Found on the Internet: Tender Forever this Sunday at the Henry

We caught up with French-born artist Melanie Valera (AKA Tender Forever) to get her thoughts on busking, her favorite coffee, and advice for doing your art. Tender Forever will be conducting a workshop on Reenactment and Public Content Source this Sunday from noon to 4 pm to explore re-enactment, recycled narration, and other topics by using found video on the internet.

Photo courtesy of Tender Forever

Henry: First off, since this is Seattle and we love our coffee, who do you think makes the best cup from all the places you have traveled?

Tender Forever: One reason why I love America is because you’re all so nerdy about almost everything you get into. France is NOT. France is very simple. Simple food, simple cooking, simple coffee (contrarily to what most people think). The coffee isn’t that great. It’s thrown together. They don’t even know what coffee they use, where it was roasted and all that. They don’t care whether it tastes like leather or Skittles. They are just gonna make you a tiny coffee for one euro. They’re not going to ask you how you’re doing so you don’t stay too long. And NO you can’t take it to go. I like that about France, a lot. Italy has got GOOD coffee. But the best one I’ve had was in Spain for sure — only because I ordered it in Spanish. But if there was a decision to make between Portland or Seattle, hands down Olympia has the best coffee. Bar Francis it’s where it’s at.

Henry: Ah, Olympia, Love the hometown pride. How did you end up on this side of the pond?

Tender Forever: In 2004, I was busking on the streets of Bordeaux, France. I sold all my belongings and in April 2005 I bought a plane ticket with the money. I think I had $20 left after I bought the ticket. I still don’t know how I allowed myself to travel to a foreign land with $20. I played a few shows down the West coast with Khaela Maricich from The Blow and Squeeze Me I Squeak. I remember burning CD after CD after the shows. People would wait for their CD to come out of the toaster and I’d get $10 for it. That’s how I started! Our last show was in Olympia at the world’s smallest venue ever. Basically an attic. Ten people came. Calvin Johnson came. I didn’t really know who the dude was; I knew K Records, but not that Calvin was the studio. After the show he asked me if I had a CD. I didn’t.

Next night I was still in Olympia and we ended up at the same show. I guess he had gotten a CD from someone else. He asked me if I wanted to record. We pushed my departure date further and I recorded my first LP at Dub Narcotic Studios in Olympia in 2005. Then I went on my first real tour with him and played over 50 shows together. It was, of course, life-changing. I love [Calvin] dearly. Thinking back on that experience and history, it’s pretty amazing that a human can travel so far, change the course of their life, and end up in an amazing place like the Henry to talk about reenactment and representation. Anything I get to do, I always feel so privileged. You know? Everything is a step on a stairway to the next step. I think it’s important for me to remember that my capacities and skills are extremely flexible and unlimited. My mum set that role model for me. You can do anything you want if you want.

Henry: What advice would you give to someone thinking of busking?

Tender Forever: Remember when you were a tiny kid and you are playing hide and seek. You thought that because you covered your eyes with your hands no one will find you? So you’d just stand there, with your hands on your eyes thinking you’ve disappeared. Apply that to playing in the streets. It’s perfect.

Photo courtesy of Tender Forever

Henry: Why the transition from busking to music production to performing at galleries and museums?

Tender Forever:  I would really love to shift my performance work entirely to broader horizons. Being perceived solely as a musician isn’t what I’ve always envisioned. Art institutions, art galleries, less traditional venues are by far the places I would like to collaborate more with. I think we all have multiple careers, multiple mind set ups, and we can overcome the fear of perfectness, especially when tied to art. I can do anything and I can play anywhere.

I’ve actually never shown solely visual art before. It has always been music, media, and performance art together. I couldn’t have performed without playing and vice versa. I really liked the engagement of the crowd in the stories I tell. I like the feeling of people eating out of the giant hand of fake narrative and rewriting stories in their head. Using all the means necessary and available to me when walking in a new venue in order to engage the crowd remains the best part of creating performances. I like high energy. I like dense content. I like realness. I like janky and wonky things and I like unveiling magic tricks. That’s a lot of possibilities. So when I walk into a venue, I shake hands, but mainly I want to go in the back rooms and find “the weird things.” I’ve borrowed curtains before, couches, shoes, clothing, food, etc. Each venue is a little universe and I want to discover what it has to offer and what it will also take from me. I’m interested in that odd trade.

