Process: Painting

Going through my old work as a painter…I still paint sometimes. It is cathartic, but one of the most psychologically damaging art forms in the realm of business – this is why I don’t have exhibitions anymore. I’ll explain more later.

 

 

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Excerpt: Novel

Yesterday I started to revisit a novel I started a couple of years ago (there are so many of them). I’ll have you know, while it is imperative for me as a writer to “write what you know” as they say, I do have a rather astounding capacity for fiction writing. Though much of my success as a writer has been my blogging endeavors and in a close second my efforts as a playwright, fiction writing has been my calling for quite sometime, I just have this longwinded plan of increasing my accolades so I have a really good statement for my book jacket when it comes time to publish. In the meantime I’ve been honing my skills as an erotica writer (Verbal Intercourse and Grass Less Green by Bimbo Savant), a creative journalist (Art Connect Berlin Blog), and a general all around blogger documenting my endeavors as an artist (Flavors Me Profile).

Without going into much detail about the content of this work and without referencing too many other writers (it’s taken me YEARS to find my own literary voice) – I will say that this is a coming of age slash rite of passage tale about four artists living in post-Bush America, more specifically in Philadelphia. It is written in two different tenses and if any inspirational reference is needed, see: “The Slaves of New York” by Tama Janowitz.

Yesterday I got through to editing 55 pages…here is about where I left off:

10.  Germs

            Lying on the mod, caramel colored leather convertible futon in Kevin’s apartment, Paul was staring again at the bookshelves across the room. Like before, his eyes were focusing in and out as if he were looking through a camera lens and the variety of the dancing colors made him dizzy but amused.  He was lying on his back, his head turned to the right, his hands holding each other across his torso where his ribs meet his belly.

Kevin and Paul have been friends since high school. Kevin never made it to college and became an HVAC guy by default, married and divorced when he was 20, never had any kids, and now enjoys the comfortable detachment he gets from happy hour and last call dating. Kevin is also Paul’s pot dealer and pseudo therapist since Paul hasn’t held onto a lot of friends since the baby was born and he doesn’t believe in talking about your problems to strangers who have no solutions. 

Kevin is one of those eternal Mama’s Boy types, whose mother insists on buying his clothes, doing his laundry and his grocery shopping for him on a precise schedule every two weeks even though he is thirty-two.  Kevin has never worn a pair of underwear that was more than two months old. Ever.

Some might say this is why he is single. He dates vulnerable drunk girls and lives in a shabby one bedroom closet in an unkempt high-rise near the Art Museum, but really, Kevin is just low maintenance. Mother’s work never done notwithstanding, Kevin doesn’t have a lot of hobbies or favorites or family members besides his mom to keep him busy. He doesn’t read, doesn’t have a TV show he watches every week, he doesn’t even have a particular pizza joint he always orders from. He just likes smoking weed and listening to the radio. Every so often he’ll play his Wii, but besides that, he sits around a lot. 

His apartment doesn’t provide Paul with much visual stimulation, the only objects in his dwelling reflecting any color are a few scattered pieces of mail on his breakfast bar (which is basically a hole in the wall with a shelf next to an entryway that leads into the alley kitchen), the few pictures of his niece his mom posted on the refrigerator, the dying plant next to the sliding glass window (mom was never good with plants, therefore she claims “I don’t do plants”), and the (ironically enough) generic Wassilly Kandinsky framed print hanging above the grey recliner in the corner of the living room.  

The apartment is adorned in drab.  Since Kevin cares about nothing, he owns little and keeps most of his items out of plain sight because the space is very small. The kitchen leads into the living room which leads into the bedroom which leads into the bathroom. It’s one big eat-shit-sleep functional space. The mod leather couch was a gift of his ex-girlfriend, she needed a place to keep it since she was moving from New York to Philly (they met online 3 months before they actually met) and 3 months later, she never wanted to talk to him again.

Out of everything in the living room, it was the most interesting. The books on the shelves were bullshit. Big thick phone books, John Grisham novels, Chinese Takeout menus: only things a real man would need.

