Mania and I went to an opening last night--a guy who used to have a studio in the same building, though both have sinced moved out and on. I think the guy is (or was) a Sikh, and though his given name is something like Douglas, he now goes by something with a Har and (I think) a Singh in it. No turban, but I've never seen him w/o a cap, so he might have have uncut locks folded away underneath it. His work was pretty much spraypainted (a little bit of acrylics added for effect) on wood panels and canvas, even an entire wall of the gallery. Very (completely) graffiti and street-art influenced, though less graphicy (to my untrained eye) and more decorative, along with a touch of Warhol portraiture thrown in--including one of himself, looking exactly like he looked. What struck me about the opening, though, besides the tangy pile of stuffed grape leaves, were the visitors, at leat early on and probably after we left. I counted at least 11 young males (late teens, early 20s) in obvious hiphop garb. Close-cropped hair, low-hanging pants, ball caps (w/o team logos!) angled just right. Sneakers. Tattoos on the back of their necks, etc. I expected m&m to walk through the door and greet his guys with that white-version of a hiphop handshake--a slap on the back and a close-in, close to the chest quick handshake, while turning the head decidedly away from the other--to avoid eye contack I suppose, but the whole thing enacted closely enough to resemble a hug. (In spite of m&m's failure to show, there was still a lot of this going on.) Although I don't go to openings that much any more, and although this is Toledo in Ohio (which perhaps says it all), this was the first time I encountered this sort of crowd. They seemed harmless, even shy, very unagressive even, almost soft in their presence. They also avoided the food, hummos and the aforementioned grapeleaves) and didn't seem to have the two bucks for a Pabst Blue Ribbon. Or maybe they were underage? In any case, I think they felt they were there to see "their" art and I did feel very out of place.....though not quite as strange as I felt last week.........................................when I was the invited guest at a local women's reading group. Some of them, or at least one of them, felt it would be interesting to invite a local poet. So I went, having supplied them with discounted copies of The Orpheus Complex, which several of them read and made notes about. And asked questions, pointed and specific questions about what a particular line here or there meant. Or whether a particular incident was autobiographical. It was much more pleasant than I expected--a seeming genuine interest from a few. A few of the others seemed totally bored or minorly irritated. Still, quite different from a reading, and not what I expectected or feared:
The Maenads, all dressed up in their animal skins, away from home, up on the hillside, chasing down wild animals to tear the flesh. (Yes, a few of the ladies were drinking moderate amounts of Pinot Grigio). And then, as Ovid tells the tale, along comes the brooding Orpheus. Torn to pieces in the frenzy. No, it wasn't like that at all.