Sunday, December 31, 2017

Never Give Up

A year ago yesterday I landed in NYC, got on the wrong train and went so far the wrong direction. I had been in Barcelona delivering a friends cat, nursing a super busted heart, avoiding reality and not sleeping much. I had decided when I got back to America instead of isolating myself at my rural Tennessee house I would put my things into storage and visit folks around the country. I decided I would surround myself with people and places that made me feel good, motivated with hopes of figuring out what was next for me. So when I landed back in America exactly 363 days ago I kicked off a year of allowing myself time and space to be held by those who love me while trying to be patient with directionlessness.

This year I expanded my community unexpectedly, met so many more amazing folks in places that I have never been and old haunts that I will always return to. This year I hit low lows and new highs. This year I turned 40. This year I moved to back to Wisconsin and got my first M-F job, leaving behind a lifestyle I never thought I would. This year I was reminded why I will continue to fight for what I know is right. This year I was more lonely than I've ever been while constantly surrounded by amazing people, a really perplexing feeling. This year I remembered that I will never stop relearning the same lessons, reminding myself there is always work to do. This year I had deep gratitude for the patience of those who held space for me. This year I remembered why my privilege must be used for uplifting those around me. This year I remembered what it looks like to fight. This year I saw beauty in people that reminded me why it is I do the work I do.

Finding a healthy way to deal with low points in ones life is complicated. I saw so many things in a blur. Time moved in it's most confusing fashion- both with unreal speed and the most torturous slow motion, and never at the right times. I have been reminded repeatedly that my vast community is what literally keeps me alive. During these dark times we must remember to hold our loved ones close with compassion. It is vital for our survival. 

Special thank you for an old friend Marlee Grace who I finally met IRL after years of online friendship, her work in the world is inspiring and makes me feel inspired to keep productive and push myself towards new projects. We spent an afternoon hanging out in Oakland in deep convo recording the final podcast for her long term project that captures my mid year vibe.

PS: Picking 12 photos to summarize this year didn't work, here's my best attempt at the vast range of places and spots I found myself in 2017.

I'm taking note of it all. I am letting go of what doesn't serve me and I am moving forward.

 1. Joshua Tree, CA, photo credit Andy Meagher 2. Savannah, GA 3. Milwaukee, WI 4. Nashville, TN 5. Rooftop sneaking with Beca Kincaid Dubuque, Iowa 6. Bow, WA 7. Minneapolis, MN 8. Seattle, WA 9. Driving from Asheville to Oberlin 10. Hotel clerk while driving from Milwaukee to Nashville 11. Somewhere in Georgia 12. Nashville, TN 13. Leicester, NC 14. The most cold Summer Solstice with Safronia in Deer Isle, ME 15. My residency studio at Haystack School of Crafts, ME 16. Monica taking me canoeing in the Bay, CA 17. Serra Fells, Los Angeles CA 18. Watts Towers, CA 19. Uncle Steve the week before he passed away in that vert bed in West Hollywood, CA 20. Fort Pickens State Park, FL 21. Hotel in Chattanooga, NC 22. Abandon roller rink in Chisago, MN 23. Outdoor kitchen, off-the-grid land project in NC 24. Savannah, GA 25. Rainbow Lounge in Dubuque, Iowa 26. Flea market Stall, Nashville TN 27. Paradise Garden, GA

 2018 = Finding all the new spots & surrounding myself with all the varieties of magical weirdos for inspiration, collaboration and solidarity. This is our time.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

You Need Not Worry About Your Future

It seems so basic to remember that unexpected change can come in many forms. It can be positive and then oh so brutal. Over the last 10 months I've done my best to roll with the decision to leave my rural middle Tennessee home. I packed everything up, left it in a storage unit and left with no direction, not knowing what was next for me. These past months are a blur of long drives, planes and beautiful faces, it's wild to reflect that since the end of November 2016 I have basically been in constant motion. Motion that was both physical and mental, traveling from once place to another with my brain working extra overtime running in so many directions. The entire time I was accompanied by my constant inner dialog of non linear thoughts that all led back to “where should I live and what the hell am I doing?”

California finds

Thankfully the universe had given me enough freelance work in my back pocket to work from the road and make ends meet. I also made the decision to take this unexpected houseless time to visit folks and places in my life that made me feel good. To take this time to seek out people in my life who have provided both inspiration and support. It’s amazing what presented itself, I’ve never taken care of so many pets, taken advantage of so many guest rooms, I had a artist teaching residency where I made zine's with 5th graders for 3 weeks, got to absorb the beauty of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts as the writer in residence, and the most comical memory was in December when I flew a good friends cat to Barcelona. The things that present themselves when you are available are vast. 

I consider myself a fairly high functioning human, even under stress. It was hard to admit I felt lost and confused and it was humbling to be reminded that it is okay to ask for help and to accept it gracefully. During this time I was able to rely on my widespread community and my gratitude for those who I spent time with during these months is immense. I got so much quality time with so many people I’m usually rushed to see. I was able to finally meet so many folks that I had only known from the internet. I was able to reconnect with people who have been in my life for 20+ years, see their kids, cook meals together, take walks and explore. But the entire time I was notably impatient about healing my heart and really irritated that the clarity and answers I was looking for weren’t coming faster. Being rational and simultaneously depressed is a funny annoying mix.

