Notes from Anna: Organic Jazz, and More Food For The Spirit
Recently I attended a series of jazz shows played by some of my friends in Boston's small venues. Prior to the shows, witnessing these musicians practice on a day-to-day basis, I also saw how their primary dedication to music grew into a broader commitment to things that are beautiful, fair, and just. Many of the jazz musicians I am lucky to know live in ways dedicated to sustainability and supporting small local businesses, coops, and organic farms. Some are vegetarians -- a choice that I respect. Most are highly conscious of the ethical and environmental implications of their decisions, as both employees and market agents. The music performances I attended held their own beautifully. Still, to my surprise, my awareness of the performers' love of their community unexpectedly added a new emotional dimension to my experience of their music. With this in mind, I set out this week to find some creative enclaves where imagination and commitment come together to inspire and energize both their members and audiences.
The Zeitgeist Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is an independent space that continuously attracts progressive artists and performers and passionate audiences alike. Formed in 1994 by Alan Nidle and Karen Boutet, the gallery spontaneously evolved into a collaborative space for local musicians, filmmakers, painters, poets, and other artists outside of the mainstream. The space grew into a "total environment," combining visual exhibits with poetry evenings and live performances of considerable interest, notably the "free jazz" shows played regularly by the faculty of local music colleges, among the other ongoing series. "Our continuous shoestring survival is... nothing short of miraculous," states the gallery's homepage.
San Francisco's Intersection for the Arts is another experimental enclave that is a home for community-driven, forward thinking, embodied in a variety of genre, from jazz to theater and literature, and a number of hybrid collaborative projects. The Intersection will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2005. As part of a series of creative projects associated with this date, the Intersection is inviting submissions of short stories, personal archival materials, and mementos from the past four decades. Find out more in the "Get Involved" section of the Intersection's well-designed and informative website:
The residents of Portland, Oregon, have another excellent reason to be proud of their fine city, because it is home to Imago Theatre. Ever since attending Imago's original production of Frogz in Portland, I've been rooting for this small company like a Red Sox fan for her home team. Imago's co-creators and artistic directors, Carol Triffle and Jerry Mouawad, are responsible for its dazzling originality and great fun, enjoyable to anyone from age four to 104. The company's upcoming season features two serious productions -- Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre -- alongside with Frogz and the theater's new original show, Biglittlethings (about to go on a national tour). Triffle's and Mouawad's creations burst with whimsy and saturated color, with a pace set by the exciting and quirky musical scores. Check out a QuickTime movie of Frogz and the rest of Imago's new season on their website:
I conclude with an e-mail I received from Joe Taylor, from Dixon, Iowa, who brings together nature and art by facilitating Winter Words: Nature Writing and Journaling Workshop at his local environmental education center. "The still cold of a Midwest winter woodland seems to inspire a warm inner spirit," wrote Joe. This free workshop will run Saturday, January 15, 2-4 p.m., at Wapsi River Environmental Education Center, Dixon, Iowa. For more information and registration, call (563) 328-3286.
As always, I look forward to hear from you about how your love of nature finds its outlets in creativity and the arts. Do you participate in a local arts project that combines these interests in a unique way? Do you volunteer on a cause that brings together an ecological awareness and creativity? E-mail me with your thoughts and suggestions for the future columns: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My very best wishes to all of you in the New Year,