I probably should be doing some serious work on shaping up this Luminaria film stuff, but I keep finding excuses to procrastinate. My current excuse is that it’s too beastly cold to do anything. But today I finally crawled out of the warmth of my bed around 2pm, braved a cold shower, and headed over to C4 to get some work done. It was warm there. And coffee was waiting. And John’s wonderful sandwiches are only a thirty second walk away–out the door, turn right, and right again: there you are, at the Filling Station. Damn fine pizza, too.
I achieved a modicum of productivity, and around 8pm, I drove to the La Fiesta on S. Flores to stock up on provisions. And that brings me up to date.
In those earlier, bed-ridden hours, I was suckling on movies via the NetFlix “Watch Instantly” option.
“The Host,” a Korean monster film. This film has enjoyed a shit-load of praise. The effects are strong and well integrated into the story. It’s kooky, sweet, and, in turns, playful and grisly. I wanted to like it a lot more than I did. The story’s rather unfocused, and it’s a good thirty minutes too long. But if you like monster movies (and don’t we all, to some degree?), I can’t put it down too much–it’s so much better than the basic American monster fare.
“Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa.” This is a documentary about a bunch of social drop-outs living in a region of the New Mexican desert. When I lived in the Big Bend region of Texas, I met some of these types. Too much in love with their firearms and the American flag to be called hippies; yet too enamored of their marijuana and ad hoc co-operative extended communities to be called reactionary militia types. Many of the residents of the Mesa are veterans. They freely (and at times, grimly) acknowledge their mental illness, their PTSD, their difficulties with substance abuse. The residents aren’t all ex-military guys. There are old hippies, women, and runaway kids. The strength of this documentary is that even though these people are all very flawed, we get to see them, on several occasions, coming together and functioning as a healthy, caring community. This is still the Old West. And the folks who live on the Mesa are operating much as I assume the early Anglo settlers of the west behaved. This lone individualism is, of course, a silly fiction. These people show how a community on the very fringe of law and society have to band together to survive. It’s also interesting to see how often they utilize Native American societal structures, such their Council of Elders, and the fact that women are turned to when the decisions of the greatest social conflict have to be considered. Don’t get me wrong. These folks are all massively flawed and fucked up. This is far from a Utopia. But I think it’s a wonderful reminder that if something awful were to happen and we were all reduced to a pre-industrial state, we’d be able to create communities, tribes, councils, and governments. If these obligate fuck-ups can build a functioning community on a blighted desert mesa with no water, electricity, or governmental structure–well, hell, maybe there’s hope for us all if things do go to shit.
“Skins.” This is a British drama about a group of teens living in Bristol. I don’t usually like teen dramas. But this one is so irreverent. These kids are out of control. They’re smoking, drinking, fucking, and drugging. It’s what Ferris Bueller would have been were that movie not directed by that useless snoozer, John Hughes. I have to admit that I never cared for John Hughes. I could never relate to his characters. This is similar to the problems I have with Salinger. I have NOTHING in common with those over-privileged motherfuckers that infest Salinger’s prose or Hugh;s films. But these kids in “Skins” come closer to my teen years. I had a hard time getting into this series with the first episode, But by the halfway mark of that first show I was sold. I’ve only seen the first three episodes of season one, but the writing, acting, production values–all wonderful. But just as important, this show is brave–it takes the audience to some uncomfortable places. Also, there’s loads of nudity. And I rather enjoy that.
One of the annual shows at that most crucial of San Antonio galleries, Centro Cultural Aztlan, is the Segundo de Febrero event. This commemorates the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848. This marks the largest land-grab in our nation’s history. Essentially, we wrested 525,000 square miles from Mexico. However, the disputed region of Texas should be included in those spoils of war. The adds another, roughly, 400,000 square miles to the total. Toss in the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, and it’s all take take take. This is, to the Mexican-Americans, their equivalent of “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us.”
Last year there was an incredible installation at the Aztlan. A chain link fence was built, running the length of the gallery. But that was okay. You could see the art on the walls of both sides because of big holes cut in the fence.
The major piece this year is San Alamo, or Upside Down St. Anthony, by Rolando Briseño. It’s a life-sized plaster sculpture of St. Anthony suspended upside-down, with the Alamo perched on top, balanced on the soles of his sandals. It was a great show, as always. Malena Gonzalez-Cid and her crew never disappoint. Many of my friends are showing their work at this show; there is also several works by artists who I may have never officially met, yet whose careers I’ve followed for years with respect and excitement.
I was surprised to see Ramon Vasquez y Sanchez. Sure, he had a piece at the show. And certainly he’s no stranger to Centro Cultural Aztlan, seeing as he founded this art and cultural center. But last I had heard, he had headed off to Tucson to serve as a keynote speaker for a February 2nd event in Arizona. But–so it seemed–he had managed to return home in time to be part of our San Antonio event.
He told me he had received a standing ovation in Arizona. No surprise there. He’s a very charismatic man. “You’ve still got a pretty big head, I guess?” I asked him with smile. He shrugged and said something about having suffered a bit of difficulty getting through the door.
