Beth Marshall is presenting a theatrical collaboration with DRIP to bring Jackson Pollock's turbulent and brilliant life to the Mennello Museum of American Art. The Pollock Project will be part visual art, part performance, part history, part dance and part music. This collaboration will explore the marriage of Jackson Pollock's art and the human condition. This Mennello Museum is now displaying "Auspicious Vision" which features works from Edward Wales Root's personal collection of American art. Jackson Pollock's work is on exhibit along with paintings by William de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Edward Hopper among other artists through May 23rd.
I went to the DRIP warehouse to watch a rehearsal for this multimedia project. In the center of the huge space was a large yellow wooden platform which had a large Plexiglas "canvas" mounted on top. The dancers were high up on ladders and Jessica Mariko turned on the recording of music performed by Phillipp Vandre and the Turfan Ensemble. I remembered this high pitched, plunking, haunting modern music from a video I had watched about Pollock when I researched his painting methods for a Halloween costume I made which I called "Jack the Dripper".
The dance begins with the dancers struggling against gravity as they slowly climb the ladders. Upon reaching the heights, the dancers begin painting with wooden stirring sticks in unison with fluid motions. The dance surged with the electric energy of the music. Watching Pollock work is much like watching a ballet. He would lay his large canvas on the floor and walk around and on the painting as if dancing on its surface. He would bend at the waist as he waved his arm like a farmer sewing seeds onto his field. He was essentially drawing with paint, the lines fluid without describing a specific form. His work was about expressing feelings rather than illustrating them.
After the dancers finished the painting on Plexiglas, I wandered over to look up at they had created. The paint was a bit too thin so it just pooled upon the plastic like mercury, not retaining any linear forms. Jessica decided next time they would have to use thicker paint. There was also some concern as to how they would clean up once the piece was done. It would be impossible to transport the huge sheet of Plexiglas outside to hose it down. I suggested they stretch a thin plastic film onto the frame and then they could poke a hole in the center when they were done and drain the paint into a paint can. I will be curious to see how they resolve this in the end.
I am very excited to see how this artistic collaboration turns out. There are only two performances of "The Pollock Project": Saturday March 27th at 7 PM and Sunday March 28th at 2 PM.