees, says the Mandela Effect is “the consequence of jumping timelines while holding memories of the previous timeline.”
In January, when the Publisher’s Clearing House Prize Patrol visited Eagle County to award a $1 million check to Pamela Jonker, the longtime Eagle resident was thrilled.
Jonker told the Prize Patrol that for 40-plus years, she had been starting each day by visiting the Publisher’s Clearing House website and entering the sweepstakes. She said she had been in that habit “Ever since Ed McMahon was doing it.”
But Ed McMahon was never doing it. In remembering Ed McMahon as the face of Publisher’s Clearing House, Mandela Effect adherents say Jonker is tapping into an alternative timeline, as Ed McMahon did not work for Publisher’s Clearing House.
Howie Guja with the Prize Patrol told Jonker that while many people believe Ed McMahon was part of the Publishers Clearing House giveaways, McMahon actually worked for a competitor, American Family Publishers, which is no longer in business.
In a Forbes Magazine article, Todd Sloane with Publisher’s Clearing House detailed how the collective false memory likely occurred.
“American Family Publishers was set up to directly compete with us,” Sloane told Forbes. “They were always a ‘me-too’ company. When we ran TV commercials, they would go on air with TV ads. They would do everything we did. So during the 1980s when there was a tremendous amount of TV advertising, people got these ads mixed up. They thought they were one-and-the-same.”
Several Mandela Effect threads online are dedicated to Ed McMahon, with one YouTube video titled “Mandela Effect Proof Ed McMahon/PCH Carson on Letterman ’91 w/Publishers Clearinghouse” receiving about 25,000 views.
Gel Z doesn’t think people are tapping into alternate realities when they conjure a false memory of her mural always being in Minturn.
But now that her brand of art – using bright colors and wildlife to create stylized scenes from nature – has been mostly solidified after about 10 years of development in her Minturn studio, she says her pieces might be starting to stick with people in their subconscious.
“I had one guy tell me he liked my art so much and it’s good, that’s why people think it’s always been there,“ she said. ”Like it belongs.”
Her response to him was “Wow thanks dude, that’s awesome to hear,“ and in thinking about it more, her response to herself was ”It’s possible that people are starting to know my artwork around here.”
Gel Z is mainly a gallery artist, but she has also completed public art pieces at Little Beach Park and the Minturn Market.
While she doesn’t believe she’s visiting an alternative timeline, Gel Z does tap into a slightly altered state of consciousness when creating her work, she said.
“It’s all feeling,” she said. “It just comes from inside of me … I can go back to it and be like ‘wow that’s weird I painted that,’ because I’m into it, and it doesn’t even seem like I’m doing it.”
The process known as “flow” is not the most easy-to-comprehend concept in psychology, but mountain sports athletes seem to understand it well as those activities can be gateways to the flow state.
The term was coined by Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who uses rock climbing as an example of a flow-state activity in his book “Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience.”
In the book, Csikszentmihalyi receives from a professor of physics a description of the professor’s mental state while rock climbing, which Csikszentmihalyi quotes:
“It is as if my memory input has been cut off. All I can remember is the last thirty seconds, and all I can think ahead is the next five minutes.”
Similarly, that rock climber’s family might enter the flow state simply watching him perform this activity, which is why Csikszentmihalyi says murals have a way of surviving the ages.
“Humans began decorating caves at least thirty thousand years ago,” Csikszentmihalyi writes. “These paintings surely had religious and practical significance. However, it is likely that the major raison d’être of art was the same in the Paleolithic era as it is now – namely, it was a source of flow for the painter and for the viewer.”
Hyperreal dumpster gate
Working in Minturn, Gel Z said she felt free to find her own state of flow thanks to the loose constrictions of the project.
Her guidelines, given to her informally by the town of Minturn, were to use the bright-colored style to which locals have grown to recognize in her work, and to use the words “Compost for our future” on the composting side of the 4-walled piece.
The mural is located on the south side of town hall and the post office, and covers the housing for the dumpsters in that area while suggesting why it’s important to secure your trash. On the wooden gate portion of the piece, Gel Z’s mural has created a set of hyperreal wooden gates through her art, with a pair of bears peaking over them, as if they’re about to climb over.
“A couple of the locals who walked by said ‘maybe now the bears won’t get into the dumpster, because they’ll see the bears,'” she said.
Local mountains, including Notch Mountain, provide the backdrops to Gel Z’s foreground creatures which include bears, moose and trout.
“I thought a moose would be cool because every time I go to Maloit Park there’s a moose there,” she said.
But the true feeling behind the piece did not come from the scenes, Gel Z said, it came from the colors used in those scenes.
“I wanted to get emotion out of the colors themselves, without even thinking about what I was painting,” she said.