ODE TO A JOYOUS 2019!

A quick glimpse and ODE to the year of JOYOUS performances in 2019!

Thank you to everyone involved in making them happen – it has been a truly amazing year, I am filled with gratitude for the variety of events and opportunities.

Looking forward to what 2020 brings and wishing all the very best to face the various challenges of life – oh this remarkable and daunting shared existence on the planet!

Scenes from:

1) “Temptations in Fairyland” – at Leonard Greco’s art exhibition Fairyland at MOAH:CEDAR (Museum of Art & History Lancaster)

2) “Rear Opening: A Performance Tribute to Stephen Varble” for photographer Greg Day & curator David J Getsy at ONE Archives Gallery & Museum in West Hollywood

3) “OutLoud 2019: Queer Futures” in Long Beach, Art Theatre

4) “LET LOVE FLOURISH: Queer Poetry Pop-up” for the One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival in West Hollywood

5) “A Man’s World” for Exhibition Opening Reception of MAN at MuzeuMM Art Gallery

6) “eXtremities” at SelectionArtShow Closing Reception, Touchon Gallery

7) “Dimensionalizing Narcissus” at Redondo Beach CA 101 TEDx “Create Change”

8) “Rose/Mary” at Opening Reception for My Youth Exhibition at TAG Gallery

9) “Qreatures: The (w)Hole Story” for glendaleOUT exhibition ACE/121 Gallery in Glendale

Ecstasy – “Behind” the Scenes

Check out the teaser trailer for ECSTASY FOR EVERYONE!
Get your tickets for all three events today: https://vashoncenterforthearts.org/kay-hall-events/big-joy/

This teaser is a tongue-in-cheeky look “Behind” the scenes getting ready for the production. Ok, so it may not really have anything to do with the actual performance other than containing some of the the spirit and fun of the show. This is definitely a show I’m thrilled about doing.

James Broughton’s poetry contains so many elements I love. His poetry is rich with interpretation and inspiration. He uses a LOT of humor in them while containing very deep and meaningful explorations of humanity. They are wise and wise-cracking. They’re bawdy, outrageous and tickle the private parts! They make you think and leave you inspired.

Here’s one sample – making use of humor to explore the macabre

Thinking About Death 

How often do you think about Death?
Death thinks about you all the time
Death is fatally in love with you and me
And his lust is known to be relentless 

Life is an equally persistent lover
He was desiring each of us before we were born
I try to remain faithful to him but I know
The relationship can’t go on forever

Life relishes my body heat my heart beating
My blood my semen even my steamy notions
Death cherishes what is cool and mysterious in me
All that is shadowy and perverse like him 

I like to think of Death awaiting our rendezvous
In a candlelit corner of an intimate café
Where he will regale me with scandalous tales
Of misbehavior in other worlds 

Yet in the end it is Life that wears us out
At that crosswalk what will the traffic bear?
Shouldn’t we think about Death more often?
Death is thinking about us all the time. 


I believe in “Ecstasy for Everyone!”

It’s official – Ecstasy for Everyone! returns to the stage in 2020! Starting with a performance at the Vashon Center for the Arts in Washington (just outside of Seattle) on January 11, 2020 at 8pm as part of a BIG JOY festival weekend to celebrate the visionary filmmaker and poet James Broughton. More dates and locations will be announced as the year progresses, but this is definitely a show to share with many more audiences who are going to need some BIG JOY and Ecstasy for Everyone! in the days ahead.

I’m beyond thrilled to present an updated version of my 2014 show. This newly commissioned production allows me to add in some new poems and expand the show from four to five sections and take place in two acts with an intermission.

One of the best parts is getting to work with an incredible production team. I’m working closely with Art Director Vojislav Radovanovic to create new visual elements, scenic and costume design. And Dr. Kathy Nigh is director and along with Vojislav serving as a skillful outside eye to find and encourage new possibilities. They have been working together on a remarkable theatre production of a show called “Ladybird: A Holiday Posada” at Pasadena City College, and I’m pleased they could work together again on this show.

