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field notes. season two

salons for life

Dipti Mehta in performance - Honour: Confessions of a Mumbai Courtesan photo by Nirupa Umapathy

Nirupa Umapathy // Creation, Editing & Writing Galen Garwood // Guest Editor

Liz Tran // Cover Art

Bobby Hranichny // Photography & Videography Jelena Prljevic // Videography

Farah Yasmeen Shaikh // Guest Contributor 2

Fran Tirpak // Zine Design

Shamona Stokes // Design Editor

Galen Garwood // Cover Art

Alex Young // Photography

James Arzente // Photography

dear reader A season ended. A season begun. An elemental democratic right is to assemble freely. An elemental human right is to gather, to share, to belong and co-create.

From April 28th to November 11th, 2018, twelve salons tested a form

and a concept — the power of intentional gathering. Starting out as an unlikely experiment in the creation and transformation of space and

bearing the original intent of bringing friends of the arts together with artists, the salons have become networked co-learning spaces, each unlocking the power of story as a response to human experience.

The salons are a cast back to those led by the women of the French

Enlightenment where the salon or literally, living room, was resurrected as a critical outlet for self-education. The salon of today celebrates the inherent arc of human inquiry and the power of private spaces to

facilitate self-education and the creative collaboration of intentional gatherings.

Living rooms defy the public gaze. They sit at the cusp of the public and private sphere, a place where we are as we are, who we are, as friends, family, and unknown kin.

Residence123 is a tip of the hat to how we can transform the humble living room and how the humble living room can transform us.

Residence123 is also a multi-media collage of memory, a look back to Season 2 of Salon for Good.

Supporting the thrumming spine of the salons is a desire for constant

spaces where we are unapologetic, defiant of the external gaze, as we must be — just ourselves, as custodians of culture, drops that make an ocean.


6 10 12 24


acknowledgments look back concept & execution artist talk


acknowledgments The salons would not have come together without the active co-creations of the artists, the facilitator, and the audience. Without the help of those who generously open their doors — our hosts; without the help of those who generously open their voices and practice — our

artists and storytellers; without the help of those who actively invest their time and energy to be somewhere so they can witness and gather a shared space — our audience; the

salons cannot be an unlikely receptacle of many human keys, each one opening many doors.

Salon Smita. 10.21.2018 photo by Bobby Hranichny


Barkha Patel . Salon In Motion. River Brook, NJ. 10.21.2018. photo by Bobby Hranichny

Galen Garwood & Liz Tran. Cover Art. photo by James Arzente

Troung Tran . Salon Eat Your Words . San Francisco, CA . 9.16.2018. photo by Nirupa Umapathy

Salon Sophie. 9.20.2018 photo by Nirupa Umapathy



Colin Wright. Salon Nirupa. The Becoming Tour. 11.11.2018. photo by Alex Young

Rosa Hernandez. Salon Eat Your Words. San Francisco, CA. 9.16.2018. video by Nirupa Umapathy.

Salon Kaamna . 9.20.2018. photo by Ajoy Advani

Dovi J, Tami Rodriguez-Barth, Ak Etteh. Salon Instrumental Voice. Jersey City, NJ. 10.20.2018. video by Jelena Prljevic

Farah Yasmeen Shaikh . Salon Inside Out. San Francisco, CA . 9.20.2018. photo by Ajoy Advani


“Your salons serve an important purpose- a vehicle for self discovery and deeper understanding of and connecting to the human purpose and spirit.” - AG. Salon Attendee


Every salon has a headliner, the Kathaka or Kathakar — human keys all of them — actors, thinkers, storytellers, space creators, and transformers, in conversation with each one of us.

