Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Old Habits, Live Strong

I haven't written consistently on this platform in years, but I think the only way I'm going to get through this latest round of creative output is to write it all down.  Just like the studio diary this blog was intended to be at its onset.  It's a good look and relieves some of the anxiety surrounding CHEEKY LaSAHE presents: THAT-THONG-SONG-SING-ALONG.  It just rolls off the tongue, dunnit? The venue's been secured, a lovely spot called Sid Gold's Request Room. It's very CHIC and CHEEK, a perfect spot to unleash my sparkling revue of Karaoke UNIVERSAL. Yes. Karaoke UNIVERSAL.  It's totally a thing.  That I made up, or maybe CHEEKY made me do it. Either way, Karaoke UNIVERSAL recognizes our lived universe as three distinct, but interconnected concepts:

1. ELEVATION of the VERNACULAR: The things that appeal to us - trash TV, pop music, red bath mats - they each have resonance.  These things are destined for artifact-hood, why  wait thousands of years before they are deemed significant by academics?

2. PRIVILEGE as PLASTIC MATERIAL: There's a lot of pressure to conform to a ideology of lack - which in the midst of unending/ongoing campaign for poverty, violence, and mental (actual) slavery - can be difficult to resist.  But what if we each imagined that our prescribed/assigned/ascribed identities could be molded into acknowledgement of human privilege?

3. AUDIENCE AS PERFORMER (and vice versa):  We spend a lot of time looking. And performing - gender roles, generational roles, professional roles.  In fact I think we do this performing and viewing simultaneously, why not celebrate the symbiosis? 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Goodness Gracious

Grace Jones. Photo credit: Andrew Boyle

Ever since I moved to Los Angeles, and then to New York City, from Gainesville Florida, I have been in the presence of various celebrities.  From Tyra Banks (who I obnoxiously gifted with a homemade business card for my fledgling graphic t- shirt line) to Tommy-From-Martin (who hired me to do graphic design for his vacation bible school curriculum, Be Still And Know).  There was that time I toked with Puck from The Real World (San Francisco) -- I can't recall how that scenario even happened -- or when I convinced myself that Quentin Tarantino was making eyes at me at Twain's on Ventura Blvd. 

The first time I ever saw a black American Express Card (it was some kind of metal), was at the hand of one of the Olsen twins.  And I've seen John Lithgow and Alfre Woodard on the subway, brushed shoulders with Kanye West at a Taschen Party, and pulled 'another size' for both Rosie Perez and Erykah Badu, when I was working at a Brooklyn clothing boutique.  All of this exposure has left me increasingly unfamiliar with being star struck.  Fortunately I was reminded of the delicious surrender of fandom by the lightning bolt that is Grace Jones.

She performed at Afro Punk's Fancy Dress Party.  She sang, she growled, purred and commanded manifesto into the microphone.  Ms. Jones, of planet earth (surprisingly), held an audience of mere mortals in her hands.  The drama of it all was almost overwhelming as she deftly moved though her music. I said "wow" more times than I can count, stunned by her assured confidence and magnetic... grace. There were costume changes, but with a bold assertion of her thonged-corseted-topless-painted-lithe-67-year-body.  Grace tooted her butt on all fours, bared her signature teeth and hula hooped like it was a natural extension of her hips.

She is everything I hope to be as a performer. She is a truly gifted artist and a master teacher in living life as a fearless explorer.  Thank you Ms. Jones for making me loose my shit.

Grace-FULL from Kenya Robinson on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

It's not me, and you.

All week I've been feeling a bit low, blue, down in the dumps, if you will.  On the surface, it was about a boy (in the physical form of a mature adult), and art world frustrations, and societal marginalizations, and withering friendships... But I think it was actually about opportunities to embrace my own sense of privilege.  In real time; unbound by the traditions masculine supremacy and feminine acquiescence .  I called "The boy" out for his disrespectful jerkiness, instead of countering with my typical, you-are dead-to-me-silence. And, while his actions did in fact sign his own death certificate, it feels revolutionary to assert the validity of my own feelings rather than entertain his privileged performed ignorance.  

I'm not ecstatic about it yet, but I am proud of myself.  I leveled up. I didn't let fear override the better aspects of my nature - of open communication. Of honesty and vulnerability.  Either way, I’ve got work to do, and my tools are even more keen… 

Monday, August 17, 2015


I am striving in NYC without the benefit of consistent employment, independent wealth or a partner. My family doesn't reside locally, and still I've managed to hang tough in the Big Apple. This hasn't been without its trials and uncomfortabilities, but these tend to usher in priceless paradigm shifts.  It's How  I Got Over (#HIGO). If you're going to go this extreme route - of operating without a safety net - there are a few important things to consider:   

You will have to ask for help.  
This is probably the  most difficult habit to include.  We've been taught to be embarrassed about asking for help, especially if it's fiscal in nature, as if it's directly correlated to your character, work ethic and drive.  I found that this is often not the case. Releasing the tension that shame produces means that you have a lighter burden to carry.  And you'll need loads of strength to gracefully manage rejections, exhibit patience and maneuver through ideas.

Flexibility is key.
Along with strength, flexibility is a requirement for #HIGO.  Even when you communicate clearly, and ask for help, remember to stay open enough for whatever answer you receive. Often you don't get want, or at least what you think you want.  Usually, it comes in the form of what you need, which can be unexpected and discovered only by releasing at mental grip on what you think you should have. More to the point, you may have to live places that require a lot from you physically (i.e. sleeping in the floor) and/or emotionally (i.e. living with your parents).  Your ability to stretch into these spaces is a worthwhile practice for locating contentment in whatever circumstances you create/find yourself.  

Treat your yourself with compassion.
You're not going to always get it right. You'll be frustrated, and tired, and angry, and sometimes depressed, but don't punish yourself. Gift the cranky baby (that's you) with a double dose of kindness.  Acknowledge your feelings, but remember you're not a horrible person because your state of mind fluctuates, emotions are like that.  It's their nature to ebb and flow, but if you practice consistency in self care, you can be mama bear to your inner child.  Besides, this habit spills out into your relationships with other people, gifting them with much needed kindness too.

Remember pleasure and leisure.
All work and no play...  Working all the time is not going to get you the well balanced success you crave.  Go to a party, plan a free outing with friends, make a special trip to the park and listen to a favorite album, get your free tastes at the gelato spot, some fragrance samples from that cosmetics joint - anything that speaks to simple pleasures.  You are not an automaton and leisure is a reminder that lived experiences are glorious.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friend Zone.

I think I've been friend zoned. But, maybe, not even, because I wonder  if I will even see him again - the friendship, an assumed, but nonexistent, figment of my imagination.  At once I am reticent about expressing this possibility since I am given to fits and extreme conclusion jumping, but I am also striving to trust my instincts.  Something about yesterday felt off, like I was just an item on a to do list - go to work, do laundry, see Kenya.  I hope for more than this. But maybe I am hoping for someone to pursue with my own measure of abandon, looking for ways to stoke the embers...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Creative Technologists

I was first introduced to the term Creative Technologist in Omaha, NE by Jason Webb.  Through his practice as a maker he opened up a number of possibilities that continue to enhance my own work

And, since finding myself back in New York, I've had the pleasure of collaborating with Tommy Martinez, who in addition to being an artist in his own right, is part of an interactive technology company: Custom Art Tools.  Our efforts are on view at CINDY RUCKER GALLERY until August 14th.  Here's a sample of what we're working with: