The ONE Queer Garden Club (OQGC) began in March 2017 as a volunteer group associated with the ONE Archives. Our initial objective has been to renovate, rejuvenate, and beautify an existing, overgrown and unused succulent garden outside the building so it can increase the buildings existing outdoor space and host a variety of creative arts, educational, and community events. In the past five months, a group of about 30 members has contributed to the renovation of the space, and we’re excited by all the possibilities the transformation holds for the future at the world’s largest repository of LGBTQ materials in the world.
Here are some before & after pictures of the space in progress – as well as some group pictures from some of the gatherings.
We did a lot of work digging up overgrown plants and transplanting things that were in the way. We sculpted the garden to give it a general shape, with a several entrance pathways that wrap around clusters of plants leading to various open sections for future placement of benches, art installations, a shade structure, rainwater collection, and planters. There is a large central flat open area to be used as a performance and/or gathering space.
The next steps of OQGC will be to level the ground and cover the sand with large paving stones to create a wheelchair accessible path and make it easier to host events.
We want to increase the garden’s bio-diversity and are accepting donations of plants and planters.
We have ideas for upcoming mosaic tile art workshops, open to everyone, to learn how to create mosaic tile pieces from professional artist Jolino Beserra. First projects will have people tile the original stepping stones, so that everyone can contribute an individual art piece to the garden that when pieced together links the garden together with color. The tile pieces will also contain photos and images relating to LGBTQ heroes and icons researched from the Archives as a way to create a legacy garden honoring those who contributed to LGBTQ history.
From there we also aim to host a series of educational workshops about native species and drought tolerant plants.
We aim to work with other community organizations and artists to create both performance art events and art installations based on research Archive material – taking what exists inside the building “out” into the world.
We also look forward to hosting “Garden Tea Parties” a festive mixer and celebration featuring live performance in the garden.
It was another beautiful experience producing & directing the Stuart Timmons’ City of West Hollywood LGBTQ History Tour this year during the One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival. In this day and age of intense political divide and the fight to keep arts funding, I have such a feeling of gratitude for a stellar cast and crew and such great administrative support from Mike Che and the WeHo Arts team.
It was definitely a bittersweet year, as we deeply felt the absence of our beloved tour author and historian, Stuart Timmons, who died earlier this year. We felt his presence in spirit throughout the day and are so glad to bring his words and the history of WeHo to life. It takes a lot of work to organize and plan out the tour – involving two shuttles on rotation departing approximately every 15-20 minutes, a cast of 17 costumed performers spread out and stationed across a mile stretch of the city, and all manner of other logistical details. For the past three years it has worked wonderfully each time, presenting an entertaining and educational experience to the public – and we provide the service for free thanks to the grant from the City of West Hollywood.
premiered on March 20, 2017 @ Planet Queer:Resist (poem is meant as a live performance, taking on personas and displaying each color on each finger as mentioned in the parentheses next to first line)
I painted my fingernails a rainbow
So you would know what kind of person I am
Here on the pinky a dollop so dinky
But powerful, potent and purposely pink
Within its tiny confines my little girl dream twinkles
To distract from all the growing wrinkles
To nab something drab and transform the norm – pink!
Once upon a time you might think it was weak
But have you not seen its profound power united
Not tickled but ticked off pink and taking no more shit
From the stink of a government most foul
Pink is strength imparted from its corresponding tender parts
Oh pink! Always on the brink of something fun
Oh pink! Queerest shade under the sun
Pink! Pink! Pink! I don’t think I could squeal any more in delight
Than I do for you, pink!
