Sleep No More

A sneaky photo of the creepy lounge.

Last week our friends Brad and Vanessa were in town, so Fisk decided to surprise us all with a special trip to Sleep No More. I had heard about Sleep No More when I first moved to NYC, so I was thrilled to finally be able to go. This interactive dance performance was one of the creepiest things I've ever experienced. 

When we first arrived, we waited in a long line outside the door. Once we left the Chelsea streets we entered this dark entryway to bag check before proceeding to collect our keys to check into the hotel.  Once we received our keys, we followed a somewhat unnecessary and pitch black maze where I was sure a creepy monster was going to jump out at any moment. Once out of the maze, we had apparently transported back in time because suddenly we were at a 1920's bar where they were serving absinthe cocktails and a cute betty boop style lounge singer was serenading us. 

We downed a quick cocktail before we were called, given a speech about the nature of the show and given a mask to hide our identities. We took an elevator up, left our lives behind, and entered a nearly 3 hour multi-floor performance that included a wide variety of scenes.  We were essentially free to wander all the sets, walking in or out of various action scenes, which was cool once your initial senses were comfortable with the fact that you were pretty much in your own version of the shining.  
Highlights were the Satanic birthing scene where a naked man was dancing in rave with a goat's head on his head and casually walking back to the candy room to eat licorice and gummy flavored treats. It was not a night to be forgotten.  The website does not do the experience justice, but you can find more information here.  


Austin Osman Spare: The Occult Life of London's Legendary Artist

This biography was especially refreshing. I had known very little about Austin Osman Spare and this biography was detailed and thorough. I also appreciated the steady and consistent style that Phil Baker, the book's author, had while writing.  The foreword by Alan Moore set an excellent context of the relevancy of Spare in art history. Spare was at the very beginnings of many art movements, however just too far out for most people - but most perfect for me. 

My favorite portion of the biography was the chapter titled, Eighteen: An Owl With The Wings Of A Bat.  Mostly because of this amazing portion of the chapter, which I'll just quote word for word because it was that odd: 

"Up in Islington, magical feuding had broken out between two occult groups.  One was Grant's Nu-Isis Lodge, and the other was a coven headed by Gerald Gardner.  Gardner believed Grant had poached a talented medium of his, Clanda, an unstable young woman who had entered Gardner's coven hoping to become a Priestess of the Moon, but become disappointed with her progress and defected to the NU Isis Lodge. 
Gardner then went to Spare for a talisman "to restore stolen property." Spare had no idea that this was to be used, in effect, against his friend Grant. The talisman Spare drew was apparently "a sort of amphibious owl with the wings of a bat and the talons of an eagle."
Islington was a very run-down district in the Fifties, somewhat off the beaten track, and the house where the Lodge was meeting had mouldering walls, overgrown paths, and windows that were never cleaned.  It was not lived in, but maintained by the alchemist entirely for magical purposes.  The idea of an alchemist in Fifties Islington already seems to belong in a slightly parallel universe, and Grant's confabulatory webs present him as a character who indulged in necrophilic rituals and on one occasion nearly died after drinking liquid gold.  He was nevertheless a real man, David Curwen - the furrier of Melcombe Street - and he later published a pseudonymous textbook on old-style alchemy. 
At the Lodge meeting Clanda lay on a massive altar between two heavy candlesticks, which were the only source of light in the room. "Four violet-cowled figures (members of the Lodge) flitted to and fro; the air was thick with incense, mingled with the must of corruption which the old house exhaled."
Clanda lay upon the altar, waiting to become possessed by Black Isis, but things went badly wrong. The temperature in the room dropped, and Clanda imagined a great bird had crashed into the room, taking her out into the night sky and away.  She saw the snow-covered rooftops below, as in a flying dream, until the bird began to lose height over a wharf-like structure. She struggled in terror, and suddenly found herself back on the altar."

What one can take away from this biography was that Austin Osman Spare was an extraordinary man who shared in many diverse experiences that were unlike nearly any other person of his period. Whether that lent to his unpopularity in mainstream culture - or to his success as a godfather of the occult can't be said and maybe is entirely irrelevant.  I'd highly recommend this biography for those who enjoy stepping into the lives of those with far stranger ties - a great book for spooky Halloween. Also, I'm dressing up as a Priestess of the Moon this year. 

Joan Crawford, pencil and watercolour, 1933 (private collection)



I've been taking a long moment away from my blog mostly because I've been way to busy to even think about posting here.  I've also been healing from having all 4 wisdom teeth pulled last Tuesday, which has been a bit of an ordeal in itself. Mostly because I've always been a very careful person, I've been very lucky that the worst that's ever happened to me was dehydration and a sprained wrist - so the multiple extraction has been a bit of a roller coaster. With luck, I'll be completely healed in a few days.  With my love of horror movies I was hoping that I might have a bit of a better sense of humor about all of this, but there is hardly anything fun about it at all.  I'm super grateful to have Fisk's help in all this, I'd be much worse off without him! 


