A Day in My Life

I’ve been selected as a judge for a local film contest. I’m not sure if the judges’ names have been announced, so I’ll keep it vague. It’s actually rather fun. The videos were posted online, and, using an interactive web template, I was able to watch each film, and add my scores. There were some damn good films.

Earlier in the afternoon last Tuesday I got a call from George Cisneros. His son’s in town. He wanted to know if I would like to come on out with them to see the Psychedelic show at SAMA. George has some of his early minimalist video art pieces on a loop in a side gallery in something of an installation environment. It might take you about 30 minutes to view all the five or six pieces. But you can just walk in to take a taste now and then. The music playing is mostly his compositions.

The show is pretty damn good. We’ve got several pieces by the great local artist Alex Rubio. Work by James Cobb, Frank Stella, Victor Vasarely, Robert Williams, and loads more. You gotta go check it out. Tuesday it’s free, between 4pm and 9pm. This is really the best time to go. There are so many families with kids. I love watching kids look at art. This is how we’re supposed to interact with art. Cut out the academic bullshit. See it all as a kid. I love it. And in all honesty, this is why I didn’t choose to attend curator David Rubin’s lecture. I knew damn well he’d suck la scintilla ultima from any further appreciation of these pieces when I come back to enjoy the show again. Besides, if I really want to know what he thinks about the show, I can read the introductory essay in the book / catalog of the show. And the book is just stunningly designed. I’ll even put up with that insipid lavender colored font.

I’m going back next Tuesday during the freebie hours. It’s well worth repeated visits!

Here’s a picture I took on my iPhone of George’s son, Antonio, sitting with a friend, watching the George Cisneros video installation.

Photobucket

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Wednesday, following Luminaria, I met with Deborah for breakfast in a quiet little south side Mexican cafe. We were exchanging our perceptions of Luminaria. I had been reading the reader comments from a couple of articles printed in the Express-News. The most-often mentioned criticism was the density of the crowds. That was clearly evident to me, even though I only was able to see the events going on in the HemisFair Park portion. Deborah was able to see a bit more of the total event. One of the things she thought could have been an easy fix was the way the lines for the food and beverage stations were allowed to snake into the audience area of the stage in La Villita. Line monitors could have fixed that. My own take on the density issue–in the HemisFair Park region–had to do with some wasted dead-zones. First, the HemisFair arch. Because of the two-screen projections beneath the arch, the projectors were set on the walkway behind the arch. This made little sense. People should be able to walk under that arch. And they should be able to congregate all around the arch. But they couldn’t, because an area of about 20 x 25 feet was taped off for the placement of the projectors. The next area of wasted space was the grassy area on the north side of the Magik Theatre. True, there was work projected onto that huge wall of the Magik, but there needed to be other reasons, other art work, in that section, to bring people in, so they wouldn’t all be clustered in that central walkway down towards the Tower of the Americas. And then another huge waste of space, was the Plaza de Mexico, between the Convention Center and the Instituto. This was used for one grand performance, with a large amount of tech support, and when it was over, that entire space was dead.

Now I know that it’s easy to make helpful suggestions to fix problems well after the fact, but, maybe, hopefully, Luminaria will find a way to codify its institutional memory and find ways to move into the future so that things just keep getting better and better.

I’m really looking forward to Luminaria 2011. No more stress. My community service of sitting on the steering committee for 2009 and 2010 will be over, and I will be able to just wander around enjoying all the great work of the San Antonio creative community.

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While I was talking with Deborah, the waitress came up to take our order. I’d been eyeing a two-piece mariachi band–accordion and bajo sexto–who had just wandered in and were setting up their instruments (I’ve not seen this in the a.m., not on a weekday, well, not in this particular cafe).

After we ordered, the waitress looked me over. And then she poked me in the chest.

“Hey, no green.”

I looked at her, then over at Deborah.

“Saint Patrick’s Day,” Deborah said.

“What? Is it Wednesday?” I said.

