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MARGI N A L A R TS F E ST I VA L E DI T IO N Community high and Lycee Marginal


Pu ll o ut m a p o f f e st i va l Philo so p h y I nc . Ava nt - ga r d e i n R o a no k e ROANOKE’S PREMIERE V ISUAL ARTS MAGAZ INE


MARCH 2013 / ISSUE 4


Tanja Softić: Migrant Universe Dan Estabrook: 2013 Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence March 14 - April 20, 2013 Opening Lecture by Tanja Softić Thursday, March 14, 6 pm • Frances J. Niederer Auditorium,Visual Arts Center

Lecture by Dan Estabrook, 2013 Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence Thursday, April 18, 6 pm • Frances J. Niederer Auditorium,Visual Arts Center Tanja Softić: Migrant Universe was organized by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, College of Charleston School of the Arts.

For more information: • 540/362-6532 The museum’s 2013 exhibitions and related programs are supported in part through Roanoke County, an anonymous gift, and our community partners:

Left: Tanja Softić, Second Angel (detail), 2008. Acrylic, pigment, charcoal and chalk on handmade paper mounted on board. Courtesy of the artist. Right: Dan Estabrook, The Clown (detail), 2012. Gum bichromate with watercolor and gouache. Courtesy of the artist.

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VIA Noke Magazine is designed and owned by Chelsea Brandt and Emily Sibitzky co-owners of Desired Hype Design, LLC

CONTRIBUTORS Brian Counihan Olchar E. Lindsann Emily and Chelsea wearing papier-mâché heads made by Brian Counihan for the Marginal Arts Festival.

We’re so excited to offer our readers this special edition of VIA Noke, created in partnership with the Marginal Arts Festival. This issue is dedicated to everything Marginal Arts and will serve as the festival’s program and guide. Marginal is defined* as something that is “relegated to the fringes, out of the mainstream; made to seem unimportant.” Marginal Arts Festival does not seek to define the term “Marginal” but rather aspires to provide a space in the margins - between institutions - for artists who would prefer to build a community through their art than restrict their creativity merely to find acceptance in the local art mainstream. Each year, since its inception in 2008, the avant-garde community, performance artists, and artists of all sorts embrace the “free space” between defined art forms and proudly (and literally) parade their marginality as undefined, critically engaging, often absurd, unrestricted fun. Everyone should be very proud to live in a city that encourages these grassroots movements and happenings, which make so many different forms of creativity available to everyone here. Even better, all of the MAF’s educational workshops, lectures, performances, and other activities are available to everyone, and with the exception of a couple, completely free of charge. Do not miss out on the opportunity to partake and participate.

Scott Tate Celine Anderson Swade Best Warren Fry Simon Nolen Stephanie Martin Jim Leftwich


JOIN, LIKE, FOLLOW @DesiredHype @VIANokeMagazine

We are very excited to share the spirit of this festival with our readers and encourage you to join us in celebrating the marginalized arts with us this month and always. Until next time,

*definition via

VIA Noke magazine is published by Desired Hyped Design, LLC. ©Copyright 2013 Desired Hype Design LLC Reproduction without permission is prohibited. All Rights Reserved. Printed locally by Chocklett Press

ta b l e o f C O N T E N T s

Cover design by Simon Nolen created for the Marginal Arts Festival

8 . . . Community: What CHS Does

20 . . . Philosophy Inc.

10 . . . Lycee Marginal

22 . . . “Fearlessness...”

12 . . . Avant-Garde in Roanoke?

24 . . . Thursday Events

14 . . . Avant-Garde Family Re/Union

26 . . . Friday Events

16 . . . Pull-out Map of Festival

28 . . . Saturday Events

19 . . . Who’s Who

30 . . . Special Thanks






FEMINISM: I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU, March 3, 3-6pm, 126 Campbell Ave SW // SAMI THE GREAT AND MIEKA PAULEY, March 5, 7:30pm, $7, Kirk Ave Music Hall // TAUBMAN CINEMA: ABEL RAISES CAIN, March 7, 7-9pm, Taubman Theatre // JUNIOR SISK & RAMBLERS CHOICE, March 8, 8pm, $18, Kirk Ave Music Hall // SCOTT MILLER, March 9, 8pm, $18, The Sanctuary, 1217 Maple Ave // THE ARDO TRIO, March 10, 3pm, Grandin Court Baptist Church // CARAVAN OF THIEVES, March 13, 8pm, Kirk Ave Music Hall // TANJA SOFTIĆ: MIGRANT UNIVERSE OPENING RECEPTION, March 14, 6pm, Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University // DAN ESTABROOK OPENING RECEPTION, March 14, 6pm, Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University // MARGOT NORTON LECTURE, March 15th, 6pm, Olin Gallery at Roanoke College // MARGOT NORTON OPENING RECEPTION, March 15th, 6pm, Smoyer Gallery at Roanoke College // CELTIC CROSSROADS, March 15, 8pm, Shaftman Performance Hall // BROADWAY IN ROANOKE: ELVIS LIVES!, March 15, 8pm, Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre // SPRING MUSIC FESTIVAL TO BENEFIT VWCC’S ACCESS PROGRAM: Roanoke Symphony Orchestra ensemble, William Fleming, Patrick Henry, Salem and Franklin County High School concert bands, March 16, 4pm, $10, Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre // ABBEY ROAD LIVE!, March 16, 8pm, $15, Kirk Ave Music Hall // MORE TO LIVE FOR FEATURING BRANFORD MARSALIS & JOEY CALDERAZZO, March 22, 7pm, Shaftman Performance Hall at the Jefferson Center // STEPHANIE ROOKER & BEN TYREE, March 22, 8pm, $12, Kirk Ave Music Hall // COLLAGE AND IMPROV: AN INVENTIVE APPROACH TO MAKING PICTURES, March 23, 10:30am-3pm, $35 - $48, Taubman Museum of Art // MIKE + RUTHY WITH SARAH SISKIND, March 23, 8pm, $14, Kirk Ave Music Hall // CIRQUE ZIVA, March 24, 3pm, Shaftman Performance Hall at the Jefferson Center // SPIRIT FAMILY REUNION, March 28, 8pm, Kirk Ave Music Hall // !@#$%^&*!@#$%^&*!@#$%^&


