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Rising Out of the Mud and Ashes

September 11, 2018


On Sat. Oct. 6, 2018, at 7:30pm in the 600 seat Lobrero Theater in Santa Barbara CA, OPUS Archives presents Out of the Mud and Ashes, an evening of reflection and entertainment featuring the recipients of the 2018 New Mythos Artist Grants — and I am one of the awardees!

In the wake of the devastating Thomas Fire and resulting mudflows that severely impacted our community, Opus Archives invited Ventura and Santa Barbara county artists to submit proposals for a performance. I had been thinking about an ecopsychological performance piece about the Thomas Fire for several months, so I was excited to submit a proposal. I met with Rasika Mathur and Tracy Hudak and we had some ambitious ideas. As we worked with the director, we developed our piece to be under six minutes — this way more artists could be involved in the evening.

Rasika Mathur

I’ve really enjoyed working with actor and storyteller Rasika Mathur to co-create this piece which might be best described as call and response. In it, I perform a piece that seeks to address water and fire in poetic, eco-psychological, and mythic terms while she describes her experience with the fire which includes losing her home.

During the performance, more than a dozen local artists will showcase their creativity in theater, dance, music, video, and other mediums to help us process and understand our new reality. Featured artists in addition to myself include awardees Robin Bisio, Deanne California, Dane Edmondson, Luther Gerlach, Amy Katz, Christine Penko-Kravetz, RT Livingston, Marco Pinter, Ray Powers, Ethan Turpin, Emily Vizzo, and Rob Write.

Out of the Mud and Ashes at the historic Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara promises to evoke and inspire a new mythos to embrace our community — it’s an evening not to be missed! Buy your tickets at the Lobrero or online before they sell out! Go to:

Performers include Opus Grant awardees from Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties:

Gwendolyn Alley
Robin Bisio
Deanne California
Dane Edmondson
Luther Gerlach
Amy Katz
Christine Penko-Kravetz
RT Livingston
Marco Pinter
Ray Powers
Ethan Turpin
Emily Vizzo
Rob Write

Proceeds from tickets sales will help fund next year’s grants. Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, may not be suitable for all audiences.

More events and activities are on the horizon. I’ve heard that the Ventura Museum has plans in the works and I recently received this email:

“As the one year anniversary of the Thomas Fire, CA HOPE would like to present events for the following cities: Ojai, Ventura, and Santa Paula. We are reaching out to our community partners, such as yourself, to invite you to be part of this amazing event, to bring the community together.

CA HOPE plans to do inclusive activities for all ages including: food, music, games, and entertainment.  We are working to build this unique unity of togetherness to show we have risen from Out of The Ashes.  Additionally, we will be doing an art letter project.  We are going to collect letters around our community of individuals who can write down their experiences, emotions, regrets, resilience etc. revolving around the Thomas Fire. The letters will be put in to a chest and with time, will hopefully be showcased in a library or museum in Ventura. The letters will be anonymous and anyone can write as much as they desire.”

Writing a letter such as this is an extra credit or regular assignment option for my students. For other schools and teachers that choose to participate, they will go and collect all the letters.

For more about the Thomas Fire, check out this blog post that links to essays by Joan Didion about the Santa Ana winds and John McPhee’s well-researched essay about fire and the mud flows that follow in Southern California’s transverse range.


OF NOTE: Today is September 11. Much has been said about this day in American history. In particular, I appreciate former President Obama’s call for service. Following the event, I wrote this poem which was published in ArtLife Limited Edition Magazine edited by Joe Cardella.

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