And on the other hand reflecting time so refined The regal and stately shade known as purple
Properly placed for my dainty old lady to sip her tea
In calm and comfort with a sense of high society
Not wishing any harm just wisdom upon everyone
Well respected as reflected through the ages like the sages
Dressed in various sensible shades and bountiful brocades glorious purple
The perspicacity of plum, the vibrancy of violet
The exquisite ambiance imbued by amethyst
Or the light lift that you get as a gift from lavender
Exalted and vaulted in its holiness and royalty
Purposefully elegant and tastefully poignant purple
Now hang loose you’ll find on my hand’s caboose My apprehensible and indispensable opposable green thumbs
To represent the lush Eden inside me
Both the untamed jungles of sensuous mystery within
Along side my meticulously groomed hothouse
Should I still be found sucking my thumb
It means I’ve come to enjoy the endless green pastures of delight
All manner of savory succulents and forbidden fruits of this here fruit
For that is how my garden grows
But also where my envy shows
I hope my bitter herbs aren’t tossed in the mix too often
A little spice when I’m not feeling nice
For should I bite my thumb at you- it is indeed intended as an insult
What can I say, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry
And the green you be seeing is the grass in your face from the foot in your ass
It’s only natural – green
(ring finger left hand)
Watch out! Pay attention! Look here!
You’ve been warned, but don’t be too alarmed dear fellow
That beneath the warm and sunny mellow disposition
To be faced with vibrant vivid livid not really so timid yellow
Now, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fear
That you’ll dismiss me as a mere lilting daffodil or dandelion
You can paint me a coward yellow
But whatever might dribble down my pant leg metaphorically
Is merely one moment of this bold and buttery blonde – so beware!
Should I release my wits upon you’ll be showered and certainly not in praise
Like the wasp or bee that stings you will feel my burn
Caution is required for such awesomeness acquired
Highlighted in the accent of yellow
(ring finger right hand) Which brings us now to blue Among the throngs a frequent favorite hue
Not just for baby boys, but go on paint up your beards
And release your tension lest I mention coloring your balls — ew, anything but blue
Sunk into a funk of a somber mood indigo
But there we go from time to time to understand our depths
Where blue bruises forge tearful rivulets
The weight of one regret heaped upon yet another overwhelming
Moments cut off too soon – never quite captured completely
Fleeting glimpses – come back I miss you midnight blueness –
All knotted up and gnarled tight lingering in the throat
Things that were never said or said with dread until all blue in the face
Rejected neglected restricted conflicted I need to moan ——
Why do I feel so damn alone?!?!
Sorrow yesterday today and tomorrow
Give me strength to embrace navy blue – shock me into awareness electric blue
Let me let go this burden and soar once more into the vast and wild blue yonder!
Soaring high into the sky blue
Oh, yes, give me smooth soothing baby blue I love you
How could I not stay true with blue!?
(middle finger left hand)
Now, how to define a color that defies to rhyme The brash and bold, does not always do what is told, orange
But do not get me started on he who shall not be named but is disgusting everywhere!
That atrocity hypocrisy disgrace to the human race and an abuse of the color – ugh!
But yes orange can be gaudy and audacious, bawdy and salacious
Like daggers in the eyes of sensibility
So feisty and zesty in testing the limits of taste
Tart and tangy, sweet and sultry
Appropriate color for a citrus fruit and much more to boot
The chakra source of our creative and sexy self
Sending vibrations to our imaginations from mild to wild
Orange ubiquitously encapsulates an entire season of autumnal splendor
From falling leaves to all hallowed eves
So wicked when you need it to be
So cute as a pumpkin as required
Abounding and astounding so, go for it already!
Orange you glad you did?
(middle finger right hand)
Which brings us now to red.
A moment of silence please to experience the dread
Such a striking stunning cunning color
Worn in all the right places and dressed to impress
That brings a rise to the pitter patter of anticipation
What could be more sexy
Bite into the red apple and feel the rush
Cheeks blush, lips drip and bosoms blossom with bright and rosy radiance
What could be more thrilling – and simultaneously chilling
Because we know what a serpent lies ready to strike at any given moment
A venomous furious rush of emotion – red
Cut us open and spill our blood – red
Wrap us in ribbons, bandage our wounds, paint the town – red
Are you seeing nothing but it – red
Are we drowning as the world heats up – red
And more than a scarlet fever has reached a ferocious fervor in our head
The animosity of otherness overwhelming all our senses
Political fires burning bridges, burning crosses
Witness the witless demise of our society!
No! Fuck you red!
We are ready to serve it right back
God damn you, mother fucking, what the hell is happening
If we keep this up we’ll all end up dead red!!!!!!