Dovi J, Ak Etteh, Tami Rodriguez-Barth. Instrumental Voice. Jersey City, NJ. 10.20.2018. video by Jelena Prljevic

instrumental voice jersey city, NJ 10.20.2018 In a world of a thousand blinking lights, mega million business models, the grandmastery of capital over human sweat,


the salons ask — wherein lies the real equity within human relationships and communication? Wherein lies the tenuous, delicate, lightly-held balance of reciprocal exchange, where we co-create as we exchange “our stories” and learn “more about self in relation to the world?” The format of the salons strictly adhere to these principles of inclusion and reciprocity. No matter the story, no matter the storyteller, the salons ask you to come as you are, boldly, unapologetically but with kindness and consideration for the complex range of human experiences that “we each embody and represent.” As spaces where there is shared intention of discovery, journey, and crossing over, the salons ultimately ask us to come back together, and reflect on what sets us

Lyric of original song “Protection” by Dovi J. In conversation with Nirupa Umapathy

apart and what sets us together, without reducing the multi-variate movements of perceived experience to a pithy, overly simplistic soundbyte that a fortune cookie will gladly contain.


concept & execution



Where community and content are curriculum In the age of the remote everything and the virtual easy-to-be-had, the salons are threehour intentional retreats where we, with heart and mind, invest in reviving the connective tissue of in-person connectivity. Where we celebrate the natural thrust of creativity and community, all the while activating the drive within all of us — to learn, to respond and to create and derive meaning from the complex range of human experience. Co-creation is an active and intentional process. If done right, it opens doors to where the originality of self-expression and enterprise thrives, creating space with forgotten aspects of self, in an age of too easily available information cycles that stun human consciousness, irrevocably reshaping it. In the secluded spaces of our living rooms, each of us is celebrated as story and wisdom bearers, rich with multiplicity and experience. We are the experts of our stories. 1 Living is Learning. Learning is Leading. Leading by Learning is at the heart of the salon curriculum. 1 A concept


elaborated in design thinking and formulated by David Kelley, the founder and chairman of IDEO and founder of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (2013).

hu m a n keys In this age of instant celebrities, airbrushed influencers, the opportunity to endlessly put the other on a pedestal, to hero(ine) worship abounds. Can we step away from such idolatry? To revere the sacred space that artists create without blind idolatry, to honor storytellers as first responders to the complex range of experiences, to acknowledge artists as provocateurs of unlikely thought and action without labeldimming, to stand from the roof-tops and sing with adoration without wanting to make captive those that walk an uncommon ground — to unfold this journey is a delicate thing. Can we refrain from instrumenting the

“The Salons are a crossover experience – life, meets art and practice, in my experience. As a regular participant, I have found new ways to engage, to reflect, strategize for living better while making strong connections. This is truly enlightened in that it is not a boilerplate cocktail or rushed networking experience, but afternoons committed to selfdiscovery and forging new bonds. Am grateful to have grown through these afternoons, and to be a part of a burgeoning community that prioritizes connection and enlightenment, with self and others.” - SJ. Salon Attendee

maker, the creator, and acknowledge instead that art can just be a reflection of the movement within as it is of the movement without? Can we drop-in beyond the first reflex to classify, to catalogue, and objectify the maker and their body of work, and peer in and to hear the silent strain beneath — where the voice within instrument thrums, the voice within reaches to touch a voice without. This is an elemental act of communication.

Art is Everywhere Only if you Look. Tina Chang Poetry on the New York City Subway


look back Episode 1 of the Traveling Pants Exchange kicked off with an introduction. We each told our story in three words- how we be, what we do, and what we are becoming. How we be — started with our names, our “line of business” and why we were there. How we be quickly became how many we were, in our multiple personas with the many roles and responsibilities. We were women who wore many hats and many voices. The topic of the evening was being yourself in your body through the ritual of embodiment. Katherine Szekely, actor-yoga instructor-& many other things, started with an exercise in embodiment of feeling yourself by standing on your feet. We were then asked to retrieve an object that we “would not leave home without.” We reached in our handbags, looked on our person and embodied the object. Katherine then led the group into a drill on neutral mask 2 from physical theater put forth by Jacques Lecoq. “The neutral mask is a learning tool for actors  —   to help them develop emotional honesty and economy of movement, and to give them an inner core that is balanced, centered, and focused while they express powerful, authentic emotions on stage.”