A group of teachers at Community High School founded the Marginal Arts Festival to develop a place for art and the avant-garde in Roanoke. For the past six years, the festival has attracted artists of all different types (local and international) to create an inclusive and intellectually stimulating festival that encourages everyone to be a participant and invites them to explore the art opportunities around them. Marginal Arts Festival’s goal of creating artistic opportunities also reflects the curriculum emphasis at Community High School. This year, I am doing an internship with the festival. This internship involves note taking at committee meetings, running the Marginal Arts blog (, observing curatorial projects, and leading the Marginal Arts Festival Student Committee. The festival provides Community High School students with opportunities that nearly all of my peers take advantage of. Last year students did everything from performing with the Community High School band at the Absurdist Street Carnival [event] to attending a master class offered by Todd Ristau and Samantha Macher. The MAF Student Committee is a school club that meets once a week to brainstorm ideas for the festival and discuss the upcoming events. Vice-president of the Committee and high school junior, Swade Best, is currently leading the committee in its final goal of hosting an event for the festival. Best is not the only Community High School student producing a festival event of their own. Frank Finch is initiating and curating an exhibit involving seven hats



selected from an open call in the window’s La-De-Da Clothing Boutique in downtown Roanoke. The hats will each represent one of the nine circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno: Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud and Treachery. The hats will also be featured in the Marginal Arts Festival Parade on Saturday March 30. Visiting international performance artists, such as the performance duo, Zierle and Carter, and Rebecca Weeks (who travelled from England specifically for this festival last year) have come in to Community High School courses for question and answer sessions and presentations. This opportunity to connect with artists in a classroom environment was one of the things that inspired student enthusiasm for the festival. Last year, my classmates and I, under the mentorship of Rebecca Weeks from Cornwall, did several performance art pieces around downtown Roanoke. My group’s piece involved handing out blank sheets of paper to passersby and asking them to come to a “very important event” that was apparently and invisibly being advertised on the paper. This year’s Marginal Arts Festival will include a whole week of artist-lead workshops, lectures and master-classes in preparation for the three-day festival. I will be leading on the role of the audience in performance art. I believe I speak for all of the students at Community High School when I say that the Marginal Arts Festival is a wonderful opportunity for us and the citizens of Roanoke to see and participate in art that challenges us intellectually and lets us sample the wider world.

Ly c é e M A R G I N A L

Star City Shadow School is working with Community High School to produce a series of workshops, classes and lectures presented by local and visiting artists and collaborators. In the lead up to the Marginal Arts Festival, from Monday March 25th – 27th, students of Community High School and area residents will be offered a plethora of DIY and independently sourced classes. Community High School campus, 302 Campbell Avenue SE, 16 West Marketplace, and other venues will be utilized to host these classes, integrating them into this year’s festival content. Many artists who’ve developed strong ties with the festival and the local creative community will be offering classes linked directly to their practice and the work they’re bringing to this year’s festival. We’re very excited about the experimental writing, music and performance workshops we’re presenting this year. Ohio poets John M. Bennett and C. Mehrl Bennett, who’ve been MAF participants and supporters since its inception, will be hosting a hands on workshop called Collaborative Poetry Writing and Performance. Local historian, organizer and teacher Olchar E.

Lindsann will be hosting a three-day experimental writing workshop that will culminate in the production of DIY chapbooks and zines to be distributed during the festival. Community High school student and MAF Intern & Student Coordinator Celine Anderson will be hosting a discussion on the audience and performer’s relationship during performance art. Maine publisher, performer and mail-artist Reed Altemus will be joining us for his second festival. He was recently a featured performer during last year’s Decentralized Networkers Congress at Liminal Alternative Artspace. Reed will be doing a lecture/listening hour devoted to Improvisation in Post-Cagian Music which will focus on improvisation from its historical roots in Africa, Indian and the far east, through raga and jazz, to contemporaries like Fred Frith and Keith Rowe. Local purveyors of everything marginal abound as well! Musician and artist Bill Beamer, who showed last year at Liminal Alternative Artspace, will be teaching a workshop called Quiet Active Meditation: Drawing for Stress and Relief Management; which will explore his intensive drawing practice. Robin Knapmeyer will be hosting a workshop on food ethics and fermentation, a reprise of last year’s Kimchi making extravaganza. Local artist Brian Sieveking will host a lecture on folk hero Sputnik Monroe entitled “The World’s Most Perfectly formed Midget Wrestler.” In a return to salon style discussion and debate, Brian Counihan and Scott Crawford will “Face Off” on the aesthetic and social value of Picasso’s Guernica. We hope you can join us for this ephemeral mix of avant-garde and marginal learning opportunities! Want to teach a class, run a workshop, or talk at length about something you know? It’s not too late! Get in touch with Lycée Marginal! Email me at: Want to join in on the fun? Stay tuned to the Marginal Arts Festival Blog for more details!



