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

Diamond in the Rough

Click here to read the article by Megan De Lara

“Of all the loud and glamorous events taking place at Los Angeles Pride, the queer poetry pop-up was a quiet gem that successfully delivered the message of love with no boundaries, for one’s self and for all.” – Author Megan De Lara

I am grateful for the opportunity to research and share a wide range of LGBTQ love poetry from history for The City of West Hollywood One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival. I truly enjoyed getting to know more about some of our cultural treasures and gain a window into their life and times by examining their love poetry in this manner.

Reciting them for the public on the street during the month of Pride definitely proved a challenge at times, but had some really lovely moments and I look forward to more opportunities. So glad that this article manifested as a result. It’s incredible be in a city that cherishes the arts like West Hollywood and live in a era when we can be presenting LGBTQ love poetry dressed provocatively out in the streets. The reality is such an event is mighty rare – and still is something that can’t happen in most places. I am very aware of the fragile beauty of this kind of experience. It’s like bringing the poets back to life for a moment, and I am honored to be able to do it.

“Even when the sun and noise from the crown proved to be an obstacle, Jenn continued his readings, emphasizing important phrases vocally and physically. It was much more than a mere “see it and read it” reciting, and offered bits of history to listeners as well. ” – author Megan De Lara

LET’S FLOURISH!

Join me for more performances of LET LOVE FLOURISH!

Outside the West Hollywood City Council Chambers (under the Library)
625 N. San Vicente Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

Wednesday June 26 from 6:00pm-6:50pm
Outside the West Hollywood City Council Chambers before the screening of
“L.A.: A Queer History” at 7pm

Sunday, June 30 at various times throughout the day during the festivals closing event A Day of Art featuring panels and events all day
1:30-2:30pm
3:40- 4:00pm
4:45pm-5pm
6:30-7pm

“I Know Someone” by Mary Oliver

An excerpt from LET LOVE FLOURISH May 22-June30

Enjoy this video trailer featuring the poem by recently deceased author Mary Oliver, a best-selling and award winning lesbian poet. I’ll be reading a few poems by her and over two dozen more authors from throughout LGBTQ history.

Opening May 22 for Harvey Milk Day at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers and with the pop-up occurring several more times as part of The City of West Hollywood One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival theme “Love is Love” and ending on Sunday, June 30.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1234149923429274/

LET LOVE FLOURISH

LET LOVE FLOURISH: Queer Poetry Pop-up is a spoken word celebration of historic LGTBQ poets and their affectionately inclined works of literature. Performance artist Jason Jenn brings those passionate words to spirited life for the public to enjoy in the streets of West Hollywood during the Opening and Closing events, and in special appearances throughout the 40-day One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival. The presentations propose a pleasure-filled experience for audiences to enjoy, employing elaborately styled costumes and various theatrical techniques, while illuminating audiences about the authors’ lives and their historical conditions.

From Sappho to Mary Oliver, Walt Whitman to Allen Ginsberg, James Baldwin to James Broughton, queer love has emerged in poetic writing in various ways, from veiled allusions during oppressive eras to all-out profusions of sensuous splendor in contemporary times. Through all of humanity’s twists and turns, artists have found ways to express their heart and soul in a timeless fashion – their talent now receives an attentive tribute by a fellow scribe and admirer.

Created and performed by Jason Jenn
Art direction by Vojislav Radovanovic
Featuring guest performers at performances on May 22 and June 30

May 22 at June 30 performances will take place outside West Hollywood City Council Chambers at 625 North San Vicente Boulevard , West Hollywood, CA 90069.
Other performances will pop-up – for more details and information, follow the facebook page at:
https://www.facebook.com/jasonjennartist/

This performance is presented with the support of the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division as part of the City’s One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival (May 22 – June 30). More info at www.weho.org/pride or @wehoarts.

Great Expect-Temptations

I am feeling such a post-performance euphoria from the experience presenting “Temptations in Fairyland” at MOAH: CEDAR, part of Lancaster’s Museum of Art & History. I feel so blessed for the opportunity to create a performance art piece based on an exhibition as rich with inspirational material as Leonard Greco’s “Fairyland” in an institution with a curatorial approach I have come to greatly admire. I’m writing a blog post, but I’m really doing an interpretive dance of joy for so many reasons – only a fraction of I will share with you now.

“Robin Goodfellow”, artist Leonard Greco, curator Robert Benitez, and me – the performer

Lancaster, CA has a museum you say? Why, yes, the birthplace of Judy Garland and the Antelope Valley region known for the poppy preserve and aviation industry has a fantastic series of interconnected museums known collectively as MOAH. In the year which I have known of it, I have been blown away by the various exhibitions. It is a refreshing oasis of art in the desert at the farthest northern reaches of Los Angeles County. I cannot rave enough about the museum, which has always made the long distance drive worth it. MOAH really cultivates connections with the cream of the crop of Los Angeles’ emerging artists, giving them opportunities to be participate in and create incredible exhibitions. From what I have experienced, the dynamic team of curators, lead by Andi Campognone and Robert Benitez, have done a remarkable job of selecting artists whose work they admire and have figured out how to get the best possible exhibitions out of them.

The contemporary art world is far too full of exhibitions and curators that program works which almost purposely aim to alienate audiences – making “common” people feel so removed from being able to connect with the work, and setting up experiences which leave one scratching their head and feeling talked down to. MOAH is a breath of fresh air that presents delightful work of art they like and believe others will too. It can be that simple.

I have much more to say about the experience, but in the meantime…here are some pictures to speak for me!

Photos by Orit Harpaz Photography

the ReBegin is here