Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Today (Map)

This large wall drawing takes on the aesthetic model of scientific calculation but upon closer investigation becomes increasingly subjective and emotional. The elaborate nature of this movement map begs to be viewed as fiction but the spontaneity of the structure mentions an intuition of truth. Gathered from dozens of smaller scenarios in real life, this drawing creates a new composition which offers a glimpse of macro-level complexity, and beauty, in human inter/actions.

Found Quotes

Set of six postcards with quotes on the front, meant for mailing. Each quote is from a spoken encounter in life which I heard and transcribed through the contextually skewed and physically flawed mechanism of my ears and perceptions. The cards were for sale (and still are) with the intention of allowing the purchaser to both touch and own art created from the very thing they encounter, and ignore, daily. The cards will also live inside their function once they are sent to another, further validating them as a gesture and therefore validating the source from which they come.

Doppelganger upon Admission

Upon entering the gallery, each viewer was required to receive a hand stamp saying ORIGINAL as well as have a instant photo taken of them for addition to the wall. Anyone who refused participation was not granted access to the gallery. This piece ran for the length of the show but the photo element stopped upon reaching 100 images. Through this gesture, the passive viewer was confronted with their addition to the space as being something acutely tangible and valuable. Passive spectatorship is a myth, viewership is also authorship.


Performance Notes:

Typist sits at desk with electric typewriter, stack of semi-translucent white paper and tape (or stapler).

There is one empty seat across from the Typist.
The Typist invites a person to participate in a short interaction with him or her.
-Shake the person’s hand in welcome.

The only stipulation is that any statements they make must be True.
-The Typist puts a new page in the typewriter.
-The Typist remains absolutely resolved on the task at hand.

“Who are you right now?”
-Encourage them to elaborate by verbal and non-verbal cues.
-Make 3 overt gestures for more elaboration, thought, or information before being satisfied with their answer.
-Attempt only to repeat the question with more or less emphasis for new meanings, or keep the quest for elaboration minimally verbally.
-Type everything they say, including filler words and stumbles.
-When they reach a pause, move to the next line on the page.
-Ask for them to speak more slowly.
-Ask them to repeat what they just said at least one time during your interaction. Type the first and second version of their statement.
-Make eye contact when you are not typing.

“How did you come to be here?”
-Again, use 3 gestures for more elaboration before finishing.
-Repeat steps above.

Finish either when 3 attempts at each question have been satisfied, or when the page is filled.

Notes on the piece:

In this piece, I am looking at the individual’s search for self only in the healthy terms of community. By premising the Truth stipulation, the Typist has no way of knowing if the participant is holding reasonably to that agreement other than trusting their desire to be honest. This always leaves room for choice between the two, to intentionally build trust or to deceive for various reasons. The ultimate consequence to this piece, like relationship, when trust is broken is laid upon the conscience of the aggressor.

While no significant answer to these two questions may be established, this piece reflects the eternal task of asking and seeking with others. The participant may not have asked these questions alone. They probably would not have moved past the first elaboration alone. They certainly would not have withstood the audible, visual, mental distractions alone. They definitely would not have remembered alone.

The interaction becomes less about what the person said in response to the questions, and more about how they responded.

The literal form of transcription through the hand of mishearing, interpreting person by the mechanics of a malfunctioning analog device points both to the perpetually flawed state we find our community in… and yet, when the flaws are bathed in truth and love, with respect for the answers and the questions, the whole process becomes a reflection of necessity.

Authentic Community.

the unreliable, unsolid, unlasting, unpredictable, dangerous world of. [Volumes 1-3]

This three volume piece falls between multiple mediums and ideas. It is in all practical sense, book art. The kind that's meant to be handled and touched unlike so many other variations of creative practice. Each book is a collection of unique but similar gestures, found drawings.

Volume One: Indoor Movements is made up of light dashes and dots spread across white pages. These drawings were collected and scanned from foot prints on a paper covered floor inside a gallery.

