Friday, November 30, 2012

Post Beaver Moon

My friend Myron said he was there for the entertainment.

Frankly, they had me at "oddly sexy."

Artist Arlene Shechet was speaking at the Grace Street theater about her creative processes.

She began by reading the words of other people who, she said, had conveyed in words what she thought but couldn't verbalize.

Things like, "Creativity means having the ability to be embarrassed."

I like to think I have both skill sets.

She then proceeded to, "quickly riff through twenty years of my life."

He current exhibit at Anderson Gallery is called "That Time" and after hearing her speak, her work is clearly all about a number of times.

Like 1993 when her work was being informed by birth (her children) and death (her best friend).

After a realization that everyone is going to die, Shechet resolved to be more alive.

Part of that was spending time daily in her studio, whether it was fifteen minutes or hours.

Like during the '90s when "lots of gender stuff was going on."

Like in 2001 when she was walking across the Brooklyn bridge after dropping her kids at school and saw the plane fly into the first tower. And the second.

That time.

It took me a while just to get my head around that experience.

Shechet captured the audience's attention because her journey, not to mention her well-formulated explanations, were so compelling.

We saw images of her works in glass, ceramics, printmaking and finally, from 2005 on, clay.

She was quick to remind us that seven years ago, clay was still marginalized, the material of crafters.

So naturally she went on to make clay pieces that were hailed for their leaning, bulging and, yes, even oddly sexy qualities.

She admitted that some of her pieces did topple over and that, "Some of the failures are good and some of them are just failures."

That's life, right?

Toward the end, she showed images with little explanation.

"I don't want to be more articulate than the object," she said brilliantly.

By the time I left the lecture, I felt like I'd met the most interesting guest a party and she'd spent the entire evening telling me her history.

How could she not create art in response to those times?

For my evening opener, I couldn't have asked for more.

Not more art anyway, but certainly some music.

It was forthcoming at Gallery 5 where a show rescheduled from October was finally happening.

Opening was comedian Alan Resnick who proceeded to give us a comic presentation in the style of a motivational speaker, complete with head mic.

It was pretty hilarious.

One of his first instructions was for us to sit down on the floor.

Raptly, we did.

His well-delivered constant patter bordered on smarmy as he told us how we could outlive our family and friends by getting an avatar.

He then proceeded to attempt a comedic routine with his avatar on a screen behind him.

The crowd ate it up.

And let me tell you about the crowd.

One kid in RayBans despite the dark room. Another in a Santa hat.

One in a hat that looked like a shark was biting his head, complete with teeth all the way around.

Lots of Xs on hands.

That crowd.

Next up was Heights with Friends, a trio of guitar and two vocalists with aspirations of the Beastie Boys.

They said they were starting with an a capella song, but it came out more like  rap.

I don't want to say they had a bleak outlook, but lyrics like, "Dreams don't always come true, Do what you have to," surely can't be good for impressionable young X-marked youth.

Of course they loved it.

My favorite moment of their set may have come when the guitarist traded his ax for a trumpet solo or it could have been the lyric, "I can't stop eating the sugar," as inscrutable or metaphorical line as a 20-something could come up with.

During the break, a message on the screen announced, "Download the Dan Deacon app. Turn all your phones into the light show. Help us make this dream a reality."

Luckily, I didn't have the tool to make that a reality, so I was off the hook.

When headliner Dan Deacon finally took the floor (eschewing the stage), it was to tell us that this was his first solo show in ages and that it was going to be sloppy.

He may have even mentioned it being a shit storm.

Instead, he kicked into high gear with his electro dance noise and the minute he began bouncing, so did the crowd.

From there, he was the boss of everyone in the room, telling us to clear the center of the floor and picking two people to dance there.

After five seconds, they were to tap someone else to replace them.

One rule: No cowards. Dance or get out of the way.

And dancing is a loose term; all that was realty required was high energy motion, whether flailing, jumping jacks or imaginary pole dancing.

Deacon must enjoy orchestrating his dance parties, because he went on to choose leaders for a group interpretive dance, splitting those of us on the right side of the room from those on the left.

Even smashed against the wall, I did what I could to follow along, moving body parts according to my team's leader.

When he tried to do the app light show, things weren't working and he finally canned the idea.

"This'll be much less awkward the the mass phone thing," he promised, launching into another rhythmic, fast-paced song that dared you not to dance, if only in place.

You become fast friends with those near you in that situation.

During a mid-set trip to the bathroom, the bearded guy in line behind me chatted me up about bathroom speed, dance music and Richmond.

Later, he ended up next to me and during an especially rambunctious dance move, bonked me royally.

Mortified, he grabbed me to his chest and hugged me to show there were no hard feelings (only hard elbows).

We were all in this together.

The crowd went crazy (okay, crazier) for Deacon's exuberant "Wham City" and next thing we knew, his mixer broke and the show was over.

Or maybe it was just time.

The dancing (and dance-offs) had been pretty much non-stop, with the beat never really letting up.

Okay, it had been a little sloppy, with lots of random body contact and flashing lights.

Way better than a shit storm. Entertainment, even.

No comments:

Post a Comment