On Monday night a small crowd gathered at The Hedreen Gallery for the second to last event in Rebecca Brown’s Devotion exhibit. Although there had already been 3 nights filled with engaging presenters and very talented artists, this was the first event that I was able to attend. Rebecca Brown was described by the evening’s first presenter as having an ‘outright excitement for art makers’ and that certainly came through as both Nancy Kiefer and Jessica Obrist gave presentations on how devotion plays a part in their lives.
Devotion is an exhibit that brings together people that Rebecca knowns from of all walks of life to talk about what devotion means to them. Devotion is not meant to be a sanctimonious term as you might expect, but rather is a word meant to sum up full commitment to an interest, passion, or life’s pursuit. The exhibit consists of 15 artists, or highly devotional individuals, from 14 year-old rapper and sports fan Schuyler Brace to restauranteur Jason Stratton with musicians (Evan Flory-Barnes), poets (Bob Redmond), and DJ’s (Riz Rollins) all in the mix. The gallery has paintings, sports fan apparel, and a large mound of slowly drying pasta.
The evening’s presenters were Nancy Kiefer, a painter and poet who spoke a about here painting ‘Wood’ and read the Charles Bukowski poem Mannheim Germany. Kiefer’s painting has religious undertones, inspired by ‘the stumbling apostle’ Peter that set a surrealist scene in which a beam of wood sticks out of a thorn wrapped head.
The next presenter of the evening was Jessica Obrist, a roller derby girl in past years and now a burlesque performer by the name of JoJo Stiletto. But what Jessica has been devoted to is the bizarre and wonderful world of Nerdlesque, or nerdy burlesque, and has been so captivated that she has traveled extensively to see shows, meet performers, and has a book in the works. Jessica describes burlesque in its current state as a way to retake the fun and playful nature of the body back for women. And as someone of modern times, pop culture is everywhere, and fandom for these made up tales of space explorers, supernatural hunters, and every conceivable TV or book based obsession becomes something more in the hands of a devoted fan. It just looks better though when that fan is a burlesque dancer.
Jessica was joined by 2 very lovely ladies, that dazzled the crowd with their burlesque. Sailor St. Claire provided the first performance of the evening in true burlesque fashion with feather fan and rhinestone shoes. Scarlett O’Hairdye ended the evening with a hilarious routine devoted to the ‘Nerd Pope’ Wil Wheaton, Star Trek’s Wesley Crusher and now pop culture icon.