Volume Two: Touch feels first like black and white topographical maps. They are actually 50 retrieved paper towels from a single institutional bathroom trashcan, unfolded and scanned. The groves and lines made in the paper become a new terrain, begging to be noticed as the beautiful side of refuse.

Volume Three: Occasion is a collection of the inside of greeting cards, pulled together from one person over many years. Prewritten wishes mingle with the tradition of keeping in touch, sometimes dated, telling a story of relationships and obligations through decontextualized lines and images.

This volume series is both a study of value systems and an attempt to make drawings literally out of a life that's full of stains, smudges, and unwantedness.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"A lot is going on this space between."

Finally I'm getting around to posting images from my show in Mt.Vernon, Ohio earlier this year. My alma mater gave me a great opportunity to have a solo show in their brand new gallery space, which went as well as a show could ever go. The work was wonderful in the space and the viewers were incredibly responsive to the concept of the show. Below are some images of the space as well as the artist statement. I'll post images from each piece individually and the opening next.

The title of this show almost begs to take itself too seriously. That would be, of course, if the quote hadn’t been lifted from a woman referring to her recently acquired double-stuffed Oreo.

Each piece in this show attempts to engage in a conversation about authorship, decontextualization, and the function of consciousness in everyday activities. Utilizing intentionally varied gestures, this exhibition confuses its own artistic equilibrium by challenging the understanding of how, or when, actions become art.

In this space between, you will hopefully find yourself the observer instead of viewer and participant as opposed to consumer. You will simultaneously be asked to see the unnoticed and become the noticed. This space between is a spot made banal in its familiarity, significant through our accountability, and beautiful by association. This space between is a place to see and to become wholly interested in a remarkable and disinterested world.

Monday, May 31, 2010

30 Days of Dinner Time, Day 30

In the window, Mr. André Callot... a talented artist, master of humor and good friend. We went to grad school together at University of Chicago, he's finishing his degree as I write. As a nod toward the quieter and more isolated aspects of dinner time, André graciously received the instructions of eating alone. This is also the final night of 30 days, a quiet send off looking ahead to what new awaiting and unseen artwork will engage my continuing practice.

For dinner André brought General Tso's Chicken from a not-so-great Chinese restaurant in his local Hyde Park (André's review). He also brought the book "When Humor Becomes Painful" as reading research for a paper due before graduation. This book seemed perfect even for viewing this final dinner... André could have made his experience incredibly funny had he wanted, but instead it sat at the semi-painful line of reality with a twist of irony and a dash sweetness for good measure. I couldn't help but feel incredibly maternal for his presence as I watched, respecting his independence but feeling that he should soon receive a hug.

Two men came to see the piece in it's final night. They read about it in the Tribune article and wanted to see it before the close. After answering their numerous and rich questions, they began to share with me their favorite artists and art pieces through years. Realizing how deep their exposure goes, I became incredibly grateful both for the information they were sharing and also for their attendance. The piece (perhaps any artwork for that matter) becomes in part only as strong as its response. For those who stumbled across Art on Armitage during May, I have been impressed by their openness and willingness to embrace it. For those who simply love art and go to where it is, I am equally grateful that they'll carry with them the memory of 30 Days into the next art adventure they pursue. Like bees spreading pollen to plant more lovely flowers, art viewers who engage are planting seeds for future beauty and growth.

As I write this, the gallery has been totally de-installed. The table and chairs are back in our apartment where they began, out of the way and waiting for a future use. I'm sad it's over but overwhelmed by what I've seen and processed this month. Finally my body is wearing down; no voice and incredibly tired, I am experiencing the physical evidence that 30 days are enough days.

Thanks to those who've been faithful readers. I hope you find more in the photos, write-ups and conceptual skeleton of this piece than I could have imagined. Please send me your thoughts as they come. I very much look forward to what comes next.

