Experimental Action: Performance Art Houston, February 23 – 25th, 2017

Last entry, September, 2016. Since then…professor of art, teaching art appreciation, and interim gallery manager at a local college. Resting, yoga, walking, time with spouse and dogs and family and friends – HEALING. Today, co-Manager of the Cliff Gallery, Mountain View College and member of ART BEEF/BEEFHAUS collective, Dallas, Texas. Now am honored to be invited to speak at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston symposium for the international performance art event in Houston, Texas. Excited!

EXPERIMENTAL ACTION 2017

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Artists Sometimes Make Public Art

Some cities figure out how to gather up money from citizens to hold a competition for artists to apply for making public art for their city. When an artist gets a city “gig” they can go at it and do all sorts of things as long as they follow the rules established by the city. Then once the work has been completed the artist has the opportunity to be so very proud of their work. Sometimes they find that there is a collaboration between them and the public, such as the drawing/text here as seen in this photo. The F is so flowey. The U so elegant, the C is direct, and the K very bold. The scribbleys bring a sense of humor to the work and the T in the word That is such a throwback to the ’80’s when cheerleaders used to spell our football teams name “Gimme a T!” As for the remaining characters of the drawing/text well I will leave it to the viewer to enjoy dive into deciphering that.

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June through August 2016

On sabbatical, hiatus, furlough, leave of absence, recess, break, time off, terms typically used by those who are doing just that from a job or work or something they are doing to take leave of. As for me, my hiatus, has been more like a gap or opening between my life pre-graduate school and about a year following. Something inside me shifted. I’ve stopped trying to figure out why; it just did. In the process of this shift one significant friend died, one moved away, my paternal grandmother passed away (carrying with her stories we will never hear), I seemed to have lost a great deal of my passion for many things, and I felt overlooked, misunderstood, under appreciated, and an absolute loserfailureidiotfatslobtoopolitenotworthyourtimeartistreject. Perhaps my solution was to move. I’ve always dreamed to move back to Seattle. Jim is open to it. But that could be running away. What about NYC, LA, OKC, Chi-Town, or anywhere else but Texas!?!

I’ve been isolating myself from those I know, well those I’ve been socializing with at art openings and such. Tiring of the bullshit that can happen. Not blaming anyone really, but myself; getting caught up in my insecurities. Taking risks and chances, doing things to “help” me seem interesting. No more. This isn’t real. Not me. I hate that this was done to me, to you. I’m not really self-righteous, I’m a true introvert and shy and better at home making art, writing, having pot lucks and small groups over for dinner, or doing yoga and meditating. Or better yet, hiking in the woods or swimming in a clear stream or the waters of the South Pacific. I’m not lonely at all. The air is sweet.

Here’s the thing. I’m just more me now. It fits.

More to come.

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March Through May

At times we creatives experience a kind of emptiness, a sense of creative sterility or perhaps a period of brain rest. This describes how I have been overall during the past few months. It is easy to slip into feelings of guilt or shame especially considering the money spent on graduate school. Yet those two agitators must quickly have their say and then be successfully calmed so that we can say so long for now you killjoys you malcontents! In this process, I am able to see what is actually happening. I am reading, watching, listening, laughing, hiking, gathering, creating, living each and every day. Sometimes it looks like lying on the couch to watch a documentary or read a good novel. Others could be stirring a pot of milk on the stovetop until it reaches 185 degrees fahrenheit and then spoil it with a culture in order to transform it to a yummy treat. In addition, working for another aids in the process of my walking through the haze.

There is more to come. For now – done here.

SB+C Beefhaus

SB+C
Beefhaus

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Acting Out

A conversation on the square with Lucy Lippard, chats about the interesting interactions with others regarding performance art with Rebecca Belmore, and numerous talks with other artists who both perform as well as make objects happened Dec 2-4th @”Acting Out:  A Symposium of Indigenous Performance Art” in Santa Fe, NM. See review/story:   Artsy.com

Young artists Anna Tsouhlarakis and Merritt Johnson, both Native, as well as a talk by Dr. Kate Morris on the work of Kent Monkman and his “Casualties of Modernity” project were presented during the symposium. There is something intriguing about Johnson’s Youtube (Exorcising America) addressing otherness, alien, place, space, and longing; along with a wink at the ridiculousness of everyday life and our expectations of others. Check them all out.

Anna Tsouhlarakis        Merritt Johnson

“Performing the Body” a panel and discussion addressed the influence, politics, and impact of using the physical body as a medium for actions, including the associations and perceptions that audiences may have of an artist’s body.unpack the influence, politics, and impact of using the physical body as a medium for actions, including the associations and perceptions that audiences may have of an artist’s body. Panelists were : Lori Blondeau, Artist; Muriel Miguel, Gloria Miguel, Artists and
Co-founders of Spiderwoman Theater; and Adrian Stimson, Artist. Blondo and Stimson, Natives from Canada, make their own work as well as collaborate in projects such as “Canadian Idol No More” and other spoofs that stand as comic yet interventionist works dealing with racism, prejudice, and language. Currently I am searching for ephemera, including images, text, video or reviews of a work entitled ” We Want To Look Like Barbie, That Bitch Has Everything”.  I found an interesting paper here on Van City Art’s website.