Katherine Szekely. Salon Artist, Facilitator & Collaborator. Salon Jersey City, NJ . 1.26.2019. photo by Harry Perales.

In wearing the neutral mask, we were able to drop the mask of who we thought we should be and get in touch with who we already were. We talked about our mothers, of a filigreed necklace where the heart meets voice, of “depth, curl, and dimension,” the symbolism of a ring. We talked about standing 2


Jan Henderson, “The Neutral Mask - you already are what you strive to be,” Fool Moon Productions, accessed Mar 11, 2019, http://www.foolmoon.org/neutral-mask.

second skin jersey city, NJ 9.8.2018

on our feet, solidly planted where we were, not where we should be. Some of us talked about transformation — moving lives, moving careers, moving from one box to the other — all the while trying to honor the inner-moving self. Some of us talked about flowing between boxes and making new boxes when the old ones did not fit. We talked about boxes that were imminently flexible, boxes that allowed creativity and autonomy, essential for the moving self. Some of us talked about how it was not change we were afraid of but what we have been told change can be like. We acknowledged Becoming as a process, which is constant and “in-motion”. It requires finding a new center. It takes practice to be easeful with “the incredible center of being off-center,” “the middle way that is not down the middle,” “allowing for the pendulum to swing both ways,” “the equilibrium in the disequilibrium” — “the non-work-life balance.” But that evening Kat taught us one way to come come back to “neutral”. The neutral of the safe and the strong space, a held space within. We had gathered to ignite a future of co-created culture. A culture of inter-disciplinary exchange and cross-pollination, a culture where we could boldly “step out of our paradigm” and question beliefs, assumptions, biases in the spirit of radical openness and connectivity. A culture of safe space where we only had to be ourselves, in Second Skin, as Experts of our Own Story. We are women in process. We are women in becoming. We are women In Motion.

“...full of great vibes and energy. I love how open everyone was and reflective on both themselves and the process.I will absolutely be at the next one and can’t wait to help brainstorm, grow this series, and spread the word of how great Traveling Pants is.” - JY. Salon Attendee



Barkha Patel. Salon River Brook, NJ . 10.21.2018 photo & video by Bobby Hranichny

in motion river Brook, NJ 10.21.2018 In its earliest forms, Kathak — a classical dance form from the northern Indian sub-continent — traces its roots to the traveling bards of northern and eastern India, Kathakas, Kathavachaks or storytellers, who performed in village squares and temple courtyards, extracting social and moral parables through their enactment of stories. These stories became a bridge for lessons in real life. Distinct in its amalgamation of stylistic influences from folk and formal court dance, Kathak flourished between the 16th to the 19th century under the patronage of Muslim nawabs and Hindu maharajas alike. During the Mughal period, this involved the intersection of both Hindu tradition and Persian culture. During the pre-colonial period women of the court, — tawaifs made nautch an elevated chamber art. The tawaifs were women who enjoyed high social standing and unprecedented rights (matrilineally) such as the right to own property. Kathak became a highly technical dance form with each gharana infusing its distinctive style (Lucknow, Jaipur and Benares are the three known gharanas). However, a significant wave of anti-nautch campaigning during the 1890s led to the relegation of nautch practitioners 3 to the outer fringes of society, where they served as entertainment for British soldiers. From the Bhakti and Sufi Movements, Kathak retained the essence of an intensely personalized practice as a conversation with the divine. Kathak demands union — with time and space, with story, with character, with accompanying musicians, integrating movement without and movement within. Inside Out. This integration requires an open mind and heart. It requires that the artist step into the expansive field of empathy, to unfold then the character and the story embodied.