More details to come – in the meantime – enjoy a few photos from the 2014 production. Photos by Gregory Frye.

Art & Cake Profile

I’m grateful for the past year of incredible creative experiences and events that have led up to this fabulous article/interview/profile by the writer Genie Davis for Art & Cake (A Contemporary Art Magazine with a Focus on the Los Angeles Art Scene). It’s been quite a ride lately and I’m looking forward to sharing a lot more in 2020 – some of those mentioned in the article!

Dimensionalizing Narcissus

On Thursday 10.10.19 from 6pm-10pm I will take part in the TEDx Redondo Beach Salon at the Main Gallery of the CA 101 Art Gallery as part of their yearly art exhibition. TEDx “Create Change” features pre-recorded TEDTalks and facilitated discussion is curated by artists Peggy Sivert and Ben Zask, moderated by artist Bernard Fallon.

My special live presentation of “Dimensionalizing Narcissus” will take place from 6:40-7:00pm in a loose (but unofficial) TEDx meets performance art style. The performance examines the concepts of Narcissism we’re experiencing on an accelerated level in our contemporary culture (in the American system in general, in social media, and most notably at the moment in the POTUS). I will be examining the classical Greek myth from a different perspective, offering another view of the original Greek myth that provides much needed depth. The Narcissus we know of is shallow and self-centered, or two-dimensional. I propose a vision for reinterpreting the Myth what I call a three-dimensional way, in which Narcissus is not so much interested in the reflection he sees on the surface, but to “Know thyself” and dive into the waters of his true nature.

Tickets are available at Eventbrite.

eXtremities

This Saturday, October 5 – in addition to exhibiting three collage works on canvas, I will be presenting an new performance art piece called “eXtremities” at 9pm

In a durational performance piece that moves through the gallery space, Jason Jenn transforms the everyday hands and feet into peculiarly articulating delivery apparatuses for exploring a range of human desires and contemporary concerns.

“Bouquet”

This will be an art evening celebration of
the last day of the 3rd S E L E C T I O N Art Show ‘First Time in L.A.’,
showing artists from Japan, Iran, Russia, Belarus, USA
exhibiting in L.A. for the first time and their artworks which were never shown here before!

• O C T O B E R 5, 2 0 1 9 | 7 PM – 10 PM •
F R E E A D M I S S I O N

ARTISTS
Alex Sher (UKR, USA), Amina Kerimova (RUS, USA), Andrey Tat (RUS), Christine Jatkowsky (RUS), Emma Tsugunyan (RUS), Jason Jenn (USA), KENDY (JPN), Maria Virge (RUS, USA), Nadezhda (RUS, USA), Olga Lvova (RUS, USA), Parjam Parsi (IRN), Pasha Shappo (BLR, RUS), Rinat Shazam (RUS), Roman Bitner (RUS), Victoria Kochetkova (kovikky) (RUS, USA), Vita Kamliuk (RUS), Vojislav Radovanovic (SRB, USA), Yana Germann (RUS), Yulia Volosenok (YUVO) (RUS), Zach Touchon (USA)

ART
☞ 20 artists, more than 60 artworks
☞ Painting, Photography, Graphic art, Collage
☞ 2 levels of the gallery in a heart of DTLA
☞ Prices from $50-$3000

EVENING PROGRAM
☞ DJ & Life Music
☞ Free Champagne & Cheese & Fruits
☞ Special Performances from the artists
☞ The last chance To see & To buy the works you like!

https://www.facebook.com/events/697551943983501/

“Daydreaming”

Audience Appreciation

Scenes of beautiful audience interaction during the closing reception of glendaleOUT at ACE/121 Gallery on July 13 and the performance of “Qreatures: The (w)Hole Story” – such joy shared uplifting 🌈! So wonderful to see children and adults enjoying creative play space designed into the structure of the performance – an immersive and participatory experience.

