Thursday, July 16, 2009

Recent and Upcoming Thrills at DiverseWorks

Photo by Elaine Mesker-Garcia

Don't expect DiverseWorks to settle into a summer slumber; movement abounds at Houston's favorite Indie art hot spot. Earlier this month, the A-list hipster art-eratti showed up en masse for Luck of the Draw 8: When Art Attacks. The plan is simple: pay your money, when your number comes up, you have twenty seconds to snatch one of the 224 artworks lining the walls. Talk about fast dancing. Curator Nancy Zastudil never misses a DW art event. “Luck of the Draw is a great event that generates true excitement and much needed financial support for art,” says Zastudil, Associate Director Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. “It's always fun and inevitably surprising.” Guests were treated to yummy bites by Culinaire and liquid refreshments came from Real Ale Brewing Co. and Dripping Springs Vodka. The manic festivities were orchestrated by OUTSMART's Nancy Ford. Zombies were among us too. Performance Art Lab, dressed in their best Sunday graveyard garb, entertained the crowd in a suitably grizzly rendition of Michael Jackson's legendary Thriller. And for those that were faint of room temperature, you could hide away in the chilly theater to catch Dawn of the Dead.

Next up, DiverseWorks joins up with Artadia to present $TIMULUS, from July 17 through August 15, 2009, which features new work by the 2008 recipients of the Artadia Awards. Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue, offers substantial artist awards in five cities, including Houston. The $TIMULUS artists include Mequitta Ahuja, Dawolu Jabari Anderson, Katy Heinlein, Lauren Kelley, El Franco Lee II, Lynne McCabe, Delilah Montoya, Katrina Moorhead, Floyd Newsum, and Stephanie Toppin.

There's more to get thrilled about once fall hits. Minneapolis dance maven, Morgan Thorson premieres Heaven in October, an exploration of the emotional and physical manifestations of ecstatic perfection. Thorson collaborates with the band LOW, known for their intense and subtle narrative tunes. Thorson's three- year developmental residency has included visits to mega god spot, the Lakewood Church, and studies in other Christian practices. “Minneapolis seems like the next 'hotbed' of dance for some reason and Morgan is the one who is most ready to tour – because of the strength of the work, the vision and how she works with dancers,” says Sixto Wagan, DiverseWorks' co-director. “She is interested in religious experiences as a type of theater, and also will be doing interviews with people about their own spiritual revelations.”

Early in 2010, DiverseWorks goes down under with a visit from Aussie artist Clare Dyson for the U.S. premiere of Voyeur, an installation focused on intimacy, desire and the act of revealing. Dyson's work takes the title seriously, as each audience member watches from a different viewpoint. It's up to the audience member to choose how they move, and where they choose to watch. “I had been interested in Clare’s work because of the installation-like qualities of the sets she has used and also for her really smart interaction with audiences,” says Wagan. “Like Pat Graney’s House of Mind, there's a much more active relationship between audience and the performance work.”

On the local scene, DiverseWorks begins a partnership with The Catastrophic Theatre, launching later this year with Obie Award-winning playwright Lisa D'Amour's Anna Bella Eema. In 2010, Artistic Director Jason Nodler collaborates with with former Pixies legend Charles Thompson (a.k.a Black Francis) for Bluefinger, about the tempestuous career of Dutch painter Herman Brood. “For decades DiverseWorks has been a leader in presenting progressive arts to Houston audiences,” says Jason Nodler, Catastrophic Theatre's artistic director. “We are delighted to team with them again in that effort.”

There's a lot more happening as the season starts up, but this should be enough to fill your thrill card for now.