With the coming spring comes new life. For SOU, we have new art as well! We’re going to take a look back at this year’s Oregon Fringe Festival and chat about as many events as we can. We were unfortunately unable to attend every event this year, but we hope those of you reading this were able to make the events we missed out on. Let’s get started with the first day.
Scrap Lotus: Fringe kicked off with an interactive performance from Sophie Chin and Bryan Jeffs’ Scrap Lotus. The Scrap Lotus was a construct of scrapped materials, such as discarded wood, junk metal, and instrument parts assembled by Chin and Jeffs. The Lotus was, in fact, playable, with several parts of it designated to different instrument-like components, most of which resembled percussion parts. The Lotus was set up just outside the SU with a whiteboard, dry-erase markers, dry erasers, and a sign prompting onlookers to doodle, draw, write, and mark up the board to their heart’s content. As onlookers added their doodles, Chin and Jeffs would interpret them into a score and play it on the Scrap Lotus. From musical notes to flowers and boxes, and even emojis and faces were played on the percussion multitool that was the Scrap Lotus. Some onlookers took it a step further and interpreted dance to the music.
sedateXart: At 4:00 p.m., Erika Marquez opened her exhibit sedateXart in Catalyst Ashland. The exhibit featured many of Marquez’s pieces, as well as a collaborative art piece for onlookers to add to. Marquez started off the collaborative piece with a hand reaching out and set it up for others to add to it. The collaborative piece was open for the rest of the festival after its opening for anyone to add to.
Amplifier: At 6:00 p.m., Alex Brehmer showcased her Amplifier Statue in the CVA Courtyard. Onlookers could enter the back of the piece and look into a little room. The paper chain-links stretching outside the structure included wishes and visions of a better future–all suggested by community members and others around the world.
Rock Show Gala:
At 8:00 p.m. MUSIX ended the first day of the Fringe Festival with some head-banging tunes at the Rock Show Gala. Students in SOU’s Music Industry and Production program wrote and composed each song they performed, such as “Narcissus” and “System Overload.” Most (if not all) of their songs can be found on their Spotify linked here. The performance took place just outside the Sculpture Building on campus, with audience members overflowing the Sculpture Garden and pouring into the sidewalks. MUSIX has one album (Zombie in My Basement!) and two singles (Breaking the Chains & Q1’21) currently on their Spotify.
Just outside the SU in the Third Eye Theatre (the little rock circle with the figures surrounding it), Bryan Jeffs returned with a number of performers to bring forth their Collective Resonance. At the center of the Third Eye Theatre were eight pipes, each holding up a different colored flag. Each flag correlated with a performer and their crystal singing ball, all of which had different pitches. Audience members were welcome to remove and add flags from their positions as they passed, interchanging each singing bowl that played. The resonance of each crystal bowl echoed throughout the Third Eye Theatre–even reaching as far as the Hannon Library.
At 6:00 p.m. Bryan Jeffs, Sophie Chin, and Trevor Muñoz set up their Same Bed performance in the Music Building Lobby. Chin and Muñoz sat across from each other with their own selection of instruments, and resting between them was a sculpture made from scrap wood and the remains of an old bed frame from Dr. Terry Longshore. The sculpture had holes punched out of it with color-changing lights inside, and along the frame was text that can be decoded into a message. Chin and Muñoz would play their instruments as reactions to the sculpture however they see fit–similar to the interpretations with the Scrap Lotus. The sculpture itself rested atop a bed of family quilts, which in turn were draped over a quilting frame built by Jeffs’ great-grandfather, Marion Henry Robey.
Accents and Rebounds:
At 6:30 p.m. Delaney Jai presented their one-person show, Accents and Rebounds, in the Music Building Recital Hall. Their performance was a blend of spoken word and music to tell the story of an artist. The verses in their spoken word and the lyrics discussed topics like being a prodigy and an artistic marvel, but still having those blue days. Jai played every instrument in the piece solo, as well as providing the vocals for the pieces.
Good Pain: The Art of Being Hurt:
At 8:00 p.m. Michael Namkung gave his spoken word performance, Good Pain: The Art of Being Hurt. Namkung explored the idea of pain and what justifies it; what’s the difference between hurt by family and hurt by strangers? Does it make us stronger? Are the effects on our perspective worth it? For that hour in the Meese Auditorium, Namkung bared his soul–and continues to do so with his other poetry.
10@10 Art Walk:
At 10:00 a.m. a group of SOU Visual Art students presented the many visual art pieces they’ve prepared for the Fringe Festival. From sculpture work, like Destery Epling and Cash Wickert’s Ya Peel Me?, to paintings such as Tatum Hazelton’s Curiouser and Curiouser, Bart Tveskov’s Somewhere Far Beyond!, or Catherine Venegas-Garcia’s Getting Out. There were even some creative writing pieces, like Mary Snelgrove’s Around The Sun: A Year in Poems and Prose, who collaborated with Macy Wetzel to create the art for the book.