“No green,” she said with a smile and pinched my shoulder. She had no concern for my yelp. She walked off chuckling. And then the mariachis leapt into a short set of four pieces. The guy on the bajo sexto then walked about collecting tips in a one quart Tupperware bowl.

A sweet San Antonio interlude.

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Okay. If you have a website and it has music, or sound of any kind, get rid of it! That Flash bullshit is bad enough. But your unrequested shitty taste in music is not what I want assaulting my ears, especially if my speakers are cranked on my computer for whatever reason.

There are three websites of organizations run by friends here in San Antonio which I avoid absolutely because it’s not worth listening to myself shout, “Fuck!”

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One of my fellow Luminaria Steering Committee members asked me the day of the big event, “So, what is it you do?” I get this question fairly often. And I don’t know if I’ve ever answered it the same twice.

The IRS has known me as a “filmmaker,” “videographer,” and “writer,” for the last seven or eight years. The bottom line, however, is I make a meager amount from this sort of work. In the past I’ve augmented my income scoring standardized tests, working at a downtown San Antonio gift shop, and, most recently, providing contract copy writing for a Dallas-based auction house. As this last gig is indeed writing, I’ve moved into the category of Filmmaker and Writer. Why not? And then there’s been wedding videos, producing film festivals, and the occasional personal video and editing tutoring. All these things fit in with the other work I do on those sadly infrequent occasions when I get hired to shoot, produce, and or edit video projects.

I don’t know what I blathered to my fellow Luminarian, Steven Payne, Executive Director of the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, but he seemed to accept me at my word. Then again, he’s one of the nicest men I’ve ever met–maybe he was just being polite.

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[The passage below was written late in the night of Friday, March 19th.]

Okay, So what does Erik Bosse do? There’s no typical day in my life, but today hits a few interesting and instructive highlights to those future biographers.

I woke up around nine am. Stared at the ceiling for awhile, trying to think of how I should plan my day. After about ten minutes of getting nowhere, my phone rang. It was artist Barbara Jackson. She’s a painter and photographer whose been getting into time-based digital work. This year and last year she had video pieces projected on buildings during Luminaria. She was out of town for the day, and just called to thank me for helping out with Luminaria. This was very sweet. The fact is, I was swamped with phone calls, texts, email, and so forth, on the lead-up to Luminaria. But after the event, I fell into radio silence. I felt like a pariah. Do people only contact me when they want something? And so it was nice to have a social call from one of my artist friends. It seems Barbara has a commission for one of her video pieces. She’s been making and selling art for many years. She’s no stranger to very successful shows and being hired for public art projects, but she’s having to learn some new tricks when it comes to creating contracts to sell a video installation. I gave her some names of artists I know who’ve done this. I hope the best for her. She’s a wonderful person and a very fine artist. Once this sale goes through, I hope to spread the good news about where it will be on display!

After I got off the phone with Barbara, I walked down the secret passage in the middle of my triplex and I started a load of laundry on the back porch. As the machine churned away, I made a huge mug of thick Cuban coffee with whipping cream. I ate a banana and enjoyed my coffee as I researched two companies that allow you to stream video. I’ve been working with Angela of Slab Cinema fame on a project that may or may not happen. One of the things the client wants could be kludged through the use of a broad wi-fi signal, two wi-fi enabled laptops, a video camera, a projector, a large screening surface, and…a lot of thick Cuban coffee.

Even if this gig doesn’t materialize, I think I’m zeroing in on a system which can do some pretty cool stuff. This is a strange convergence which can impact about three different projects I’m somewhat connected to.

After putting my clothes on the line and taking a shower, I hopped on my bike and cruised over to C4. I pulled some audio equipment from my locker. I was asked to shoot a video later in the day, and I knew I’d need to show up with some audio tech. I placed all the necessary items in a bag to pick up in a couple of hours. Todd was kind enough to loan me an XLR cable, because mine has a short. Then I grabbed the KLRN “Fresh Cuts” dvd which played during Luminaria, stuck it in my bag, and I rode my bike over to URBAN-15.

