2003, 2010, 2011
2011 "Musical Tea House Doorway to the Universe" Tea House and Sound Universe, interactive installation 'Sequence of Waves'
St. Cecelia's Convent, Brooklyn, NY. Jan 29
2010 "Everyone Wins and You Light Up my Life (Contact Us)" solo show. Two-handed paintings, video, and Universe installation.
Trailer Park, Brooklyn, NY. Nov 18- Dec 2
2003 "3 Rooms" solo exhibition. Paintings and Universe installation.
Nature Gallery, Charlottesville, VA. March - April
After September 11, after watching the towers hit by planes and hearing that sound, the towers crumbling, crashing down, while live radio bore witness to hundreds of people jumping out of windows one by one, two by two... In the following months, I continued to work just north of the toxic site, saving to leave my favorite city. I wrote names of other cities on pieces of paper, put them in a hat, and picked Louisville Kentucky. With a paper highlighted map, I drove off to live a while somewhere new. I became manic, turning my social energy inward, as I began to alternately sculpt, paint, and play piano fervently for all hours of the day and night. I sculpted over 400 heads out of brightly colored sculpy clay by the time I moved to Charlottesville Virginia, where I exhibited an over the top 3-roomed show of watercolors, oil paintings and the first Universe installation. The heads, each gazing in wonder, were my response to witnessing the towers go down.
I presented the first Universe as part of '3 Rooms', an exhibition at Nature Gallery in Charlottesville Virginia in 2003. I would later refer to this as the crying Universe. After instal, I walked inside as a new visitor might. The quiet, and the darkness moved me, as well as what I saw once my eyes adjusted to the dimness inside.
If you were a visitor to the first Universe, this is what you would see..
You crawl through a small door into a little room that at first appears dark. Once your eyes adjust to the dim light, you see that you are surrounded by hundreds of little floating colors. Then you see that each of these colors is an individual face, unique from each other face. The face moves very slightly (suspended by invisible string) becoming gently animated. It feels as though someone has slowed down time in a psychedelic experience. Time slowa and we are able to just stop and look at each molecule, and each molecule becomes a being of its own, that is experiencing your presence too. And the space holds you like a womb, or a secret room under the stairs when yr a kid, but at the same time, makes you feel like you were in an infinitely vast place that went on forever.
Layers of black fabric and lights created an outer space effect. And something about this space, it made people sob. I cried so deeply when i first went in there too, and even went in for a cry while visiting the gallery while the show was up. I watched strangers take off their shoes and go inside, sometimes they would stay there for a long while, to emerge with red eyes and wet faces.
Every Wins and You Light Up My Life
7 years later the second universe was created, as it happens as part of another over the top multi-roomed show. In an artist warehouse called the 'Trailer Park' in Bushwick, Brooklyn New York, I built the 'Everyone Wins and You Light Up My Life' show. This Universe was accessed crawling through a little door located within the 'Tea House' that I built in the space, surrounded by 2-handed paintings on wood. 2-handed paintings is where I paint and draw with my left and right hand at the same time. Most of my paintings are painted this way now, ambidextrously.
This Universe I would later refer to as the 'Laughing Universe'. People felt so free and happy and wild in this Universe. The space was darker black, with no hanging multicolored molecular faces like before. There was a constellation, like in each of the Universes, I installed a dim constellation across the ceiling, creating a starry sky space for navigation through the blackness. Coming in from the cold streets of Brooklyn, the space felt like laying with friends on a golf course at night, yet embraced in a womb at the same time. This Universe brought joy, relief and release.
Musical Tea House Doorway to the Universe
The “Musical Tea House Doorway to the Universe” (Brooklyn NY 2013) was slightly different from the first two. 3 Microphones on the conucopia table of tea, snacks and instruments picked up the chit chat, songs and sounds of the Tea House. These sounds were were transposed into the lightless Sound Universe, across the hall. In the Sound Universe, it felt as if the people in the Tea House were inside of you, In You, echoing through your being and consciousness. Combining that with the visual element of the minds own rainbow colors began tripping out in a state of light deprivation, added to the intensity. The nuance and power of the realizations, or gnosis that occurred in this scenario is hard to put into words, because it is a taste of the infinite.
