This Episode: “Imaginary Cities, Temporary Cities”

Event Date: Tuesday, October 18, from 7 to 9 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848.

This month, we’re talking about imaginary cities. Maybe like the Invisible Cities of Italo Calvino, or maybe not. These are the imaginary cities that we actually build, if only for a day or a week. These are cities in the desert and cities in the woods, cities made with tents, cities created from the subtle transformation of an urban street. Cities for festivals, cities for passion.

The Guests (see below for bios)

Klara Glosovo, artist, curator

Corey Scherrer, multi-disciplinary artist

Mark “Buphalo” Tomkiewicz, artist, environmentalist

Barbara Leucke, arts program manager, arts organizer

The Story

In the woods of Oregon, somewhere west of Eugene, there lies a village. It has streets, small shops and restaurants, as well as a little hospital, a beautiful public bath, and even workshops and garages. And like most of the cities I’m thinking about here, it only comes to life for a few days each year. The village is the site for the Oregon Country Fair, and it is marked by a truism of many imaginary cities: the visitors people who come as customers have a great time, but that’s nothing compared to the great time that the volunteers, vendors, and staff have. And that in turn is nothing compared to the experience of actually getting the city ready each year.

Something similar happens in Burning Man’s Black Rock City. Anyone who has worked on some part, no matter how small, of getting the city ready, bringing it up from the dust, then watching it grow, will know what I’m talking about.

That’s what I want to discuss this time: the experience of, and passion for, creating temporary cities. Of course, such places don’t need to be in the woods or the desert; we build imaginary cities, temporary cities, all the time. (A friend remarked this evening that she sees Seattle as an imaginary city.) It can happen when people erect tents in a public park, either from everyday necessity or as a tactic for protest. I saw it last summer, when Seattle’s somnambulant Broadway came into its own with the Gay Pride Festival, completely transformed as a new place, a city from another life, but only for a day. And then there are the ubiquitous farmer’s markets, village squares for a village that only exists as dream, also for a day.

These are the places that we love, but we make them for such small stretches of time. Wouldn’t it make more sense to make cities that are like this all the time? Or would we go mad living in such places, the mental equivalent of eating too much birthday cake? What can we learn from our temporary cities and the way we create them?

I’ve assembled an excellent crew of guests: Corey Scherrer among many other activities has worked on the pre-fair crew for the Oregon Country Fair. Klara Glosova in September turned a huge swath of Seattle into a massive art gallery. Mark “Buphalo” Tomkiewicz is a longtime member of Black Rock City’s Department of Public Works, or DPW, the crew that erects that city’s infrastructure. And Barbara Luecke, who as co-founder of the Fremont Solstice Parade helps to transform a part of Seattle each year into another world, and as Art Program Manager for Sound Transit, has worked with artists Christian French, Dan Corson, and D.k. Pan to turn the Sound Transit construction site on Broadway into a set of art installations, a sculpture park, and most recently, a huge outdoor art gallery.

This will be good. Come.

Plugs

Wonderful theater maker Curtis Taylor is back with “White Days.” The play features Erika Mayfield, Pol Rosenthal, Paul Budraitis, and Richard Lefebvre and runs through October 22 at New City Theater. http://www.newcitytheater.org/whitedays.php

Ticktock, my favorite aerial dance troupe, is raising funds to get to the New Orleans Fringe Festival.  Details and a video are at http://www.vimeo.com/29536412 Help these folks out!

Café Nordo is back. “Aboard Pan Am Flight 892, bound for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, Chef Nordo Lefeszcki, Mojo Spirits, and six of Seattle’s hottest performers team up to create an evening of retro-inspired cuisine, gorgeous cocktails, and international intrigue.” Details and tickets at http://www.cafenordo.com/index.html

And Kelly Lyles writes: “I’m still looking for a housemate…. yes, I’m being picky, because they remain friends of mine for years to come. But I have a GREAT, very fun one-of-a-kind furnished houseshare here in West Seattle, on a greenbelt, near the bridge & freeways. $600 a month includes everything. Please e-mail kelly at kellyspot dot com.

The house has been featured in magazines & on tv, so I can send u video links. Please help me spread the word!”

The Guests in Detail

Corey Scherrer is a multi-disciplinary artist living in the Pacific Northwest of the United States of America. His medium of choice is primarily photography, and he has been photographing natural and urban environments for the last 17 years. Corey’s influences and inspiration come from his constant exploration of his environment, usually in some type of wheeled vehicle, working with mentors, elders and friends, and experimenting with many different artistic mediums.

Corey is also very active in the arts community as a contributing member in the City Pulse Visual Arts Collective in Santiago Chile, member of the Artist Trust in Seattle, and continued involvement with the Oregon Country Fair, the Punk Rock Flea Market, Moisture Festival, and Burning Man.

Klara Glosova is the founder and curator of NEPO House, an experimental project space/gallery she opened in her home on Beacon Hill. NEPO house, by its very nature, is an investigation into the personal. It opens up questions of how we interact with one another and what boundaries we set.

Klara’s approach to curating and art making stems from her desire to learn, to better understand and to shed light on objects and subjects that seem obscure to her. As the outcome is often unexpected, she is continuously reminded to stay open and to work consciously with her fear of being vulnerable and exposed. Similarly she strives to create art that infiltrates life without being protected from the elements (most recently she curated NEPO 5k DON’T RUN – a 5 kilometer artwalk studded with site-specific art and performances). She likes art to be an integral part of life, to be accessible and receptive. So perhaps it is the practice of openness, both external and internal, that connects her larger curatorial NEPO House projects with more intimate forms of art making.

Mark “Buphalo” Tomkiewicz earned a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has taught math, science, art, and English in traditional and alternative settings across the U.S. and abroad. He has worked as the Assistant Director of Education at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center in Peninsula Ohio, The Restoration Project Coordinator for Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment and has served several years as the Restoration Project Director for The Nature Consortium in Seattle Washington. He is a Washington Native Plant Steward, a Green Seattle Partnership Forest Steward and regularly attends trainings and seminars focused on ecological restoration.

Buphalo is also a mixed-media artist whose work varies from sound and kinetic sculpture to large-scale collaborative public art with themes focused on the human relationship with the natural world.

A co-founder of the Fremont Solstice Parade and Art Program Manager for Sound Transit in Seattle, Washington, Barbara Luecke has worked and collaborated with artists for over 20 years. By producing and directing projects, she brings art experiences to the public realm through permanent and temporary installations, and through community-involving celebrations. Luecke oversees a $40 million public art program that integrates the work and thinking of artists into transit facilities across three counties in the greater Seattle area. She has also produced many community art projects in Seattle, including “The Fremont Troll.”

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