“I felt like I was in a cocoon-like environment. It helped me validate a lot of my artistic thoughts and has informed my creative process from a layperson’s perspective tremendously! Each and every comment and discussion was supportive and constructive. Opportunities like these are rare for an Indian artist, especially being in a room filled with supportive women.” - Barkha Patel. Salon Artist 3

The Cantonment Act of 1864 arbitrarily relocated dancers to bazaars outside cities for entertainment of soldiers. Pallabi Chakravorty, Bells of Change: Kathak Dance, Women and Modernity In India (Kolkata: Seagull, 2008). Special thanks to Vikram Iyengar — dancer, choreographer, theater director, performing arts director based in Kolkata. (https://vikramiyengar.in)

katha - storytelling the connective tissue 17

inside out san francisco, CA 9.20.2018 Mehfil: Sharing Art & Sharing Space by Farah Yasmeen Shaikh Kathak is meant to be shared in the most intimate of gathering — often referred to as a Mehfil. Sharing the art that I feel so deeply connected to and passionate about through Salon for Good lent itself so perfectly to the energy and exchange that is created in a Mehfil. Highlighting the parallels and connections this classical tradition has to that of our modern society, both in technical approach of how the dancer must be so focused and yet so open at the same time, as well as in the emotionality of how the dance exemplifies the need for the dancer to be empathetic to the stories and characters they are enacting, is what allow interactions and setting so meaningful for both me and those in attendance.

Farah Yasmeen Shaikh. Inside Out. San Francisco, CA. 9.20.2018. photo by Ajoy Advani

Inside Out was about finding ways to break the barriers that exists between art and the other, and artists and the other, to realize not only how art can be cathartic and healing, but also inspiring and revealing.

Kathak Yoga Pandit Chitresh Das’ development of Kathak Yoga was inspired by the sadhus (spiritual yogis) of India and their sadhana (practice) in which they would push physical, mental and spiritual boundaries to attain moksha (ultimate liberation). It was Pandit Das’ desire to push these boundaries through dance with this unique and virtuosic practice requiring the dancer to integrate mind, body, and spirit, with the goal of achieving pure bhakti (devotion).

“We should also talk about..... the power of gathering women to celebrate art and each other.” - PC. Salon Attendee


look back The dancer performs rhythmic compositions through footwork, movement, and expression while simultaneously reciting the underlying theka (rhythmic structure) and singing the corresponding lehara (rhythmic melody). In Kathak Yoga, one can also add another layer of complexity by playing an instrument — tabla, harmonium or manjira (finger cymbals). The dancer integrates being and becoming through “doing and feeling” — through what the Natya Shastra identifies at the intersection of Bhava, Vibhava and Anubhava. At the intersection of emotion (bhava), what causes the emotion (vibhava) and the manifestation or the affectation of the emotion (anubhava), lies the power of Abhinaya, from where the artist and audience are united in rasa or the essence of aesthetic pleasure.

“Bringing people and especially women together to explore themselves through the arts is a powerful journey to healing. Thank you for the work you’re doing!” - RR. Salon Attendee

Farah Yasmeen Shaikh. Inside Out. San Francisco, CA. 9.20.2018. videos by Ajoy Advani


eat your words San francisco, ca 9.16.2018 Nostalgia and memory kicked off Season 2 of the Salons. It was September 16, 2018 and the city was San Francisco. It was the coming together of three old friends, Rosa Hernandez, Sophie Jasson-Holt & Troung Tran. Roommates, artists, companions of a time turned on itself. Companionate with the beat of a city that was yet to find its new palace of dreams in technology and capital. A younger San Francisco, a city porous like all those that came from afar and near to make themselves a slice of home. At “Eat your Words,” the literal and metaphor set context and table with Sophie’s rousing Mission style meal of carnitas tacos, guac & salsa. Rosa Hernandez. Eat Your Words. San Francisco, CA. 9.16.2018. video by Nirupa Umapathy

“I am very touched by this, because it’s very, very timely in my life. It’s another one of those forks in the road. Today is today, and it feels like the rest of my life, in the sense that I’ve been planning my retirement for next year after such a long journey, so many changes, so many paths, so many people you meet. Tragedy, happiness. Everything that falls in between there - the gray, dark, and the beauty, and the ugly. But you get to a point where you’re like, you know what? Let’s move on. And that’s where I am right now. I am tired of doing the work, and I want to do my dream. So now, I am very excited that I am going to focus all of my energy on painting and on singing. So I will be your singer that paints, and your painter that sings. I just doodle with music, and I doodle with song. Sometimes, I’m a painter who loves to sing. Other times, I’m a singer who loves to paint. It depends on the day. It depends on the mood.” - Rosa Hernandez. Salon Artist 20