Harbor(ing) was a collaborative piece between Sophie Chin and Courtney Holleman, mixing video recordings of Holleman in dancing routines and darker areas, accompanied by prerecorded audio by Chin. At 3:30 p.m. Chin gave a live, improvised performance to coincide with the recordings using various instruments and tools. The project focused on chronic illness and the ways it can affect us, alongside the idea of translating our experiences with illness into art and other outlets.
At 5:00 p.m. Amanda Berlind and friends performed their rock show, Houndsville. The songs spelled a story of love and passion, with a charming mix of comedy, storytelling, and mid-show fight scenes. Between songs, the band would tell the story of Maus, Klaus, and the Racoon King (in character), with projections of the story shown behind them. After the show, Berlind had comic books for sale which followed the story of Houndsville. While the Houndsville band is not on Spotify, Berlind’s other band, Moo, is on Spotify–with their latest release “Mango Shack” available for listeners.
What the Funk?!: At 7:00 p.m. Mx. Pucks A’Plenty and Rebecca “Mmm” Davis presented their documentary What the Funk?!, sharing the journey behind the BIPOC Burlesque Funk festival held in Seattle, Washington. The story behind the festival is one that connects with people and empowers them. Throughout the documentary, there was a trend of people struggling to find their place and accepting themselves or seeking acceptance from others, and through the work of Mx. Pucks A’Plenty, Rebecca “Mmm” Davis, and so many others working on and with the festival, they found a place and a way to do just that. The documentary displays the art and creativity behind burlesque–the imaginative routines and costumes, or the personas and characters that illustrate a scene. There is so much more to their story that cannot be summarized into an article like this, so take the time to learn more through their art. The What the Funk?! Festival takes place at the end of August (24-26 for 2023), and this year’s festival is currently sold out, so keep an eye out for next year, and next January will be their Fat-lesque Fest Northwest in Seattle, Washington.
Knitting Needles: At 5:00 p.m. Townsend’s Solitaire performed their snippets from their newest EP Knitting Needles–which included songs like “20 Something Blues,” “Knitting Needles,” and “A Good Life.” Two of the band’s members unfortunately could not make the trip, so two SOU music students filled in for the missing members. Many of their songs cover dark, serious topics–but they balance it out with some light-hearted charm. Check out their new EP on Spotify!
Just a Flaw on the Wall:
At 1:00 p.m. Jadi Dicksa presented her one woman show, Just a Flaw on the Wall just outside the Ceramics Courtyard. The show followed a clown keeping herself busy as she waited for the bus to arrive. Throughout the show she pulled out a number of props and gags, all of which stirred a great laugh from the audience. Dicksa even had audience participation, with one trick towards the end having audience members play along to a tune on xylophone keys. Once the bus “arrived,” Dicksa was off and the show was over.
A Hobbit’s Tale, or There and Back Again:
At 2:00 p.m. a portal to Middle Earth was opened. Upon entering, Bilbo Baggins invited us to learn his story, alongside his nephew Frodo. While not every detail and secret was shared with us, Bilbo made sure to keep the audience entertained with stories of drinks, dances, and dragons. As the portal began to close, audience members we sent on their way with gifts of seed cake and new stories.
A Hobbit’s Tale was adapted by Rosemary Kesselring and assembled by a wondrous troupe of designers, technicians, choreographers, and actors.
Cowboys and Aliens:
At 4:00 p.m. The Next Best Thing and Untitled Titled Improv troupes collaborated to bring forth a lawless, futuristic frontier of improvised comedy in their show Cowboys and Aliens. The show started off with short-form improv games and scenes, each taking suggestions from the audience. The lucky few who had their suggestions picked received their choice of prize from the golden platter. Prizes ranged from hot sauce bottles to alien masks. After the short-form improv ended, audience members were given the choice to vote for what game/scene they wanted to see as a long-form improv scene in the second act of the show.
The winning prompt for the second act was a spoof on Iron Chef. To summarize the second act, the story followed a southern cook with buns of steel who–through hijinks and the power of improv–was tied into a scandal of corrupt television executive mafiosos and reincarnated hitmen. With the help of some British scientists and the mafiosos, the cook was able to start a show called Iron Chef. I think that’s what happened, at least. The show ended with a dance party (as all great stories do) while the audience applauded and funneled out of the building.
Rock through the Ages:
At 6:00 p.m. the South Fork Four ended the Fringe Festival with their Rock through the Ages concert in the CVA Courtyard. The band played a number of rock songs (through the ages, of course) ranging from Johnny Cash, to The Talking Heads, and more. Check them out on Youtube!
The Oregon Fringe Festival 2023 is over! Art, however, will live on. Each day, week, month, some artists are off creating something for viewers like us to observe, enjoy, puzzle–to feel. Keep an eye out for next year’s Fringe Festival, who knows what will be in store–maybe it will be your art, or a friend’s.