I am grateful for the opportunity and responsibility that comes with crafting performance art, and my training has emphasized the essential role of the audience in the creation – the magic isn’t complete without. This particular manifestation required some fun for the inner child – and the several actual children who attended midway through the performance!

Having heard what was happening outside in the courtyard, a few adults living in the nearby apartment complex turned off their TVs, grabbed their children, and they all headed outside to get a real all-ages treat (with the more adult moments going over the kids heads). Their contribution added to the awesome community vibe. The outpouring of support and willingness to play while exploring some weighty themes was beautiful to behold and it was a glorious way to close out a season of wonderful Pride-themed performances. Heart continues to receive lessons and knows there is much more work to be done in this world. But for now, I hope you enjoy these delightful glimpses captured so magnificently by Andrew Adam Caldwell

“Qreatures” @ Ace/121

All following photos courtesy of Andrew Adam Caldwell for LA Art Documents

ACE/121 Gallery presents

“QREATURES: The (w)Hole Story”

Saturday, July 13 6pm-9pm

Performance & Closing Reception for glendaleOUT Exhibition

Qreatures began inside the gallery before moving the audiences outside

Ace/121 Gallery hosts the closing night reception for the glendaleOUTexhibition and a special performance of “Qreatures: The (w)Hole Story”, created by multimedia performing artist Jason Jenn. Described as a queer vaudeville show taking inspirations from Julie Taymor, John Waters, and Mister Rogers, the hour-long gallery presentation features the crowd-pleasing barbershop quartet, The Boyfriend, and a variety of other whimsical performers.

glendaleOUT is a multi-venue LGBTQIA-based event in collaboration with local chapters of Gay Straight Alliance in the Glendale Unified School District. Last year Glendale celebrated its first ever Pride, and this year glendaleOUT is about continuing the queer narrative in Glendale with more voices, more generations, and a broader community reach. It utilizes the process of “coming out” as a means of claiming public space as ourselves in Glendale.

After hiding in a hole from bullies, Lex encounters a talking worm, caterpillar, and snake…

Qreatures, the (w)Hole Story follows the adventures of Lex, a non-binary student running away from bullies and taking refuge in what turns out to be a magical hole inside a tree. Alice followed the White Rabbit down a hole into Wonderland, Lex encounters an array of Qreatures, queer spirits of the animal kingdom that have gathered together to address the global threat posed by humans and climate change. It’s a rather humorous exploration of a very present and dire situation that ends on an uplifting note about needing to find common ground and build community.

The members of The Boyfriend “opened” the ceremony for the gathering of Spirit Animals
Dee Weingarden was Lady Owl, who led the roll call of Animals gathered for the meeting
Lady Owl’s assistant Birdie (Mr. Voice Love) helped get audience participation going
A musical song by Paul Manchester as The Mouse talked about how impossible he felt it was to make any difference in the craziness of the world
I appeared again as The Lion King who discussed the importance of bio-diversity, the interconnectedness of all beings, and working together as a community
Finally the caterpillar had something to say…but they were busy transforming into the butterfly because of imaginal cells…
In an apt metaphor for what we are experiencing, the caterpillar only becomes a butterfly after imaginal cells take over the body of the consummate consumer caterpillar. Eventually the imaginal cells work their powers of transformation…
May we encourage the growth of imaginal cells to transform our society and world!

A Jester’s Illumination

“GRID” – by David Jester (a work still in process)

Jesters and Fools can reveal harsh truths in a manner that we can process.

I experienced a masterpiece of art this week, and I have seen enough phenomenal art in my days to recognize one when I see it and can call it out when so moved. The painting “GRID” by David Jester continues to haunt me with the series of intense and profound emotions it conjures. The painting’s scale and composition compels the viewer in with its luminous beauty that envelops a completely devastating and heartbreaking message upon further contemplation. I sat in its glow enraptured as if staring at the Sistine Chapel ceiling, as its dream-like images stirred up so many profound and complicated feelings that have been culminating inside me during the past several months. 