Ly c ĂŠ e M A R G I N A L

The Star City Shadow School aims to facilitate experimental, non-hierarchical exchanges of information, skills, and interests between residents of the Roanoke region and beyond. Past SCSS programming in the Marginal Arts Festival has included workshops, demonstrations, group experiments, mini-libraries and archives, psychogeographic explorations,

The World’s Most Perfectly formed Midget Wrestler ! With Brian SIEVEKING!

informal conversations, collective research projects, storytelling, guided tours, and other forms of sharing between Roanokers and visiting MAF participants. These activities touch on everything from cooking to poetics to local history to ethics: anything that somebody wants to share with their extended communities.

Quiet Active Meditation: Drawing for Stress and Pain Relief/Management! With Bill BEAMER !

Collaborative Poetry Writing & Performance: Methods & Hands on Participation! With John M. and C. Mehrl Bennett! Check Check for even even more more classes classes and and schedules schedules for

Improvisation in Post Cagean Music! With Reed ALTEMUS!

AVA N T - G A R D E The mere idea behind this concept can be approached from an infinite range of possibilities, for this reason it is important for the scope to be narrowed into a few generalized notions. It is also important that a definition (for avant-garde) is set into place so that one may realize that the argument is using a specific set of boundaries. The National Gallery of Art defines avant-garde as, “A group or work that is innovative or inventive on one or more levels: subject, medium, technique, style, or relationship to context.” Though it may seem a tad bit naïve, one must explore the actual existence of avant-garde anywhere in relation to present time. Simply put, does avant-garde exist? Through studying history on such subjects there is documentation that it has existed in the recent past, for with every new movement there has been the presence of innovation. The dispute occurs when new art is challenged as to the innovative qualities of the work. In short, is there any work being produced today that meets the definition of avant-garde? This question should also contain a future clause; if avant-garde does not exist in the present, can it in the future? If one were to assume that all art is created and equally that all art is perceived, can it be assumed that a percentage of these works are innovative? It seems plausible that most artists would argue that there is a percentage of art that is truly cutting edge. Though, can it also be assumed that a number of these artists are subjecting their response to their individual sense of pride?



These deductions may help one derive at where our information is collected when it comes to art. This is not to say that knowledge of art is solely held by the artists, but is simply inserted to make obvious a bias that may be held by some artists. Truthfully, this bias is not exclusive to artists; it can apply to most anyone based on their knowledge of what already exists. For example if one were unaware of abstract-expressionism and thus equally unaware of the existence of Jackson Pollock, they may find someone working in the same medium (painting), with similar technique (splattering and dripping paint), and working in the same style (abstract-expressionism) and consider this work to be avant-garde. Unfortunately, this person’s lack of knowledge does not make this artist’s work innovative. Though if the same piece of work were inspected by an art historian, (who is aware of Mr. Pollock,) and she felt that this painting was somehow making a statement on abstract-expressionism or was using the style to challenge the observer in a different way than others that worked in the same style; could this historian not make a convincing argument that the work was avant-garde? It seems that if others with knowledge of art history were to agree with this historian’s claim, that the argument would hold water. Relationship to context (which the above example was arguing,) seems to carry a lot of weight in the existence of avant-garde. Many artists may incorporate aesthetics of a style the same way a writer may use a stereotype, to challenge or help the audience ease into another agenda. In both of these cases avant-garde can exist in art that is

Definition appropriated from,

AVA N T - G A R D E created in modern times. With the advent of new technologies, there is always the possibility of new mediums (ex, Photography vs. digItal photography,) and new subject matter. So, with the possibility of new mediums, subjects, and relationship to context one cannot cast away the existence of avant-garde. Now, it may be important to speak to the existence of Roanoke, VA, or at least to the perception there of. To make things a little more feasible, the argument should be narrowed to the city of Roanoke, and its relationship to the arts. The city had a population of roughly 96,500 prior to the building of the Taubman Museum of Art, which cost roughly $66 million to complete ($683.94 per person.) This commitment seems to have stated that Roanoke was interested in the arts. Roanoke is also home to several small galleries and art shops (many which have shut down in the past few years;) this would imply that there is an art community in the city. Does the existence of an art culture in the city of Roanoke provide fertile ground for avant-garde? Not alone, there has to be something else. Think of how many artists that you come in contact with in Roanoke that long for the culture of some far off place. Consider how many negative stereotypes about our local culture that these conversations generate. Do you think that chasing other culture while simultaneously shunning your own creates a unique innovative opinion? Does this not happen in almost every city on the planet? It is conceivable that an artist in Chicago may wish that Chicago could be more like New York or San Francisco. It is not to say that all artists in a specific location are wishing for this change or is it stating that there is nothing to be learned from other cultures, but that an artistic community should not live in a state of imitation. If a community is to be considered a cultural hot bed for art, it is not done by imitation. The artists in that community have to have confidence in their voice as a unique viable expression that is second to none. If Roanoke could somehow channel this confidence, at that point there is a greater chance for an innovative voice in the art world. No matter how small a city is, it can impact a movement by embracing

Print by Roanoke-based artist Jim Leftwich and John M. Bennett. Leftwich first made imprints by spray-painting stencils and then sent the print to Bennett, who added the calligraphy and letter stamps.

its culture. Even though it is not a necessity for the community to be avant-garde, it does help for the community to not be complacent. When facing this complacency, it is difficult for artists to breach the walls surrounding the art community. This drives some artists to other communities, enabling those communities to thrive while the community left behind becomes stagnant. This stagnant community is a difficult place for avant-garde to exist because the community becomes less excepting of new ideas, making those with new ideas frustrated. Truthfully, avant-garde can exist in Roanoke, but only because it can exist anywhere. In the state that Roanoke is in at the present, it may be difficult for avant-garde to be recognized. If a piece of art is not noticed can it still be considered avant-garde? This question is something for you to ponder while considering that it is all of our responsibility to change our community. That by embracing our unique culture while being educated by others could allow for a true growth.


