'I Believe in You' is a freeze-frame portrait of an artistic community 

Jessica Earley presents a circle of Orlando experimentalists knitted together by friendship and mutual admiration

I Believe in You

9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24 | The Space, 1206 E. Colonial Drive | $2

Jessica Earley’s new exhibition, I Believe in You, isn’t just a portrait of her artistic community — it’s a testament to it.

Fresh off the success of HYPER-Bolic, a very personal performance piece that functioned as a sort of public exorcism of a bad breakup, Earley could have continued to simply mine her own life for material. Actually, she did, but the parts of her life she chose to celebrate were the artists in it: her friends and their friends, an overlapping circle of Orlando creativity. Earley invited six other artists to perform, and asked each of them to “curate” a visual artist. The result is an interwoven group of experimentalists, knitted together by friendship and mutual admiration.

“Before HYPER-Bolic, I had never done performance before,” Earley says. A look at her website (jessicajaneearley.weebly.com) shows her multidirectional explorations into drawing, painting, video, fiber and paper art, even graffiti. “But the feedback from that inspired this show.”

The support Earley reaped from more experienced performers around town – including puppeteer Hannah Miller, poet Ashley Inguanta, and the hard-to-categorize Lister sisters, Stephanie and Melanie – gave her the impetus to make her next event a family affair. The simple seven-plus-seven framework is open-ended enough that each artist has the freedom to surprise viewers (and each other): Beyond the requirement to invite another artist and to fill roughly 20 minutes, Earley didn’t put many restrictions on her collaborators. “If they want to do it as one long continuous thing, if they want to split it into tiny pieces – whatever they want,” she says.

She herself chose Greg Liebowitz with whom to collaborate; Liebowitz chose to coordinate his piece to the work Earley plans to perform, but not all of the artists did. Inguanta will perform a shorter “remix” of her dance/spoken-word piece The Way Home, focusing on a section called “Just a Bunch of Muse Girls Hanging Out in the Desert” to be performed with musician Rhae Royal and dancer Christin Carlow Caviness; she chose visual artist Sam Myers, who organizes the Milk District’s monthly second-Friday Art Crawl, to hang work in the exhibition. Miller chose Winter Calkins, an illustrator who may be new to the wider Orlando arts audience. Filmmaker/photographer/dancer Melanie Lister chose collage artist/zine-maker Vanessa Andrade (Andrade’s latest, The Foreigner, came out at June’s Orlando Zine Fest), while her sister Stephanie chose illustrator/photographer/video artist Adam Vorozilchak, known for his involvement in such past Orlando projects Swomee Swans and Timbers Shivered. For I Believe in You Vorozilchak is branching out with a 3-D installation. Jorgen Nicholas Trygved, owner of local label Dead Precedence, is cooking up a conceptual piece inspired by The Artist Is Present and involving Skype; his chosen visual artist, Coral Tschannen, makes tongue-in-cheek portraits in both two- and three-dimensional formats. Performer Jack Fields (veteran of Mark Baratelli’s much-missed U-Haul-housed Mobile Art Shows) chose as a visual artist … himself.

That’s an awful lot of slashes; the energy contained within this group of mutual fans spills out in all directions. And the locus of all of these various practices is another beloved community member, the Space: New to the scene at just around a year old, the open-to-anything second-floor venue is already a treasured resource for local artists off the beaten path. One hundred percent of the door charge for I Believe in You will go to keep the space open and functioning. Earley plans to take advantage of the warren of connected rooms by siting different art works in several of them; one room will host a free-clothing “boutique,” and attendees are asked to bring a wearable item to swap. (Any clothes not claimed by the end of the night will be donated.) Another element of the Space to keep in mind: It gets warm up there, and the heat generated by video and sound equipment (and all that sexy art) means it will be hottt. Earley’s recommendation: “Definitely dress light.” That’s especially good advice considering that the night will wind up as a dance party with DJ Child Heart (aka Trygved).

This exuberant group explosion has a melancholy undernote, though. As is the norm in any creative community that isn’t New York or L.A., several of the participating artists are moving away soon. Inguanta, Royal, and both Lister sisters will be presenting here for the last time before bursting out of Orlando’s boundaries, but they will leave knowing that we believe in them.


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