In Boozo Veritas #24 by Teege Braune
There’s a Space for Us
Located above Anthony’s Pizza on Colonial Drive, The Space is an aptly named community arts center that has recently filled a local niche as venue to some of the most experimental, underground, and exciting events to take place in Orlando in the last six months. Fostering an atmosphere of openness and creativity that never shirks on quality, The Space has illustrated just how much talent exists in Orlando waiting for a place and the opportunity to present itself to the city. Housed in what was once a small apartment at the top of a stairwell that reads, “Welcome. You are here. It is now,” as you ascend, it has never failed to amaze me each of the several times I’ve found myself compelled to venture through its perpetually redecorated central hallway.
The first time I came to The Space was back in October for the At My Chamber Door Halloween costume party and instillation art show. If it wasn’t for my fiancé Jenn, who always seems to know what’s going on around town, I would probably do nothing but hang out in bars all the time as I did before I met her. Fortunately, she had the foresight to bring us to The Space dressed in our Halloween costumes, knowing not what to expect. As we entered, we found The Space’s central hall covered floor to ceiling in repurposed mirrors perpetually windexed by a couple of diligent and eerily blank-faced young women. As a collaborative instillation, At My Chamber Door encouraged visitors to wander from nook to cranny where they could be barraged with a disturbingly convincing miniature snuff film or a drum solo that functioned as an exorcism. It was a refreshing and sufficiently frightening experience for myself who grew up in Indiana where the DIY haunted houses of my youth didn’t have to compete with Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. At My Chamber Door proved that you don’t need a major film studio’s budget to create some truly frightening scares. That being said, I’ve never been to another haunted house that turned into a dance party once all the guests had arrived.
As no city can have too many reading series, I was excited to attend Orlando’s newest, Literocalypse, when it premiered at The Space last November. Curated by Kristen Arnett and Cathleen Bota, Literocalypse creates an always-encouraging environment, featuring readers of diverse backgrounds and varying writing experience, while simultaneously transcending the stigma of the open mic. Some of the writers presented by Literocalypse have extensive publishing credits, but many are sharing their work publicly for the first time, and while the readings can at times feel unpolished, this isn’t a problem because they never lack craft or imagination. Perhaps without even meaning to, this balance seems to foster an atmosphere of vulnerability devoid of irony and cynicism, truly a refreshing experience. To top it off, Kristen and Cathleen regularly bake a cake for their readings, which take place on the first Thursday of every month, and sometimes even make their guests friendship bracelets.
Last night I made my way to The Space for a performance of new percussion music by Matt Roberts. An Orlando native visiting us from his new home in Alaska, Roberts played pieces composed by himself, Frederic Rzewski, David Lang, and Nat Evans and along with the drums, utilized instruments compromised of pots and pans, various sized tiles, and other found objects. Composer Nat Evans has been one of my closest friends for almost fifteen years, and while geography keeps us apart (he lives in Seattle), I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to be present at the premiere of his piece LOG, which like all of Evans work was as surprising as it was both subtle and moving. Performed with a field recording, music box and large log, the piece was executed flawlessly by Roberts who will hopefully return to us here where its sunny and warm after he finishes his graduate studies up where its always freezing.
Whether its visual art, literature, or music, The Space provides a venue for work that is cerebral, personal, intellectual, and honest. The fact that within The Space there is no line between these distinctions is a riveting foray into nearly uncharted territory where the confessional poem meets the minimalist sound experiment. Orlando couldn’t ask for a more relevant place for artists to rewrite the rules of culture and force us to wonder if these same rules ever really existed in the first place, a beacon where an exciting, young arts community can continually, fluidly redefine itself. Can’t find a chair? Then sit of the floor because you don’t want to be left out of whatever unnamable movement is going on here, but please bring a few bucks, a bottle of wine, or a six-pack of beer because like all community led venues, The Space is also community funded, and it will be up to us to ensure that this Orlando gem continues to shine ever brighter.
Teege Braune (episode 72, episode 75, episode 77) is a writer of literary fiction, horror, essays, and poetry. Recently he has discovered the joys of drinking responsibly. He may or may not be a werewolf.