Rattling around in the archives getting ready for a new video project, I unearthed a wobbly, slow-mo, introspective video doc of an installation I created with Holla Otter (Holly Lammert) — a watery, weird, memory-laden safe haven inside Dana Smith’s City Art Supply, April 2009. It was the way I processed my experience as a woman-child on Cherokee Street at that time, feeling not so at home in a man’s world – - healing from violent sexual assault, angry at politicized resistance to a public plaza project, waking up to a different way. An intuitve hideout/timeout in a world that don’t make no sense.
Sound: “Biography” by Merideth Monk
Text from show invitation:
well come to the FLOW show: 4/4 @ 4pm-6pm, during the Cherokee Street OPEN HOUSE
Come meet moving Water and a real live River-Murmur : New work by Holly G and Lyndsey Scott:
Paintings, drawings, fabric, and concept: Considering the way water moves, the way rivers thrive, the way humans can take note and take part in nature’s ease and abundance. Indigo gleam surrender.
For grown ups too but Especially: Calling all little mermaids and little mermen, come as your favorite underwater being!
During December 2010, I was blessed to ride with an amazing crew of humans on the Superheroes Annual Haul of Justice. The mission of my character the SerendipiTease?? “I enjoy being in the right place at the right time with a smile that beams your brightness right back at you! I speak and sing the truth in love, and powerflirt with the entire universe with acroyoga, honesty, and compassionate touch.” . Here’s a full account. Pictures courtesy of SuperStretch – thanks!
Two-Way Mirror, 2009
4 x 8 feet acrylic two-way mirror, aluminum frame, professional clowns
Courtesy of the artist and Taxter & Spengemann
This was totally fun; Xavier is an amazing artist. The gig: I got hired to go from street clothes to clown getup in front of the two way mirror pretending no one was there. Really it stroked those voyeuristic fantasies I used to have as a little girl …….I would come home from school, go down to the basement, put a record on, and dance — all the while imagining being watched by the boys in my class. Oh gees.
“Xavier Cha’s conceptual and performance-based work revolves around systems of social exchange and hierarchies of space (both physical and psychological). Her performances, objects, and videos subtly distort these ideologies by re-contextualizing culture, desire, the individual, and community. A frequent collaborator, Xavier has invited dancers, musicians, and mystics—among many others—not only to participatein her projects, but also to become the protagonists of the work.
Cha inaugurates this season’s Front Room. On Opening Night, and at random times throughout the following week, she has hired a series of local performers to enter the space, stand behind a large, freestanding two-way mirror and change from their street clothes into a clown’s uniform and makeup. Visitors witness this transformation from art space to voyeuristic clown factory, as each clown exits The Front Room to mingle casually in the museum. Conjuring notions of entertainment and spectatorship, as well as the role and expectations of the artist, Cha delivers a revealing portrait of disguise.”
A new Christmas myth begins: Atnas. Atnas is Santa’s counterpart—or counterpoint, if you think of people as melodically joint. “Jesus was a garbage man!” a monk thunk as he began to make art with other people’s junk. Atnas is somewhat the same. Her sleigh is the global garbage truck that hauls away the million more tons of trash weekly made betwixt Turkey Gibblins and New Yearnings day.
Her steed is a colossal Filter Queen, hurdling across the heavens, flummoxing folks from New Orleans to Aberdeen. “Whose silhouette across the moon is seen? The witches are getting high tech with these flying machines!” A flexible nozzle fits every chimney. All minimally loved objects neglected are collected along with the extra 4 million tons trash, Ejected from America’s disposable stash— sucked up and sorted, to be compost, or deported, processed in accord so that nothing is hoarded.
The household’s role is to leave out an empty plate on which Atnas will leave a statement to explicate how you can regulate energy use for efficiency’s sake, retardate the creation of waste, and propagate more Love in the fields of life.
Here comes Atnas, to preach to the masses: “So symbolically speaking, this Yule-tide seeking celebration is centered on the rebirth of love without ration, sent in a heavenly fashion from powers above, J.C. being the babe of the All-Mighty Love. Hence Santa soaring while the world is snoring to drop little lovebombs into wrapped boxes to be born like joy into the hands of lil’ gals and boys. But some reach a stage where gadget glee is superseded by greater needs . . . . adoration delivered without the aid of objects, financial conservation, ecological aspirations— deterring the dissipation of land at the hands of our own development and debris . . . . We all pretend to be St. Nick for someone, Thus we are all also Atnases, shouldering trash on our back like earth-bearing Atlases, self-assessing our energy intake and object output, love outreaching and action afoot.”
