Opening of The Human Anomaly by John Schuerman

I did the quickest gallery tour ever through John Schuerman’s The Human Anomaly because I really wanted to see it and I was squeezed between work and kids. I had spent the day discussing community need and use of technology on the Iron Range and had kids waiting at home. It was a really odd juxtaposition to the art, which highlights the human role in nature and human’s ability to control one’s environment.

The art is exquisite colored pencil drawings. Each piece includes a singular or maybe just a few objects with precision and white space of a medical text book. The work is realistic and clearly natural yet removed from nature because the object is set outside its usual surroundings.

Tree Ring is the work that struck me the most. It is a bracelet of tree bark; the rings have been removed from the center. It looks as if you could feel the texture of the bark and there’s an orange ring painted on the outside. It’s easily recognizable but displaced. There’s an eerie quality too as the orange ring denotes an untimely death of the tree. Or at least an untimely demise or destruction. There’s a sadness in the work presented in the context of the show that I would have missed if seen on its own. It’s nature made human.

In contrast, hair circle is a piece that seems to make human become nature or art. It’s a picture of a swirling circle of hair. If I hadn’t read the name I might assume it was a delicate crocheted doily or dense, penciled Spirograph. I don’t know if I’m draw to it because of the art or the nature of it or because it reminds me of my three daughters.

The Human Anomaly will be at the Gordon Parks Gallery January 29- February 22, 2018.

When We Land album release at the Turf Club

Technically When We Land is a boy band but they’re not a boy band in the traditional sense. They are deeper, more thoughtful. They opened with Throttle and the Wind off their latest CD (Introvert’s Plight Album). Whether fact or fiction the song is deeply personal and a uniquely male perspective on heartbreak that would almost make you hate your last lost love a little less.

Singer Jesse Baxter has a strong voice. The music is indie rock with some country sensibilities possibly based on the song themes. While I think there are usually four in the band, there were five on stage at the Turf Club Friday night.

They had an even bigger crowd than was expected and a crowd that clearly are big followers of the band. (And not your usual Turf Club crowd.)

Their second song was more rocking but equally melancholy in temperament Five Bar Blues. The drum was particularly strong but it’s really Baxter’s voice that leads the charge with most songs. That being said the guitars and bass meet the quality and support the sound. The set went on with new and old songs.

Antigonon, un contingente epico – mythology, Cuban revolution and a lot of sexual energy

Teatro El Público, Antigonón, un contingente épico (Photo: courtesy Lessy via The Walker)

It takes some amazing actors to make me forget that everyone was naked for the first 10 minutes of a show. Because, well naked is naked. But despite the fact that the cast of Antigonon, un contingente epico were partially or fully naked through most of the show, that wasn’t the most uncomfortable part. The most uncomfortable part was my woeful knowledge of Cuban history.

Antigonon, un contingente epico is part dance, part spoken word performance. It’s in Spanish with English subtitles. The subtitles are kind of helpful in that they are fast and they are narrating non-linear monologues and brief disjointed dialogues. So I read the words but they didn’t always sink in because I was distracted by the “exotically absurd costumes” and action on stage.

The performance starts with two women and two men on stage – stark naked. They dance in couples, exchanging partners and eventually end in a heap together. That gives way to the vignettes of solo performances, conversations and inquisitions. There are repeated themes – brothers and sisters together or not and fighting with or for each other. I was expecting more Antigone (Greek tragedy – where Antigone, daughter/sister of Oedipus fights to get her brother buried, gets caught burying him without permission and kills herself in defiance of being buried a live a weak answer to Creon’s decision not to kill her for burying her dead brother but just bury her alive) and more dance but I wasn’t disappointed with what I got.

The monologues are not straightforward but there is a feel for oppression that is kind of colonial but not quite, which could parallel US invasion of Cuba, Cuban independence from the US, Fulgencio Batista’s rule before and after his military coup (after the coup allowing US companies to dominate the economy), Fidel Castro’s revolution and the current tenuous relationship between US and Cuba. Although I’m seeing this from American eyes; there are also hints at the international take on for in Cuban with mention of Nazis and Russian history.

The overwhelming impression is that the show is intense. There is a scene when one of the women is talking to her husband (played by the other woman); the husband is willing to buy his bride anything but all she wants is a flower, although no subtlety was used in conveying the fact that a flower meant physical relationship. Even reading the fast paced dialogue, the intense, violently sexual actions on action were striking -and kind of funny – but mostly intense.

The dialogue, the costumes, the action are all shocking. Yet, they aren’t as wrenching as some of the historical video of violence in Cuba. There’s a deception of sleight of hand that’s at work in the show that draws a strong reaction without a full understanding of what has happened. If I were to see this show every night this weekend, I think I still would feel woeful in my knowledge but the show is so compelling that I’m tempted to try it.

Antigonon, un contingente epico will be performed by Teatro El Publico Jan 4-6 at The Walker.