30 Days of Dinner Time, Day 29

In the window, Nick and Adrian. I know Nick through a "seven degrees of separation" way. He works with a girl who volunteers at a homeless shelter (or did until she recently moved). Nick began volunteering at the same shelter where I also volunteer and eventually met him. Okay, I guess that's only three degrees... but still. During our acquaintance-hood stage, Nate and I went with Nick (and his girlfriend Adrian) to a one-hour-free-alcohol karaoke party where we bonded over amaretto sours and Bohemian Rhapsody. Our friendship has continued to grow ever since.

I'm not totally sure what they brought for dinner, aside from the blue plates, candle and water bottle visible in the photos. Day 29 was the second and final night that Nate had to fill in for my absence. He missed the meal details but said, "it looked like sandwiches but they ate them with a fork, so it could have been crepes, but I don't know."

This night was much like the others, warm and viewed by a crowd on their way to the yearly church carnival down the street. As many people from the neighborhood have become accustomed to the piece, and other summer time events move into the periphery, it feels like this piece is ready for a graceful retirement. Not that it needs to be new and exciting every night, but the gesture seems to have filled up to its own brim and is now looking for its own lid for containment.

In an act to retain images of the evening, Nate relied more upon quotes he gathered from people passing by. I love quotations as they are bits of reality in a decontextualized form, like photos with no image. On one hand they both show factual vocal detail but also leave a lot to the imagination.

One man on a bike asked Nate, "When can I go in there and eat rice and beans?". For future ideas and projects I need to remember questions like these. Over and over again people with small interest all the way to people with sturdy commitment to the piece have asked how to participate. There was a time when I thought no one would set in the window, but now I see that it takes only a few brave souls to empower others to be brave as well.

Nate also wrote: "Another man with a Puerto Rican hat carrying an American flag blow-up machine gun wearing a camouflage vest and cut-off jeans shorts said 'Are we entitled to go in there?'". Nate was so fascinated by this man's appearance and likeminded verbiage that he read me this quote with a smile and tiny exclamation points hidden in his voice. I have no idea what this man would have done if Nate told him to go right on in... but the fact that he is apart of the memory of this piece makes it unique and beautiful beyond my wildest dreams.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

30 Days of Dinner Time, Day 28

In the window, Lauren and her girlfriend Ashley. The three of us had never met aside from brief exchanges on facebook earlier in the month about our mutual love for pet rats. They found out about the piece through an acquaintance of theirs who is a friend of mine. They also signed up for the night of the closing reception which was located inside the gallery owner's storefront studio space, a space that is typically quiet and isolated. In addition to their conversation being less personal, I spent most of the time inside while their dinner happened... allowing passers by to encounter the piece without my inviting albeit watchful eye.

For dinner they brought a combination of food purchased at a nearby restaurant: sandwich and hotdog, Hispanic pastries and nesquick flavored milk. Having taken in a few strawberries from the reception spread, I believe this is the first time I inadvertently (and gladly) contributed to the objects in the space.

This day was a whirlwind from my vantage point, and anyone who has thrown a reception for their own work knows exactly what I mean. Typically the nightly dinner time is the highlight of my evening, or at least demands a great amount of attention. Because of the party, the dinner felt more like deja vu. When I was outside with them it made me miss being out there, but it also made me aware of the people I could be talking with inside. The extrovert in me ruled the day, for better or worse.

It was beautiful to see how the dinner changed because of the party. Teenagers who have been skate boarding across the street all month finally came over to see what was going on. Lauren and Ashley beckoned me through yells to come out and watch the boys perform jumps on the sidewalk. People who have been reading about the piece online were able to see it for the first time and participants returned to celebrate.

Lauren and Ashley were the perfect pair to put in the window on a day that preoccupied my responsibilities... it seemed like they had fun with the piece and really contributed a good presence to the party. Their demeanor and posture helped with the artfulness of the night, as well as the fluidity of participating with life, inside and outside the window.

All in all, the reception was a great evening filled with old and new friends. Still two more days before the end, but the air of "wrapping things up" is all around. I'll hold off on the goodbye words other than to say how pleasing it was to look back with others on all this piece has and will accomplish.

