Art After Hours
It was a cool, deep blue Thursday night, illuminated with the white iridescence of the full moon. “Art After Hours” was hosting its event for student exhibitions. Students had all worked on performances and various other forms of art pieces over the summer and were now ready to share their crafts with curious peers and community members.
The event began at 5:00 pm, but I arrived at 7:30, just in time to see one of the students setting up for her musical performance. She was dressed in a colorful Balinese dress, her hair tied in buns with ornamental sticks keeping them in place. She held a sitar in her arms. Next to her was a guy with a sash tied around his forehead, also clad in Balinese attire. He was seated behind a xylophone. A platter of incense was placed between them, as its smoke billowed into the night air with its sweet, woody fragrance. For their performance, they played a few songs, and she would strum the sitar and sing while he played repetitive yet intricate patterns on the xylophone. The atmosphere in the courtyard of the museum became tranquil and everyone was still. The only thing moving besides the fingers and arms of the performers was the smoke from the incense that continued to wind its way into the crowd of people who were completely absorbed in the music.
After this performance another one began in Lyman Hall. I briefly visited it and found myself in a well-lit auditorium with a sheet of music projected onto the screen on the stage. No one was on the stage, yet there was music playing. And even though the platform remained empty, the audience was captivated by the music that was playing. It was a sensitive piece, and although I stayed for a short time I was immediately overtaken with the sentimentality of the melancholy yet beautiful orchestral sounds that were emerging from seemingly nowhere.
I then stopped in the museum to watch another student’s, Ian Byers’, video clip. It was about a group of people driving through Echo Park in a van. I wish I had been able to watch the full thing without getting distracted by work (I was working at the museum at this time), but from what I could grasp, the video was shot in a really intriguing way. You could really feel the paranoia and claustrophobia in the van, and the periodic use of the fishbowl effect helped to strongly convey these feelings. I could be totally misinterpreting it! But regardless, I thought it had some really nice shots, most notably one of a girl standing near a wall outside Vons. I also thought that the actors in the film did an awesome job. It made the film look natural, and yet it had a strong aesthetic element to it because of the filmmaker’s skill.
In the gallery next to the museum another student, Sana Kadri, had her work showcased. She had gone to India during the summer and taken photographs of the people she met there as well as of just scenes of daily life in India. Her photographs each had enormous depth to them. Many people stayed inside to admire each one for a pretty long time because there was so much to see in the eyes of the subjects in the portraits she’d taken, allowing for the possibility of so many storylines and emotions. One of my favorite photographs was of a man standing in a field with a cloud of dust erupting behind him. I wondered how she had gotten that shot. The timing was superb. I also really liked the photo of three boys standing by a blue wall, near what looked like a large bath. Each of the close-up portraits was absolutely beautiful. One that I found particularly interesting was a portrait of a man who was out of focus, the only thing within complete focus being his hands, which were entwined together on the desk before him.
Finally at around 9:30, KSPC’s live performances began. The first was Caroline Ashkar, an extremely talented young woman who sang songs to a guitar accompaniment. I really enjoyed her performance. Her songs, which had folk and indie elements, were sweet and yet tinged with heartbreak or longing. Her voice, though sweet, had a tone to it that made her piece memorable and unique. She had great stage presence, incredibly important for a solo performer, but she was also able to converse casually with the audience, making her all the more interesting and relatable.
After Ashkar’s performance, Foxxhound came on to the stage. They were missing their keyboardist; however, I did not think that this significantly hurt their performance. They had a drummer, a guitarist, and a cellist, an amusing bunch. The guitarist and cellist also did vocals. His voice was high and light, yet really emotional. Meanwhile, her voice was husky at times and soft at others, and when she sang their last song (which was also my favorite) you could see the emotion in her voice shift onto her face. I think that this band has a lot of potential, even without their keyboardist.
Overall, it was a lovely night, full of art and music, as every “Art After Hours” usually is. Next week there will be an artist talk with John Divola, whose photographs are currently being exhibited at the Pomona College Museum of Art, so everyone, whether you have already had the pleasure of seeing some of his works or not, should stop by next Thursday!