Paul couldn’t stop thinking about manhood, the weed he had just smoked, how hot that ex-girlfriend of Kevin’s was. His mind was in a tight swirl and he turned his head up to look at the ceiling. There it was: the most disgusting thing he could ever see.

Kevin’s ceiling fan was one of those “Contractor’s Choice” type ceiling fans that was the most economical kind to buy. It was fake wood with fake bronze trim and had 3 gaudy frosted lights sticking out of the center of the fake bronze reflective surface.  On each blade, on the edge tilted slightly towards the ceiling, lay big, dark, furry clops of dirt. These horrid clumps, these disgusting dust bunnies, made Paul’s heart jump a little bit. His adrenaline rushed through his temples and down through his chest as his mouth gaped open a little bit.

Paul always had a special distaste for dirt. Just putting those two words in the same sentence (taste and dirt) would make him sick to his stomach.  It started when he was all of five years-old and his brother put his bare feet on his pillow. Enraged, he threw an onslaught of fists towards his stomach, beseeching him to remove his dirty feet from where he laid his head. Soon after began a long standing sibling rivalry where the brothers partook in sophomoric pranks on each other that ran the gamut from gross to pure evil.

Looking down at the carpet he imagined all the particles, the atoms, the molecules, the cells, the tissues, the pieces, the smallest little remnants of Paul’s daily life. Those germs and fluids and that dirt that must be rubbed and stuck deep and not so deep into the fibers of his characteristically high-rise plastic fiber synthetic man-made carpet. Paul wondered how long it’s been since the carpets were changed, let alone vacuumed or shampooed (something his mother was too appalled herself to do herself and too ambitious of an undertaking for a woman to take up had Kevin ever had any ambition to keep a woman in his life that wasn’t his mother).

Looking up at the fan Paul feared something might fall down on him and hit him in the face. It made him feel dirty and he wanted to take a shower immediately. He wondered what kind of boogers were on the couch and what toe nail clippings were on the floor and what other body shavings and the like were scattered everywhere. Hair was everywhere. Living cells. Juices, moisture, DNA, flavor crystals. Paul wanted to wash his hands thinking about it. He couldn’t get the uncomfortable feeling to subside, his heart pounding and pounding away until at last, he passed out. 

© Louis DeVaughn Nelson
http://www.facebook.com/HokumArts

Process: Photography

Dirty Animal Orgy

Growing up as a youngest child can be…difficult. My older sister has 4 years on me and my brother 6 years. This provided me with a lot of teasing and torture growing up that was an endless source of comedy for the rest of the family. I hate being embarassed, so this added more fuel to the fire. I still lock the bathroom door whenever I go inside for fear that my brother is going to storm in and throw a bucket of ice water into the shower while I am in there. But with all of that trauma comes inspiration. One of the many things I have been able to regurgitate in my work in a positive, humorous way, is another habit my brother forced me to endure when I was a little boy. If I was to leave the room, even for a short amount of time, I would come back and find all of my toys rearranged in certain positions that one might say resembled an all out orgy fuck fest. No plaything was sparred; this included the G.I. Joes, the Thundercats, the Transformers, the teddy bears, the plastic army men, the race cars, EVERYTHING. I thought it fit to add it to a part of an exhibition I am working on as an aide-mémoire from those times. Here are a few samples:

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List: New Year’s Resolutions 2013

-Delete Excess
-Get literary agent
-Publish research paper
-Cut down sugar intake
-Visit Mom
-Clear debt
-Write novella
-Direct music video
-Peace with Jürgen
-Fix healthcare
-Bookshelf with books
-Move to NYC, Austin, Paris, or Zurich
-Pop-up restaurant
-Relationship with LOVE
-iPhone with service
-Riding boots
-Produce 2 plays in 3 years
-Find musical composer for “The Show”
-Outreach for male domestic abuse victims
-One art exhibition
-Visit Italy
-Finish novel about Berlin
-New glasses
-Photography book
-Dental work
-Piano lessons
-Curator collaboration
-Break less hearts
-Expand experience in film production
-Manage rapid cycles
-Organize new invoices
-Slow down ambition
-NYC and Paris job search
-Finish Pig vs. Pervert audio blog
-“Nice Guy” attempt
-Fix bike
-Cure the ills of everything
-Write more poetry
-Send postcards
-New choreography reel
-Submit more plays
-Artist residency applications
-Positive energy
-Mend defunct friendships
-Language training
-Finish “Perspectives” research project