Avant-Garde Family Re/Union

by Olchar Lindsann

Over the years, the Marginal Arts Festival has become a key event in a network of international avant-garde communities, and a home-away-from-home for Mail Artists, Fluxists, Post-NeoAbsurdists, and Noise musicians from all over the US and beyond. During the MAF this ‘Eternal Network’ converges on Roanoke to celebrate and share their connections with each other, and to share and explore connections with our local creative family here in the valley, using performances, workshops, collaborative activities, and conversation to create new forms of relationship and interaction between local and international communities.

Who’s who at this year’s festival: Keith A. Buchholz

Jim Leftwich

Buchholz is an American artist, located in St. Louis, Missouri, specializing in Intermedia and Fluxus. A native of Illinois, he began showing work in the region in 1978. Over the years, works have included large scale Installations, documentation, audio, video, artists books, and mail art networking. Keith is a member of The International Union of Mail Artists, Fluxnexus, The Chicago Fluxus Ensemble, FLUXUS / WEST, and The International Fiber Collaborative. He has shown work in projects in over forty countries in the past year, and was recently chosen as one of thirty American artists to show their work at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. as a voice for global warming.

Leftwich, an innovative and dynamic poet from Charlottesville, Virginia, founded and edited the influential avant-garde literary journals Juxta and Juxta Electronic, with co-editor Ken Harris, in 1994. During the 1990’s he was intensely active as a correspondent, theorist, and critical writer in the area of avant-garde poetry and writing, and was an influential figure in the development of ideas and consciousness for the new literary culture he was involved with. He was also influential in the promotion and distribution of the work of many of his fellow poets and writers. He himself has produced a significant body of literary work, work which is textual, conceptual and/or visual. His autobiography was published in 1996 in vol. 25 of Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series.

Keith currently operates Fluxus/St. Louis as a home base and studio, and an outpost connecting St. Louis to the world Fluxus network. He additionally collaborates on ongoing fluxus and mail art projects worldwide, and is the curator/publisher of Fluxkit Quarterly, an editioned fluxus publication archived by over twenty museums worldwide including The Getty Museum Archive, MOCA Chicago, Pedersen Archive (Copenhagen), St. Louis Art Museum, University of Iowa / Special Fluxus Collections, Museum Fluxus + (Potsdam), University of Ohio Special Collections, and the Tate Archive (London).



From 2000 to 2005 he edited the journal Xtant, and since 2005 he has edited the poetry and mail art blog, textimagepoem. He is the author of Doubt, The Textasifsuch, Sample Example, Trashpo, Pulsing Swarms & Squiggly Diagonals, and Death Text.

(continued on page 19)





ShowS at 7pm & 9pm - $25 CoCktailS & horS d’oeuvreS Served throughout april 20 - the JameS Carter organ trio 541 Luck Avenue, SW, Roanoke • 540.345.2550 •






Visit marginalar for more info.











MAF Headquar ters, 16 West, 16 Church Avenue SW


Liminal G aller y, 302 Campbell Avenue SE


M itchell Studio, 26 West Church Avenue


Philosophy INC, B oxley Building, 418 S outh Jefferson Street





















581 AD










M elee on M ar ket Street, G aller y 108, 108 M ar ket Street


Big N ight O ut, 115 East S alem Avenue


La D e Da Windows, 102 Church Street SE


Exclamations!, 202 M ar ket, 206 M ar ket S quare SE

Discourse, the sweeter


Official music store of the MAF

of THE

Mind —Homer, The Odyssey

An Evening with Sarah Vowell

Thursday, March 28 7 pm, Hollins Theatre


Maybe you’ve heard her captivating voice on This American Life or as Violet in the movie The Incredibles. Or read one of her best-selling books about American history. Or seen her on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Come hear the multitalented Sarah Vowell in person and be amused and informed by her distinctive voice and perspective.

For more spring events at Hollins, visit

We’re local, and proud of it!!!


Who’s who, continued... The Be Blank Consort

John M. Bennett [JMB]

The Be Blank Consort has been performing experimental poetry since 2001. The members of the consort write many poems collaboratively and employ chance and visual techniques along with traditional poetic practices to create improvisational or open performance scores. Membership in the consort fluctuates depending largely on the location of specific performances and the availability of performers of sound poetry at a particular time and place. Performing in past MAF’s have been regular members John M. Bennett, K.S. Ernst, Sheila E. Murphy, Michael Peters, and Scott Helmes, along with members of the Post-Neo Absurdist Anti-Collective.

A life-long poet, his work started to become well known in the 1970s. Since that time, he has become one of the world’s best-known avant-garde and experimental poets. He has worked in a wide variety of genres, including text, visual poetry, graphics, sound and performance poetry, mailart, film and media, and has collaborated with other writers and artists from around the globe. He was also editor of the international literary journal Lost and Found Times, 1975-2005. Richard Kostelanetz has said, “John M. Bennett has been the seminal American poet of my generation because he has produced so much luminous work in a bewildering variety of experimental modes.”