WORDS AS FOOD As a poet who adores words, so much so that I want to eat each sound. As a chef and poet, I ask myself what is the difference between making a poem or cooking a meal. A lot and nothing at all. A good poem transforms your atoms. You feel something new. A good meal moves you into radical, free — a state of satiation. Words and food break my heart. I give myself to them. Over and over. - Sophie Jasson-Holt. Salon Host, Facilitator & Collaborator

“Our competitive spirit goes deep… we could compete over how fast we could eat a bowl of noodles……I used to give her shit about this poem because she would give me shit about writing poems about food……...this is a beautiful poem and it is Untitled.” -Troung Tran. Salon Artist

“Untitled” by Sophie Jasson-Holt. Excerpted from Unfold the Chaparral

Troung Tran. Eat Your Words. San Francisco, CA. 9.16.2018. video by Nirupa Umapathy


“the becoming tour” jersey city, NJ 11.11.2018 “We’ve always experienced change, we just haven’t always experienced it at this pace and intensity…… We have the opportunity to become the people we’ve always hoped to be: the most refined, well-developed versions of ourselves possible.” Colin Wright, speaker, author of multiple books, salon headliner, “Becoming Who we Need to Be.” Colin’s life journey over the past decade has been well, a journey. A self-designed nomad and proclaimed exilist, Colin’s first departure was from the known trappings of a corporate and consumer mind-set. Untethering from traditional constructs of belonging, both personally and professionally, Colin’s exile became one of leading through living, learning, doing and becoming. Jersey City was a stop along the way for Colin as he made his way around America on his speaking tour, full-timing in a vintage 33’ 1985 Holiday Rambler Imperial motorhome. Colin walks the walk and talks the talk. He writes and speaks extensively on the innerengineering of any system and


process while being footed in the mindset which catalyses it. Embodied through living- i.e., what he says he will do, Colin’s experiential deep-dives into the what, how and the why- the construct, the method (the way of doing) and the intent behind design, marry with diverse means of pedagogy, including data-based learning. Colin surveyed the vast range of how we as humans make sense of the environment and lives that we fabricate- an inherent act of extreme creativity and problem-solving. He talked about the gradation of learning in an “age of editorial slanting.” He talked about the strident necessity of curation, and digesting information with discernment and discrimination, and sharing information responsibly and authentically- what is true to context and experience. Colin Wright. “The Becoming Tour.” Jersey City, NJ. 11.11.2018. photo by Alex Young

Context and a point of view he argued, are informed by a collection of experiences and how we digest and disseminate, using our sense-making logic and our peculiar language. Equally within this drive toward understanding and make familiar what is unfamiliar, he reminded us that belonging and the boundaries of where we belong and where we don’t, where the other belongs and where the other does not, are innately predicated on our

“Living today is like being stuck in a cyclone filled with hundred dollar bills and cinnamon rolls; it’s a safe bet we’ll be happy when the winds subside, but at the moment we’re mostly confused as hell and worried about paper cuts and frosting in our hair…..” - Colin Wright. Salon Speaker

systems of codification and cataloguing. The evening was a timely reminder of the importance of technology and systems, both humanistic and humanconstructed, and their fallibility and infallibility. And how an intricate systemic web of points of view and execution, biases and thinking can create the culture of a given age.


in conversation with

Galen garwood

Galen Garwood. Salon Cumulating Story. Seattle, WA. 7.16.2018. photo by James Arzente