30 Days of Dinner Time, Day 27

In the window, Erica and Samantha. I know Erica from church and related activities... Erica and Samantha work together. They seem like easy friends, the kind that grow together quickly and enjoy each other's presence and empowerment.

For dinner they ordered sandwiches from the pizza place across the street. There was a large time-gap between their expected food pickup and the actual time it was ready. During those twenty-or-so minutes I was able to talk with Samantha about the piece and her personal/artistic interests. Considering how late it is into the month, our conversation felt like a test run for re-entering the normal pace of dialog with a stranger (instead of watching them from the other side of a window, which I'm certain won't fly in other contexts).

Along with their food they brought an ipod and speaker dock. As soon as their quick meal was eaten, they folded up the table and chairs, put their things off to the side, and picked a tune. Then they proceeded to start a two-person window dance party. They continued picking songs and dancing until the end of their hour, quite a thing to watch.

This is the first night where the participants became overt and intentional performers. On one hand it felt as though they danced for themselves, not always facing out but instead laughing and focused on one another. On the other hand, they would fall into moments of outward focus... playing the roles of mimes in a box (though they actually were in a box this time) or doing the Rockettes line kick. I suppose this follows suit with many forms of dancing: simultaneously a personal expression and entertainment for others.

They had a good amount of sit-down-stay-a-while viewers to observe their dances... which created the feeling of watching gogo dancers locked in a box. It's incredibly awkward to sit still while watching two people jump and kick and laugh... all to music you can't hear. This disconnect of physical movement made me feel like they were very far away... people from a different place performing a strange ritual of that I couldn't enter. In this dinner time more than any other I felt my obligation as Viewer to their Entertainer, and distinctly encountered the divide that separated their world from my own.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

30 Days of Dinner Time, Day 26

In the window, Jason and Jennifer, husband and wife extraordinaire. Jason is a fellow U of C MFA-er and Jen works long hours at a not-for-profit in Chicago. I was also given the good fortune of photographing their wedding last year which was a real delight.

For dinner they brought a variety of snacking foods, surrounded by a much loved container of hummus. They drank orange juice with the food, and while it looked like a snack meal, it felt incredibly healthy. Their dinner seemed to revolve most around their game of Scrabble. Based on the board they brought and the posture they held throughout the game, it was obvious this was not an isolated event in their lives. In fact, with this dinner more than any other, I felt as if this is actually what they would be doing at home during dinner time...as though the gallery was just a large window looking into their living room.

In spite of the comfort in their actions, it seemed they were keenly conscious of themselves as being on display. I gathered this from nervous laughter and the way Jen's foot never stopped shaking, tapping and swinging. Then again, those gestures could have easily been natural to their demeanor, speculation abounds.

A man with his baby came out to see the piece for a while. The little boy was on a push cart controlled by the father, so there was never a moment where they stood still on the sidewalk. It felt like speaking with a circling shark, only this shark was being propelled by his son's need to keep moving, not his own. Toward the end of their time with me the father spouted, "It IS art" as if to convince me of the fact. Like I have so many times before, I asked him why he thought so. He said "because it makes me think of other things, like animals at the zoo... and prison."

Not to say I fully understood his logic for that answer, I was interested in where he landed. Further explaining to me, he had spent time locked up on a an assault charge as a young man and there met men who will never be released as long as they live. He recollected the contrast of living life in a way that you are always in view but never actually seen; intensely observed but totally ignored . The place where privacy is abolished and yet everyone is forced to exist in isolation. It was a sad but potent image that I hadn't seen. His experiences gave me a new and pained way of seeing the piece in response to the way many may see their lives, in a physical prison or one made of more silent but equally strong bricks.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

30 Days of Dinner Time, Day 25

In the window, Josh and Charline. Josh and I met in a totally unexpected and spontaneous way: a conversation at our shared laundromat (one of the many reasons I love Chicago). He listened to me go on and on about this piece and decided to participate. Josh's original dinner companion was unfortunately unable to attend, so Charline, another of his friends, stepped in to fill the role. May the reader note that Charline had a baby four short months ago who was at home... she looks stunning if you ask me.