When visitors from the 'Musical Tea House' explored the 'Sound Universe' they realized that for the beings in a far away galaxy across the hall, they were all powerful masters of reality. In the Universe, every hello and good-bye, every story, cough, sigh, song, expression and breath from the “Musical Tea House” was being magnified to people in a most sensitive place of infinite blackness. A heightened awareness of perception and existence followed the lesson in vulnerability: the sounds of people in a far off tea house, sipping tea, talking, screaming, giggling, whispering, singing. The Universe could not control, it could just witness. A deep sense of helplessness, liberation and loss of body occurred. Bliss and chaos were both magnified.
Letters to the Universe
Here is a letter from a visitor who emailed to me after the show, reflecting on the 'Musical Tea House Doorway to the Universe'
I just wanted to shoot you a quick email, because I was truly moved by your installation at the convent in Brooklyn. the Universe was so awesome when I was in there. We sang the best songs, and it was a peaceful denoument to that whole installation project (because it was the last room that I visited). I was in a weird place emotionally, because my Grandma died a couple weeks prior to the exhibit, so perhaps this influenced my perception of the whole house. After leaving the talk-show-tea-time-sing-song section of the Universe, I crawled across the hall to the dark side of the universe and it seemed that your installation came full circle for me. I realized as I crawled in to the pitch black room of unknown dimensions, and heard the echoes of laughter wafting in from far away, I thought to myself, "this is what the universe is really like, it's dark and empty and expansive and cold and lonely". And I sat there and took it in for a while by myself before two more people entered and we struck up a rather deep conversation. The conversation was even more interesting because I couldn't see the faces of the people I was speaking to. But I remember this woman with an indistinct accent talking about the house as if it were the after life, and saying that maybe when you die you just wander from room to room in a house with infinite dimensions. Each room contains a different self contained reality. Perhaps these would be memories that your brain plays back for you or else maybe your soul travels to new places across time and space, or time melts away.
I had the distinct feeling of being outside of time while I was in the universe with you and all of the other guests, singing and merry making. I sort of felt like I could have been dead, and maybe this was some memory I had decided to take refuge in (a peaceful memory). I felt as though it were some kind of interplanetary weigh station where I was stopping to recharge before wandering on through vast emptiness.
If we don't have souls or any form of afterlife, it only emphasizes to me how incredible it is to be alive as we are right now on earth. This thought reminds me, Don't be sad and appreciate that we have the ability to experience life in all its chaos, this may be our only chance.
Keep doing what you are doing.
thank you for your beautiful words. an artists can wonder, why have i devoted my life to creating these experiences?
each person that was there became the alchemy that would be the experience. It was made to show people how alive they are now in the ever passing moment. i built the "musical tea house and sound universe" to realize the delicate importance of our expressions. every single thing we do affects the beings around us, entirely. even as the creator, when i stepped out of the sound universe, i was just so glad to be able to make a choice within this earth world, to create and choose this very moment! instead of feeling like a floating gas without consciousness or choice to create.
it was interesting to observe, as people came and went, the variety of ways people chose to celebrate or abuse this power. sometimes i became deeply sad in the universe when absorbed, almost swimming in magnified aggression or violence -someone even broke my teapots without a care! some folks seemed to have a complete lack of empathy, or good will for others who were helpless, consumed by what was happening in the musical tea room. this energy would dominate the space for a while...
and then the pendulum would swing the other way. i would be amazed by the light and life and magic that others brought into the space with music and other gifts to the Universe. when this would happen, the beauty of these souls colliding, magnified, reflected in the 'Sound Universe' would cause me, and others, to weep with gratitude. both ways were so interesting.... hmmm...interesting is like saying nothing but sounding like your saying something.... the experience was terribly terrible or wonderfully wonderous... depending on the alchemy of the humans.
something happened after hours of hosting the tea party in the 'Musical Tea House and Sound Universe'. the energy of people started splitting away from their individual selves. I began seeing people as movers of energy that latently exists in the universe instead of people in possession of their personalities. then the thought would come back as you said, "wandering on through vast emptiness... If we don't have souls or any form of afterlife, it only emphasizes to me how incredible it is to be alive as we are right now on earth. This thought reminds me, Don't be sad and appreciate that we have the ability to experience life in all its chaos, this may be our only chance." to realize the gift of choice within our consciousness is the gift.
and you have gifted me this morning with your reflection and seeing.
thanks again for taking time,