I was confident from the second I left there would be a AH-HA moment during all my traveling. I was sure I would figure out where I should settle next, and it didn’t come. I kept moving. I applied for a few jobs and waited. I kept traveling. I got a few rejection letters and then finally some interviews. This isn’t a poor me story, even though I was feeling wildly challenged with life I am aware of the huge privilege I am living with. My intention of sharing this is to have transparency and work on being open about the reality of my personal experience and the continual work it take to care for oneself. I have a lot of feelings about how our lives are ingested through the filter of social media. Things can looked charmed, they may even be charmed but still underlying darker story lines can be at play. My work within the "art world" keeps me online and engaging through challenging personal times and my passion for people who make art, objects and lives that I respect will always drive me forward. It’s what keeps me on track and alive. Somehow this seems connected to this story and important to share.

It all boils down to time and patience, the big news I was able to announce this week is I finally got resolution to where I will land next. I am so proud to share that I will be joining an amazing team of humans at the John MichaelKohler Arts Center as assistant curator. I couldn’t be more pleased to be working for an amazing institution that has had such an impact on my life. This place is literally one of my favorites in the entire world, their collection is unprecedented.

I am beyond excited to reconnect with my Wisconsin community that is really my family. I am looking forward to finding dance classes to move around in. Trails to hike by the lake. I am invested in figuring out where I will be volunteering and how to engage politically, finally stationary and able to show up in a way that I haven’t been able to this year. I can’t wait to nest, to find my local queer community. For the first time in my life, a month before I turn 40 I will be working for an institution full time. You really do never know what your life path will look like. Reminds me to never say never because if you would of asked me 3 years ago if I would move back to Wisconsin, the answer would of NOPE. 

Summer Solstice, Deer Isle Maine 


Perhaps you want to listen to a caffeinated & unedited conversation I recorded in Oakland this past spring with the lovely Marlee Grace (formally of Have Company and currently doing many amazing things like Personal Practice) We cover a lot of ground. Want some unsolicited advice? Careful what you drink before you get talking while being recorded. LISTEN HERE. Released September 21, 2017

Opening September 22nn at the Houston Center for ContemporaryCraft, FOR HIRE: Contemporary Sign Painting in America. An exhibition I co-curated with Sam Macon, join us October 14th for a screening of Sign Painters and a panel discussion.

November 6th I will be doing a short screening and talk at the Milwaukee LGBTQ Film Festival about my friend Merril Mushroom. I will be showing her 1968 wedding video “Queering a Ritual” and discussing her play Bar Dykes, I republished last year.

November 20th I turn 40, if you want to make a birthday gesture I'd love it if you make a donation to a nonprofit such as the Trans Assistance Project, the Southern Poverty Law Center or a rad spot of your choosing.

PS: Give a holler if you are ever up in Sheboygan.

Monday, September 26, 2016

BAR DYKES: now available online!

The short version, my latest project Bar Dykes is now available online via Pegacorn Press.

The longer version begins with a chain of events starting with a nearly 20 year friendship with Caroline Paquita of Pegacorn Press. Caroline and I have an intertwined history rooted in underground DIY culture. I met Merril Mushroom, author of the play Bar Dykes, this past year when I moved to rural middle Tennessee. Merril and I started spending a lot of time together and one day over coffee we were discussing Eulogy for a Dyke Bar, an immersive installation by Macon Reed. Macon is another close friend and wonderfully talented artist femme in my life. The Eulogy piece was an incredible happening which used her own artwork as a backdrop for a line-up of performances, DJ's and programing. I was able to experience the impact of this project first-hand during the second rendition of the installation at Pulse Art Fair last year. 

Eulogy for the Dyke Bar, Wayfarers Gallery 2015 
Image courtesy of: Macon Reed 

The conversation about Macon's project triggered Merril to tell me about a number of her unpublished writings including the play Bar Dykes, a period piece about dyke bar culture in the 50s she wrote in the early 80s. I recognized the significant importance of the play and also how Merril’s personal story is intimately connected to the work and had the idea to republish the piece with an accompanying interview. I made the connection to Pegacorn Press after seeing one of Caroline’s infamous calendars hanging in Merril’s house and realized they were already friends and fans of one another’s work. When I reached out to Caroline about publishing Bar Dykes  along with an interview with Merril, she was instantly on board. A wonderful example of synchronicity and community coming together to make an important piece of history available to a larger audience.

I just celebrated my year anniversary of making the leap to live in rural community. I was drawn to this area of Tennessee because of the 35+ year history of radical queer’s who have made this area home in various forms of intentional communities, land projects, communes, and houses. I came here, like many others, for a combination of reasons; to heal, to slow down and to have space to breath. My experience “out here” has been life altering. Meeting Merril is a large part of that because I’ve never had the opportunity to share space with an queer elder who’s inspired me so deeply.

This publication is an affirmation that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. It’s a personal reminder that the world is small and our actions resonate outward. A theme that has resonated throughout my career as a curator, author and filmmaker is connecting people and generating community through access to information. I want my actions to inspire, educate and empower those around me. My hopes are this zine is a now a part of this lineage.

Pegacorn Press, Brooklyn, NY
September 2016
8.5" X 6 7/8", 32 pages, saddle stitched, five color Risograph printed (teal, florescent pink, raisin, federal blue, gold)
Debuted at the New York Art Book Fair
First edition printing of 300