Sunday, February 7, 2010


“He believes in unfettered creativity, the importance of instinctive responses, and the power of the moment.” ~Robert S. Mattison, on artist Robert Rauschenberg

I met John Heino in 1993 as an extra on the set of Iron Will, a Disney flick filmed here in the Northland. Our mutual creative aspirations led to long term friendship. Though he is known locally more for his keyboard playing with a popular local band called the Centerville All Stars, John nurtured a closet background in the visual arts that in recent years has gone public, perhaps in part due to the capabilities of Facebook where he began sharing his photography on a wider scale and perhaps in part because to some extent a performer desires to connect with an audience.

Early last year John mentioned to me how he had secured the opportunity for a late autumn show at The Red Mug. I know well the challenge of selecting which works to display and all the decisions and financial outlay involved in framing, preparing, and presenting. When it finally came, it was indeed a wonderful event in November, but months beforehand his vision had already moved down the road toward an even more significant creative adventure which he called 3ND6 which he said would take place in February.

When I saw the quote above about Robert Rauschenberg's art making process, it so perfectly described John's approach to his creative work that it seemed impossible not to open with it here. I, too, identify with this same mindset, trusting instincts to capture moments where creative energy can be released that generates something with unexpected power.

Now that February has arrived, I can only suppose that many other friends and fans are, like me, counting off the days. This week I received the official announcement and invitation:

Three nights in six dimensions
Multimedia performance art comes to the Venue, February 26-28

And now for something completely different… That line from the BBC’s classic comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus offers a fitting introduction to an intriguing performance art production coming to the Venue at Mohaupt Block in late February.

Three Nights in Six Dimensions features Semblesque Performance Company artistic director Jill Ellen Hall, Low guitarist Alan Sparhawk, photographer John Heino and filmmaker Chani Becker in a series of improvisational performances designed to layer upon one another over three nights.

Each night, beginning Friday, February, 26 and concluding Sunday, February 28, the four collaborating artists will present a 27-minute performance that blends live music and dance with photographic and video images. Recorded elements from the first night will be integrated with live performance the second night. The third night will layer highlights of the first two shows with the live performance finale.

“It’s a little different to ask people to commit 27 minutes each night for three nights,” admits John Heino who created the concept for these shows. “But I really hope we get a critical mass of people who can make it all three nights. The payoff is seeing the interplay of dance, music and imagery build into increasingly rich textures over the three shows.”

Time is the organizing structure for 3N6D performances. Except for run-throughs to work out technical issues, the collaborating artists won’t know exactly what their partners will present. They will be seeing and hearing each other’s work for the first time each night. Instead of a detailed script to synchronize elements, Hall, Sparhawk, Heino and Becker plan to rely on spontaneous interaction to weave facets of the show into a unified whole.

“There’s a degree of chaos and a bit of danger I suppose,” says Heino. “The suspense is about whether we can channel the energy on the fly, create a multimedia mix that’s aesthetically appealing and also leave room for the audience to complete the tapestry with whatever emotions and experiences are triggered by what they see and hear.”

Doors open at 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday for receptions and viewing the hallway art exhibit featuring other work by 3N6D collaborators. Performances start at 8:03 p.m. Doors open at 5:05 p.m. Sunday, and the finale starts at 6:03 p.m.

Admission each night is a free-will donation with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross for Haiti earthquake relief.

Oh, and the six dimensions? That would be 3D plus time, motion and music.

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