For dinner they brought cuisine from Sultan's Market, a bottle of red wine and a large bottle of water to share. Part of the way into their meal it appeared Charline was not so fond of her food and asked to try Josh's. If memory serves me, this is the first time an overt food sharing gesture has occurred. She found his much more pleasing and traded for the rest of dinner, another first.

They also chose to sit on the floor of the gallery, picnic style. They told me afterward that this had to do with the length of the table. Intentionally designed to create more space than normal between the participants, the table has never repelled others from using it before tonight. If anything, pairs have modified themselves to suit its demands. Chris from Day 20 called it the "magically shrinking table", as their conversation became more focused the space between them fell away... but the distance was very much there to start. Josh and Charline are the first to refuse the furniture template regardless of their ability to conform to it.

As they talked, ate and wiggled around inside the window, conversations were happening outside in much the same way. Susan, my friend who participated in Day 2, stopped by to see the piece with her two pet geckos (in a box). A set of siblings sat for quite a while, one a Junior in high school and the other a 7th grader. The four of us talked about many things that kids that age deal with: school, establishing habits and identities, the future.

Susan seemed surprised that we talked so little about the dinner in the window, actually. She recalled from her own dinner experience the subtle but persistent feeling that everyone was analyzing her from the outside. After all, she was the art. Of course there are conversations and entire nights where the diners take center stage but that isn't always the case (apologies for let out the apparently well-kept secret). Like most forms of creative expression (visual art, theater, film, music), the end result of the gesture is intended both to be lovely AND to stimulate and motivate exchange.

The kids who stopped to talk may have first been interested in pet geckos or staying longer in the warm weather, but they stayed because they were given a place to see and speak about themselves in the reflection of something else. The art talk came toward the end of the conversation... and it wasn't formed around dialog speculation or academic rhetoric. Instead it was tailored to their needs, to the idea that things aren't always what they seem, that it's okay to sit communally before an idea and be pleased with its ability to liberate.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

30 Days of Dinner Time, Day 24

In the window, Charina, Junito, Candido, Lucy, Scrappy and the man Nate and I refer to as the pizza boy. The first four people in that list are family members from the neighborhood. Scrappy is their petite dog and the pizza boy is a man who arrived mid-dinner with a pizza and stayed for a while.

Lucy and Candido brought Puerto Rican food and started their dinner time together at the table. At their feet a "Cooking for Two" book faced the window as a gesture toward their current Empty Nester status. After some time their adult son joined them for dinner, sitting with his dad at the table. Whoever was eating sat at the table and the other(s) rotated to the floor.

A few minutes later their adult daughter and Scrappy came in, parents now sitting together on the floor and children eating together at the table. Lastly the pizza boy came in with his gift to the family, shook hands and joined the daughter on the floor while dad and brother sat at the table and mom stood on the other side of the window. Before the night ended, all the "children" left and the parents were left together again in the window. The Cooking for Two book had been flipped upside down while the family was with them, but returned to it's upright position when man and wife were alone together again. This gesture was very important to Lucy, representing their lives through symbol to the viewer.

This dinner has been scheduled since the first week of the piece and I've been looking forward to it immensely. This version did a wonderful job expressing the multi-person family unit, dinner time that is broken into rotations for convenience and necessity, and the organic nature of certain groups and cultures inside the act of eating. In this dinner there was a continuous act of giving for your other... giving up your turn at food so someone else could eat, standing while someone else sits, becoming smaller so the other has more room to be big. It's the image of a real and loving family.

This was also the first night that I was not present for the piece. I had a job to do in the evening so Nate filled my shoes, as the good husband he is. For the first time in almost a month, I am looking at the piece the same way my facebook fans are. Not as viewers on the sidewalk nor as participants in the window, but as a second hand viewer. I saw this night through the eyes of Nate, much the same way you have seen the previous 23 days through my eyes (unless you were there in person on a given night).