C. Mehrl Bennett C. Mehrl Bennett married John M. Bennett in 1980 and has 2.5 sons who’re into improvisational sound and/or instrumental music. She is an artist working digitally, with found objects, traditional materials, mailart, fluxus performance scores, visual poetry, artistamps, and collaborates well with others. C. Mehrl Bennett has presented visual poetry, digital art, artist stamps, and/or collaborations via PowerPoint in Uruguay, Mexico City, and in Roanoke. She’s a frequent performer and collaborator at Fluxus Festivals throughout the nation. See C’s books and other books she’s helped facilitate at and read her blog at

Top print by Sheila Murphy and John M. Bennett. Bottom print by Bela Grimm, Olchar Lindsann, and Jim Leftwich. Photos by Jim Leftwich.

p h i lo s o p h y i n c .

by Celine Anderson

When I sat down to interview Roanoke based artist, Matt Ames, he presented me with a short and hilarious animation of his friend, Warren Fry, violently eating a sandwich. Jokes such as this are one of the many characteristics that make up Matt Ames. A tall, bearded man with thick-rimmed glasses, Ames began to tell me about his experiences with Philosophy Inc. and the Marginal Arts Festival.



Philosophy Inc. began as a website hobby but has now grown into a passion for artist Ames. He founded Philosophy Inc., to be an organization that studies Roanoke through photography and video. Humor is one of the things that make Philosophy Inc. an appealing organization to art enthusiasts and average spectator alike. Even the title of the organization itself, Philosophy Inc. suggests jokes about business and capitalism.

p h i lo s o p h y i n c .

Philosophy Inc. creates an enthusiastic and friendly motivating impetus to learn more about the city that we live in. When asked about Roanoke’s art community, Ames responded by saying, “normal people get just as excited about art as artists do.” Through the videos, photography and other various projects of Philosophy Inc., he claims that Roanokers are able to look at their town from a variety of perspectives. Philosophy Inc.’s most recent project of restoring the S.W. Virginia Commodore Inn sign is a perfect example of what the organization stands for: remembering Roanoke’s past: and taking note of what it is today. The sign holds value for him because it stood over the bar where his grandfather would go to get a drink after work, and was located just around the corner from where Ames grew up. Acknowledging signs from places that cultivate a regional, social culture, such as the Commodore, is important for Roanoke as a whole he claims . Ames calls the sign, “a beautiful piece of history that is worth preserving.” One of Philosophy Inc.’s earliest involvements with the Marginal Arts Festival was its exhibit at the Taubman Museum of Art, Philosophy Inc. Probes Roanoke (2011). This exhibit featured maps of Roanoke created by local artists and a “Most Boring Photographs of Roanoke” contest. Philosophy Inc.’s involvement in the 2013 Marginal Arts Festival will take place in the Boxley building, on Jefferson Street. For a time, rooms in that building will serve as Philosophy Inc.’s very own office and the headquarters for a collaborative research project. This will include an accumulation of photos and observations circling around Roanoke, Virginia. Stop by and visit Matt from March 25 -29 and participate in his research project, or check out his other projects and videos on his website,


FEARLESSNESS TO MAKE things happen by Scott Tate

Some who read this, perhaps newcomers to the Valley’s alternative arts scene, or those who remain steadfastly at the perimeters of the arts community, peering occasionally at newspaper event notices, maybe with a curious eye or a dismissive head shake, probably wonder just what the “marginal arts” might be and of what possible relevance?

inhabitants and community sites are encountered in new and surprising ways outside of and apart from their usual context.

The MAF finds kinship with fringe arts events of varying stripes which have emerged and expanded rapidly ever since a band of local Scottish artists and playwrights were excluded from the Edinburgh International Festival in My initial response to such questions is highly 1947. These artists refused to accept this snub personal and decidedly unscientific. In 2011, and constructed makeshift performance spaces my son and I attended the MAF parade and around the festival’s edges, at its “fringe.” The Absurdist Street Carnivale which immediately Edinburgh Fringe Festival was born, eventufollowed. Onlookers and procession partici- ally outpacing the original event in size and in pants joined together in tossing rubber chickens stature, morphing into the “largest arts festival in and merrily stomping, jumping and dancing on the world.” Over the past 30 years, fringe festivals giant sheets of bubble wrap. Performance artists have been developed in cities around the world orchestratedly smashed a piano. As we drove from Australia to Asia, Canada to Chile. Fringe home, my son clutched two souvenir piano frag- festivals represent attempts to unsettle dominant ments of painted black wood and proclaimed, understandings and perceptions, to create a space “That was cool!” I agreed – the MAF events, for alternatives, to seek out the unusual or quirky. even in their most self-consciously avant-garde The bent toward quirkiness, however, should not manifestations, are memorably cool. be dismissed as simple frivolity. Cities have many My secondary response is a bit more deliberative. edges or margins whether geographic or social, I studied some of Roanoke’s arts-based efforts economic or cultural, racial or conceptual. The as part of my doctoral dissertation at Virginia MAF helps illuminate edges and margins, the Tech and have subsequently been engaged in places where contrasting ideas and meanings may such studies of other places. Festivals have long be more visible. Its exact impacts are difficult to existed and Roanoke’s MAF continues “3,000-plus quantify. As festival organizer, Brian Counihan years of human festival tradition.” Noted cul- described in an interview with the Interstitial tural anthropologist Victor Turner has cited the Arts Foundation, “It is impossible to tell how this role of festivals as liminal spaces, wherein fellow festival will benefit the whole community. We




photos by Jim Leftwich

hope it will strengthen local identity, encourage more individual participation in civic issues, and perhaps even add to the local economy.”

reason” and may “lead to the emergence of a new consciousness and a new perception.”

