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Closing Night

Over the past few days I have been reminded of several things.  First, arts events cannot happen without the dedication and work of many people.  I am incredibly grateful each

Kate Protage, Mini 57

night to see The Heroes’ board members and volunteers pitching chairs around, pulling out risers, closing skylights, testing sound, shimmying up ladders to wake up recalcitrant projectors, and cutting up mad lib sonnets.  Second, if you put a bunch of artists backstage, they get a little silly.  The poets might or might not have been ‘tuning’ last night in preparation for their sonata in sonnets.  Third, the graciousness of the audience is the best sedative for the nervous butterflies that afflict my stomach, and the audiences the past two nights have been unfailingly gracious.

I am both excited for our final performance, and sad that it will be finished.  Please continue to watch the blog for audio and video of the performances, as well as the funniest mad libs, as judged by The Heroes’ board!

Veritas

Written by Amy Schrader

The first time I read all of the Formal Inquiry poets’ original sonata movements together, in order, I was particularly struck by the fact that drinking is one of the connecting themes across our entire work.

It tickled me, given that we didn’t intentionally set out to present alcohol as a recurring image. This naturally made me think about the stereotypical notions of the poet-as-lush.

I’ll admit that booze shows up in a lot of my poems. I think this is due to the fact that, well, I’m a bit boozy. But in addition to liking the effect of alcohol on my own brain, I like the similar effect it has on the characters in my poems.

Alcohol suppresses fear and other inhibitions. Having a drink (or five) allows the inhabitants of my poems to finally speak their minds and—if we’re being honest about it—say some nasty things that they might not otherwise say. As it would in real life, saying these things creates interesting tensions in their relationships with others.

At the same time, alcohol muddies communication, and leads to misunderstandings. Just because you’re drunk and speaking (as you believe) honestly, at the end of the it you’re still drunk—not in control of your message, perhaps lying to yourself about who you are and what you want—and the concept of “the truth” fractures in delightful ways. Examining the resulting fragments is one of the objectives of my poems.

This morning I picked up the Formal Inquiry posters from G&H Printing over in Eastlake.  Very friendly, very fast, and while there I saw a postcard I wanted to take–something about Tango in Greenlake.  This afternoon I was delighted to find out that Kickstarter is featuring Formal Inquiry on their splash page!  I did a little dance, called all my friends and babbled incoherently until they realized that something more exciting than a quad-shot-venti-americano had me talking too fast for comprehension, and they made me slow down.  Woot!  It will probably only be up until midnight tonight, but there has been a great response from the Kickstarter community, for which I am very grateful.


Look out for a poster in your neighborhood!  Design by Kristyn Maddox, photography by Patrick Savedra, Hair by Michelle Hall, Makeup by Bryony Thompson.  Chip Chip’s costume and fluffy appearance courtesy of Kristyn Maddox.

I’m taking a break from practicing to launch a campaign on Kickstarter to raise money for our venue (Velocity Dance Center).  Take a gander at the gorgeous video created by Jon Peck, and pledge if you can!  One of the rewards includes a cake made by yours truly, and here are a couple pictures of cakes past to whet your appetite…

This is the wedding cake I made for some friends.  The bottom tier was lemon-vanilla cake with lemon-cream cheese filling.  The middle tier was Mexican-mocha filled with a white chocolate Kahlua ganache and a dark mocha ganache. The top tier was a marble chocolate vanilla cake with Bailey’s Irish Cream white chocolate ganache.  The whole thing was covered with a milk-chocolate cream frosting. Photo courtesy Heather Olson.

This is a Vintage Vegan Chocolate cake topped with raspberry sauce.  I say vintage because the recipe is from the 1940s when they were rationing food.

Cooks and Bakers found new, creative ways of making delicious deserts, and I threw this one together for the artists’ workshop in March.  Photo courtesy Jason Williams.

As I near the finish line on the 3rd movement I find myself turning to Prokofiev’s String Quartet #2 in F Major:

and to Ravel’s Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano in A Minor:

Both were composed in times of war (WWII and WWI respectively), and both used elements of folk music.  Ravel, in the second movement, incorporates the structure of the Pantoum, a Malayan verse form used by the French poet Charles Baudelaire.

Also, not a sonata, but certainly using two contrasting elements (choral music and rap): Basement Jaxx’ Scars.

 

This past Sunday, all the participating artists gathered at The Owlery for an informal workshop and some filming for our forthcoming Kickstarter campaign.  The weather actually cooperated and let us take some group pictures outside instead of cramming onto my couch.  After some eating, drinking, and catching up, we settled into a discussion of the second section of the event, what I am calling the ‘Legacy’ or ‘Historical’ section.  This section is one that makes Formal Inquiry unique among arts events;  it seeks to honor the artists who shaped the structures we are using to create new work, and allow the  audience to experience the past in new ways.  I had asked artists to bring along examples of work that inspired or resonated with them, and they came with some beautiful pieces:

Teresa Morani brought this image by Edwaerd Muybridge, a pioneer of moving images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kate Protage brought, among other things, this image by Joan Mitchell, an American  abstract expressionist painter who  lived from 1925-1992.

 

 

 

 

Justin Rigamonte contributed this sonnet about sonnets by Wordsworth:

 

Nuns Fret Not At Their Convent’s Narrow Room

William Wordsworth

Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room;
And hermits are contented with their cells;
And students with their pensive citadels;
Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,
Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom,
High as the highest Peak of Furness-fells,
Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells:
In truth the prison, unto which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me,
In sundry moods, ’twas pastime to be bound
Within the Sonnet’s scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.

 

Crouton the cat made an appearance, but was overwhelmed by the creative sparks that were flying off everyone, and left quickly.

In addition to looking at the older work, we also shared drafts, notes, and thoughts on our own pieces.  While it is difficult to describe the excitement I felt after performing the second movement, an Adagio, I will say the first thing I wanted to do after the workshop was get to work on the third movement.  In my book, that counts as a success.  We will be performing the second movement again at The Heroes’ birthday party ‘Have Your Cake and Eat It Two’ (tickets available here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/162554).

 

I’m excited to see what will be created over the next few months!

 

What Debussy Said

“The enthusiasm of society spoils an artist for me, such is my fear that, as a result, he will become merely an expression of society.”

Monsieur Croche the Dilettante Hater

Claude Debussy

Do we knock on popularity because our knowledge of the band/artist/author is no longer exclusive, or because we fear for the artist’s own ability to maintain perspective and standards of quality?