“Some say Jesus was a garbage man. I’d say we are all men and women Of garbage. And God. Act as God and grant your garbage another life. A green Xmas to all, and to all a good flight . . . ”
The next iteration took place in a playful, holiday musical pageant, May These Changes Make Us Light, at the New City School theatre in December 2009:
An adventurer seeks the counsel of Santa Claus on a quest to meet the most inspiring entities of Earth. On his journey to the North, he encounters other unexpected and yet extraordinary individuals: Atnas, the environmental activist; the Snowqueen, guardian of the North; Mrs. Claus; and many creatures and elves.
Interwoven with this narrative are performances from a cast of St. Louis talent: The Universal Lotus Lovers Acroyoga troupe, choreographers Rebecca Rivas and Carrie Dobsch, movers and musicians Amanda Jokerst, Amber Dover, and Willy Zep, Celia’s Yuletide Express, FIRE DOG, Tibetan singing bowl and didgeridoo player Bradford Smith, Emily Hemeyer on improvisational vocals and dulcimer, singer and lovebomb Na-do with her daughter Safa, video mixer Mike Pagano, artist and actor Jeffrey Miller, Mark Pagano as the protagonist, status-quo destabilizer Lyndsey Scott as Atnas, and visionary conceptualist Kelsey LaPoint as the storyteller.
Experience a radical adventure and remaking of the Christmas myth!
The next year, the New Music Circle funded an hour-long video project of the extended Atnas story, filmed around STL sites including the flood wall and the Community Arts and Movement Project. From the program:
A new heroine is here to revamp the habits of the x-mess-stress holiday. Whoosh!!! “Release” is the buzzword of her business.
Yes, Santa’s daughter was at one time a spoiled princess, but now her mission involves flying around the world on a vacuum cleaner and helping get rid of the gunk we wish to see go.
To some, Atnas may appear as a cleaning lady, humbling hauling away your trash. To others, she can be a life coach, walking you through the deep process of releasing unhelpful habits and beliefs. Or she may tote her whole toolbox down the chimney to bring in the vast sweep of change. It is all up to you, and what you ask for. Arriving at such a role, and standing firm in the realm of service is a journey that Atnas continues to navigate. The video leads us through Atnas’ life via experimental animation and filming techniques.
Writers and artists Kelsey LaPoint and Lyndsey Scott (Atnas) team up with filmmaker and choreographer Rebecca Rivas to bring you a video that will rock your holiday spirit.
There was really no second thought for Halloween this year. Part Na’vi on my insides, I fell hard in love with the Tree of Souls. Yellow contacts, full weave, sculpted nose and ear-prosthetics later, I was still pretty much a quickly-painted blue streak rubbing off on all the surfaces I danced near. Climbing up my 6’8″ co-Avatar made it especially easy to get into character.
Hanging out with the kidset makes me come alive. Walking the world on my knees, telling stories under the table, constructing a parallel universe in sand from sticks, stones, and seeds. I thrive in sharing imaginings that engage the root question of how fabulously we can glob together our super-powers.
To this effect, I love to be invited to face-paint and lead art projects at birthday parties and other get-togethers where small people are the majority. I got into it by accident, when my ex-con boriquo clown/mechanic friend Mo asked me to partner him for a gig. We had a blast, and I loved the way he worked both the kids and adults with the same moves and songs.
I love being in that world, close-up and honest with kids listening to them dream their characters out loud. “Why do you have a mustache?” You must become as a child: Crying, laughing, truth-telling in the moment it arises. I aspire to be this with It — letting emotion arise and pass as it comes, so as not to store anything that is less than authentic. Try one of my favorite games: next time you are at a bar or business meeting, imagine everyone there as your kindergarden recess friend. What do you do next?
So much of why I initially fell in love with St. Louis was the omnipresent invite to collaborate — making music, team-teaching, cameos in performances, draw-swaps. The backdrop of our crumbling and rebirthing city is fodder for many epic co-creations. Pictured here are: *A concert in a dumpster, idea via then Wash-U student Dwyer Kilcollin who was brilliant at catalyzing collaboration outside of the university walls * The Dissonettes (Celia, Jenna Bauer, and me) — a girl group that spouted stacked disonnance — backing up Jason Wallace Triefenbach in a performance at Radio Cherokee. *“Whatyougondowithalldatjunk?” — an experimental visit to the arch with a stuffed booty on Valentine’s Day with Lezlie Silverstein, exploring race, identity, tourism, and attachment * “G – L – O – R – I – A ” … a night of attending art openings dressed and acting like Ladies of the Night with Shannon Knox, exploring permissible behavior and public mores within the ever beloved Art Scene. *Maidencrone - the gateway greeter at Kelsey LaPoint’s X.P.O.E.Animal performance, who gave each audience member a ‘familiar’ stuffed animal, some of which were implanted with electronics that activated midway during the show.
