Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My 10 Year Performance Art Itch

I'm very glad the forecast looks promising for this weekend, because I plan to do my first performance art piece this next First Friday!

street performer ,new orleans
New Orleans street performer via Flickr

Performance art is an idea that has intrigued & tantalized me for 10 years, ever since I went to New Orleans. I was 19 years old and had never seen street performers like I saw there! Their were so many of them, and the ones that struck me the most were the men and women who were using their bodies as living statues, all of them painted or dressed in fanciful ways.

New Orleans performance artist via OutdoorPhotography.com

Later, my desire to take part in an experience that would transform others was stirred by reading Cunt by Inga Muscio (this was when I was living in Seattle). One story in particular she told was about a woman (whose name I forget) who Inga went to see that was some kind of guru, rather than artist (but I tend to think of them in the same way). This woman did nothing more than embrace each person who came to her in turn, loving and accepting them fully. Inga described this woman as smelling intensely of roses, and noted that she, too, smelled of roses for days after the encounter. Not only did this encounter change Inga, but reading about it changed me too, and gave me yet another part of my vision: to create a feeling of being utterly loved.

Betsey Barratt & unknown male via Drew Orrin Brown

After I'd moved back home to Kansas City, I saw another performance artist, dressed as a fairy in the Crossroads Art District a few times, and Betsy Barratt's intriguing costumes at local events. Each time this part of my mind was tickled.

Annie Sprinkle exhibiting her cervix via kusama pyjamas

After thinking about it for a while, and not seeing how I could do something like that, I let it fade to the background of my mind until I went and saw Annie Sprinkle last month, and heard her incredible stories of performance that included spiritual, ecological and sexual themes. Now the tickle had become an itch and I knew I was getting close to realizing a 10-year-old wish! If only I could come up with some idea of WHAT TO DO!!!

The answer came to me through a series of visions in meditation and I finally *knew* I was ready earlier this month. I asked myself, "What is THE MOST inspiring, audacious, original, transformative experience I can create for people?"

When the answer finally came to me, it seemed so obvious! Can you believe it took me this long to think of it?

Tune in Thursday for a sneak preview of what I'll be doing and where to find me!

Related posts:
8 Questions about Art and America
Recommended Stops for Your First Friday
Cut & Paste: My Exhibit of Collages

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

KC Gay & Lesbian Film Fest Passes ON SALE NOW!

Good news, everyone! I did not get blown away in a tornado like Dorothy. In fact, I'm doing just dandy, enjoying, among other things, my work with the Kansas City Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. It's so much fun!

I'm excited to announce that the final schedule has been locked in! You can see it at the festival website, along with clips and trailers of the films we'll be showing. For instance, on opening night we'll be showing a sneak preview of Beginners, starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer. The theatrical release for Beginners is later this year, but we get to show it at our festival! I can't wait to see this! The story sounds really interesting and it stars to impeccable actors.

(Click here to see embedded video)

And one more thing I want to point out to you, because they are only available BEFORE the festival begins on June 24: FESTIVAL PASSES. There are two different passes one can buy, and each is a huge discount compared to buying each ticket individually, so if you see a lot of films you're interested in, a pass is the way to go!

Friends of the Festival - $45
This pass includes admission to Beginners, Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, Wish Me Away, A Shorts Romance, Making the Boys, Out for the Long Run, Out Here Now Short Film Competition, as well as your choice of either admission to Fishnet and its after party or admission to Kick-Off and it's after party!

This pass includes admission to every screening and every afterparty. It's the ultimate way to experience the newest and best LGBT films! This is what you'll see around my neck during the film festival, and I intend to go to nearly all the screenings - there's just too many great films I won't be able to see on screen otherwise!

You can purchase either of these passes on the film fest website, where you'll also find out more about the films we're showing.

One last thing I want to mention is a free screening the Film Festival is putting on for KC PRIDE week. Forever Starts Tonight, a documentary about the San Francisco drag legend, Vicki Marlane.

(Click here to see embedded video)

See it for free at Tivoli Cinemas, Monday, May 30th at 7 PM. I'll be there tabling so say hi!