During my doctoral research, I interviewed a number of local artists and cultural leaders. Several younger artists credited the MAF with helping shape a Roanoke arts climate where “new things are happening every day” so there is a “fearlessness to make things happen.” The cultivation of an experimental arts “scene” has broader significance. Economic development practitioners increasingly recognize the importance of networks for incubating ideas and businesses. The MAF has nurtured a sense of “scenius”, a term originating from electronic music pioneer/producer Brian Eno. Scenius Research indicates that such strategies may refers to a sort of communal inspiration that drives also have adverse impacts, including increased culture forward, and it is present wherever inequalities, funding disparities, and socio- fertile and fluid ‘scenes’ pop up in a community. economic exclusion. Roanoke, too, has expe- These scenes may involve artists, developers, rienced these drawbacks, as those who have scholars, activists, and other community leaders who witnessed and winced at the Taubman Museum together constitute an imaginative ecosystem. of Art’s financial struggles and the Arts Council The MAF, and related activities, help keep of the Blue Ridge’s seeming dissolution would alive this imaginative ecosystem that is helping most likely agree. Art, as economic engine, has its redefine Roanoke. limits. The MAF, however, summons some of art’s other functions, such as its ability to illumi- By encouraging and fomenting an ethos of nate these contradictions and to affect individual grassroots innovation and civic self-reflection, the and civic change. In The Aesthetic Dimension, MAF is helping call forth a newer Roanoke, not Herbert Marcuse described this type of in- one dismissive of the past nor one separable from nate and radical potential of art. Art, by taking the many other initiatives and ideas taking place, reality and “re-presenting” it, is “committed to an but one that is willing to question, to explore the emancipation of sensibility, imagination, and edges, to energize the civic imagination. Art is frequently touted and utilized as an economic driver and a source of community identity. Roanoke is no exception to this trend. The Taubman Museum of Art, a $66 million building, is a visible example. So is the City’s $2 million annual investment in arts and culture through public art, festivals and events, and major capital improvements to downtown cultural anchor institutions. Art as a development strategy is clearly one part of Roanoke’s ever evolving identity.


The festivities kick off after a hard days work with a walk led by Roanoke’s multi talented thespian Blair Peyton. In his guise as “ghost tour guide” hand assissted by costumed members of “Team Rose,” Blair will lead a tour of the nights MAF opening while indicating the many defunkt art entities (galleries, studios, theaters, and organizations) that have gone under over the past few years. Expect photographers, and fun interaction with performers along the way. Look for sugar skulls if you decide to take the tour at your own pace. Write your own eulogy or dirge to a favorite crative space and present it as we progress. Yes, Roanoke has all sorts of art galleries opening, but lets take a moment to reflect on those we have lost! Curated by Team Rose and sponsored by Plantagenet Rose.

16 Church Avenue SW Stop by for refreshments at our comfy (but temporary) festival home, and view the products of a week of workshops, demonstrations, lectures and straight out art pounding! Collaborative drawing, Silkscreen printing, Big head decorating and more and more and…..

La De Da Window, 102 Church Street Seven deadly sins? Seven sinewy, seductive, sequiny or silky hats that push boundaries, will be dragged up from the depths of Dante’s Inferno and find their place to perch on models and manequin’s heads for the week of the festival. Want a piece of the action? Dream up your own Inferno nightmare and submit it quick! Deadline is the first week of March! for details. Curated by Frank Finch.

NOTE: The Marginal Arts Festival is fluid and spontaneous! Check the MAF website for more up-to-date details on these exhibits and expect plenty more events to be added!



26 Church Avenue SW Max Mead Mitchell is a PAFA & Penn graduate and Community High alumnus. This new space is full of potential. Stop by and hatch some new ideas with the new guy in town!

108 Market Street (In the old Gallery 108 Space) For over a century wrestling has been an active, if not always appreciated, force in American popular culture. From circus sideshows to sold out civic centers, VFW halls to the airwaves of multi-billion dollar entertainment conglomerates wrestling’s tights enwrapped titans have grappled through the public consciousness. As inexpensive and easily recognizable programming it was a foundational staple of early television, local and independent channels through the sixties and early seventies, the cable explosion of the eighties, and the satellite and web based entertainment stream of the twenty first century. At once soap opera and morality play, its larger than life personalities provided the blueprint for reality TV. For decades wrestling has been an integral part of the lives of people ranging from young boys to retired grandmothers. Unknown to many however, is the major role it has played in the rise of sports as national obsession, the changing definition of national attitudes and character, and even the desegregation of the Deep South. Wrestling with Art presents drawings, paintings, sculpture and video; an array of artists, artifacts, and disciplines that celebrate and investigate this often neglected aspect of national culture. Curated by Brian Sieveking.

418 Jefferson Street (Boxley Building) Curated by Matt Ames. Read an article about Ames and Philosophy Inc. by Celine Anderson on page 20.


Last years sensational home of installation art, performance art and whatever that other stuff is called! This group of young and hungry artists make Roanoke look – well like somewhere worth visiting for an art scene! Curated by Amanda Agricola and Mateo Marquez. Mysterious and unconfirmed location; check website for details.

