Upcoming CAC Performances Define Musical Progressivism

The Contemporary Arts Center is so excited about a performance piece that musician Jace Clayton will be doing there in April that it’s bringing him here earlier — Friday — as an advance introduction to Cincinnati.

Mar 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm
click to enlarge Jace Clayton
Jace Clayton

The Contemporary Arts Center is so excited about a performance piece that musician Jace Clayton will be doing there in April that it’s bringing him here earlier — Friday — as an advance introduction to Cincinnati. Under curator Drew Klein, CAC’s performance series is now rivaling MusicNow for genre-defying musical progressivism.

As part of the opening-night party for ON! Handcrafted Digital Playgrounds, an interactive exhibition exploring our attraction to play, Clayton will appear under his DJ /rupture guise to spin and mix records. He has an international reputation as a turntablist whose World music influences stretch from American R&B to Middle Eastern to Mexican Cumbia, Pere Ubu and all things in-between. 

In fact, his turntable prowess is so formidable he has worked with the Barcelona Symphony on a special commission. (How long before all orchestras add turntables to their designated instruments?) Now living in Brooklyn, the Boston-born Clayton lived in Barcelona for five years with his Spanish wife. 

But as fun and exciting as his DJ gig will be (it’s free for members; $10 for others), the real anticipation is for his return, under his own name, on April 5-6 for the world premiere of his performance piece Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner. Right after CAC, Clayton takes the work to Minnesota, where the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra is performing it as part of its Liquid Music New Music Series. 

At CAC, two pianists — David Friend and Emily Manzo — will play short, adapted passages from two works by the Minimalist African-American composer Julius Eastman, who died in 1990 a virtual unknown, despite a once-promising career. Clayton will have the acoustic pianos miked and be processing the sound through his laptop. Each passage will be separated by a theatrical vignette, in which Clayton poses as an Eastman impersonator being interviewed by singer Arooj Aftab.  

Eastman, during his life, could be very confrontational with his art, as the titles of the two compositions featured in Memorial Dinner show — “Gay Guerilla” and “Evil Nigger.” There is one story that even angered composer John Cage, the master of Zen cool, with his challenging style. Memorial Dinner is meant as both a tribute and as an update of his work, just now beginning to undergo international rediscovery. Tickets are $13 in advance; $15 day of show and $10 members.

Beyond Memorial Dinner, CAC already is selling tickets for two other promising upcoming shows. To purchase them or find out more information, visit contemporaryartscenter.org/performances.

On March 15, Valgeir Sigurosson, an Icelandic composer/producer/label owner who has worked with Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Björk and Nico Muhly, will perform his new Architecture of Loss, originally composed for the Stephen Petronio Dance Company. He plays piano and uses a laptop to mix acoustic sounds with electronics; violist and yMusic member Nadia Sirota will also appear. Tickets are $12 in advance, $14 at the door and $8 for members. 

On May 14 the thrilling Jazz/New Music saxophonist Colin Stetson, who appeared at MusicNow in 2010, appears to perform from his upcoming album New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light. Also appearing is Sarah Neufeld, violinist and Arcade Fire member.

And while tickets are not yet on sale, Patti Smith will be performing The Coral Sea on May 18, with daughter Jesse accompanying on piano. This concert will be held in a separate venue.

CAM Names Adjunct Contemporary Curator

Cincinnati Art Museum has made Matt Distel, Visionaries + Voices executive director who has long been involved in the local contemporary art scene, an adjunct curator charged with organizing shows. His first, Cincinnati Everyday, opens May 25 and pairs contemporary realist landscapes by Cole Carothers with the more “outsider” aerial maps of Courttney Cooper, an artist who attends V+V, a non-profit organization for artists with disabilities. It replaces Crown, Todd Pavlisko’s conceptual piece that involved filming the firing of a gun in CAM galleries last fall, which still is in development.

Outsider Art Movie at CAC

For the March 16 close of the upcoming Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival, V+V is presenting the documentary Outsider: The Life and Art of Judith Scott, about a woman with Down syndrome (and who does not hear or speak) who creates body-like sculptures from found objects. The free 8 p.m. screening is at the Contemporary Arts Center and will be followed by a panel discussion with Matthew Higgs of New York’s White Columns alternative-art space and Tom di Maria of Oakland’s Creative Growth. To register in advance, visit cincyra.org and click on “tickets.”

CONTACT STEVEN ROSEN: [email protected]