Ever since I moved here in 2004 and the crack addicts would prophecy to me and follow me around while I shopped in Globe Drug, I grew the walking fantasy that We Are All All-ready Here. I felt and sensed that this is it!, all the ancient kings and queens and crowned misfits returning to play a new game. The dreams I’ve had since getting a studio at Lemp only amplified this imagined fun house reality – where the compound turns into a free school circus ecovillage from the rooftop gardens to rituals in caves. When the empire fell (quite literally: The Empire Sandwich shop was bulldozed in 2006) I took that as a cue for poetic license to activate the play further. Walking down the street with a giant foam cutout of the ‘Cherokee man statue’, I’d greet shopkeepers and ask them to share a ‘mascot’ or character-image from their store. The participatory mural we made had a life of its own that called into being dramatic performances from some of Cherokee Street’s real life characters. At the same site, I facilitated a Dia de los Muertos vigil, (Park)ing Day activities, and a proposal for a permanent plaza.
But my favorite playing and the most widespread has been the People’s Joy Parade. In 2008, I invited friends to participate in a ‘play’ parade – it was a crew of twenty or so with toy instruments that led a small sidewalk procession into the Cinco festival. In 2009, I supported Sarah Paulsen who had the vision, perseverance, and artistry to create a full-fledged parade on the street. I had fun inviting the neighborhood girls to join me in creating The Pink Dragon, a symbol of the Baubo spirit – divinely playful and irreverant female wisdom.
The Hub project was the fruit of a a community-wide charette held November 15, 2008. This neighborhood-wide gathering, facilitated via the Open Space Technology technique was prompted by Sister Jean Durel’s “Heart and Soul”-inspired neighborhood empowerment organizing and funded by The Incarnate Word Foundation . In short, the charette produced three ideas voted on over two months by residents of Cherokee street neighborhoods via online and hardcopy ballots. The concept for a public plaza garnered the most interest, and I became the coordinator for The Cherokee ComeUnity Hub. Immediately the Where? became a primary question; plaza supporters favored the empty lot across from Globe Drug at Texas and Cherokee, which was naturally used as the hang-out spot. Energetically it already was a plaza. From my point of view, creating an influx of traffic with architecture to shape the type of interaction could, with wisdom, invite the ‘traffic’ to step up or find another site. But LRA lots require the alderman’s approval, and Ken O. was not a fan. I wrote about the dilemma on CSt News: Says Who? And the RFT blogged the standstill too. The project team suggested lots of in-motion experiments — from gardening on the lot to hosting temporary projects to test what variables we needed to learn about — action over theory. Yet our alderman declined an invitation to the Incarnate Word mediation, and found no room compromise — insisting that he wanted to plant grass on the lot and wait until “someone” came along to build on it — in essence rejecting $25,000 and hundreds of professional volunteer hours. Meanwhile, Incarnate Word retracted the funding, and the lot is still dirt. Yeah for STL politics!! I felt so much sadness about our inability as adult humans to connect on shared goals despite unique means of working toward them. And in the big pic – - it made a lot of sense for the lot to function as ‘homebase’ for the current sidewalk/streetlamp renovation project. And now with Globe Drug closed, what eventually fills that space will largely affect the fate of its neighbor. Que sera sera…… I hold space for a righteous, quirky public space to grow up there in the perfect time . . . .
On October 10, 2008, I gathered together with friends and strangers at the STL Arch to create “The World’s Biggest Belly Laugh under the Arch”. Art-supporter/reporter Diane Keaggy from the Post-Dispatch had this to say:
Don’t ask how, but 29-year-old Lyndsey Scott found herself in a northern California nursing home taking a yoga class. And not your standard downward-facing-dog yoga class, but a laughter yoga class. One graying resident laughed so hard, her dentures popped out.
“What started off as forced laughter became this real laughter. We couldn’t stop,” recalled Scott. “It felt great.”
So Scott had an idea, one that appealed to her artistic sensibility and childlike spirit: What if she gathered her friends for one big belly laugh?
“Maybe the Hands Across America of my youth influenced me, but I believe when we gather together our bodies can become a monument,” said Scott, a painter and community activist.
Scott has found the perfect venue for her living art experiment: Artica, the arts festival that isn’t. Since 2002, artists have met in the industrial wilderness of the north St. Louis riverfront to build art installations and stage performance art. No souvenir T-shirts are sold, no food-on-a-stick consumed.