Check MAF website for details - they could be anywhere! A proud staple of Marginal Arts since our first year, artists working in these media have travelled from all around the US, and even from overseas to participate with this unique community of artists. You haven’t even begun “to have seen it all” because most of this work is astounding, exhilarating, confounding, absurd, but profoundly scholarly. (see what I mean?)

LIMINAL alternative artspace, 302 East Campbell Ave SE A circus inspired group exhibition of art from national and regional artists along with vintage circus ephemera. Including works by Edward del Rosario, Lori Field, Rob Tarbell, Jack McCaslin, John Reburn, Ursula Dilly and others. Opening night performance by Tif Robinette. Curated by Susan Jamison.

Just big paintings, from artists from as far a field as New York City who are hoping for their big break in the Big Lick lights of “Magic City”. Open for a few nights only, and unconfirmed at press time. Curated By Alison Hall. (Salem Ave location not confirmed at press time.)


The movie is introduced: Carnival Of Souls. A shiver runs through the crowds, as fear settles in. The speech continues, light jokes are made and the film begins. A hush, even quieter, falls over the audience, spellbound by the terrifying images on screen. Tension grows by the second as the viewers, captivated and focused on the story, begin to slip deeper and deeper into the film. With each bump and jolt, the audience, flinches, laughs, and cries, as the thing on screen goes from a movie to a life, which, one after another, people begin to identify and understand.

8pm @ June M. McBroom Theater, Community High This new group collaboration was created just for the Marginal Arts Festival for an “absurdist /surrealist /dadaist in nature” sort of show, featuring Hollins MFA playwrights, local writers, actors, dancers and musicians, plus a onenight-only musical performance by ambient, minimalist, noise project, Gonzo Capote, and much more. Just $10 admission.

It’s not just a movie, it’s life. Then the movie ends, and the spell is broken. Some people, done with the movie, go on to something else, the characters, places, situations and emotions gone. Others, still confused and needing an explanation for what happened, why they had been sucked into the film stay after. Ideas and thoughts fly by, as people speak of what they saw. The audience pontificate, agree and disagree. When arguments are heated, and facts and needed, the filmic monitors, armed to the teeth with Carnival of Souls trivia and facts step in. People speak, arguments are settled, ideas are passed around and a film is understood a little bit better. With that, the viewers leave, happy and sated. Curated by Swade Best.

The mission of SCCS is to create a co-operative arts community in Roanoke, VA. Our focus will be on promoting Roanoke’s vast talent and creating new environments. Through doing this, we give artists a chance to thrive and become a part of the cultural fabric of this great city. Community driven events are of the highest priority to us. We will strive to better the lives of those who are involved and affected by our efforts. By artists we include all disciplines and are non-judgmental regarding talent. SCCS is all inclusive, aiming to bridge the gaps, and overcome the cliches. By working together we can help each other in marketing, resources, space sharing, word of mouth, and as a strong presence when approaching businesses, museums, and the city.

Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle met in 2010 and soon began planning adventures together. They weave traditional Appalachian music with storytelling, original artwork, shadow puppetry & scrolling illustrations called CRANKIES. Their music is raw and sparse—ballads, lullabyes, fiddle tunes, banjo songs and home music, Their artwork draws from a wide range of theatrical and folk inspirations, such as papercuts, shadow puppets, papier mache puppets, and quilted storytelling scrolls. Check them out at

NOTE: The MAF is fluid and spontaneous! Check the MAF website for more up-to-date details on these exhibits and expect plenty more events to be added!



March 29th

S AT U R D A Y E V E N T S 5TH ANNUAL MARGINAL ARTS purple octopus float was construct-

ed. The tentacles were animated by eight dancers adorned in crocheted flourishes resembling coral. The octopus float provided an opportunity for Calling all artists, musicians, danc- collaboration amongst several difers, performers, bicyclist, activist, ferent contributors and talents that absurdist, and anyone else interested ordinarily might not have worked toin creating a public spectacle in the gether, thereby achieving a primary streets of downtown Roanoke! Join us goal of the festival; connecting peoas we all march out of step togeth- ple within our community. The octoer! Once a year this invitation to the pus float also served as early publicity community goes out to announce for the amazing Roanoke Valley Reef that it’s time to get prepared for the exhibition, now on display at Marginal Arts Festival Parade. This Roanoke College. year the event will be on Saturday March 30th at noon. This wacky little art parade has grown since it was added to the Marginal Arts Festival in 2009, and has become an anticipated favorite event of the festival. The first year that it was introduced to the festival, about thirty costumed people participated, and our permit only allowed us to be on the sidewalk. We have since moved into the street, steadily increased in size, and added small floats and big puppets to the procession.

The second year the Art Rat float was built, and has become the mascot of the parade, making an appearance every year. Last year a big pink and



Four years after the Marginal Arts Festival parade began in 2009, it became apparent that there was a need for the fun to continue. And thus, the Absurdist Street Carnival was born…

A parade ending with the resounding sounds of bubble wrap through the streets of downtown Roanoke, and a piano being smashed to pieces by Fluxus Roanoke were some of the most memorable moments of the first Absurdist Street Carnival. The next year, gospel singers and a chicken Every year there are memorable launching trebuchet were among contributions to the parade. One of the highlights. the greatest highlights of the past parades was the Bread and Puppets collective from Vermont. The third year we were very lucky to have this political theater group march in the parade. They also generously gave workshops and performances during other days of festival. Three years after that first venture Part of the reason for the popularity into the absurd, we are about to emof the parade is that it’s a collabora- bark on this zany adventure again. tive festival event that anyone can This year, the Carnival will take place participate in. Parade organizer, primarily on the Community High Ralph Eaton, invites interested per- School campus and be home to a sons to help out with construction number of activities. There will be of whatever parade art is being flying chickens, deranged stuffed made for this year’s parade, or if that animals, day of the dead face paintdoesn’t fit your style or schedule, all ing, and more crazy and exciting you need to do to participate is just booths for you to visit. show up on parade day with whatever it is that you want to contribute to Belly dancers will abound and music theparade, and be ready to march will be setting the scene for folks to at noon. The parade will assemble at meander through Renaissance fight11am at the Community High School ers, Fortune Tellers and a Folk Singer parking lot, 302 Campbell Ave SE. illustrating her story with Crankies.

