Collaboration includes poetry, play and art

It is original poems, original artworks inspired by the poems, and local actors presenting the premiere of a one-act play created from the poems. The Big Bad Mood and Other Love Stories features the work of more than 30 Salida-area artists that will be exhibited throughout the month of February at the Paquette gallery in the lobby of the Salida SteamPlant Event Center. The play will be presented in the SteamPlant theater Feb. 25.

The Poems. Jennifer Dempsey authored the collection of poems and prose. Her poetic stories, written on scraps of paper, began over 30 years ago. She performed readings of them in her 30s while living in Ireland. Her writings tell stories from the female perspective of struggle, accomplishment, self-doubt, infidelity, hope, loss, joy, love, fear, angst, confidence, confusion, and social expectations and pressures. She added new writings to the works over the years. The past few years she had the urge to share them in a more complete and meaningful way but didn’t know exactly what that would be or how to approach it.

The Play. A chance conversation between Dempsey and local artist Sue Ann Hum led to the new one-act play. Discovering Hum had decades of theater experience, Dempsey asked her to read the poems and brainstorm how they might be presented to the public. Long hours of talks between the two began. After days, weeks and months of meetings, exchanging a barrage of emails and texts and sharing countless new ideas of how to present the poems to the public, the two finally settled on a workable thought.

The result is a 35-minute theater piece arranged, scripted and directed by Hum and further enhanced through the technical talents of Steve Kucera. Salida-area actors Paul Byers, Denise Goetz, Athena Kintgen, Allen Lane, Sandra Levitt and Cailey McDermott, as well as Dempsey, will premiere the staged reading of the poems in the SteamPlant Theater.

The Art Exhibit. When they decided to perform the one-act at the SteamPlant, Dempsey and Hum also booked the SteamPlant’s Paquette Gallery for the corresponding art. That idea has birthed a unique art show. On display will be 30 new works created by over 20 local artists. In October 2017, local artists were given the opportunity to choose one or more of Dempsey’s poems as inspiration to create a piece of art in their chosen medium. Displayed alongside the artwork will be the poem that inspired the art and a brief note from the artist about their inspiration.

The participating visual artists comprise an impressive list of Salida talent: Laura Barton, Paulette Brodeur, James Brown, Christine Davis, Dempsey, Janine Frazee, Tina Gramann, Fay Golson, Katwin Hinerman, Hum, Erica Kinsella, Teresa Koransky, Julie Maas, Jim Marshall, Helen Martin, Sally Mather, Jessie Miller, Zoë Rayor, Max Ruppick, Jimmy Sellars, Roberta Smith, Dustin Tidwell, Rich Tyler and Patti Vincent.

Experience it all. All elements of The Big Bad Mood and Other Love Stories will be presented at the SteamPlant Event Center. The non-juried exhibit curated by Hum will be on display during February in the Paquette Gallery. Twice during the month, as a “sneak peek” of the full performance to be presented at the end of the month, a poem or two of Dempsey’s works will be shared by local performing artists at two artist receptions: the SteamPlant’s opening reception, Friday, Feb. 2, and The Salida Council for the Arts Creative Mixer, Thursday, Feb. 8.

The month-long arts collaboration culminates with the performance of the full work in the SteamPlant theater Sunday afternoon, Feb. 25. Tickets are available at the SteamPlant box office. Hum and Dempsey hope this will be the beginning of an extended project. They are exploring the possibility of touring the show using actors and artwork in other communities.