George and Catherine Cisneros, the heart and soul of URBAN-15, are thrilled to have been awarded a significant grant which will allow them to bring the media arm of their art and cultural non-profit to a level on par with what they’re mostly famous for–the drum and dance ensembles. By late summer, there will be some amazing things going on at URBAN-15. I’ll share them here when I know more.

I was over at the URBAN-15 Studios to catch up on work for the Josiah Youth Media Festival. I worked a bit on the contact database. I also prepared packets to be mailed to thirteen different high school video and media departments scattered across Bexar County. That’s why I snagged the Fresh Cuts dvd. I was able to find, in the end credits, five high school programs we’d never contacted in past years.

Next week I’ll work on getting the word out to high school programs beyond Bexar country. Also, as many college programs as we have in the system.

As I was working through this, George Cisneros was at an adjacent desk. He was on the phone, nonstop, and multitasking on his computer emailing this and that. George, along with Paula Owen, of the Southwest School of Art and Craft, co-chaired Luminaria Art Night in San Antonio 2010. The two of them are where the buck stops. And speaking of bucks, it looks like the budget is close to being finalized. The invoices are being processed quickly. It may well be that all the finances will be laid out and specified by the big meeting this coming Wednesday. This would be cool. These sorts of large scale art and cultural events rarely balance and clarify their finances with this sort of short turn-around. And it may well be that the whole event comes in under budget, allowing seed money for next year.

I knocked out my Josiah-related work, patted George on the back, and headed out–he was still processing invoices and making and receiving phone calls to clarify this line item and that. Things seem to be running damn smoothly at URBAN-15. They’re on the frontline of the post-Luminaria clean-up, while intensely working overtime to finish their costumes and to rehearse the choreography and drumming for their upcoming Fiesta performances, these being the most important yearly events for URBAN-15.

The weird thing is, they seem to be on top off all this madness. A huge technology grant has fallen in their lap (well, it was no accident–they worked damn hard on the proposal), Luminaria’s all over the place, still, and Fiesta, that grim beast, is coming up so fucking fast.

If I were George or Catherine, I’d be on a plane, right now, to some little-known island in the Adriatic, and when the cab picked me up at the airport, I’d ask, “take me to some cave no one knows about.”

I rode home. Took another shower. Gathered up a bunch a video equipment. I loaded it all in my truck and drove to C4 to pick up the audio equipment.

I then drove to the Starbucks in the Quarry. I hate the Quarry. And I’m not a huge fan of Starbucks. (However, they do have tasty coffee.) I was there because Seme Jatib wanted to meet with me. My Friday had a small window. The Quarry is close to Seme’s home. And it’s also close to the headquarters of PrimaDonna Productions. And that was my 4:00 appointment.

The problem is that Seme was at the DMV getting her Texas driver’s license. Now I’ve never talked to Seme about her nationality. She’s married to an American citizen. And it may well be that she was born in the US. But I do know she spent most of her life in Mexico. She’s fluent in English, but clearly she can really express herself best in Spanish. So, whatever her citizenship status, this driver’s license is damn important. The only problem was that because of the delays it took for her to pass (and pass she did!) meant she had to call me and apologize that she’d be late. And because of my schedule, we were only able to talk for about 20 minutes.

Mostly I wanted to know about how her workshop last month in Ecuador went. Seme showed me some video on her iPhone of an early rehearsal. It looked amazing! Her students have been working on the piece, and I believe they’ll be staging it in the middle of next week. I hope someone records it. Seme isn’t being flown back down to see the piece, so it would be very special if she could see a video recording.

Seme and I talked about Luminaria, an up-coming collaborative piece, as well as a four-part series of dance video screenings…which will hopefully function as a fundraiser for our next collaborative piece. This last item will be a blast. I hope that by the middle of next week we’ll have a venue and a schedule. We’ll be screening amazing films. If you think you don’t like dance, you have to see this stuff. It’s phenomenal!

But I had to leave because I’d agreed to give feedback to Nikki Young’s young acting students over at PrimaDonna Productions seven minutes away. Besos y abrazos with Seme, with a promise of meeting again soon. I drove to PrimaDonna.