This makes me want to encourage everyone to come out before the last night (May 30). While I'm trying to see the piece clearly, it's only as good as my vantage point. I have been really altered by spending time with this concept and gesture, but only insofar as I am able to be personally moved (as is the case with all art). You have a different set of eyes to see through, and I need you in order to see my own work more fully, as it ought to be seen.

Monday, May 24, 2010

30 Days of Dinner Time, Day 23

In the window, Gloria and Nate. They have both had dinners in the window earlier in the month with other companions. The scheduled pair cancelled earlier in the day for their slot, so Nate and Gloria stepped up to save the day. Nate is my husband and Gloria is our good friend and across-the-hall neighbor. We've been friends with Gloria almost as long as we've lived in Chicago, about 3.5 years.

For dinner Nate packed up a last minute picnic. They made their own turkey and salami sandwiches with hot peppers for kick, had pineapple chunks and mini-candybars for dessert and washed it down with Blue Moon and Mike's Hard Lemonade (Cranberry).

30 Days has so much to do with community, on a large and personal scale. This dinner embodied the overall crucial element of trusting the people in my life, those who are either invested in the gesture of the piece, the artist, or both. Without them and their dedication, this piece couldn't exist. Much in the same way that without them my world would be poor and anorexic at best. Having a front row seat to see people stand together to be apart of something outside themselves, even at cost to their comfort, is humbling and incredibly encouraging.

Gloria and Nate went for the sports theme in their dinner. Nate dressed in his Cubs attire and Gloria doted her Sox gear, including a replica of their 2005 World Series trophy which sat on the table. They each drank from their team's plastic cup (obtained at actual games). On the window was taped a GO BLACKHAWKS!!! sign as the team had just moved onto the finals (or whatever they're called in hockey) before coming to dinner.

In spite of the visual clues that baseball would reign their dinner talk, they told me after that little statistical analysis or bad-mouthing actually occurred. Yet again the window created a safe place for their hearts to sit with another. On the outside children ran, wheeled, yelled, and sat to watch the work. From inside the window it may have seemed like typical children having typical times... but on the outside I spoke with a young man about how little food he eats in a given day because his family's lack of resources, and a teenage girl who has no dreams for her future. The glass wall failed to illuminate reality for those looking through either side, image contradicted content with vigor.

For the benefit of the young boy filled with hunger, I broke one of my rules for the first time this month. Opening the gallery door I asked Gloria and Nate to make him a sandwich. For a small amount of time I was visible from the outside, though not fully inside either. For the first time, the participants knew with certainty what was being talked about on the outside. For the first time dinner came outside before the hour was up, art and life collided. Based on his reaction, it may also have been the first time the boy, and his brother with whom he shared, had eaten that day.

Through my years of training as an artist I have struggled with a crisis of function. Theory has taught me the significance art has on the world and its people, and yet so often I see careers built on nothing more than glorified selfishness. I haven't come to a conclusion yet of how to balance the two roles (and my inclination toward selfishness) other than to know I was made to do this and to grapple with the tension. Seeing art spring out of people... the thinking, feeling, hurting, committed, stimulating, challenging people in this piece, both inside and outside the window, gives me hope for a future that continues to respond to this struggle with grace, love and authentic humility.

30 Days of Dinner Time, Day 22

In the window.... well, tonight was a different night. Heather and Emily were scheduled to spend their dinner time together, two artists who had never met before. Unfortunately, Emily had some serious transportation issues getting to the gallery. For the first 25-ish minutes, Heather was alone in the window. For about a half hour the gallery owner, Mary Ellen, stepped in to chat while finishing her cocktail for the evening. After 8pm Emily arrived and began their planned dinner time. So this dinner was a unique experience, even for the piece.

For dinner Heather brought a Mediterranean spread, flatbread and cucumber salad. She brought cookies for dessert, sparkling water, and homemade chai. Fortunately she had enough food to begin eating dinner alone. When Emily arrived, she contributed blood orange juice, fried dumplings and a mini pie to share.

