Friday, May 30, 2014

Spring Fête Galante

Pat Oleszko as the May Pole surrounded by frolicking Fellows,
including Karin Fleischer (on the right)

Last week VCCA Fellows Pat Oleszko and Karin Fleischer, along with assistance from other VCCA Fellows in residence, staged an idyllic fête galante on the green between the swimming pool and woodshed. 

The area was beautifully decorated with streamers and bunting, complemented by Karin’s rice paper haiku posted to trees and an Arcadian feast she prepared, spread out on the great stump of a tree felled by the Derecho of 2012. 

For the final bucolic touch: a flock of sheep, crafted by Pat from folding chairs and curled strips of paper.

Pat engineered and directed the performance aspect of the afternoon, providing handmade headwear to Fellows and staff–crafting several bespoke pieces on the spot.  Elaborately outfitted as a tree, she led a streamer-waving group procession preceded by composer Eric Moe on didgeridoo.  Writer Tom Piazza provided a banjo soundtrack during the leisurely picnic, which included a generous punch bowl of sangria.
A beautiful May feast prepared by Karin Fleischer

For the final touch of late May Day theatricality, attendees danced, skipped, and cavorted around a Maypole—which in this case was Pat—until she was entirely wrapped in brightly colored ribbon.

The whole would have been approved by the 18th-Century French artist Jean-Antoine Watteau, practitioner of the fête galante genre of painting.

Is there a better way to spend a lovely late afternoon in spring?

No, dear Reader. No indeed.

                                -Guest Blogger

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Mad Hattery of Pat Oleszko



Pat Oleszko, photo by Heidi Kumao

The magic of VCCA's The Commission event on May 10, 2014 was enhanced this year by the unexpected appearance of VCCA's current Fellows in residence sporting amazing headgear engineered and created by Pat Oleszko, also in residence.  As the Fellows climbed down from the shuttle bus and donned their chapeau du jour, the party was punctuated with the sparkle of color, humor, and unexpected design feats made from cast-off and recycled materials.  Oleszko herself was dressed as "Garlic O'Hara" in full ante-bellum garb, featuring a great wig made from the pages of a discarded book.  At this year's event, name tags were not needed to distinguish the VCCA Fellows from the other guests. 

Esther Podemski, VCCA writer from Brooklyn, NY,
and Eric Moe, VCCA composer from Pittsburgh, PA
photo by Heidi Kumao
Pat Oleszko regularly makes a spectacle of herself. Utilizing elaborate costumes and props, she creates performances, films, installations, inflatables, and spatial events. She has worked from the popular art forms of the street, party, parade, and burlesque house, to the fields, oceans, mountains, deserts and trailer parks, from the Museum of Modern Art, Documenta, the Olympics and Lincoln Center, to Sesame Street Magazine, Ms, Playboy and Artforum.  

Karin Fleischer, VCCA visual artist from Germany,
photo by Camden Littleton  
VCCA Fellows Heidi Kumao, Esther Podemski, Karin Fleischer, Eric Moe,
Pat Oleszko, Valerie Miner, Rosa Valado, Elaine Orr, David Garratt, and Barbara Weissberger, photo by Heidi Kumao

Oleszko's work has been widely exhibited and recognized. She has received four NEA fellowships, three New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowships, the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim, a DAAD (Berlin), several Tony nominations, a Jim Henson grant, a Bessie (NY Dance & Theater Award for Sustained Excellence). 

The proceeds from The Commission 2014 go to support residencies by some of the world's best visual artists, writers, and composers. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Commission 2014: Unveiled!

From the front porch of Morven's Main House (photo: Helen Hilliard)
Over 200 friends and supporters of VCCA gathered at Morven Farm on Saturday, May 10, for the unveiling of The Commission 2014.  

Coming to Know What We've Always Known, the beautiful installation by poet Sally Dawidoff and visual artist Georgia June Goldberg, ran the length of the front lawn of the historic Main House at Morven. Over 100 brightly painted fallen saplings undulated in a line across the lawn. As guests walked the line of trees, the spoken words of poet Sally Dawidoff seemed to emanate from the trees. It was a magical scene.

The installation was the centerpiece of an evening that included gypsy jazz by the Rick Olivarez Trio, delicious food by L'étoile, and a live auction that offered trips to such locales as a nature preserve in South Africa and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz All-Star Gala and Trumpet Competition in Los Angeles.

Fellows currently in residence at VCCA's Mt. San Angelo also attended, many in elaborate headgear fabricated by Fellow Pat Oleszko.

The success of the event goes to Commission Committee Chair, VCCA Fellow, and board member Helen Hilliard, her amazing committee, and staff. The installation was created with the help of many volunteers, a number of of them gathered with the help of UVA professor Bill Bennett. And special thanks to the UVA Foundation and Morven Farm.

It was a wonderful evening of collaborative, creative energy!  The proceeds of the event will benefit the VCCA, a residency program for professional artists, writers, and composers.