The events at Centro Cultural Aztlan are always warm and inviting. It’s a big family event, where everyone’s happy you came. If you haven’t been to the opening of a show there, please go next time. You’ll be glad you did.
I woke up early this morning. It’s cold outside, this means it’s cold inside. Ah this drafty old house. I pulled my laptop into bed with me and caught up on my RSS feeds. I recently exported all my subscriptions from my old reader (an online free service, Alesti.org–it has a nice intuitive interface: but there are hours–even days–when it’s down, for reasons I can never understand). I’m now using Google Reader.
I’m sure I could just use iTunes, but iTunes has fucked me over too many times. iTunes is the most counter intuitive, intrusive, proprietary, parasitic piece of shit ever to come out of the Apple Empire. God, how I despise iTunes!
But I digress. Um, where was I?
Ah, yes, Google Reader. I was intrigued when Todd O’Neill mentioned recently on his Twitter feed how he was having a blast with something called Feedly. This is a magazine-type template that acts like an RSS reader–it also lets you post to your various outlets: blog, social media, email, etc. I’m still a bit confused on how to make it work. However, my cursory research into Feedly, brought me to Google Reader. Now I can say a fond farewell to Alesti.
I did managed to drag my ass out of bed by early afternoon. Well, I had managed to make a pot of coffee and send out a few emails in the morning hours. But by early afternoon I got out of the cold old house. I met up with Deborah. She’s finally moving out of the development phase of her video piece for Luminaria. I’m definitely on board to help her shoot and edit the piece. We’ve come up with our model, location, and we are closing in on a solid schedule of shooting.
(My own Luminaria film is still awaiting my attention. I’ve shot the piece. Beautiful footage. I just need to edit it. And I need to hammer it out before the end of next week. That’s when Seme gets back from teaching a workshop in Ecuador (I do envy her life-style!). We’ll be working on another collaboration for her Luminaria proposal.)
Actually, I’m involved in three Luminaria film / dance projects, each a collaborative endeavor. With one I’m functioning in a crew capacity. Another, I’m providing a video backdrop. And the final one, my own, I’m hoping to bring in a live dancer to accompany my short film.
It’s a good thing I don’t currently have a job. Those fucking things always get in the way. Damn, those jobs, those professions, they sure sound like major time-sucks. However, they do indeed make a quick cure of that malady forever hovering over my head. You know, poverty.
After some discussion over a late lunch concerning Deborah’s Luminaria film, we went to her studio. She was painting the outside of her studio at Blue Star for the upcoming First Friday–it’s just two days away.
Here’s the deal. Deborah Keller-Rihn has some new work. It’s in keeping with her current style of photographs printed in black and white large on canvas and colored with thinned oil paint. As a photographer, her work is powerful and amazing. The added embellishment with her skills as a painter make the final work simply extraordinary. Here’s one of canvases that will be on display Friday at her studio: Keller-Rihn Studio (it’s in the Blue Star Arts Complex, upstairs from Three Walls and Cactus Bra–that’s in the same building where Jump-Start Performance Company is):
Here Deborah is working with a model named Danielle. On one of theses photo shoots Danielle was outside of Deborah’s studio performing a fire dance. On that occasion I happened to be in town and I video-taped this dance. An edit of my shoot was screened at Jump-Start for their 25th Annual Performance Party. I’ll be screening that piece again on a video loop projected onto Deborah’s studio wall this First Friday.
So, come on by.
Deborah was shafted this semester because one of the classes she was planning to teach didn’t make. She’s very very poor this semester. But she has these incredible photo paintings. They are priced to move. Come on by and buy some art, dammit. Deborah has bills to pay! Also, come and watch my video. Really, what are you waiting for? Come and hang out with us!
If you’re not hanging out with Erik and Deborah at Blue Star this Friday, you’d better have a serious excuse! I’m accepting only two reasons. A.) You’re over at C4 Workspace for the art opening of Jesus Morón’s excellent work; or, B.), you’re over at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center for CineFestival.
CineFestival is where I hope to be Thursday night. Also, all day Saturday and Sunday. (I’m a bit pissed off that their all-access pass cost 85 bucks! That seems high for a community arts center. I should point out that I’m whining because the previous three years I had the complimentary-all-access-pass because I was a judge. For some reason, my insightfulness as a judge was shrugged off this year. Oh, well….
Any way, these things happen. I’ll happily buy a day pass for both Saturday and Sunday. Friday I’ll be otherwise engaged. And Thursday I’m hoping that the email I received from the San Antonio Film Commission is actually what it seems to be: an invitation to the opening night party. But maybe the party is open to everyone. And that stings, ’cause, you know, I really wanna be special. I’m feeling particularly low tonight, and special would be good….
So, unless you, my reader, are out of town, I guess I’ll be seeing you this weekend. Either at the Guadalupe, or at Deborah’s studio.
See you soon!