Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

It's All Performance Art, But Sometimes Literally

When I write about my travels, I write about how much I enjoy the sort of encounters with strangers you have that may be short and impermanent but do seem like real connections. In a variation of this theme, I had one of these adventures last week right here in my own town. What fun.

My office was closed last Friday, so I took advantage of this situation by going out on Thursday night. Now that I've become a barfly I've been thinking I should exercise my new bar-comfortable skills at a different bar than the Eagle, so I dropped by at the 19 which I haven't been to in ten years at least. I'd heard that it has become very much a neighborhood bar in one of the places that passes for a gay neighborhood in Minneapolis. I'd heard it was a friendly place, with a very mixed clientele (mixed in age and personal style, although only very slightly mixed in gender). I walked in about 10pm and immediately ran into people I knew from the Eagle. Evidently there's a roving barfly crowd. So I got a nice corner seat at the bar from which I could watch the room, with a great view of the folks waiting in the (slow) line for a drink. The beer selection is much nicer than the selection at the Eagle.

I very much enjoyed watching the folks there, and some people I didn't know engaged me in conversation as they squeezed by (the place is small and it was crowded). It was definitely worth the checking out. At one point I took note of a group that had come in and was waiting in the drink line: Three women and one man, looking to be in their twenties, each with a distinctive personal style and animated face and each extremely attractive in what my fogeydom reads as a sort of hip way. Later in the evening, when I was squeezing by people, I found myself inches from one of the women from this group, so I told her how much I liked her eyeglasses (which I had earlier noticed). She responded with effusion and we started talking about eyeglasses, and personal imagery, and she introduced me to her friends. I don't remember how the conversation moved here, but at one point this woman, to explain a name she uses online (Phoenix Mendieta), asked me if I knew who Ana Mendieta was. I did, which impressed my new friend enormously. It's not that I'm particularly expert in feminist performance artists of the 70s and 80s, but I have a tenuous vague distant connection here. In 1984 I visited a high school friend who had a research fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, which has a School of Classical Studies and a School of Fine Arts. My friend was part of the School of Classical Studies (Roman Archaeology). Ana Mendieta had recently finished up a fellowship of her own at the School of Fine Arts. At the time of my visit, the folks there were still talking about her -- apparently she had made quite the impression (I say decorously). A short time later she fell to her death from a Greenwich Village high rise (for which her husband sculptor Carl Andre went to trial for murder and was acquitted). This made the cover of New York Magazine, which I was reading at the time, so of course I took note.

This knowledge of Ana Mendieta really established my bona fides, and there was much chatting and laughter. It turns out that one of the women of the group is a performance artist herself who uses the name Linzey Infynity, and she was giving the third and final performance of her piece "Cicatrix": The Scar of Healed Wound" the next Saturday (which Phoenix/Anji was stage-managing). They gave me an advertising card for the show. So I went.

The show was in a small performance space in the back room of a coffee house I'd seen a million times but never entered (Acadia Cafe at Nicollet and Franklin) and it turns out it's a great place with many interesting beers on tap and cool food. The show cost all of $3 (it embarrassed me to pay that little, if that makes any sense). To my surprise -- because to some extent I thought these vibrant young ladies half my age were sort of goofing on me about wanting me to come -- Anji and even Linzey seemed sincerely delighted that I had come. The show was provocative and visually pleasing and well-paced and unlike anything else I find myself attending. I wound up talking a bit more with Anji, who is moving to Alaska very soon. She followed up by sending me email in which she talks about various things I had said to her and muses on them. She may even read this journal entry.

I am flattered and tickled beyond reason.

Anyway, I love knowing that there's still folks to meet, fun to be had, new experiences to be enjoyed, just blocks from my home. It makes me want to go back to the 19, but I'm afraid that after that first experience it can only go downhill.
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