One More Art Update: This one's about community
My dear friend Izza stopped by today; it reminded me to cultivate community as an antidote to despair
Vlog: Art Update
Hey There family, comrades, and neighbors.
It is Jason Wyman here coming to you with another weekly update. Yay! It's happening.
I just wanted to let you know that Overjoyed! actually happened. Yes, Midori and I took to the stage at SOMArts Cultural Center as part of Emergence with Emerging Arts Professionals, and it went smashingly. There were definitely some technical things that we learned what we would do differently next time, but the core concept of the show and the characters that we had and the narrative and script that we had worked like a charm. People laughed in all the right places. Yay! I'm so so so happy.
Thank you to those of you that tuned in virtually. It was really great to see you in the virtual audience, and also for those of you that turned out in the physical studio—the live studio audience—thank you so much for also bearing with all of the weird technical crap that happened with the show. Yay!
I just also wanted to ruminate a little bit.
My dear friend Izza came by this morning. Izza is one of the contributing artists to Art Camp. I've known Izza since she was a junior in high school, and she has graduated college. And…I just adore Izza…but she came over this morning, and one of the things that she really reflected back to me was really this idea of choosing and cultivating one's community. And I am so grateful…I don't know…I'm grateful for Izza’s friendship, you know, because it's been a long journey together—actually, you know, it's been seven or eight years—and we started when she was an intern working with me. And it's grown into this incredibly beautiful, beautiful friendship.
And those are all intentional choices that were made along the way. It was an intention around how to structure the internship in a way that supported Izza and what she wanted to do as an artist. And it continued on into bringing Izza on board for another art project her senior year of high school and actually paying her as part of that project working with Kapi’olani Lee. And then it's just really turned into like other art projects, other opportunities to show her art at Mercury Cafe, ways of just having conversations, and really tending to the time that it takes to build deep, deep ties, camaraderie, and friendship.
And you know this morning in our little chat one of the things that we talked about…at least that I shared…for me is, you know…San Francisco is this beautifully complicated place and that one moment it can break your heart—for me, you know, that was this morning. I was on twitter, which I sometimes need to get off of, and I saw the removal—the violent removal—of unhoused folks on Willow Avenue. One of my comrades went and documented it…one of the folx I follow on Twitter went and documented it all—Kelly Cutler. And I watched all of the footage that Kelly uploaded, and watching all of the violent removal of unhoused folx, also known as sweeps, happen on Willow Avenue alone is is terrible to watch. Knowing that they were “swept” from that alley—violently evicted from that alley— in order for Project Ppen Hand…uh for anyone that doesn't know Project Open Hand was founded 35 years ago during the AIDS crisis when queers—gay men—needed food because we didn't have an actual safety net—the city was not providing a safety net for people with AIDS—and so Project Open hand opened in order to feed…provide meals to folks living and dying with HIV and AIDS. 35 years later unhoused folks are violently being evicted from the alley next to them—that they are on—in order to have a press event with the Mayor and with Supervisor Haney in which they lit their new neon sign.
I wish you could make this shit up. This is like some comic book villainy, to be honest. It is atrocious. I just can't even…I can't even begin to fathom the trauma that was caused by the City—that was ordered by the City—to be done on behalf of lighting a neon sign for an organization that was founded as a mutual aid response to gay men dying of AIDS.
So that kind of affected me a lot this morning, and so uh I took that aggression out by cleaning out our garbage cans, which was disgustingly nasty and very therapeutic. And then ,lo and behold, my dear friend Izza stopped by to pick up some supplies for Art Camp that she wants to test out.
And being able to sit and chat with Izza for, you know, about 45 minutes to an hour really again is one of those beautiful moments in San Francisco that just happens. Amidst all the pain and amidst all of the shit and amidst all of the fuckery there is also beauty and that that beauty is cultivated through intentionality for me…it's been cultivated through the intentionality of relationships over the last 24 years that I've been here.
I will also say tomorrow is my birthday, and this is a great birthday gift. In fact Izza even arrived with the cake. (She always arrives with cake. I love it. Anyway…)
That's all I got for now.
Thank you so much for tuning in and, you know, really think about who in your life do you really want to cultivate a relationship with. Who is your community and how are you cultivating that community?
I'm sure we could all do a little more.
Overjoyed! with Marie Queerdo (and Keith)
Thanks to dear friend and comrade Mark McBeth for snapping photos of Overjoyed! with Mari Queerdo (and Keith). I will forever remember this performance. I was a nervous wreck!!! Luckily, and Keith is the anxiety of the audience made manifest.
Enjoy these two photos. More to come soon.
Image description: A photo of Marie Queerdo in her dressing room. The photographer is on stage. There are a set of black stairs leading off stage and into the audience. The dressing room is down the stairs and to the right. Marie Queerdo is dressed in white with straight black hair with bangs. Photo taken by Mark McBeth.
Image description: a photo of and Keith looking frantic on a laptop screen with Zoom open. A pair of hands on the left are placing Marie Queerdo’s script on the laptop keyboard. On the right side of the screen is an assortment of food including avocado toast, a banana, chips and salsa, cheese spread, spaghetti, red wine, and there is even a red wig. Photo taken by Mark McBeth.
A Final Thought
Image description: the words “ALL WE HAVE IS EACH OTHER” are written in white hand lettering over a hot pink triangle set against a black background.
Today is the day before my birthday, and I am reminded of how we must care for and defend each other from the ruthless violence set upon us and our neighbors by the state, by the wealthy, and by those in power.
I continue to commit to cultivating a community of family, comrades, and neighbors that in all of our messy, complicated, fucked-up-ness continue fighting for our liberation from the strictures and structures of oppression, violence, exploitation, and despair.
Thank you Izza for being a part of my community, always.