Coming Together

Ossia performing Frederic Rzewski's "Coming Together"
Ossia performing Frederic Rzewski’s “Coming Together”

Artists talks are not for the faint of heart. We bravely attended one at the new I-Square gallery last night where four artists talked about their work and so much more. It was exhilarating. Richard Harvey talked mostly of process but his is multifaceted and interesting. Wendy Menzie started making art after primal therapy in the 70’s. She quoted Philip Larken, “Your mom and dad fuck you up. They don’t mean to but they do” and spoke of her journey back to the child inside. Ed Buscemi stressed the importance of improvisation and relayed a dream he had thirty years ago where people were moving by him on a conveyor belt and he jumped on and tried to shake the people but he couldn’t bring them out of their trance. It seems to be his modus operandi. He is fond of asking “Are you kidding me?” in an animated fashion and he admitted to being hooked on conspiracy therories. Todd Beers discussed his breakthrough painting which is on view until tomorrow and told a beautiful story of his encounter with a dove on the fire escape he was sleeping on. He dimmed the lights and wowed us with his poetry. Harvey, Menzie and Buscemi all studied with Robert Marx who has his own opening tonight at Rochester Contemporary. He is featured in their Makers Mentors show.

We scurried downtown for the Ossia show at Kilbourn Hall but missed the opening toy piano number. We caught “I Can’t Concentrate” by the Brooklyn band, Zs, a mathematically challenging, post jazz, brutal-chamber piece. And then were blown away (again) by Ossia’s performance of Frederic Rzewski’s “Coming Together.” From the liner notes – “The work consists of a bass line accompanied by a series of instructions which can be realized by any group of instruments. With each performer acting as composer, the work allows for a variety of performance outcomes and is essentially an experiment in compositional anarchy.” A vocalist read a letter from Sam Melville-in prison in 1970 for series of radical bombings in Manhattan where no one was hurt-to his brother on top of the music. The twenty minute piece was trance-like and hallucinatory like a deep dream.

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