Books That Couldn't be Finished.

SUPERNATURAL: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind
by Graham Hancock 
This book started fine, with Hancock giving his descriptions of a life changing experience with a mind altering psychedelic. That laid up nicely into a few in depth and detailed descriptions of cave paintings before coming to a conclusion that the paintings were made while indigenous cultures were under the influence of natural psychedelics. This theory was fine, considering the amount of research that was given on the style, form, and similarities between the paintings and visuals that occur when tripping on psychedelics. For me, his chapters about cave paintings were exciting and wonderful - however that was the last portion of this book that I enjoyed, because that's where his evidence ran dry. Hancock then started speaking of the similarities between UFO sightings, fairy sightings, and other fantasy lore. What was so frustrating about these topics, was that his writing style was painfully obvious, in that he was clearly trying to argue that all of these supernatural experiences were the by product of psychedelic experiences.  I decided not to finish this book, not because the content was uninteresting, but mostly because the style in which this book is written is so obviously persuasive. What was exceptionally beautiful about The Cosmic Serpent (a text that Hancock used as a reference), was that Jeremy Narby's tone did not try to be convincing. Narby didn't need to be, because the quality of his research spoke for itself.  The same could be said of Sacred Economics, Charles Eisenstein did not try to sway his reader into belief, he wrote about potentially world altering economics with evidence and history.  Hancock made way too many arguments based on the subjective experiences of himself and his friends - none of which I could really get behind.  

The Flight of the Dragon
Laurence Binyon
The last reprint of this book, from my edition, was June 1959. I found this essay at Powell's Books in Portland, OR for about $6. Maybe I should have taken that as a sign that this book was not that valuable.  This essay is essentially one long romanticized notion of what art in the east was like, described by a western man.  It's bad enough that Binyon clumps art from Japan and China together, as if both are exactly the same, but I got tired when he started speaking about India and other Asian countries as well.  Any references he did use (which were few), were to other books about Asian culture written from a Western perspective.  It felt a little too racist, so I couldn't finish reading it, but at least his tone seemed sincere. 


Small Works 2014 @ Trestle Gallery

Small Works 2014
Trestle Gallery 
168 7th St.
Brooklyn NY 11215

Run of Show:
July 18th - August 22nd
Monday - Friday 11AM - 6PM

Kate Hamilton, Collar 30/Formal Catch, 2014
Glassine, thread, spray paint. 8.25 x 5 inches.

Rachel Grobstein, Free Boxes (group), 2014
Gouache on cut paper, Ea. approx. 2 x 2.5 x 2"

Rachel Klinghoffer, Gallery Girl, 2013
Bra, hydrocal, copper leaf, varnish. 8 x 9 x 4"

Fiorella Mohme, Doors, 2014
Balsa wood, acrylic, foam and fabric. 12 x 9 x 6"

Sara Jimenez, Untitled, 2014
Pina fabric, rust. 5.5 x 4.5"

Jayoung Yoon, Liminal Space 10, 2014
Human hair, acrylic medium on panel. 10 x 10"

Kosuke Kawahara, A Primal Memory, 2014
Clay, dried pigment and beeswax. 7 x 7 x 7"

Joseph Bolstad, Trayface (pink) (yellow), 2013
Acrylic on Epoxy, 8.5 x 6 x 2.5"

Rebecca Reeves, Keepings,  2013
Miniature furniture, thread, industrial felt. 10 x 10"

Trestle Gallery currently has Small Works 2014 on display.  Conceptually limiting the scale of a work of art has it's pros and cons, the best pro- the ability to remain visually cohesive while simultaneously diverse.  A few of the works in this show did not seem to be helped by their small scale, curling paper felt a little lack luster, while other pieces fully embodied their small scale in a way that made individual pieces shine. Above are a few of my favorites, it's impossible not have a few, when the scale of this show lends itself to comparisons.  Each of the listed artists fall into a the latter description- where small scale is vital to the content of each work, each finding their own nuances within an already miniature frame.  


West Coast Best Coast Vacation Post

Fisk and I just got back from an epic vacation on the west coast.  We went to the beach a ton in SoCal, I tried on wedding dresses, we had an engagement party, and enjoyed a much earned Disney vacation package that included 4 day park hopper tickets, 3 nights at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and a private cabana by the pool. After that we headed up north to spend time with Fisk's family in Oregon, where we bounced around Portland, before heading to the Oregon coast for a miracle 4 days of sun. We took family photos, played board games, and most significantly celebrated Fisk's parent's 50 year anniversary - a great achievement and testament to love. (Congrats Wayne & Judy!)  I can't express how much fun we both had spending time with friends and family, we've missed everyone so much and cannot wait to visit again. Here are some photos, all courtesy of John Fisk.  

This ride ends in Mr.Toad going to hell???

W for "Walt Disney" ;)