Speaking with Heather afterward, we each had potent but varied images of the evening. She expressed a sense of sterility in the white space alone while I was overwhelmed with awkwardness on her behalf. As she didn't expect to spend part of the evening on her own, she didn't have a form of entertainment besides the food. She quickly took to using the dinner elements as building blocks for an edible city on a plate foundation. She was both forced to be aware of herself in the space without retreating to another world (books, music, tv), though she still managed to find another world to reside in for a while.

I began to consider the idea of failure during this first leg of the night. What does it look like for a piece of this style to fail, to break down on itself. What are those parameters which it can avoid to remain functional and how far outside can it go before unrecognizable transformation occurs. The concept of failure begs not only to understand the outermost limits of the piece, but also a clear understanding of its identity.

When Mary Ellen decided to pass the waiting time with Heather, I found it both a relief and incredibly stressful. Not acting as a simple intermission, this kind gesture divided the evening into three acts. While watching them talk together, Mary Ellen not eating food and Heather feeling too conscious to eat alone, the expectation of Emily's arrival became physically tangible. While I was glad the piece organically solved its own issues, the tension of watching the second act, the space holder if you will, was unexpectedly tense... only because it pointed to the need for a third act and its indefinite nature.

When Emily did arrive, she was thrown into an experience that everyone else had become very comfortable in. Almost like the new kid at school. She adapted with grace and began a dinner time which represented the imperfect scenarios of life which often manipulate our outcomes. They talked together for over an hour, exceeding what some others have had on a "normal" dinner. Going yet again to very intimate topics (they told me afterward) the conversation was undesirably interrupted by three young men who became boisterously interactive from the outside. Whether out of frustration or a little fear from this interaction, they opted to end their dinner time two and a half hours after it technically began.

This night was as good as it was tense. At the end, as so many have said after their dinner time, the two women were relaxed and grateful for the intimacy of a tiny room with a glass wall. I was grateful to see my own piece shift, almost violently, before my eyes. Perhaps its full identity is still in the works, but nights like this refine it into a more articulate and strong version of itself.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

30 Days of Dinner Time, Day 21

In the window, Sean and Larissa, a dating couple for the past half a year or so. I had never met either of them until their dinner and poor Larissa had no idea she was going to be meeting me at all. Sean had planned their participation as a surprise, and I must say that her honest reaction was delightful. She did a wonderful job embracing the piece even at the last possibly minute before entering into it.

For dinner Sean brought a feast. It was the kind of meal that was easy to see love had been put into, and the time they spent dining gave the courses value as well as flavor, even for the viewer. There were many stages to their dinner, beginning with cheese/olives and crackers for conversations eating, then onto a home grown arugula salad, an entree of lamb with sides followed by chocolate truffles for dessert. They also had a very nice bottle of red wine and seltzer water to drink.

This dinner embodied all that I had imagined about the piece before it actually came to life. Other nights have dominated one element or theme with style, but this dinner looked very much like the image in my imagination when initially developing the concept.

The weather was perfect, finally absent of cold and cloudy. As a friday night, the children were running and playing and people from the neighborhood were stopping to watch and talk. A very nice filmmaker came to see the piece from Pilsen because he read about it in the Tribune earlier in the day... which made for riveting conceptual conversation on the chairs. Sean and Larissa were highly engaged with both the inside and the outside of the glass and stayed well into dark. Afterward we had a fantastic conversation about the piece and their viewpoints from inside. On my trip home I ran into a young woman who had seen the piece days before, we talked all the way home about it, about our lives. It was just a pleasant evening all around.

Basically, I am so glad that in this dinner I saw the romantic side of the piece. Those evenings where tension and difficulty have prevailed will probably be the most educational and interesting overall, but this dinner felt like a kind gift of soul food...something attractive and nourishing. I'm glad that 30 Days in its entirety will have a complex identity, including gentle days which meet outstanding expectations.