Last Friday, June 21, I enjoyed a celebration of the summer solstice by attending the Garden of Memory performances at the Chapel of the Chimescrematory and columbarium in Oakland, CA. I know, I hear you saying, "Say, WHAT?!" Well, that's where the event was held and it couldn't have been in a better location.
I love firsts. They say there's a first time for everything and it was two firsts for me. I had never been to the Chapel of the Chimes and I had never attended any of the Garden of Memory performances. Both are incredible!
First the venue. The Chapel of the Chimes is one of the most beautiful and unusual buildings I have every been in. Designed by architect, Julia Morgan, and built in 1928, the Moorish and Gothic-inspired interior is a wonder to behold. It's footprint appears small but the architecture, details and lighting are extraordinary. The spaces range from tiny to huge laid out in a dizzying maze of rooms, corridors, nooks and crannies filled with fountains, statuary, mosaics and stonework. Photos of the Chapel can be seen here.
What was the event? Presentations of new and experimental music and sound constructions by San Francisco Bay Area musician and sound artists. This performance was unusual in that it was not watched/listened to in the traditional theatrical setting. There was absolutely no seating; instead the audience wandered throughout the building to the various locations where the artists were performing. There were over a hundred of them. There was no concept of a start or ending with some of them and they could be listened to for as long as one wished. When ready, one could wander on to the next performer. Because of the confusing maze of the architecture, turning a corner resulted in surprising encounters.
The spaces are unique and lent themselves extremely well to the essence of the performances for the event, making each performance an intimate dialogue between the performer and the listener. You might call it, Post-Modernchamber music. There were so many performers in so many locations I was not able to see all of them but this is what I saw and heard.
The first performers the attendees encountered were Jaroba and Keith Cary who did their magic in front of the Chapel.
My only regret of the evening was that I was not able to hear and photograph all of the artists and their incredible performances. The reason, I spent too much time at many of the performances and I kept getting lost and arrived too late to see many at the location they were performing because it was too jammed to get into by the time I got there. I guess I'll have to go again next year but I don't think that will really be a problem. I can hardly wait!
The event was sponsored by New Music Bay Area which was founded in 1994 to celebrate
the world of new music in the Bay Area. Its mission is to
support and extend the legacy of the Bay Area new music community and
its traditions by fostering new works and projects.
Since 1996 New Music Bay Area has hosted The Garden of Memory
walk-through concert every June 21st from 5pm-9pm at The Chapel of the
When I was wandering through the JABC (Jingeltown Arts & Business Community) Open Studios in Jingletown, I came across the most delightful creations by an artist named Spencer Shook. His "critters", as he calls them, are what I imagine would be the result of a miraculous crash of a truck load of Tim Burton hit by a truck load of the Muppets.
Playful, wicked and wacky, they would delight a child or a grandparent; fun, fun and more fun, they are art as it should be, to be enjoyed. The photos tell the rest.