Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Origin Story for Gravity & Spectacle

Back in 2014, I noticed that JJ Horner was having a yard sale. JJ was always one of my favorite artists, so I try to keep an eye out for him. I stopped by after work and saw some great paintings that couldn't fit into my little Honda before finding a strange piece that looked like a flesh-toned Saguaro covered with eyes.

JJ said it was hollow because he made it to go over someone's head in a video that he directed. I had no plans for it, just thought it would look cool on my desk to stare at me while I write. 
But a few weeks later, Jia Oak Baker won a new Leica camera from an Instagram contest (she baked cookies that looked like little cameras) and she wanted to see what it could do. We drove JJ's mask out to the desert (where it seemed like it belonged) and took a bunch of photos. We did this a few times over the next month in random locations like a grocery store etc. 
We were still just experimenting without any purpose, when Jia noticed a chapbook contest that wanted ten poems with ten images. We liked the idea and the challenge so we went for it. Unfortunately, our little manuscript didn't get selected but we liked what was developing so we focused our attention toward creating a proper full length book.

I gave Jia some more background on JJ Horner: that I first met him when I started doing Tuesday night readings at The Paper Heart Gallery, where JJ would set up a canvas and do live painting while poets read, musicians played, and host DJ Seduce would spin records. He started up a skateboard company called Pyramid Country and designed all the trippy artwork for their shirts and skate videos (which get lots of love from Thrasher Magazine). 

 photo by Paul Horner

I remembered that he also did a video for one of my favorite Phoenix bands AJJ, so I showed Jia his video for the song Coffin Dance and was surprised to see our Many-Eyed Saguaro mask make a brief appearance at the 2:20 mark:


Phoenix streets, music, art, skateboarding. Jia encouraged me to take the poems into all those areas of influence, since they were so interwoven. 

We visited a skatepark next to Cowtown Skateboards and almost seemed to blend in. 
Then we went to AJJ's album release show (for The Bible 2) at the Rebel Lounge and felt welcomed. Integrating those types of elements within our poems and photographs helped give our project some direction.


Gravity & Spectacle can be ordered from Tolsun Books, Small Press Distribution, even Amazon.

or I'd be happy to send you a signed copy
just send your mailing address and $20 (free shipping)
through PayPal https://www.paypal.me/ShawnteOrion
or Venmo https://venmo.com/ShawnteOrion

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