(Adapted from an article whose writing - a description and brief history of the organization - the people at Momentum ("the magazine for self-propelled people") charged me with at the last minute pre-publication. It appears in their February/March 2002 issue (#6) in an abridged form.)
Every time I am called upon to stand forth and describe the nature of the Living Closet, I dive behind a mound of metaphor in an attempt to conceal the inadequacy of my verbiage.
"It's like getting wind of a pyramid scheme: MAKE BIG ART FAST!!! Cross your name off the list, tell five friends about it and at the end of six months you will have: recorded an album, joined three bands, exhibited a dozen paintings, made fifteen more friends, sold thirty chapbooks, and shared in something that a thousand people will remember forever.
"No no no, let me try again: it's like sitting atop a mountain with a yogi, throwing down snowballs and observing to what gargantuan proportions they grow, getting bigger as they roll - like in those old cartoons - before disappearing from view and burying villages the next
Perhaps it is its original and central conceit
which results in the greatest comprehension - that at the back of one's mental and emotional drawers, chesterfields, closet
s and wardrobes reside all those great talent
s for which the climate's never quite right to walk around in public wearing - like that darling white sundress you never remember before Labour Day or the muff Aunt Viv gave you, so is that song
you wrote after your second
breakup with Steve or the sketch
you drew of the parking lot where your childhood playground used to be.
A visitor to your house might stumble across these artifacts of a life you once may have lived, inquiring as to the painting over the sofa or covertly prying into the armoire while your attention is elsewhere, but by and large the fruits of one's creative impulses wither on the vine, orchards closed to the public and the produce never carted off to the town square.
Barring that lucky handful living out their dreams in full Technicolor, practically everyone around us sits squelching on this evidence of onetime creation and pretends to the world that they never were. A group of friends and students in 1998 felt that this was rather a pity, as art can be even more interesting when it's not the exclusive domain of unknown makers in faraway places.
Realising the suspicion that we've all been enmeshed in a tremendous creative milieu all along, operating just beneath the surface of everyday life, they began throwing wine-and-cheese soirée house parties featuring exhibitions and performances of all media, genres, styles and forms - to trick us (me, her friend, the guy from the grocery store) into proving and observing that we all of us (yes, even - or rather, especially you) were among and part of a tremendous and lively group of talented creators.
Thanks to the word of mouth thing, after three events there was no house that could satisfy our need for space, so we ambitiously mounted a production at the next logical scale of venue - Stanley Park's Malkin Bowl. Stabilizing somewhere between those two extremes, the Living Closet has since bounced back and forth through coffeehouses, bars, galleries, halls and even the legendary Bikesummer show in refurbished office space, all in search of the unattainable ideal of the perfect venue for the perfect performance - an unending quest, for like the sub-atomic particle that changes when it's observed, so are our needs, desires and demands in a constant state of flux, changing as soon as they're met."
(A plug for the then-upcoming event followed - "where we will be treating you to a special night of performance painting, performances by local bands, musicians and internationally touring slam poets... all in addition to our customary open mic and all for the low, low price of... well, a donation of whatever you think it's worth to help us continue mounting these events.")(I will be eventually adding some perhaps-interesting elaborating into minutiae hinted at here - why we refer to them as "events" instead of "shows" (dissuading a schizmatic spectator-performer paradigm - phew!), or why we don't name the expected performers in the promotional material - both for your information and as part of a very slow process by which I promised to teach snog + gribble everything I know about throwing public community cultural events, that they might begin doing the same. But as for now, I've got to get in the shower and hie me to this collective's latest meeting, dealing with that most vital of matters to any cultural organization: now that we have (some) money, what should we be doing with it?)
"For more information, or for those interested in making use of the services we offer or helping us further and continue them through volunteer
assistance, please contact me here
and/or through the regular channels through our website at
" - also some neat pictures there in the Archives section, giving you a better feel for what we're about and even offering a few glimpses at my mangy mug.
"See you soon, and don't be scared - there are hardly any monsters at the back of this closet!"