“It’s not that kind of a festival,” explained founder Nita Turnage. “There is no schedule because we’re never sure when the artists will show up. It’s really about letting your creativity flow, and that means being open to creating something yourself.”
In this multimedia meditation/perfomance, Kelsey LaPoint created a script that described the stages of transformation and the power of the mind to manifest. For my ‘caterpillar act’, I wrote and sang The Foghorn Song about the solitary unknowing waiting of inner work. It was so fun to sing with the entire cast toning the foghorn in the background…
Together with FIRE DOG, Lezlie Silverstein, Gravity Plays Favorites, Acro-yoga Fireflies, VJ Evil Che, Celia’s Yuletide Express, Amazonia Belly Dancing Troupe, Kill Fashion, Kelsey LaPoint and more – we collaborated on a giant show that took over the foyer and gathering area of the Contemporary Art Museum, with Maya LIn’s installation just peeking out as the backdrop. Synopsis: “A gigantic ARCH transmitter of LIGHT thoughts broadcasts to the galaxy’s edge, where six peaceful creatures hear the Wizard’s message. The planet is trembling from the loss of The Great Storygatherer. The people have forgotten how to lay their own stories to rest. And so the discontent builds, blocking people’s hearts. Saint Louis artists expose their alter-egos and super POWERS so that these changes make us LIGHT.”
Day of the Dead 2007 :
My inspiration to take part in Cherokee’s Dia de los Muertos celebrations came from a collaboration with Patrick Ritchey in 2005. Among other street installations, we made a giant flower boa for the Indian sculpture sculpted from paper flowers listed with the names of the dead from the war in Iraq and scattered his feet with over ten pounds of dumpstered rose petals.
Two years later, having returned from a healing sabbatical back to Cherokee, I was ready to honor and celebrate death and darkness’ role in the circle of life, and excited to invite neighbors to do the same. I worked with Jean Durel and MInerva Lopez to create interactive public art installations along Cherokee Street including a participatory altar and fire vigil at the empty lot on Texas and Cherokee, a “La Katrina” backdrop by Kelsey LaPoint, a mano sagrado workshop with CAMP kids, an artist altar at CAMP, a series of screenprinted flags by Lezlie Silverstien, and a commissioned stencil by Peat Wollaegar at each business altar site. It was beautiful weather and so much fun making out in the open, inviting people to leave an object or photo at the altar.
One of my favorite ways to get un-depressed is to play with my depression. Like most artists, I swing; like most children of the digital camera era, I take comfort in being able to make my own little stop motion reality show of emotion. Framing the drama names and befriends it, in a way that Rumi might have approved:
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
April 1, 2006 / Armed with a roll of red tape, a red alien candle, and a “Nowhere Better than Here, Somewhere Better than Here” poster I set out for the steps of City Hall. After saying hello to the security guard, I set up the stage and sang a RedTapeFreeing Anthem to the beautiful moonkissed architecture and all the bureacratic heaviness that dwells there in. One day the theatrics of politics we make will be more mutually enjoyable, ok? Yodel oodle oooh, when Who to my wondering eyes did appear from those midnight doors, but a surprised alderman! Craig Schmidt walked out mid-song and tried to get away from my polite questions about the recently-passed Noise Ordinance he sponsored. He didn’t quite know what to make of the proceedings, but then neither did I. Bless serendipity, we have established a healthier working relationship. Who owns the airwaves?
The great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-etc granddaughter of Nefertiti, eager to keep up the family heritage by encouraging a societal shift from the political-material to the spiritual. Trusting the process though it ain’t always pretty… it’s worthwhile to molt thoroughly, and sometimes you have to tear it down to build it up. Never tidy, always interesting.
I trace this as one of the first time my vocal chords woke up, disobeying The Man meant obeying My Inner. The regular cocktail waitress had broken her fingers, so they hired me as a temp. I was great as a dinner waitress, chat chat smile smile, but had to learn fast for drinks since the bar scene was never my scene. What I lacked in speed or cool I made up in absurd flirting or clever banter which customers seemed to enjoy. On this particular night my funked up Jane Fonda gear didn’t please the owners — they told me to go back and change to my dinner dress, that the private party was too conservative. It was his tone of voice that triggered me; I calmly handed him back the night’s bank and said “No Thanks.” It’s been my first and only I Quit — it felt great. Somewhat of a P.S., ‘Touche’: a few years later when Alive magazine included me in the Buzz list, i was pictured a page away from the same bar owners who told me to take a hike for being creative. Smiling at them through a page of glossy felt like just rewards, not that Alive means ‘arrived’ – just that somehow we were publicly lodged as equals when based in their behavior, that was definitely not their experience of me.