Henry: Speaking of finding the weird to use in your art – where have you found the pieces you will use this Sunday?

Tender Forever: I’m actually always trying to break out of the classic ways to get to new content. It’s not easy but mainly, I use people’s blog, comments, threads on odd blogs. Through that process, I’ve developed an interest in the ways that people research the content they’re after. I think the brain path and the personal stories to what pushes people to research or post certain content is the most fascinating part. No one can access another’s brain, at least not yet. Google is my go-to for general research and then I have my secret spots which I will keep secret.

Henry: We’ll let you unveil your secrets on Sunday. Thank you for catching up with us!

Join us Sunday for Workshop: Reenactment and Public Content Source with Tender Forever.


The History of Hausu

We thank Zack Davisson, writer and Japanese folklore scholar, for this guest post on our upcoming screening Hausu.

Flying vampire heads popping out of wells. A massive, shape-shifting cat. The corpse of an unloved woman wrecking ghostly revenge. For modern viewers, Nobukiko Obayashi’s 1977 film House may be a brain-melting tour of a psychedelic fever dream, but Edo-period kabuki fans would have barely fluttered an eyelash. They had seen it all before. Because, if you look past the movie’s flashy visuals and attack storytelling you will uncover a secret; House is a traditional Japanese ghost story.

Hausu (1977)

Hausu (1977)

For a movie so often hailed as avant-garde and experimental, House is a throwback, a retrograde. In an interview, Obayashi rejects the idea that House is even a horror film. More correctly, Obayashi says, House belongs to the genre called kaii (怪異). If you have never heard of that, don’t feel bad. Roughly translating as “strange events,” kaii was a popular genre about two hundred years ago—during the Edo-period kaidan boom.

From 1603 to 1876, Japan was addicted to kaidan (怪談; weird tales). Every conceivable artistic and entertainment medium, from painting to literature to sculpting to theater, produced works of the strange and mysterious. Kabuki theater in particular—with its sensation of gaudy, over-the-top artifice—fed the audience’s lust for blood and spectacle.

Writers and directors like Tsuruya Nanboku IV pandered to baser instincts, and delivered up some of the most bizarre, outrageous, and gory bits of ghost lore ever created. Under Nanboku IV’s hand, the kabuki stage transformed into a wild world of ghosts soaring on wires over exploding fire pots, flying vampire heads, giant fire-breathing frogs, and shape-changing cats known as bakeneko, working their mysterious kaidan magic.

Obayashi followed Kabuki’s lead, favoring the artificial over Western naturalism. House dives head-first into Grand Guignol and spectacle. And the film’s dynamic imagery is wrapped tightly around an even more traditional core.

At the heart of most kaidan—and House—is urami (恨み). Translating into English as grudge, urami comes from a Shinto/Buddhist idea where the soul is bound to Earth by unfulfilled desires. These desires can be anything—unrequited love, unexpressed gratitude, unfinished business—but it becomes meat for storytellers when coupled with resentment. A person who dies with a grudge-bearing soul infects like a plague.

House’s urami is a classic example of an obake yashiki tale. Roughly meaning “haunted house,” obake yashiki stories tell of possessed mansions inhabited by unquiet spirits. Like the Poltergeist of Tajima, obake yashiki manifest any number of ghostly phenomena from rattling windows to monsters. They are random; chaotic; terrifying. But always at the center is a single, tormented soul.  Digging through these layers of horror, trying to find the curse underneath, is always part of the fun.

And just think; in 1975 when Toho studios hired Obayashi they asked him to make something like Jaws. Instead, he delivered one of the most bizarre, original—and traditional—works of cinema ever to come out of Japan.

Join us January 3rd at 7 pm at a screening of Hausu in the Henry Auditorium.