Related post:
Kansas City Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Report Reveals Birds on American Public Lands Need Our Help

I love watching birds. Sometimes I even get a bit obsessed with them... I love the amount of birdsong one can hear even in the Midtown region of Kansas City. It's nice to know they're out helping with pollination and spreading plant seeds, as well as keeping insect populations down.

A coalition of conservation organizations recently released the 2011 State of the Birds report. In it, our national public lands and the bird species living on them are examined for ecological successes or challenges.

The report had this to say about the general state of birds on American public lands:

Today, more than 850 million acres of land and 3.5 million square miles of ocean are publicly owned, including more than 245 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management, 6,000 State Park units, 1,600 Marine Protected Areas, 550 National Wildlife Refuges, 350 military installations, 150 National Forests, and nearly 400 National Park Service units. These areas support our native bird species, many of which are declining...

More than 300 bird species have 50% or more of their U.S. distribution on public lands and waters. Public agencies therefore have a major influence on the success of conservation efforts to restore declining species and keep common birds common.


Although birds benefit in part because most public lands are protected from residential and commercial development, increased protections and more effective management of habitats and bird populations are essential. Natural processes must be restored to ensure functional and resilient ecosystems through management actions such as control of nonnative species and diseases, prescribed cuts and burns to reinvigorate forests and grasslands, and water delivery and management to sustain wetlands. Many of these needs are expected to intensify because of climate change.
The report goes on to describe issues by where birds live: Aridlands, Grasslands, Wetlands, Arctic and Alpine, Forests, Coasts, Islands and Oceans. Because I live in the Midwest, I'd like to point out a few items regarding the Grasslands:
More than 97% of the native grasslands of the U.S. have been lost, mostly because of conversion to agriculture. As a result, grassland bird populations have declined from historic levels far more than any other group of birds.

Although only 13% of remaining grassland is publicly owned, public lands support 17% of the U.S. distribution of breeding and 20% of wintering grassland-dependent birds, indicating the value of public grasslands to birds.

More public grasslands specifically protected for birds and other wildlife are needed. Grassland bird conservation should be a higher priority on public grasslands with multiple uses.

Grassland birds are among the most consistently declining species in the United States. Forty-eight percent of grassland-breeding bird species are of conservation concern, including four with endangered populations.

Fortunately, grassland birds can coexist with other uses, such as livestock grazing, if habitat is managed with birds in mind. For example, grazing animals and grassland birds are both threatened by invasive plants that diminish the quality of grassland, so livestock owners and conservationists share an interest in combating invasive plants. Management practices such as burning, grazing, and mechanical intervention to resist invasion by woody plants can benefit both livestock and birds.
For more information, see the 2011 State of the Birds report.

If you want to do something to help birds, I suggest the following:

Related posts:
Pigeons: An Origin Story
For the Birds
Beaks, Wings and Shrieks

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kansas City Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

I hinted Tuesday about a fabulous new project... aren't you just giddy with antici--pation? ;)

I know I'm quite giddy about this!! I was selected to be a program assistant for this year's Kansas City Gay and Lesbian Film Festival! And I even get to help curate the Short Film Competition. How cool is that?!

The Kansas City Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is June 24 - 30th this year. All of the movies and shorts will be shown at the Tivoli Cinema in Westport.

Some of the movies we'll be showing include:
Fishnet - a lesbian camp comedy about 2 burlesque dancers who stir up trouble in a small town

Fishnet - Official Trailer

Wish Me Away - a documentary about country singer Chely Wright's coming out.

Wish Me Away

Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same - a sci-fi lesbian comedy romp

(Click here to see embedded video)

Leave It On the Floor - a musical about the Los Angelos new ballroom culture and club kids

(Click here to see embedded video)

- a dark comedy about a production of Jesus Christ Superstar in which a paraplegic boy plays Jesus

(Click here to see embedded video)

The official schedule for the festival will be released May 30th. I'll keep you updated about what's going on here, or you can follow KCGLFF on Facebook and Twitter.

Related posts:
Trans Persons Encounter "Injustice at Every Turn"
My Imaginary Girlfriend
No Queers Allowed!

