Ellen Dieter Returns to the Swift

Ellen Dieter Returns to the Swift
The Bay Park Paintings give a beautiful taste of home

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Recovering the Artist: It was a dark and stormy night....

...which was no surprise. After all there is a tradition of rain on Expressive Arts Week openings. I believe at least five of the eight were accompanied by inclement weather. But when the winter storm sky ripped open at 4:40pm, dropping a brilliant shaft of rainbow almost on our heads, I felt a sense of relief... Perhaps some few hearty-souls might come.
The crowd arrived with umbrellas, boots and anticpation.

The week leading up to the event was immensely pressured, with lots of small details Some of which I cheerfully handed off to the estimable Jane Fyer, the grand-dame of the Creative Arts Consortium, a woman of infinite resourcefulness, who I have come to greatly admire in the work of pulling this show together. A bit about Jane:

Her long experience leading the CAC lends her a calm patience rare in the art world. She is serious and thoughtful about the work, yet quick to laugh. She has the wisdom of a veteran politician, and the savvy of New York Lawyer, and the energy of a woman decades younger .  Jane never seems surprised... (of the broken glass on a painting she owns, dropped an hour before the show, she simply said "Oh it's fine. it happens all the time.") Jane has a heart of gold and, a great eye for art.

Fyer helped lead the jury to amazingly diverse offerings, like Dodecahedron
by Steve Rodgers (foreground) and Woman of the Day by David Webb  
By 6pm, we found ourselves lightbulbs replaced, tags corrected, paintings repaired with a full house. The crowd enjoyed a middle eastern themed feast provided by Gallery patron Stephanie Swift, while waiting for a special opening night event , a poetry reading organized by by Michael Turner of the CAC. Michael teaches art and poetry at many mental-health venues in San Diego County. A veteran himself, he works with vets, seniors, and disabled persons, teaching them how to competently and confidently express themselves. He brought with him veteran performers Christopher R, and Dan Woodward, and a guest; first time reader and student of Turner, Rafael Perez.

Poets Michael Turner, Rafael Perez and Dan Woodward mesmerize the crowd.
The Expressive Arts Institute has seen its share of powerful performances, but none exceeding the nights' offering.  Michael Turner read from the deep places of the souls journey, touching on his Native American heritage, his esctatic journey as an ultra distance runner, and his deeply held conection and reverence for all things. Christopher R. (not pictured)  used wordplay, humor and rhythm to spill out a critique against the absurdity of the current state of all things , himself included. Young poet Perez gave a credible reading, with some memorable language "Graffiti is street talk between devils and angels..."
The full house was attentive, moved and entertained...
By the time Dan Woodward stepped on the stage, with his gray mohawk, eyes intense, the crowd was ready for anything. And Dan delivered. Starting with Gulf War Blues "...I knew her before she became a syndrome..." he recalled the loss of a chopper he helped to launch, in a war that seemed absurd. But before long, the crowd moved into laughter, as Dan read Shoot me for Food. Another piece in praise of larger women brough the house down with its vivd depiction of women "escaping a Jenny Craig convention" to ravage a buffet, in an Animal House-esque food fight.

Michael Turner returned to the stage to read one final piece, taking us again in the the space and light of his landscapes, the man who "...run(s) to figure things out..." leading us into a turning calmness, into the center of belonging with the strength of his lungs and heart. Before the applause finished, I was wondering about the possibility of a chap-book for the show, so later visitors ( it runs through January 7th 2012) could read the poetry which seems to match the visual art so well.

Of course you should have been there...

The evening, a great success,  was to hold one more shocking surprise for Jane and Me...but that is news for another post

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