From House of Mind, 2008
(photo © Tim Summers)
Pat Graney Company hosted a successful Annual Garden Party last weekend.
This fundraiser drew 55 people and raised about $4,000. When I asked Pat Graney if they were happy with the amount raised, she said, “With the economy the way it is, I think it’s excellent!” (To put it into context: it is just $1,000 short of what the party raised in the boom-time last year.)
After mingling and munching on Ramon Shiloh’s delicious hors d’oeuvres (firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re needing party food) we gathered in the sunny garden to watch an excerpt of Graney’s 2008 hit, House of Mind.
Three women, three chairs, one very small stage. The women (danced by Trinidad Martinez, Sara Jinks, and Jennifer Peterson), wore skirts and blouses and high heels, and they took poses in unison. When seated, they were poised—cool and sophisticated, as though at a 1960s cocktail party. But they kept changing poses. It was as though their lives were frustrated and fractured. Those of you who have seen the whole House of Mind probably understand what was behind this quality of their movements. I just had a sudden urge to finish reading some of the feminist books I had started in college. As I sat there watching, girdle-free in the opportunities-rich life that strong, older women had made possible, I couldn’t help thinking that these characters onstage were not getting a chance to lead their own lives. Beautiful and sad.
What is House of Mind really about? Memory…Alzheimer’s…It was a huge installation piece with dancing. I got a good sense of it from Sandi Kurtz’s review from the Weekly, Brendan Kiley’s feature in the Stranger, and from Jean Lenihan’s article in City Arts magazine. Also, KUOW interviewed Graney on the site of the installation. Click here for the 12-minute podcast. “It gives memory a volume,” Graney says about House of Mind. “…a place to live…. A memory palace.”
House of Mind is going on the road. It travels to New York in June 2010 and to Miami in October (opening during Miami’s “Sleepless Night” and running through Art Basel Miami Beach festival). The following year, it has a six-month run at the Kohler Art Center in Wisconsin; one of those months will include dance performances.
Meanwhile, back in Seattle… After the House of Mind excerpt, Graney read us some letters and pieces from her Keeping the Faith project, which works with women in prison. There is something so inspirational about the human drive to thrive with honesty. (SeattleDances went to this prison-based performance earlier this summer. Please click here to read more about it.)
Actually, if I understood correctly, Graney was reading from an off-shoot of that project, one called Keeping the Faith—Transitions, which aims to support ex-offenders in their efforts to rejoin the community. Keeping the Faith—Transitions just completed its first year, with the help of Seattle University.
Some of you know that I’m just making my way into modern dance and so you won’t be surprised when I say this was the first time I met the Pat Graney Company. Oh my! What a lot of delightful energy! I went alone but found plenty of interesting people to talk with before the speeches and performance.
I left thinking about how lucky we are in Seattle, about how many people it has taken to create a community where art matters, about how we’re constantly replenishing the energy pool to make the art possible. For each arts organization, it takes a visionary; if you’re lucky, it’s someone like Graney, lit-up and open and ready for life. (A former board member described her thus: “In high school, she was the girl you had to have at your slumber party!”) But it also takes a good-humored, creative, smart board and staff. It takes artists. It takes funders. And it takes an audience. We all play a part.