Saturday, November 05, 2011

Halloween Mystery Box

We start the Halloween entry with a visit, on Gallery Night, to the Grand Opening of Stoney Rivera's new Dominion Gallery, featuring dark work from Clive Barker. He's dark. Not all necessarily ghouslish, but this man has some clear demons and it's obvious he's exorcising them through his work. I was actually looking very forward to seeing Kymm Sandum's offerings, but the Londoner's work got stuck in customs, so I will have to come back another day. Rivera has taken the old Acme Agency building in Riverwest (which actually used to be the old Crazy Shepherd offices, back when they were a monthly, then a bi-weekly, then a weekly) and spruced it up. There's beautiful wood flooring I never realized was there (I don't remember seeing the floor on any of my visits to the old Shepherd offices...), the walls have been scrubbed down and painted up, and the gallery shines as homage to the dark side. The artwork-- arresting and interesting -- is reasonably priced. This is Riverwest, after all. I then drove a few blocks north to check out the Art Bar's annual Fear show. Full disclosure, I was part of a group of artists that participated in Fear a few years back. Because it's Halloween, people expect dark shadows and creepy things, but if you want to go beyond that, it's a tricky theme to grab. This year's show did grab it. One artist who worked in oils picked up on the space alien theme and treated it well; others went for creepy characters in dark alleys, and a group of photographers played with exposure and color manipulation to get some great effects.

A weekend later, we're still hitting the high art, this time a viewing of Dracula at the Milwaukee Ballet. Friends accompanied us; and for a few logistical reasons, they were not able to make the 7:30 curtain. Look, I understand that if you don't make curtain, you need to wait until a lull in the performance to be seated, so you don't bother other people. But they closed doors even during artistic director Michael Pink's welcoming speech -- which only the haughtiest of snots would have objected to accommodating latecomers during. And what would have been the harm in putting the latecomers in the rafters (which they eventually did anyway)? And what would have been the harm in being polite to them? My friends weren't the only ones upset by this; a lovely couple who sat behind us during Act 2 told a similar story (and recognized our friends from the disgruntled crowd.) "At least I didn't have to be a raving bitch about it," my friend said, "Because somebody else was!" So that kind of put a damper on an otherwise splendid show.

The Friday night performance is always a toss up, because the opening night cast performs on Thursday and Saturday -- but this year I was mighty impressed with a cast led by Joshua Reynolds, a relative newbie to Thursday's David Hovhassian. Reynolds was downright untouchable as the count-- elegant, intense, somewhat evil, but more like an animal doingwhat he can to survive. Parts of the show where he suggests bat-like movement were amazing to the kids; and fortunately the homoeroticism of a lot of the scenes went over their head. Almost. As Stella told me afterwards, "Uh, that was messed up."

The next day we got up, did our chores, and Sammy delivered the best line of the evening as we set out to Bay View's nighttime trick-or-treat: "Mom, I have a feeling I'm going to get a lot of Kit Kats," he said, grabbing a few from our bowl, "... so I better get used to them." There's a few houses in Bay View that are already are on the famous list: the "scary" house on Lincoln, the "book" house on Homer, and then there's Ted's house, where his annual Mystery Box game turned into a recreation of Let's Make A Deal, complete with stage lights, microphones, and horrendously outdated suit and tie. The kid before us had racked up some three full-sized candy bars and other treats, but gave it all up for What's In The Box. He went home with.... a delicious can of cocktail wieners! Stella on the other hand, did not get zonked. She gave up a couple of Tootsie rolls and ended up with a movie-theatre sized box of Dots. Now for me, that would have been a zonk. But Stella loves Dots, so score!

Now we're into November, and so back indoors for music and mayhem. And probably more punk. I seem to be getting too cultured lately.

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