Thursday, March 08, 2007

Semi-Public Art; Performance Process and Progress; Contest

Semi-Public Art

Since my little adventure in health care a few months back, I've been trying (honest, I have!) to get a little exercise, emphasis on little. Mostly, I've been taking 30+ minute walks around my neighborhood. Now, my neighborhood doesn't generally draw tourists. Mostly, I'm walking past warehouses and other industrial types of business. And condos, of course. It's a fairly unremarkable place.

Last week, I decided to cross a street that I'd somehow decided was a boundary street for my walks. I'm a creature of ingrained habit, and once I decide upon a route, I tend to take the same one over and over. But, I don't know, I was feeling wild and crazy that day.

So I'm walking along, seeing more condos, a self-storage place I hadn't seen before, and quite a lot of houses that were probably on the edge of the city 50 - 60 years ago, before NASA and air conditioning made Houston the fourth largest city in the USA. Old suburbia, in other words.

I came across on house on a corner lot that made me pause in my travels. In the yard were several metal sculptures. They are spare, you might even say minimalist. One is a slightly larger than life sculpture of a dancing figure. It's very interesting to me in that the legs are very solid, with plate metal forming them, but the torso is a mangled series of metal bar. It's quite effective, giving the torso a sense of lightness and movement on what look like really powerful legs. This was the sculpture that first caught my eye, dance geek that I am.

There are a couple of other pieces that are harder to describe. They are also made of metal bars or rods, I'd guess no more than a quarter inch thick. They're bent and welded so that they form these rather large . . . not quite curly cues, but that's close enough. They spin out of themselves and into the ground. They're fun, but I don't have an emotional response to them.

I do have an emotional response to the other sculptures, though. At first, I couldn't figure out what they were. They are also made out of these metal rods and they fairly quickly took form as kneeling figures, but with all those skinny lines, it was a bit hard to see what they were other than squiggly lines. Slowly, I began to see that each of these kneeling stick figures was holding a smaller figure in it's arms. The smaller figure was in a back-bend, as in death or grave injury or illness.

I realized I was looking at a half-dozen stick figure pietas. It is remarkably affecting. I wonder if there is a story behind them. They strike me as very sad.

I went again for a walk into that part of the neighborhood today. It appeared as though the figures were moved. I remembered them all facing the street, but today, some were turned to each other.

I wonder if the artist lives in the house or if it's just a fan of this one artist. Maybe, after the light in the evenings get longer, I'll take a walk that way and get up the courage to knock on the door and ask about them.

Performance Process and Progress

So I'm making my first trio performance piece. This is going to be a growing experience. It's going to alter the way that I make work. After making only solo work, this challenges my process in ways that surprise me.

This is the Desert Fathers piece I mentioned last post. It still lacks a title and even the theme is just starting to emerge for me. Yes, still about weakness being strength, but also something about ritual and community.

I have more to say about this, but not right now. I think I need another meeting with my collaborators. I think I'm going to learn a lot. About myself and about making non-solo work.


For the five or so following this blog, you'll note that the first of March has come and gone without an announcement about a contest to win a copy of Able to.... Well, I'm suspending the monthly contest for the moment. I'm just not getting response to it. The last message board I posted it to keeps track of how many people read a post, and over one hundred people looked at the contest posting . . . and no one, not one, entered.

The previous month wasn't much better.

So I have to rethink this and I'm open to ideas as to why no one responded. Maybe I haven't described the book well enough to build interest? Maybe asking for an answer to a question ("What kind of super power would you like to have and why?") was too much to ask contestants? (maybe I should have stated I wasn't really expecting much more than a simple "I'd like to fly because I really dig looking at those Earth from Above books.") Maybe it's the request to post the entries on my website---even as I gave people the option of being anonymous?

I don't know, I thought it would be fun. But, you know, I have a skewed sense of fun. I often point to the magazine racks at work as a microcosm of my world. Over here we have a whole bay and several shelves of car magazines (no interest) and over here we have three dance magazines (huge interest). What I think of as fun may appeal to only something like .o25% of the population.

But Able to... is a good book, and I'll find other ways to promote. I may even come back to this monthly contest idea, only with some tweaking. Feel free to offer tweaking advice.