Monday, September 28, 2009

Thank You, LitFuse 2009

I had a terrific weekend at LitFuse. I gave a slideshow, installed a Ritual Room and offered up 3 participatory works on the Town Green. I feel energized by the poets I shared time with and the town of Tieton!

APPLE TREE / Tieton Town Green
This was a gift to the children of Tieton. The glass apples were filled with cinnamon hearts. I used to love them as a kid. The 6' snake has a quote from Ingmar Bergman. It reads: Art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship.

GOLD SKY & THE ORANGE TREE / Tieton Town Green

It was a gusty, windy day. The wind huffed and puffed into the canopies, snapping and popping the colors and text all the warm afternoon long. In the late afternoon, I took the children into The Orange Tree, which was constructed with them in mind. Its bamboo stakes were set at 4', whereas the Gold Sky was set at 5'. The Orange Tree had prompts and the Gold Sky had little bits of golden poems.

A sign of instruction nearby told people to, "ACTIVATE A CANOPY (or sky or tree) by getting into it. The holes are for putting your head into. Pop your head up through a hole and read what’s there–a bit of poetry, something to say or do. Get a group together and get activate the canopy at the same time. Or try them all on your own. GOLD SKY addresses select “golden poems,” by Katherine Mansfield, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Andrew Marvell and Robert Frost. THE ORANGE TREE addresses a poem by Robert Graves. These canopies are patterned after James Lee Byars' participatory clothing, such as Two in a Hat and Pink Silk Airplane for 100. Gold Sky & The Orange Tree extends Byars’ notion of play and community by asking the audience to participate and by prompting them with text."

Happily, on Sunday afternoon at the open mic, we activated the canopies one last time. A group of poets put the garments on and walked the periphery of the Harvest Hall patio. It was another gorgeous sunny day in Tieton and everyone was pleased at the invitation to step outside. I'm thankful it was a bold and curious group. They did a great job bringing the canopies and poems to life.

NIGHT FISHING / Tieton Town Green

I have a dream. I think if you want something badly enough and dream about it and prepare yourself and go about like it will happen, it will happen. Do you think so too?

The sign reads, "Here’s my dream. I want to catch fish in Tieton. I know, I know, Tieton is hundreds of miles from the ocean and I don’t have a very big fishing boat and there’s not even a lake to put it in. It might seem silly, but dreams often are. I want to catch fish, enough to feed the whole town in fact. I’m prepared to work all day. I think I can do it. Who knows, maybe with your help, and the help of the children, if we work together and wish and dream, we can do it? Starting at 3PM on Saturday, I'll be right here in my rowboat. Come by and say hi. Send me a fish. Tell me a story. Draw or write a poem. Hook your fish on my line. Tell the story of how a poet came to Tieton, caught a boatload of fish, and fed the whole town.

I can’t catch enough fish on a line to feed the whole town, and I don’t even know what kind of fish live in Tieton, so I brought a big net. I’m planning to stretch it out at 9PM. I need your help! It’s a very large net. I can’t do it alone. Please come to Tieton Town Green at 9PM. Together we’ll set the net and put glowing rings on it. It will remain out "catching fish" until morning. And then….? Join me on Sunday at 3PM for FISH STEW on Tieton Town Green. Assuming I catch fish. O, I hope I catch fish!"

Happily, we did catch enough fish (octopus, mussels, mahi-mahi, shrimp, scallops, salmon) to feed all-comers the next day. The Mexican-American locals were a bit reluctant to come close, given their lack of English, but everyone in sight was (like it or not) brought a full cup of soup. Few turned it down. Most of the kids out that day were courageous enough to try it and liked it too. Indeed it was beautiful soup! I set up a propane stove in a stand and warmed up a huge pot of soup (over 10 pounds). It was a creamy red soup made with roasted red tomatoes, leeks, lemon juice, garlic and cream. One hundred thousand thanks to Clinton Bliss for making the soup and for, in part, funding it. He is a mighty supporter of the arts!

THE RITUAL ROOM / Mighty Tieton Warehouse Gallery

I was thrilled to be able to install The Ritual Room at LitFuse 2009. Thanks to Michael Schein, Director of LitFuse, for letting me do it. The LitFuse group last year was so responsive and amazing, I was looking forward to having them experience this.

The Ritual Room was a seed planted during my residency at Vanessa DeWolf's highly volatile Studio-Current on Capitol Hill. The installation was my then answer to an opportunity to teach my process to my peers there. It was an invitational evening event. Eleven people experienced it and it included a procession and feast. It took 18 hours to install that room and 3 hours to perform it. It was indeed lovely. We ate red velvet cake off of china plates and drank champagne out of fluted glasses. Afterwards we threw our glasses into a wooden barrel. Ca-crash!
The Mighty Tieton Warehouse offered new possibilities and a larger audience already steeped in poetry. I installed The Ritual Room between 9PM- 2AM on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Ed let me into the warehouse and I worked there alone until every last thing was just right. My, my, the warehouse makes some curious and alarming sounds in the night. Though I was tired from the work earlier in the day, the wind and trees brushing against the building kept me awake and on edge.
I added so many new rituals to The Ritual Room I first conceived, it was a totally new experience for me. Things had to be more portable, more spacious and more free-standing for the Tieton space. I added The Runway, The Silk Road, The Ritual Bottles, The Ship, The Immeasurable Self, Bending the Rules, Perfect Tiny Circle, Magic Signal Flags, Chance, Home, Crossing the Rubicon, Whispering Hole, Senseless Desire, Golden Plates, Pulse, The Five Selves and The Pink Artist, The Pink Eye and In the Pink. I subtracted the Nail of the North, The Cocoon and The Stooping Basin. Some of the new ideas came from the new materials I found. Some came from trying to reconfigure.

I'm happy with the way The Ritual Room looked and felt. If I could have added more sound elements, it's the only thing I would have changed, but there wasn't an option of hanging things from the ceiling so my option were more limited.

SHUTTERSHOTS OF GUERILLA POETRY / Mighty Tieton Warehouse Gallery

Putting together a slide show gave me some valuable information about myself. Holy Toledo, I've been busy! Now I see just how busy. Maybe too busy. I included 20 projects in the show, all executed between LitFuse 2008 and LitFuse 2009 (an 11-month time span). I didn't include any of my Field session work or The Poetry Playground work or any of the smaller community installations I did.

Having pulled the projects together in this way, it was interesting to see the shifts in my work: from purely poetry-driven installations to installations that prompted poetry as a response, then on to visual and participatory maneuvers that may or may not have a poetry mind. Well, they do for me, but not as a means of projection. They always do for me. I don't find one art is ever separate from the others. Aspects. They're all aspects of the same problem or situation. Community. Home. Pathways. The condition of the individual and community spirit. And on and on. The human struggle.

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