The most memorable moment was a performance by Guillermo Gomez-Peña. From Artsy.com: “Guillermo Gomez-Peña, whose performances are characterized by the artist’s freakish charisma, linguistic exuberance, and gender-bending antics, was on hand to lead a radically compressed version of the two dozen workshops he conducts every year throughout the world with his troupe, La Pocha Nostra.” Gomez Peña is known for asking provocative questions about how Native and Chicano lives are represented in the dominant culture while using heavy dollops of satire, pop culture, and absurdism to keep his work accessible to audiences outside the art world. Gómez-Peña has written 10 books, many of which expand his idea of connecting art to active citizenship. “I call it ‘imaginary activism,’ ” he said. “It’s a place where Latinos occupy the center and Anglos are seen as exotic and non-mainstream. It’s a place where there are no passports and no borders. I use multiple languages like English, Spanish, Spanglish, and invented languages as well.”

Otherness, Embodiment, Ritual, Native Practice, Identity, Conflict, Misrepresentation, Marginalization, and the like.

Acting Out

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Much Needed Break and Salads

Back to the blog…six months away from here proved to be one of the best reprieves for me. Learning to flow rather than fight on the things that don’t matter so much to save energy for the things that do.

The first post will be a bit of fluff but beautiful all the same. This blog is an inspiration to me. The blogger is a photographer, artist, and as she mentions in her blog “growing my own vegetables, cooking, writing about food and feeding my friends.”

Find her here: salad

I am currently willing to aspire to grow my own vegetables. For now herbs and simple edible plants that do well mostly taking care of themselves; like “rocket arugula” shown in this pic. Dave’s Garden is one of my go to websites about plants. More information about rocket arugula can be found here:  Dave’s Garden

backyard rocket arugula (early morning before the bees enjoy it)

 

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The Value of Empty Space

Yesterday afternoon I joined several people in the ongoing dialogue on the topic of value, specifically the value of the artist/curator in the art industry. Chagrin I missed the weekly conversations which took place at Central Trak beginning April 18th yet caught up in a way as the walls void of “art objects” such a paintings, drawings, and the like were full of an alternative visual stimulator, text. The words included complaints, desires, and ultimately solutions related to the topic at hand.

problems

wall 3

CTWall4

Thanks to a problem, artist and independent curator Leslie Moody Castro, rather than forcing a curatorial exhibition with objects and artifacts, decided to “produce weekly articles that explore the relationships between value and the visual arts in Dallas, the United States, and even internationally.  Thus, CentralTrak’s exhibition space will be “empty”, and will be a metaphorical and conceptual reflection of the intellectual property, capacity, and the time spent curating an exhibition with little, or no existing budget.” (Central Trak website)

Leslie and Heyd

Thus, conversations began at Central Trak, taking on the role as an incubator for discussions. The public was invited via their website and a variety of social media sites. As far as I understand there have been a core group of people who have attended every conversation while many took part in at least one or two. To catch me up Moddy Castro pointed me toward each wall where thoughts, ideas, rants, complaints, desires, and solutions were given validity. These ephemeral feelings and hopes typically get squelched or even disappear under the weight of everyday life. Yet it seemed to me that this time they did not. There on the wall, as if objects and even artifacts created by a variety of artists in the area an “exhibition” of sorts proclaiming truths often shared yet typically set aside to honor what has always been, a struggle.

Central Trak Director, Heyd Fontenot, served as moderator and collaborator alongside Moody Castro. Intelligent, honest, vulnerable, thoughtful, and with years of experience in working with others as liaison, agent, curator, and leader/supporter both created an atmosphere which allowed me to feel comfortable and willing to share my thoughts openly and equally as honestly. It seemed to me others must have experienced a similar sense as most in attendance pressed thoughts of particular passion and desire for the arts in Dallas.

Several big ideas regarding how to create change in the dynamic of art venue, patrons, and the artists, especially local artists. Discussions revolving around the Dallas Art Fair and how to respond to its success and it failures. Do we ride on the coat-tails of the fair or do we create works or a dialogue of criticism of the venue/event. Someone brought up the reality of differing opinions about venues such as the fair many don’t see the fair as extravagant or unrealistic while many do, stating that some of that expense could go to scholarships, grants or support for local artists. A response to this was the statement I won’t forget, “this isn’t a competition is about ecosystem”.