Poetry: Pieces

We kissed with broken beards
Lopsided and sticky and stank
Littered with the rotten forbidden fruit
Leaving behind the taste of sour

The eyes left not introduced
Thrown out with the throes
And the blunt object towards my visage
That almost nipped the thorns of my sharp tongue

It was not you there again with me
As my shadow melted on the wall
I left again for a rhymed reason right
And made peace with my half apart

Process: Choreography

There is a certain connection to choreography that does not always come naturally to dancers. If you look at it in the same way as the culinary arts – a baker is a great pastry chef but may not be very good at cooking a steak to medium rare, as a chef cannot make a cake to save his/her life.

While I have a very organic way of developing choreography, there are specific methods I have learned that facilitate the process.

First of all, the vocabulary of dance, generally speaking, is ballet. All the terminology from the classic French and Russian methods can be used to translate movement positions from other dance styles. Most of jazz dance choreography stemmed from tap dance, most of modern dance technique stemmed from techniques derivative of its pioneers. Overall, ballet is still the go-to vernacular of dance for choreographers and dancers alike.

The scientific method of analyzing movement and placing it into a more specific structure is called Labanotation. While I have delved into this system many times for my more academic work, many choreographers who create more non-structured and less-researched dance routines steer away from this complicated methodology of choreography because it can be quite restrictive and take away from the adherence to more expressive compositions.

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I was always a choreographer. I learned how to dance by reading books and acting in musical theater. By the time I started taking dance classes at University, all of my fellow students had over 10 years of training so I had a lot of catching up to do.

The music is always the most important element of choreography for me – it is rare that I will choreograph something without music unless it is some sort of interlude or prelude to a piece.

Choreographers must first attain a sense of the rhythm structure of the music and decide if they are going to work for or against it – as music notation is very important. Many renown choreographers suggest a system of marking each measure of music with the appropriate note structure of counts (the music meter etc.) in order to successfully inject movement compositions that are synchronized with the music. This of course becomes a big challenge with jazz (one of my favorite dance forms) because of improvisation and syncopation.

In order to catch the rhythm or the beat of the song, I do a very simple exercise to see if a pas du beurée will fit into the selected music. This is an alternating, three step movement, named “the drunken lady step” that is commonly seen in most ballets as a preparation for turns and leaps; it is a staple movement for choreography.

This gives me a very clear picture of the music meter structure and rhythm and sets the course for whether or not I will have to adhere to a perfect 8 count structure or work my way around the different structure of movement.

There is another issue for choreographers/dancers when it comes to teaching/learning. I for one am not a 5,6,7,8 guy. I was always horrible with math and I am a left brained guy, so putting numbers into my choreography is like mixing oil and water. I am more of a umph and dah dah kind of choreographer who uses words and emotions to count out the composition. This becomes a challenge (especially with ballerinas) when you have dancers who really need to wrap their head around the numbers in order to figure out placement and rhythm. I do counts only when asked.

In this video you can see that while there is a certain syncopation in the music (a 70s style funky jazz from the musical “A Chorus Line”), there are returns to a specific rhythm structure that carries throughout the music at certain intervals.

I had prepared the choreography for the middle piece solo and stayed after class to choreograph the rest of the song in accordance to how well the students picked up what I had already showed them (examining and analyzing skill sets and abilities), and keeping with the overall lesson of the class.

Here you can see a lot of what I do is trial and error – sometimes the pen and paper is not necessary at all and you just have to put the vocabulary and rules aside and feel what the dance wants to say.