I'm absolutely certain that no one was expecting to ever get e-mail from this list again. I'm not even sure when was the last time it was used (well, let's take a peek... mid-June, 2009, as best I can tell) but the important thing is that for a decade, on and off, I talked up local arts and culture events to its hundreds of subscribers, who had signed on to receive updates about my 5-year-long "57 Varieties" open stage series, the "Artists Against War" events prior to that, and most importantly the earlier years of "Living Closet" variety shows of which the subsequent events were but distant echoes. Since then, by and large the fellow travellers of these creative communities either found lasting success without need for our cheerleading (hello, Vancouver Poetry Slam), ran their course (sleep well, Thundering Word Heard), or found more fertile staging grounds (ahoy, ArtsWells) far from the three-ring real estate circus that has become the drum beat that Vancouver dances to exclusively. (As for me, I have carved out a weird little sphere of "noir" rebel accordion music whose weekly radio program, monthly get-together and annual festival have been squeezing along full steam for over a decade now... but since that isn't the beat you folks signed up for, I haven't been keeping you in the loop.) (I did however piggyback on their mailchimp account to send you this e-mail!) I don't have any exciting new business to entreat you with, but hopefully some exciting old business may intrigue some handful of that fragment of you who are still using the same e-mail address after some 10-20 years. (I know, you're an extraordinary lot; receiving this missive can be considered your certificate of distinguished recognition.) Though the odds seemed impossibly remote, I made a personal pledge that if the Living Closet ever started up again, I would let its old community know through this route, the only direct line I had to reach most of you with. I have partially failed in this pledge, for we successfully (but very quietly) mounted a trial homage-to-Living-Closet art party in May of 2017 to see if it was possible or even desirable to plumb the silty depths of nostalgia and see if anything worthwhile emerged. Spoiler warning: it was and it was, and it did. Filled with optimism for the series to emerge, phoenix-like, from the ashes, we promptly scheduled, then postponed, false-start sequels in November and January. Which brings us to the present, a year later -- and in fact, one month past the bona fide 20th anniversary of the first Living Closet art party, a milestone which quietly ticked by last month. To make a long story short: we're throwing another all-ages afternoon art party this Sunday, May 13th, from 3-6 pm, at Claire & Frank's home studio (1227 East 7th, buzzer #5 ... which some of you may remember as the site of T.Paul Ste-Marie's wake.) Our plans (and failing which, hopes) are to offer a mixed slate of visual art, literature, music and an extra little je ne sais quoi. Last year's art party was neurotically micromanaged such that we would have been able to tell you far in advance the names and CVs of every planned participant; at every attempt since then plans have been evolving more... organically, but nevertheless we are boldly, somewhat blindly, forging our way forward. To democratically keep us all at the same level I've always been wary of announcing the names of any scheduled performers if I can't announce all of them, in solidarity, so all I'm going to say is that in keeping with the ethos of "57 Varieties" ... if anyone comes prepared to perform a little music or do a little recitation, there are gaps in the planned schedule just the right shape for what you've got. That's right: we're going open stage, with the deck stacked with ringers; we do have solid gold homegrown talent lined up for you, and if we (by which I mean you) can't manage to collectively crowdsource the rest of the entertainment then we'll also get some top notch reminiscing and a round-table on the state of the grassroots arts sector in Vancouver 2018. You must have questions. Yes, there should be a little PA set up -- you don't have to use the mic, but it's there. Heads up, sufferers of cat allergies: you may want to take your antihistamines before you arrive. Again, the nature of the venue is a private residence with a large gathering area and some great seating; snacks are on a potluck basis and the beverages are BYO. A drive to make these events more family-friendly than they historically were is what moved us to conduct them on Sunday afternoons rather than Saturday nights (granted with a little thought we could have found a more family-friendly time than Mother's day, but... bring your mother!) -- so please feel free to bring the kids. If we can't captivate them, there's a big park a block and a half away! The site is easy to reach by bus and one major crosswalk away from a SkyTrain station. If you have further questions about the venue (would you like to arrange to come early to hang some art?), you can reach the hosts directly via nouscentric.com, and if you have other questions about virtually any other subject, please don't hesitate to write back and we can get... philosophical. (I know, after nine years' absence, the announcement is a little underwhelming, and yet at the same time... it must be quite a bit more than you reasonably could have expected!)We would like to acknowledge that this event will take place on unceded Coast Salish Territory on the lands of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh people generally, and in the home of Claire and Frank Roberts specifically.
If you're interested in performing at the next Living Closet event, E-mail us with your name, contact info, and the type of art you practice.