Zack Davisson is a translator, writer, and scholar of Japanese folklore, ghosts, and manga. He is the author of The Ghost of Oyuki and the translator of Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan. He also created the popular Japanese folklore website Hyakumionogatari Kaidanka.

Henry Behind the Scenes: Circuit Training with Lacy Draper

Artist and recent UW MFA graduate Lacy Draper is offering an unusual experience at the Henry this weekend: an exercise series in which participants physically interact with our exhibitions.

Conditioning the Conditioned MFA Thesis Show by Lacy Draper

Lacy designed her MFA thesis show to fill the Henry’s unique architecture.
Photo by Lacy Draper

Conditioning the Conditioned MFA Thesis Show by Lacy Draper

Lacy’s sculpture was an interpretation of a strong man’s log as featured in her accompanying video piece at the MFA show.
Photo by Lacy Draper

Lacy came in last week to discuss the similarities and differences between the piece she showed the 2013 MFA + MDes Exhibition this past spring and her new interactive series Circuit Training.

Henry: Thanks for joining us, Lacy. Let’s start with your MFA Thesis, what is Conditioning the Conditioned?

Lacy:  The show featured video and sculpture using the specific architecture of the building. The relationship between instruction and construction, and the process in which it is filtered through in the form of performance serves as a stimulant for my work. I am drawn particularly to social construction; it’s routine conditioning to conform one to reality, which is also a manifestation of conditioning. The video portion focused on repetitive movements and how to reduce them as shown by myself and old footage of strongman competitions.

Henry: From my understanding, Circuit Training also makes use of repetitive movements as well, what is involved in the set-up of Circuit Training?

Lacy: For my MFA I created the experience to be left and experienced in the Henry over time. Circuit Training is a bit more intangible. No equipment to set-up or store. I am here in person to lead discussion and repetitive movement as a way to physically engage people in other artists’ exhibitions. It’s all a huge experiment.

Henry: Has this been very different for you than creating sculpture and video? What are the main differences?

Lacy: I have enjoyed making in this new way and am excited to see what’s next. Each week I choose a focus piece from each of the four main exhibitions. Then I select a repetitive movement that I feel represents the exhibition. At each of the exhibitions we spend a few minutes talking, then a few minutes repeating the motion.

Henry: What are you hoping people take away from this experience?

Lacy: How they document their experience in the space. How does their body feel and how did it affect their relationship to the art – do they blame David Hartt for being sore now? I want them to notice what’s happening in their body during the movement or maybe tomorrow if they are sore and say “That David Hartt was hard.”

Henry: It looks like you got your wish – we got this feedback already from Facebook:

Dudes… go check this out! Lacy’s workout is fun, thoughtful, creative, and leaves your body feeling more viscerally connected to the art work you view together. She invites you to experience and learn about the work in a more kinetic/embodied and deeper way.

Lacy: That’s great!

Henry: Thanks for joining us, Lacy, and we look forward to hearing more from attendees after this week’s session of Circuit Training.

Lacy: Thank you, Henry, for letting me experiment and having me back! I enjoy working with you.

Join Lacy this Sunday and experience Circuit Training for yourself! Sign up HERE.


Check out her other work on Flickr.

The Week Ahead @ The Henry

Imagine yourself in a futuristic urban dystopia…there is a hero, a villain, and a virtuous maiden. There is thwarted love, teeth-gnashing, and a robot. This, friends, is Fritz Lang’s marvelous 1927 German expressionist film “Metropolis” and the Henry is screening it this Friday at 7 pm in our auditorium. And if that isn’t enough, the film (also considered to be the first science fiction film) will be accompanied by a new live musical score by Seattle experimental music collective GRID. Tickets are limited (and extremely reasonably priced) – get yours now!



Also on Friday, is a throatsinging workshop with Arrington de Dionyso. Did you catch his lecture last week? In this two-hour workshop, you’ll learn more about this ancient technique and, perhaps, find your own shamanistic ecstasy.



Plus, we’re still going strong with our summer Bike Friday program! Ride your bike to the Henry and get in FREE!

What do you like to do in your Down Time?


