Sunday in the Park
September 4, 2009
There were explosions of color and sound and movement. There was food and wine. New faces. In new places. For two nights in a row, I was exposed to creative souls, presenting their work with great imagination and style and passion and I had no role in any of it, except to be a grateful observer.
My real job is all about presenting — not only performing arts, but on occasion — literary, cinematographic, scientific and even culinary arts. I need to explain that, because it means I am exposed constantly to new art and art forms and after a while, some things and experiences blend together. And a lot don’t seem very new or fresh or even entertaining.
There’s a new kid in town and he’s made a bit of splash this week. A colorful splash with dancers in flowing costumes and artwork displayed on vast white walls and a Grammy-nominated musician performing. Let’s just call him Mr. G.
First, on Tuesday, at Gallery Mar on Main Street, a varied group of folks, in that intimate setting, were on hand to watch the paintings of Jonathan Green come to life through the extraordinary choreography of former Alvin Ailey dancer Luctricia Welters. Jonathan’s work reflects the landscape and life of the Gullah culture in South Carolina’s Low Country. Think bright blue oceans, white picture hats on women in long, full, white dresses, strong primary colors painted on beach shacks. Strong emotions in strong colors. Deserving of powerful music and expressive dance.
After the dance performance, I just stood for a moment taking it all in. We have had the good fortune to present the Alvin Ailey Dance Company several times in the past dozen years, so my next comment comes with firsthand knowledge. The performance was Ailey-like in all the best senses of the word. Not an imitation of his work, but hints and echoes of his brilliance. Ailey once commented on his signature piece, "Reflections," saying it needed to be presented with each new work because it carried a kind of "blood history." And you felt that, something primal, like the primary colors in Jonathan’s paintings.
Night Two was at Mr. G’s newly remodeled home in the back reaches of Park Meadows but worthy of the upper reaches of Deer Valley. The invitation read "Vernissage," a French word meaning, um, stay tuned for a really unexpected evening. Just walking in the door was breathtaking. My job affords me the privilege of entering some pretty amazing homes in this city, but I can honestly say I never so quickly had my breath taken away. The floors were dark, bare hardwood. There was minimal furniture in the room — the walls were stark white and there was light pouring through every oversize two-story window in sight. Instead of a stone fireplace with a wooden mantel, there was an original piece of artwork created to be a giant two-story-tall kiva-style fire-space in vibrant orange tones. On those white expansive walls were bold splashes of resounding colors in artwork that seemed to hum.
Recommended Stories For You
Yes, more great food and wines and then, with a minor flourish and announcement of music to come, music came. Down the staircase flowed a dark-haired man dressed in white and playing first one, then two, recorders (flute-like instruments). David Young. And then with a brief explanation, our eyes focused on the spectacular triptych created by yet another artist, Melanie Camp of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a longtime friend of Mr. G’s. The dancer from the night before reappeared, this time with a 13-year-old girl from northern Utah, Heather Vernon, who is studying dance. The graciousness with which Luctricia had created a piece they could both dance to demonstrated her passion for teaching as well as performing. The artwork exploded in meaning and the room vibrated with emotion.
It was a helluva housewarming.
And it was a sign. The times they are a changin’. Mr G wasn’t selling anything or asking us for anything. He was excited to be joining the ranks of Park City as a part-time resident and he wanted to invite a real cross section of folks to experience a piece of his multi-colored, paletted view of the world. We left with CDs and DVDs and bios on the performers and artists. The whole thing was carefully curated by Mary, another Fort Lauderdale resident.
By the time I left, the moon had climbed up into the sky and was full-ish if not yet fully full. I was spinning. Kind, thoughtful people had just shared their gifts, because they could. I realized a part of me, long empty, and maybe a bit dulled, was starting to fill up and reflect. Beauty comes in so many voices and still lifes and swirling, vibrant moments. I had almost blown off the casual invitation and I would have been the poorer for that. Instead, I have those rich memories to wrap up in, as the evenings start to take on a bit of chill, as summer slips into fall, and Saturday becomes Sunday, here in the Park …
Teri Orr is the director of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts and the Big Stars Bright Nights Summer Concert Series at Deer Valley. She is also a former editor of The Park Record.