I was a bit tardy. I hope no one was too turned off. It was me, Brian Potts, Jade Esteban Estrada, and Michael Druck. We were the industry folks there to give feedback to the studnets. I was in stellar company.

There were six kids, giving us, the panel, their best. I know there were six kids because I left with their contact info. And I hope to one day get back into some serious narrative work, because I know that I have access to so many wonderful young actors. There’s not one kid I saw this afternoon I wouldn’t want to work with. Each had his or her strength and weakness…but each kid had something special. I’m happy to have seen them all!

As Nikki made her goodbyes to the kids and their families, I walked into the back office and conferred with Chadd on the evening’s shoot. PrimaDonna Productions is in the final stretch for an interesting upcoming project. They wanted me to shoot some scenes which they can use for a promotional trailer.

After I got the basics of what they wanted, our crack crew of five loaded equipment into two cars and headed to the north-side to meet with our talent.

Clouds had come in unexpectedly, making our late afternoon natural lighting dimmer than we had hoped. We had to work quick to get the exterior shots in the can. I’m hopeful that the footage came out solid enough.

Next we moved inside. We had two scenes. One in a bedroom. Another in the kitchen. I’m not terribly satisfied with what I shot in the bedroom. It was cramped (hell, we had three kids and five adults in there), poorly lit (we only had time to use existing light), and we didn’t have the time to replace furniture to get the best compositions possible. This might not be much of an issue. It’s a very quick scene, and we shot from several angles. It probably came out fine.

The kitchen scene should be the best. It’s the longest, and we were able to set up a very basic but quite effective lighting scheme. I got some good shots. The plan was to do this in a vérité style, so I was moving around a bit, keeping the camera on auto-focus. I try not to do this, even at weddings. But I told Chadd, who I assume will be editing the footage, to keep an eye out for those moments when the camera drifts out of focus, as it scans to reacquire a new focal point.

We got our last shot off without taking too long. We cooled the lights as we packed up the rest of the equipment. And then, after stowing the lights, we headed back to PDP headquarters at the old El Cid Building on the northern edge of Alamo Heights.

And then I drove home, fighting through the hoards of Spring Break tourists snarling up downtown San Antonio. I stopped at the Pic-Nik on S. Presa, bought some cheap beer, and went home, to start writing this shit.

There you have it.

A random day-in-the-life of Erik Bosse. Some f this this stuff I did will pay me money. But I’ll be quite honest. Only one of these things I mentioned here is clearly a paying gig. Another one might be (I just never asked….I’m THAT stupid). And yet another might turn into something important. Here I’m talking about Seme Jatib, because if you haven’t seen her dance, you might not understand just how honored I am to be working with her. Since a certain someone, who used to win all the local dance grants, has decided to have another baby, and as such, is not currently working as hard as usual, it’s obvious that Seme is the most important force in modern dance in San Antonio. If working with her doesn’t translate to at least a modicum of income, then San Antonio is lost as what I really want it to be: the cultural oasis in the artistic wastelands of south and central Texas.

We’ll see.

Keep reading this blog. Seme and I will be bringing some interesting shows to this town. As well as my continued work with Shimi, Deborah, and Angela and Rick of Slab Cinema. I’ll see if I can get George and Catherine Cisneros of URBAN-15 to get into this new loop where video and dance intersect. Seme and I are also in communication with the Instituto Cultural de Mexico to do something in their wonderful auditorium. Also, Seme and I hope to bring a dance-meets-video performance to Main Plaza once the weather gets better.

This is what happens when you own a 3000 lumens projector, some VJ software, a bit of decent video equipment, and have, quite inexplicably, become a dear friend and collaborator with a beautiful young woman who is a genius as choreographer and dancer. The first collaboration between Seme Jatib and Erik Bosse was some solid and honest work. But collaboration number 2 will be much stronger. We only had two weeks to bring our first work into shape. The next piece will be, simply put, awesome!

But, I was talking about my day.

And that was a not so untypical day in my life.

G’night.

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