(both index fingers) Only when the black and the white the yin and the yang
Unite might everything be alright
Adjusting the teeter totter balance of the universe
Such sensational dancers through time and space
Combining all the colors, removing all the colors
The blending of sight and the absence of light
Reset restore renew refresh reveal rebegin
Everything and nothing
Tranquility and clarity
In the realm of possibility
There is so much to be said about black and white
But they speak volumes for themselves in voluptuous wavelengths of silence
As I gaze upon these fingertips I am reminded
That we contain all of this and more
A kaleidoscopic collage of colors and contradictions
We contain Whitman’s multitudes
And in the patterned patchwork of color
A most dramatic chromatic diorama
My fingertips are bright little signposts
Tell tale transmissions
Of this is who I am
This is what I am here to be
And I see the prism you imprison behind yours as well
Free the full spectrum of who you are
I painted my fingernails a rainbow
So you would know what kind of person I am
Footnote: (taking off shoes to reveal…)
As you know at the end of every rainbow
We’ve been told to find a pot of gold
So here goes – enjoy my glittered toes!
I had a splendid time in NYC accompanying Robert Patrick Playwright on his long-awaited and anticipated return to La MaMa Etc. for the premiere of “Hi-Fi | Wi-Fi | Sci-Fi”, in which directors Jason Trucco and Billy Clark delivered fascinating technological approaches to one act plays by Robert Patrick from the 1960’s & 1970’s that were very ahead of their time in predicting future (now contemporary) situations. It was marvelous to see such an engaging and techno-magical treatment of Robert’s work – something that I think even the most familiar with Robert’s plays would be pleasantly surprised and impressed by. Robert was stunned by it all – to which he came up with an explanation of his experience – something along the likes of “I’m experiencing a kind of jet lag between 1961 and 2017”.
I tagged along on his adventure to document his journey and experience a bit of NYC through my dear friend’s eyes. Robert moved to LA from NYC in the early 90’s, and had only been back for a few short, one-day visits for special events. The folks from La MaMa were great hosts, graciously opening their doors to us both in order to welcome him back for a week and a half so that he had time to take in many of the show’s performances and to enjoy reconnecting with so many wonderful people. They held a “Coffeehouse Chronicle” panel event of “expert friends” from various points in Robert’s history on Saturday, Feb 4. I felt honored to be part of the event representing Robert’s recent prolific exploits in the LA Underground Performance scene during the past 5 years. I can’t quite describe how remarkable it was to witness so many theatrical luminaries of the Off Off Broadway scene that came out to see Robert that afternoon – there was so much history in the room – it was vibrating. I got to hear delightful stories, which were like getting to admire exquisite and rare crown jewels for a brief moment shown to me by those who actually got to wear them.
The play took a rather interesting twist during our visit. Robert and I sat with the directors over breakfast the day after the opening night to share some of our notes and observations. It was decided at the table that the show would be propelled to another level by having Robert close the production with one of his a cappella songs. Funny enough, Robert had a song, from his “Bobcappella!” show that I produced, which fit the theme of the show perfectly – even using the title elements of “Hi-Fi | Wi-Fi | Sci-Fi” within the body of the song as rhymes. Suddenly Bob was in the show!
It was a great privilege and pleasure to work as producer for Holonyne Corporation’s brand new video installation at LAX in tribute to Mayor Tom Bradley. The video was designed by Jon9 for JCDecaux and LAWA (Los Angeles World Airports) for the 72′ video display Time Tower in the departures lounge at the Tom Bradley International Terminal. An unveiling of the video to the public was held on January 30, 2017. It was an interesting time to do so, as the airport was besieged with protests surrounding the controversial travel ban – but we held the event regardless and managed to bring some positive energy to the week honoring a wise and dignified man who helped usher in a progressive era in Los Angeles.
This marks the centennial year for Tom Bradley, who served a whopping 5 terms as Los Angeles mayor from 1973-1993! Through the process of producing this video I discovered so much about this monumental figure who greatly influenced modern Los Angeles. Before working on the video, I knew little about him, other than the fact that – interestingly – we shared birthdays (Dec 29)!