March 30th We’re working on it. It’ll be weird and glorious.

Where else could you and your child graffiti a wall together or Build-AChicken? Walk anonymously as a Lucha Libre after creating your own mask throughout downtown Roanoke, or have your picture taken at the Photo Booth in your new “mod” shirt. Whatever it is that you decide to spend your time investigating at the Absurdist Street Carnival, you will have a wonderful time with your children in ways that you won’t find anywhere else.

Vaudeville is not wholly unique to the United States — other countries have their own histories of live variety performance — but it reached a level of broad popularity and deep cultural penetration here that shaped us utterly. At the MAF, we miss Vaudeville’s crass and unabashed hucksterism, its gaudiness, its ingenuity, its capacity for self-mockery, and its sublimely unpretentious admixture of high and lowbrow. When watching Vaudeville, its difficult to understand why your professors were so worked up about postmodernism. Here’s what’s good: Bird Calls, Knife Jugglers, Dog Acts, Ventriloquists and Flash Acts. Here’s what else is good: Bhangra, Modal Jazz, Step Dance, String Quartets. Here’s what’s best: All Mixed Together, Higgeldy-Piggeldy, which is not to say unsequenced.


$10 adults, $5 Student. June M. McBroom Theater, Community High School, 302 Campbell Avenue SE. Curated by Josh Chapman.

48hr PULP NOVEL CONTEST WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED! And here’s something new: Since the American Literary Publishing Establishment is about to go belly-up, we at the Marginal Arts Festival have decided to stick the flag of local culture in its back on the way down. Toward that end, we’re launching a 48-hour pulp novel contest, the main rule of which is that all work must be set in Roanoke. Interested competitors should contact Josh Chapman by email at: All others should join us on Vaudeville Night for the grand decision and unveiling. NOTE: The Marginal Arts Festival is fluid and spontaneous! Check the MAF website for more up-to-date details on these exhibits and expect plenty more events to be added!


What can you do with an Easter egg? Decorate one any way you choose and bring it by Community High by Wednesday, March 27th. An Easter egg hunt will occur during the MAF’s Absurdist Street Carnival.

We’re entering year three of our own Vaudeville event. Here’s who we’ve had: Tap Dancers, Jazz Ensembles (Polyphonic or Pastiche), a Juggler, a Fire Eater, a Saw Player, a Comic Wrestler, a Magician, and so on. Here’s who’s coming this year:

MAF ORGANIZING COMMITTEE: Stephanie Martin Ralph Eaton Simon Nolen Gwenda & Tony Kellett Criss Cobb Heather Anderson Carol Hughes Brian Sieveking VENUE PROVIDERS: Community High School John Aaron Garland Carol Hughes Max Mead Mitchell Gallery 108 Boxley Building SUPPORTERS: Lucas Thornton and CHS Board

CURATORS AND PRODUCERS: Josh Chapman Susan Jamison Alison Hall Jennifer D. Anderson Christine Carr Chris Cobb Charles Alan Reynolds III Matt Ames Warren Fry Olchar E. Lindsann Jim Leftwich Max Mead Mitchell Swade Best Amanda Agricola Frank Finch Josh Chapman Ralph Eaton

COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL STAFF, IN PARTICULAR: John McBroom Josh Chapman Les Epstein Linda Thornton Claudia de Franko Celine Anderson Swade Best A BIG THANK YOU TO: Emily & Chelsea, (VIA Noke girls) Tom Kennedy Carol Hughes Scott Tate Press Press Merch Swift Print Corrugated Container Corp City of Roanoke Arts Commission

WE DON’T HAVE A STAFF, BUT OUR MOVERS AND SHAKERS DESERVE A SPECIAL THANKS: Brian Counihan, Mandarin of Marginality Stephanie Martin, MAF Coordinator and Empress Gwenda Kellet, MAF Website & PR Aristocracy Ralph Eaton, Parade Zeus Simon Nolen, Graphics Khan Warren Fry, Automaton of Zones Josh Chapman, Impresario of Oddity Celine Anderson, Festival Intern


eparto ollege pr c d n a r to la mitment all, secu m m o s c a a h is it r. chool ded w y High S arts, foun anoke’s city cente it l n a r u e m b li m Co in the in Ro rounded d located n a , s e school g s s based cla seminar-

Our Mission is to foster creative and independent problem solvers with diverse backgrounds and abilities into scientifically and culturally literate, globally conscious, locally engaged citizens.

Profile for Emily Sibitzky

Issue 4 - March 2013  

VIA Noke Magazine, Issue 4, March 2013, Marginal Arts Festival Edition

Issue 4 - March 2013  

VIA Noke Magazine, Issue 4, March 2013, Marginal Arts Festival Edition

Profile for vianoke