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Glitters explores confluence of music and art

Posted: March 8, 2012 - 1:00am

When Andy Kline and Sarah Conarro began planning Glitters, an event scheduled for Friday at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, one of the few preconceived ideas they had for how it should unfold was that there should be few preconceived ideas for how it should unfold.

The two highly active creative minds come from different corners of the art community — Conarro is a visual artist and teacher and Kline is program director for KXLL — but share a passion for broad community involvement in the arts and an interest in nudging past traditional parameters. Glitters, the end result of a “day-long coffee date” and many subsequent brainstorming sessions, is in part a melding of their two worlds — art and music — as well as an experiment in community participation and artistic expression. Anchored by performances from musicians Ed Littlefield, Playboy Spaceman and Tigerpilot, Kline and Conarro gave themselves the freedom to play with new ideas.

“The best part of an experiment is that the outcome can be whatever it is,” Conarro said.

Glitters consists of two parts, with a two-hour break in between. Part one, open to all ages, begins at 5:08 p.m and will involve the creation of a work of public art and a performance by well-known Sitka jazz musician Littlefield.

“Part one is for anyone who is interested in making a large public artwork in Juneau,” Kline said.

“Or anyone who wants to see a super rad percussionist do his thing,” Conarro added.

Though community members may be drawn to this part of the evening by either of those aspects, Conarro is most interested in the interplay between them, particularly in how music can shape the creation of art.

“I am really in love with the idea of intertwining art with sound,” she said.

Conarro and Littlefield have worked together on similar projects in the past, but this is the first time they’ll be opening the project up to the whole community. Kline stressed that part one is truly all ages.

“It's not a kids event, it’s an everyone event,” he said.

The completed art work will be displayed on the KTOO building, on the Egan Drive side, for a month following its creation.

Kline said the art piece is not meant to last; it will be created with nontoxic, water-soluble materials, including glitter and glue.

“I like the idea of not worrying about how durable it is, in fact the undurability of it is part of the point,” he said.

Those who don’t wish to participate in the public art project can come for the music.

“Even if somebody isn’t necessarily comfortable with participating in the art component, watching Ed is worth going,” Conarro said. “He is just riveting, by himself.

Littlefield, based in Seattle, is currently in town to work on Perseverance Theater’s “Raisin in the Sun,” which opens Friday, and is also currently working as an artist in the schools at Auke Bay Elementary and Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School. His most recent local performance was in the Native Jazz Quartet this past fall, a project that involves the intersection of traditional Tlingit melodies from his childhood with the jazz influences he grew up with.

His role in the event will evolve as he sees fit.

“I love the idea that the creation of this artwork is a work of art,” Kline said, “and Ed is playing that work of art.”

Part two begins at 9:27 p.m., after a two-hour break and will involve performances by two innovative local bands, Playboy Spaceman and Tigerpilot. Kline said he’s long wanted to get these two bands together in one room; he’s also excited by the idea that their performances may involve collaborative aspects or the creation of music that no one in Juneau has heard before.

“You couldn’t ask for two better, more creative and interesting and willing to experiment bands than Tigerpilot and Playboy Spaceman,” he said.

As with part one, one of the ideas for part two is to provide a new musical experience for community members; to that end, Kline and Conarro have envisioned a round, centrally placed stage. (Though KXLL events are usually all ages, with a separate area for a beer garden, the odd layout made such an arrangement difficult to pull off, so a 21-plus restriction — difficult for Kline to concede — was determined.)

“The reason the round thing came up was because we thought ‘how can we make it so audience members can experience a space that they’re really familiar with in a new way?’” Conarro said, adding that she has always been interested in how changes in physical space are reflected in people’s actions and interactions.

“An interest I have as an artist, all the time, is getting a vast amount of people to experience one thing, or be in a room together and participate in something somehow. So this particular project has worked out with that idea in mind,” she said.

In executing their plans, Kline and Conarro had the help of many community members and businesses, particularly Keith Giles of Rozwick Giles music (who donated all the sound equipment and lights as well as his time and expertise), Alaska Brewing (who donated beer), and the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council.

The willingness of the bands was also key in getting the whole thing to work. Both were excited about the idea of trying something new.

Playboy Spaceman consists of George Kuhar and Bridget Cross, who have also played together locally as Maybe its Reno. Kuhar has also performed solo, most recently at the Rookery. Other recent appearances by both Kuhar and Cross include a show at the Breakwater, following the DVD release of Alaska Robotics shorts, and at the Gold Town Nickelodeon in February as part of the KRNN Concert Series. Kline said Playboy Spaceman is “the real deal.”

“The thing about those two guys is they really are truly artists, and they are not interested in ever repeating themselves,” he said. “Everything they try, they really put their all into it, and come out with something interesting.”

Kline frequently plays Playboy Spaceman on KXLL. Tigerpilot, the other band slated to play during part two, is so new they don’t have any recorded material yet. Tigerpilot has performed during KXLL’s Battle of the Bands event and at the recent Deering and Down album release party at the Gold Town; one of the band’s two band members, Morgan Deering, is Lahna Deering’s brother, and the other is percussionist Nick Wagner. Kline said Wagner recently expanded the band in a new direction by adding a octopad and a sampling pad to his drum kit.

“It’s really mind-blowing what he can do,” Kline said.

The two bands might make use of sound samples collected during part one of the evening, bringing another loop full circle, but as with many elements of the event, things will unfold in the moment. Conarro said even while the event is happening, it will still be a “work in progress.”

“I think its going to be an awesome stand-alone project, but in lots of senses, it’s still a pilot project to see what comes from it, what works, what doesn’t work,” she said.

Kline added that the quality of the musicians involved, allowed him to let go of any nervousness about trying new things.

“That line up is already strong, so there’s lots of room for experimenting,” he said.

“If you have three strong acts and a ton of glitter...,” Conarro began.

“... it’s a win-win,” Kline finished with a laugh.

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