Your story has been one of departures from leaving representation at Foster-White in Seattle… to a new country where you were called I moved full-time to Thailand in 1998 to do a documentary on and for the elephants. I decided to discontinue my gallery associations. After being here a few years, the country and culture felt right. I decided to stay but continued making art. It’s in the blood. But there is virtually no market in this isolated rural spot in Northern Thailand. So, now, at an age I wear as comfortably as I can, I’ve 24

decided to reconnect my art to my homeland. Having been away so long, it’s a bit of a challenge jumping back into a world and market considerably more crowded and fractious; certainly, noisier. The artist as the maker of a market. As an architect of spaces where outcomes are unknown… In the early seventies, I was delighted when I first began exhibiting with galleries. I made art, and the galleries sold it. Nice, I thought. I needed only to appear at my openings every eighteen months or

so. Over time I watched the value of my art incrementally increase, often wondering what it was that stirred the prices upward, far beyond the rise in the cost of living. I suppose one can attribute it not so much to any specific talent, which, like the art itself, is highly subjective, but rather a sense of dedicated focus and personal vision. And the right gallery, of course. One can’t argue that in some cases, it’s the gallery that makes the artist and not a few galleries believe this. It happens often enough, but, when all is said and done, it is the artist who takes the broadest range of risks.

You talk about art as a verb — “Where do you art at Mr. Garwood,” asked one of your young students.. can you elaborate? For the artist, it’s never just about making the art. There is always the tricky part that comes first — the search, eventual discovery, then uncertainty, always followed by trial and error, and still more uncertainty. Persistence eventually enters into the dance. For myself, and I suspect for most artists, the joy is in the doing of it, once we’ve cleared the debris that limits our conviction. This is where the ‘verb’ lives, the action. And nice it would be, after such a complicated birth, if that were all. But unfortunately, to pay the bills, buy a little food, get more art supplies, artists also have to sell their work. It’s not easy, because the selling part of the process is cumbersome and usually awkward. It indeed was and has always been for me. In the economy of art and art-making how do you reconcile such departure?

Brick and mortar art galleries, I suppose, still remain the most viable avenue for the artist to introduce her or his work to the public. For the most part, galleries have been critically instrumental in defining the relationship between artist and an economic market, and I’ve long held the opinion that without a gallery, especially one that has a solid reputation, it’s impossible to establish and define a positive trajectory for the value of one’s art. Perhaps, like so much else, that’s changing. Some of the new paradigms within the art market that you are encouraged by? We’re seeing more and more online art galleries, like Saatchi Art out of California. Another relatively new online entity is Full Art Catalogue. FAC has a different and positive approach, not only providing a remarkable data service for artists — exhibitions, events, publications, etc. — as well as a very generous secondary art-sale platform which

miraculously is designed to apportion a percentage of their small commission back to the artist. This is a good step. How does art prevail? In an age where technology is a key arbiter of our most precious of capital- our consciousness? While technology is unavoidable, continuing to move us into areas unimagined only a few years ago, art remains a consistent human heartbeat. It’s part of us, and whether it’s visual art, poetry, storytelling, dance, music, or photography, art will remain a constant parameter of our need to express the height and width of our emotional spectrum. Like history, art becomes a residue of human activity, binding us one to another, a glue of remembrance from those who’ve come before us for those living now, and for those who come after; it is our fingerprint of intent, a guide, if you will, perpetually reminding us that we have choices. Galen’s work and writings can be found at https://galengarwood.com/ 25

“Rice Fields” in Mehrim, Northern Thailand by Galen Garwood

“For the artist, it’s never just about making the art. There is always the tri uncertainty, always followed by trial and error, and still more uncertainty for most artists, the joy is in the doing of it, once we’ve cleared the debris t


icky part that comes first--the search, eventual discovery, then y. Persistence eventually enters into the dance. For myself, and I suspect that limits our conviction.�


Sign outside church on South Congress St, Austin, TX photo by NIrupa Umapathy

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A recap of season 2 of salons in the arts for inclusive and enriched communities. If you would like to receive updates every season, sign u...


A recap of season 2 of salons in the arts for inclusive and enriched communities. If you would like to receive updates every season, sign u...