Saturday night, my sister and I went to the Transmodern Art Festival at the H&H building on Franklin St. I'll admit that, like most attendees (I think), I was drawn to the festival because Dan Deacon was scheduled to play Floristree (the performance space that occupies the top floor of the H&H Building) on Saturday night. It was to be one of the electro-innovator's first shows with a live band, featuring music from his excellent new album Bromst (read about the new live set on All the Pieces Matter here). As it turned out, we never did get to see Deacon play (though we did see him), but were amused nonetheless.
The second, fourth, and fifth floors of the building were filled with art installations that ranged from innovative and interesting to silly, but it was all good fun for a Saturday night. There were looped video screens of a woman making spastic dance motions, a live woman writhing on the floor while a few spectators stared and applauded, some truly excellent wall/floor sculptures, and a trippy installation in the building's air shaft (pictured). There were lots of roaming performance artists doing everything from insisting you put on a name tag (my sister refused, much to his chagrin) to asking passers-by to grope fake animal mammaries. Best of all, there was a large room set up to be a human foosball table. Genius.
Overall, It was kinda like a carnival funhouse. My sister, a relatively established painter (see her work here) said it reminded her of art school, which, of course, makes sense since many of the artists are students or recent grads from MICA, UMBC, and other local schools. In any case, it's nice to be reminded that there is lots of energy committed to making and seeing creative expression in Baltimore.
Floristree, on the 6th floor, was packed and running very, very late. When we walked in around 11:30, the first band on the bill, Future Islands, was just getting started. When they finished, there was a long wait for the next, Teeth Mountain. Wandering around, I ran into Jason Urick, one of the residents of Floristree (6 people live there, ya know), who was stressing about the crowd and mentioned that the police had been by twice that night. The space seems to occupy a legal gray area, in terms of zoning, but the proprietors never serve alcohol (or anything else—a dude gets thirsty!) and they tend to be very conscientious of their neighbors. Jason mentioned that it was probably a mistake for Deacon, who has achieved a pretty grand national reputation, to play there, but that Deacon really wants to feel like he can still pull it off.
We'll never know (at least first-hand) whether or not he did. After 45 minutes, Teeth Mountain was still setting up (there were some moderately disturbing video-loop projections in the interim, to keep the crowd entertained/scared), and we spotted Deacon lounging on a couch by the kitchen. It didn't look like he was planning on getting off of it anytime soon, so we split at 1:00 or so. I searched the blogs and was only able to find one determined blogger who managed to stick around for the show and his review was brief: "Dan Deacon took the house down. I can't wait to get the album so that I can actually process what it is I heard that night." I also found this blog from one of the artists in the show and even she couldn't stick around long enough for Deacon.
At 34, I'm pretty sure I was the oldest person in the building (except for my sister, 37), and maybe the only one who put his toddler to bed before going to the show, but it's nice to know the Transmodern and its ilk exist in Bmore. Maybe next time I'll have more stamina.
[photo courtesy of Zombie37, via flickr.com]