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Remember, Remember

I want to use my post here today to remind y'all about about a couple events that I invited you to earlier.

Firstly, tomorrow evening is the Kansas City Metro CARES Mentoring Movement's Conversation with Susan Taylor! Remember, this is the board-run non-profit I am on the board of director's for, and I am so excited about our first event! Susan Taylor, of Essence Magazine fame, will be speaking about the National CARES Mentoring Movement (of which she's the CEO and our local chapter is a part) and the need it meets in communities. This is a RSVP-required event, so if you're interested, please sign-up.

Secondly, Cut & Paste, my current art exhibit will be leaving the Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffeeshop on Thursday, the 19th. I'll probably take it down in the early afternoon, too, so you better get your butt out there if you want to see them!!

I'm so excited that I finally got to show my collages and I hope those who have seen them already enjoyed them :)

And... be sure to tune in Thursday, when I'll break the news about the FABULOUS project I just became part of today! I'm so excited about it!!

Related posts:
Kansas City Metro CARES Mentoring Movement
Be Sure to See Cut & Paste While You Can!
Cut & Paste: My Exhibit of Collages
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Friday, May 13, 2011

Story-telling & Fishnet Wearing

It's always a mixed bag when you put yourself out on the internet. There are bad surprises and good surprises. Today, I want to talk about two of the good surprises.

The first, I already mentioned a ways back, but y'all probably forgot. A great guy, who I'll call David T. found my blog and decided to commission me for a collaborate project he's creating. He sent me this piece of music:

(Click here to see embedded video)

...and asked me to write a story inspired by it. He said I should write it short enough that could be eventually made into a video featuring the music, images, and my story being flashed on screen in text or played as an audio track.

I'm happy to say that I FINALLY completed the story, which I titled "The Incident." It's currently available to read on deviantArt. David T.'s website, which will feature this and other commissions, will be launched in June. I'll be sure to post a link to that later on! :)

The second nifty surprise I've gotten recently happened because of my 365 Self-Portrait project. Because of my photos I was invited to join a Tights & Leggings group, where I ran across this great picture from electric_kitty:

Knee high to a grasshopper

So I commented, and the most amazing thing happened. SHE OFFERED TO GIVE THEM TO ME! :D I said yes, of course, and the other day I got a fabulous package from Australia:

I love her hand-written note :)

They are so freaking fabulous!

Thanks electric_kitty! They are too much fun.

Related post:
New Creative Collaborations
Sh*t On the Radio

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

8 Questions About Art and America

(image via downtownkc.org)

America: Now and Here was an absolutely fabulous exhibit! It's easily the best exhibit I've ever seen at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center. If you haven't seen it yet, you should definitely check it out before it leaves Kansas City. (Also, check out Average Jane's post about it for some preview pics.)

In a handout at the show, I was given 8 questions to think about while looking at the exhibit, and I'd like to take the time to answer those questions today - partly for myself, partly to keep the dialogue of this exhibit going beyond its walls. I invite you to answer these questions for yourself as well, either in the comments, in your own blog, or just in your mind.

So here we go!

1. When you hear "Great American Journey," what comes to mind?
The seasonal migrations indegenous tribes followed, Lewis & Clark's journey to the Pacific Northwest, immigrants moving from the East to claim land out in the Wild West, steamships and barges moving along the rivers, the first long-distance train journeys, the first long-distance automobile rides and, bringing it back to me... road trips I've taken with my family or friends.

2. Can you select on work of art - a song, symphony, musical, poem, movie, novel, play, painting, sculpture, photograph, dance - that best represents America to you?
Absolutely not. To me, America is too large an idea/experience to be contained by any one form of art.

3. What makes a great conversation?
Give and take. Truly listening. Being open to new ideas. Compassion, respect and courtesy.

4. What is the role that art plays in American identity?
It probes our ideas about ourselves and exposes aspects of our identity that often don't come to light during the regular course of a day.

5. What message do you want to send to our country?
Together we can accomplish magnificent things, but we spend most of our time bickering. Doesn't that seem silly?