It depicts thirteen men submerged in a pool, as if floating simultaneously in water and in the heavens. Indeed, the heavens, for the figures are swimming and drowning, serving as a powerful metaphor for those who died in the AIDS crisis. Meanwhile, above the surface of the water, fancy dressed viewers either watch idly by doing nothing or looking away, ignoring the problem.

David has transmuted an emotional tsunami into a work of art with so much beauty that one can look into the dark void and contemplate its horrors without running away. It’s a powerful and important work (even in the unfinished form that this poor, quick cell phone image shows), and one that belongs to everyone. In fact, David explained the piece is not for sale, but is intended in the future to be given to an AIDS organization that can display it for all. It is, in every sense of the word, a gift. You may, as I greatly encourage you to do so if capable, acquire other works at http://www.davidmjester.com/.

I have been reminded a lot lately that while my generation and I did not experience the full trauma and devastation of losing so many friends, colleagues, and loved ones that many of my older friends had during the AIDS epidemic, that we experience the loss through the lives and stories of our friends and mentors who lived through it and survived with scars, and we experience the loss of never having met some wonderful and amazing people that we would call friends were they alive today. There are missing people in our lives and most of us are unaware of the full impact.

Watching the AIDS crisis unfold on television and witnessing the complacent inaction and holier than thou attitude of the political leadership kept me in the closet as a child, scared to death of expressing my true self. While I am grateful that has changed and I am so very out these days, we as a society and culture have yet to learn the lessons of that era and evolve. The toxic cocktail of religion and politics continues to fight for its right to judge others and doing so much wrong, while professing it possesses righteousness.

Today, a whole new generation of fat cats, on-lookers, and do-nothings exist as one after another crisis of humanity and compassion takes place at our borders and within our very neighborhoods, on the streets and in our cupboards, as the unseen ripple effects of our economic choices ravages the environment. When any group of people are dehumanized, we all lose our humanity. When any animals and plants are seen as Other and we separate ourselves from them, we alienate our own souls. People and animals are “drowning” at an alarming rate across the world – and if we don’t take some serious action, we’re all in that pool together, not just one by one or two by two, but like lemmings sliding off en masse.

I still hold on to a sense of hope to get through this current calamity, but I know that hope can be quite the opiate, keeping folks inactive when we should be fighting and doing something to make a difference. We HOPE someone else will deal with these complicated issues that are way beyond our abilities. Some savior figure will come again to save the day or some scientist will deliver a break through and fix the problem. A fairy godmother might as well wave her magic wand and make it better. But we are losing things every moment that we can never get back.

We cannot give into despair though, as that is an equally paralyzing force. Recently, I performed a new piece “Qreatures: The (w)Hole Story” for the closing reception the glendaleOUT exhibition. I prefaced the piece explaining to audiences that my inner child was frightened by everything going on in the world today, and the performance addressed the mass extinction of animals that is taking place on this planet due to human overpopulation and our vast consumerism. But I dealt with the issues as if Mister Rogers were guiding the process.


In the end, I used the tried and true metaphor of how caterpillars turn into butterflies via the process of imaginal cells, and aptly named natural phenomena. I ended the story by blowing bubbles and asking audience members to keep blowing more as I passed around bubble makers. Bit by bit, bubbles popped, but more appeared to take their place – floating to provide a bit of whimsey.

The imaginal cells appear in the body of the mass consuming caterpillar and are systematically wiped out by the caterpillar white blood cell defense mechanism. But eventually after a long struggle, the imaginal cells fight back, join with other imaginal cells, and finally overwhelm and take over. The caterpillar stops its mass consuming ways and eventually inside its cozy little chrysalis, is broken down into goo, before emerging anew as a butterfly. We can only “hope” that our greedy, hungry capitalistic caterpillar society can be reformed as well – but it will take a massive amount of imaginal cells and a lot of action to overturn our current plight.

Team Imaginal, let’s keep fighting for life.

imaginal cell bubble – photos by Andrew Adam Caldwell
the ReBegin is here