Monday night a friend who is an actor was performing as David Bowie at Salonathon at the Beauty Bar.
If you aren’t aware the Beauty Bar is a bar and beauty salon rolled into one ( or as their website says “The World’s only beauty saloon…”. Specials include such things as a martini and manicure.
Salonathon is a performance art night for armature, emerging and genre bending artists. Its a bit of hipster place, and Kate and I were goths among hipsters. We were there also as theater people supporting our friend.
I’m not sure what I expected, or rather I had dread and hope. I dreaded that, with the exception of our friends performance, the acts would be horrible. I hoped for some brilliance something that would grab me and make we say wow. Neither the dread nor the hope happened.
It was an enjoyable and entertaining evening. Our friends Bowie was spot on, though I have to admit I’m not sure the point of the performance.
This was my overall sense of the evening. I’m not sure the point beyond being entertained. This is an odd (though not entirely foreign understanding of artistic expression) attitude toward art, that it is primarily for entertainment. I had hoped to be transported elsewhere, to be, at least once, confronted and blinded by something incredibly beautiful. Instead what I found was the beauty of the every day. The beauty of a skill well performed.
Nothing wrong with that at all. I’m more musing on my own longing and striving. I look for art that transforms and transfigures, that disturbs the world, not simply art that reflects, re-presents and mirrors what i already experience. When I experience and encounter art I want to be different because of the performance, the concert, or encounter with the sculpture or painting. Certainly I may also be entertainment and find connection with what i already know and experience. However, i want art to be different, or more to the point to make a difference. I’m looking for transcendence that makes a difference in me and the world.
So I enjoyed myself at Salonathon, and I’m glad it exists. But Monday night made no difference for me. Salonathon is just one of many entertaining and aesthetically pleasing things I may engage in any give week or month here in Chicago. I thus find that I’m indifferent to the event.
I find this indifference troubling, so perhaps, there’s something there. I might change my expectations, but other than a puzzling experience nothing about Salonathon challenges my expectations. They simply are reinforced in an oblique way.
Lastly I should mention Salonathon is also had a dance party dimension to it, and the DJ was quite good, and the music he spinned was quite good, though none of it exactly my cup of Tea (little if anything approaching my goth aesthetic). We didn’t stay for the Dance party portion of the event, it being Monday night and staying up to 2 am wasn’t going to happen! So, perhaps the transcendence is woven into the ecstasy of the dance party for the regulars.
Perhaps that’s it, Salonathon is just a party for artists.