6. What does your America sound like?

Great dance music, laughter, tears, screaming orgasms, gibberish, echoes through the ages, gunfire, sirens, the sound of playing children, bird songs, cat meows, cicada trills, wind through the trees, ocean on the shore, death rattles, arguments, the cries of caged animals, chainsaws, pages turning, TVs blaring, drums pounding, the gentle hum of conversation and the nearly silent sound of innocence being lost...

7. How can art bring us all together?

By giving us a shared experience, by tapping the collective unconscious, by allowing us to laugh at ourselves, by allowing us to grieve, and by helping us to dream.

8. What place in America inspires you?
All wooded places and other wild lands, and, alternatively, big cities where lots of exciting things are happening.

Related posts:
Recommended Stops for Your First Friday
Arizona Shooting: Tragic But Telling
Sociological Discussion: Music Videos & America

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Recommended Stops for Your First Friday

There are a couple of art events happening this First Friday (tomorrow), that I'm quite excited to see! I think you should make time to check them out if you're in the Crossroads tomorrow evening.

Rainbow Town
First up, I want to tell you about Rainbow Town, a project with which my little sister is involved. It is an art show, but they'll also be showing a short documentary tomorrow and showing a documentary at 19th and Main Street in the Corrigan Building Parking Lot.

Rainbow Town is an effort "to garner attention and resources to send war-affected Liberian students to school." Part of the effort involves taking artwork made by the children who need funding, selling it, and using the funds to pay for the child's education. Here's the trailer for the documentary that will be shown from 7:30-8 PM:

(Click here to see embedded video)

America: Now and Here
This is a national art show starting in Kansas City with the goal to bring unity, creativity and positive dialogue about what it means to be part of the American experience. I've been hearing a lot about this show and I'm really interested to finally see it! (Although I'll actually be seeing it tonight at the opening party because I got an invite. Woo!)

America: Now and Here officially starts tomorrow at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, 2012 Baltimore Ave. Check out their website or watch this preview video for more info:

(Click here for embedded video)

Related posts:
Your Local Anarchist Bookstore
Upcoming Show: Equally Empowered Art

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kansas City Metro Cares Mentoring Movement

I'm excited to talk to you today about a new nonprofit that has just been formed in the area. Kansas City Metro Cares Mentoring Movement is a local chapter of the National Cares Mentoring Movement, which was founded by Susan Taylor, who for many years was editor of Essence Magazine.

Susan Taylor hand-picked Lisa Goshon, the owner of Seduzione Leggs where I work part-time, to join the board of Kansas City Metro Cares Mentoring Movement (KCMCMM), and Lisa, in turn, recruited me to the board. I was voted in as a member in the middle of March and we've been meeting every other week since then.

We're currently working to launch the local chapter which has been incorporated as a not-for-profit in Missouri (though we're still waiting for our 501c3 status from the IRS), and which will be board-led and volunteer-driven.

The purpose of the KCMCMM is:

To recruit and connect competent and caring adult mentors with local organizations that effectively provide services to at-risk African American children and youth assisting them towards academic and social success, and to increase the number of Black mentors for African American children and youth.
I am a strong supporter of this purpose, because I know from volunteering with Literacy KC that approximately 200,000 adults in the area function at the very lowest literacy level, which is related to poverty, unemployment and poor health. And of the students that LitKC work with at least 65% are African American.

Additionally, our school system here in Kansas City with all the school closings and poor planning is more often than not screwing over students in the Midtown region where there is a greater concentration of black students. Plus, take into account that African American males constitute the highest percentage of prisoners in the USA, and you can see that many black youths lack role models and proper support from the community.

So I'm really excited about this movement to create more mentors for a group that both needs and deserves support. The focus is on recruiting black men and women to mentor, but we need everybody we can get!

If you or someone you know might be interested in learning more about KCMCMM, please come to/invite them to "A Conversation with Susan Taylor," May 18th, 5:30pm - 7:30pm at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center. RSVP is REQUIRED because of limited space. So please clicky click the link and tell us if you can make it.

I'm so excited about being part of this movement! I'm sure you'll be hearing more about it in the future :)

Related posts:
Tutoring for Literacy KC
Volunteering for Literacy KC
Seen Around Midtown: Big Brothers, Big Sisters

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