A woman sitting in the back with her adorable dog pressed the idea of making one thing happen so that all these efforts, thoughts, ideas, and energy don’t fall flat one more time. Needing to leave the gathering early, this long time supporter of Central Trak, reiterated please don’t conclude the time together without scheduling one action.  Discussing a few possibilities both Darryl Ratcliff and an artist he has been working with brought us to an understanding of how much a casual gathering around a meal is worth. Ratcliff reminded us that the issue of our need to build trust among one another – artists, gallerists, collectors, patrons- is one of the most important steps to building community. Another valuable thought related to the idea of a meal or pot-luck was made by Central Trak artist-in-residence K Yoland, meet in a variety of locations to help others feel included.  So it was set, Ratcliff and artist friend will take on this first gathering around the table, a pot-luck, Sunday, June 7th. A Facebook event will soon be posted.

After a few disappointments following grad school, this has given me some hope. Thanks guys.

Read more detail about the conversations here:

Leslie Moody Castro Interview       By Leslie Moody Castro      Witness To Change

The Conversations on Youtube:

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In Support of Artist’s Freedom of Expression

 Gavin Delahunty, Contemporary Art Curator at the DMA

Gavin Delahunty, Contemporary Art Curator at the DMA

On Monday, April 13, from 12:30-2PM, the Dallas Arts District Museums collectively re-staged Cuban artist Tania Bruguera’s participatory artwork, Tatlin’s Whisper #6. Members of the general public including staff from surrounding museums were provided a platform to step up and speak freely. Most who spoke, did so for the artist. Bruguera faces  potential incarceration by the Cuban government. In December 2014 Burgera was arrested when she attempted to stage Tatlin’s Whisper #6 in Cuba. Now the government marks her as a “counter revolutionary” and dangerous to the country. She faces sentencing of no less than three years of imprisonment.

Museums, art organizations, and other art related venues restaged Bruguera’s performance piece in response to a call for action by Creative Time director Anne Pasternak.  The directors urged us all to  join in support of Bruguera and other artists around the world who face criminal charges and violence for exercising their basic human right to free expression.

#YoTambienExijo ” a civil platform for peaceful promotion of civil, political, economic and cultural rights in Cuba, from an open and plural civil society” (https://www.facebook.com/YoTambienExijo/timeline) was created to collectively aide in ” the promotion, respect and peaceful restoration of civil rights of the Cuban people through public actions concrete in different fields: artistic, cultural, civil, among others, driven from a civil society open without exclusion for political, religious affiliation or any other”. Through this collective effort there is hope for change not only in Cuba but in all other countries where the basic human right to free expression is repressed. The call to action on behalf of Bruguera and others is one way to address the issues of oppression and any political rule that suppresses the freedom of speech.

A group of no less than 20 people gathered at the Nasher like many others around the world. Most of those who spoke out at the Nasher read from several texts that Bruguera’s sister, Deborah, sent me to hand out for reading. My reading came from this text:

ON BEHALF OF CUAUTHEMOC MEDINA:

“Tania Bruguera’s intervention at the beginning of January 2015, was a bid to restore the voice of civil society and art in the process of transition that Cuba will partake in the near future. However, a loss of an important historical opportunity resulted from the defensive reaction of the Cuban authorities, to her wish of creating a moment of public freedom. The artistic community from the continent and, in particular, those who recognize themselves with the traditions of the left, should support, as a basic element of the verve of our societies, the artistic activism stemming from artists as Bruguera. In a complex context of political views and considerations over the future of the continent, it is reasonable that her performance could be controversial: that is the nature of all artistic action. But, above divisions and sectarianism, we share the common basis to think that a free culture is essential for the development of our societies. Please, support this letter to ask the Cuban authorities to rectify their position concerning Tania Bruguera. So that the discussion about her work, belong to only to the realm of critics’ debates.”

Many took to the platform provided by the Nasher and spoke honestly, fervently, and directly. There was a Cuban artist who spoke from her heart about the problems she has experienced herself in her native Cuba. She shared a few stories related to the ways in which the Cuban government continues to suppress artists voices. Her hope is that as a result of President Obama’s desire to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba things will change; that her people will gain possession of their country, own lives, and all the rights that humans inherently possess.

Others spoke out similarly giving their support and proclaiming their desire for change and reformation in Cuba. My hope is that this isn’t the only means we take to affirm our backing not only for Cuban artists but for the citizens of their nation.

Update from Deborah:

She tells me that there is comfort in knowing that at least the government feels the pressure and they know what the movement in support of Tania is doing.  Deborah so hopes this will finish soon and is happy to report that there are forty European Deputies who have signed a letter of support.

 Stand up and speak out in support of artist’s freedom of expression.

Noah Simblist

Noah Simblist, writer, curator, artist and an Associate Professor of Art at Southern Methodist University.

Leigh Arnold, Assistant Curator, Nasher Sculpture Center

Leigh Arnold, Assistant Curator, Nasher Sculpture Center

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