If you want to learn how to do something, where do you go? To the internet!

Inspired by Do-It-Yourself culture and the wealth of how-to resources on the internet, our new Test Site  exploration, Down Time, is an eight-week presentation that explores free-choice learning and the pursuit of entertainment in our free time.

Most of us have gone to YouTube to watch a video on how to do [insert your favorite, tangential, and/or esoteric interest here]. Within a sea of exhibitionists, quacks, and celebrity seekers, we can also find real teachers and mentors who want to share their knowledge openly and at no cost.

And that is what we want to do for you this summer, gentle reader.

Each week,  Down Time will focus on a theme or activity in the form of video tutorials found on the web and will culminate with a  live tutorial or workshop hosted in the Test Site led by a guest local practitioner. These face-to-face learning opportunities offer an alternative to the online tutorials, allowing visitors to contrast and compare online learning with live tutorials.

The videos presented in this project were selected as a result of recommendations from specialists in each of the areas presented, suggestions from internet enthusiasts, and from Henry staff (ahem, official FYI: the video content presented in Down Time is not endorsed by Henry Art Gallery nor is it necessarily reflect the views of the institution).

Mark your calendars!

Week 1: Home Fermentation

Friday, July 5th at 4 p.m.

Kombucha demo with Chris Joyner of CommuniTea

Check out our Facebook invitation. The first 10 people to arrive on Friday, get a FREE starter kit — and if you ride your bike, you’ll get in to the museum for FREE because it’s Bike Friday!

Week 2: Extreme Makeovers  

Friday, July 12 at 5 p.m.

Make-up demos with Shannon Bisconer of Vain

Week 3: Life Hacks

Friday, August 19 at 6 p.m.

Light in a Jar Demo with Ned Konz of Jigsaw Renaissance

Week 4: Yoga

Tuesday, July  - Friday, July 27 at 12 p.m.

Yoga with Julia Greenway of Interstitial Theatre

Week 5: Throat Singing

Friday, August 2 at 4 p.m.

Throat Singing Workshop with Arrington de Dionyso

Week 6: Music Video Dance Tutorials

Friday, August 9 at 6 p.m.

Workshop with Kate Wallich


Pablo Helguera



Pablo Helguera is a New York-based artist who works with a wide variety of mediums including performance, sculpture, and photography that often engages social issues and also is the director of adult and academic programs at MoMA. Helguera is an exhibiting artist in the newly opened Now Here is also Nowhere: Part II which opened on Saturday. His classical cartoons are featured regularly on NPR’s Scherzo blog. He is also behind the newly launched series of artist-led participatory programs at MoMA called Artists Experiment.

This Friday musicians will perform Endingness here at the Henry Art Gallery in conjunction with Now Here is Also Nowhere: Part II.  Endingness is a composition for chamber orchestra designed to be performed together with the last movement of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Farewell symphony. This performance is but one component of Helguera’s three-part work, on view in the exhibition, and consists of three interrelated elements: a musical composition, a reconfigurable sculpture made of framed beeswax and an essay exploring themes of mortality, memory, art, and endings.

Friday, February 1st
7 pm
Get your tickets HERE.

Guest Blog: Molly Mac

Molly Mac  is a moving image and sound artist who lives and works in Seattle, has worked with the UW’s Center for DXARTS and has been exhibited on both coasts as well as internationally. Next month, Molly and Wynne Greenwood will be leading a workshop on Immersive Video and Public Dialogue at the Henry with Reel Grrls

Without further ado, I give you Molly Mac:

Five Alarms Greenwood Lit CrawlI’m excited.

Five Alarms Greenwood Lit Crawl curators Greg Bem, Aaron Kokorowski & Graham Isaac have created a really important platform at a really important time.

A Quintet of Quays

Continue reading

An Interview with Carrie Ahern

I had the pleasure of being able to talk to Carrie Ahern, who is an independent dance and performance artist based in New York City. Next week, she will be performing Borrowed Prey here in Seattle.