Tom Bradley worked his way up the ranks in the LAPD, dealing with its troubled history of abuse and racism. From there he became one of the first African American city council members, and eventually ran for mayor. He lost his first attempt, but tried again, this time building a diverse coalition of voters – who rallied behind him. In 1973 he became the first black mayor of a large metropolitan city and worked hard to create a very inclusive city government, one that truly represented the population. He led efforts to build the Metro system, revitalize the downtown area, and hosted the first financially successful Olympic games in 1984 (thereby creating a model for future city’s to learn from) all while being a great family man. These elements (and more) were worked into the beautiful tribute piece created by Jon9 involving a series of B&W photographs over colorful city backgrounds.
I hope that during this centennial year many people across the city and nation will learn more about Tom Bradley’s life, challenges, and accomplishments.
Aesop’s Fable of the Fox & The Cat is quite a relevant one for our modern lives as we grapple with so many options. We can consider ourselves oh so clever like a fox, but as you will see from the story, that being clever and having so many possibilities in life is not always a great thing. The term of analysis paralysis may not have been known during Aesop’s time, but apparently the concept was!
For this next Troubadour Trixter outing, in honor of the feasts that occur around the holidays, I thought it would be appropriate to share the popular allegory of “The Difference Between Heaven & Hell”. It is often told as “The Allegory of the Long Spoons” – in this version it is about elbows. I like the elbows version a bit better as it gives us the opportunity to discuss the fact that on Earth we have elbows. You’ll understand what all this elbow talk is about when you watch the video – in joy!
These are tricky times! Now more than ever we must balance between being diligently informed about our actions and socially conscious. It is practically a full time job sorting through all the misinformation that exists in the world, while simultaneously providing ample opportunities to care for self, environment, and others. Personally the sharing of my voice, art, heart, and soul seems like one duty among countless others I cannot neglect.
So for a start I posted a simple little video on youtube that I hope you’ll watch. The story comes from an old African myth about a trickster…and the aspect of using red versus blue is as relevant as ever in our current time!
Quite a pair – singing with Robert Patrick Playwright
Well, I finally got my wish – to sing a duet with Robert Patrick during one of his shows. This was my third time around as producer/director for Robert and third time was definitely the charm for that wish to come true! As a special finale number to his recent “New Songs For Old Movies” we performed together in a lovely little number called “HARMONY” written as a clever homage to the road movies of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.
I must admit, I was under a lot of stress juggling the various demands of my day job as post production Operations Manager at PennRose Studios (coincidentally I celebrate my one year anniversary on the job this month) and the role of producer that we had precious little time to run our number. I was struggling with hitting all the notes and rhythm correctly up until the last minute – it’s hard work singing a cappella to someone else’s tune!
But I’m happy to say, in the end, it all worked out splendidly! In fact, Robert confessed to me – in spite of our ordeal getting to the point – that it was one of the most fun moments on stage he’s had. I certainly agree and look forward to doing the number with him again!
The piece starts out with Robert singing the first verse and melody of the song solo – as if he were Bob Hope singing to Bing (my part). It’s a clever ditty about the strength of great friendships/ partnerships – a perfect tribute to Bob and Bing who starred in 7 (yes, SEVEN) “Road to…” movies. Robert and I have 4 more productions to mount before we could even dare to compare…
After the first verse, the song gets passed along to me, and I sing pretty much the same lyrics (with slight variation), but this time the harmony of the tune.
The first lines of the verse are “I’m no good alone, but I’m great harmony…”
And then…the two of us sing together! This was the tricky part for me to handle…I always wanted to slip off my part and join Robert in the melody! But I held it – and even used some simple choreography to ensure I got it!
So we danced around – snapping our fingers and enjoying the finale to our third production together and celebrating Robert’s 78th birthday!
And I must say – “HARMONY” proved to be another fun and witty song created by the remarkable Robert Patrick Playwright. I am continued to be inspired by his history, intelligence, and creativity.
So now I have another wish! As the final lyrics of his song profess:
“So please give in, and say that we’ll live in….wonderful glorious, beautiful marvelous, glowing and growing harmony!!!!”