Would you tell me how you came to be a dance and performance artist?
I’m from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I was dancing/training as a teenager at Milwaukee Ballet School. On Saturdays we had a jazz teacher who had us improvise—improvising gave my first taste of creating movement. Then I decided to move to New York City to pursue a dance career when I was 19. So I came at my career a little differently. I didn’t go to college for it. I had very little experience with modern dance before New York City.  And then by age 20—–I made my first dance at someone’s suggestion.

Where did the idea for Borrowed Prey come from?
I had this idea or this thing that was bothering me for a while. Just that you go into a grocery store, especially in an extreme urban environment such as New York and the meat there is on a Styrofoam tray with plastic wrap over it. At the same time I felt that people were talking a lot about sustainable food. I felt I didn’t really know what that meant and so I wanted to find out. I wanted do my own first hand research about food–specifically in terms of meat, in terms of animals.

  Continue reading

Voicing Cage

This Friday in the Henry Auditorium, Stacey Mastrian and Stephen F. Lilly will present selections from John Cage’s vast and tremendously diverse output that employ the voice in its many facets. This is the final event in our public programming series commemorating the 100th birthday of the iconic American composer-musician-artist-philosopher-poet John Cage.

Soprano Stacey Mastrian is a Fulbright Grantee, Beebe Fellow, and Richard F. Gold Career Grant recipient whose performances have been broadcast internationally. Her repertoire ranges from late Renaissance to contemporary, and she specializes in 20th-century Italian vocal music, as well as the works of John Cage and Morton Feldman.

Stephen Lilly is a composer, new music performer, bass player, audio engineer, educator, and published theorist. Much like Cage, Lilly highlights aspects of musical performance that are often ignored or taken for granted. He is a full time faculty member at the Art Institute of Washington and has taught courses in recording, mixing, mastering, post production, and broadcasting.

Friday, November 30, 2012
7:00 – 9:00 PM
Henry Auditorium
$5 Students, Henry Members, and UW Staff & Faculty 
$10 General Audience
Get your tickets HERE.


The Rest is Just Noise: John Cage Programming at the Henry

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As many of you know, this year is the 100th anniversary of John Cage’s birth. Many arts and cultural institutions across the country are celebrating with John Cage programming, and the Henry is partaking in our own unique way. Within the past week we have staged a performance of Cage’s 33 1/3 Performed by the Audience on Friday. Read more about the performance HERE.

Earlier today we held a sold out workshop on mushroom cultivation at home, Fungus Among Us. You might be wondering “how this is a John Cage related program?” John Cage was an amateur mycologist during his 80 years. Don’t let the adjective “amateur” fool you though, Cage founded the New York Mycological Society with a small group of other mycologially-inclined people over 40 years ago. He also amassed a mycology collection during his lifetime which includes “correspondence, journals, newsletters, pamphlets, ephemera and realia related to mushrooms.” Cage gifted this collection to Special Collections at the University of Santa Cruz, where it can be researched and perused at the McHenry Library. Honoring the music John Cage composed during his lifetime is obviously necessary in a celebration of his life, but so is mycology. You can thank our Public Programs Coordinator, Whitney Ford-Terry, for such inspired programming honoring John Cage as the multidimensional man that he was.

Fungus Among Us was a workshop held at the Henry which was an introduction in cultivating your own edible mushrooms at home. We provided shiitake Grow-At-Home kits from Sno-Valley Mushrooms for the participants and helped them with their first step, rehousing the logs. Then Pacita Roberts with Hildegard Hendrickson from the Puget Sound Mycological Society gave a fantastic presentation on foraging for mushrooms. See pictures above.

If you are sad that you missed out on these two events, you have another chance to celebrate Cage’s multifaceted legacy in a unique way at the end of this month. On November 30th, the Henry is celebrating Cage’s vast and tremendously diverse output by hosting a performance by Stacey Mastrian and Stephen F. Lilly who will present selections that employ the voice in its many facets. These range from the simple, ethereal “Experiences No. 2” for solo voice with text by e e cummings, to readings from Cage’s prolific body of written work, such as Lecture on Nothing and Indeterminacy. Add the Henry to your calendar for November 30th, 7-9 pm, and buy your tickets here.