It’s been almost a year since the last time I tended to my website and even longer since I sent out a newsletter telling my readers (both of you know who you are!) what is happening in my creative life. Of course, there are many reasons for this lag: pandemic related anxiety & depression, COVID-and-non-COVID-related medical crises, too busy taking repeated self-care baths and indulging in gentle yoga sessions, etc., but the real reason is that—to use the parlance of the day—there ain’t practically no shit been happening in my creative life to tell anyone about!
BEFORE the pandemic kicked in, there were a few things, though.
For example, one of my favorite music sites, Country Queer, featured my live performance at Joe’s Pub of my song “Shit Motherfucker Goddam” as one of the 20 Best Songs Ever for 2019! I still get a thrill just thinking about this! If you want to hear the song for yourself, you can watch the video HERE and read the little write-up about how great I am HERE. Or would you just care to read the lyrics? HERE you go, you nerd!
Bridget’s moonlighting gig as muse for Fashion Club had a big milestone, too, as, after 2 years of designing and sewing it as a group, we completed her 2-part custom gown the “Caprisunrise” and its deceptively staid gold sequined cover-up! To commemorate the occasion, the inimitable Todd Oldham photographed us and Bridget, making us all look and feel like stars.
DURING the pandemic, it seemed like everything had ground to a halt, but some projects that my chosen family of creative geniuses had been working toward actually came to fruition, if their impact was not quite what we had hoped. The biggest sensation that went the most criminally underheard was the release of Jim Andralis & the Syntonics’ third album, My Beautiful Enemy. It’s debatable what makes that album so great, but usually the consensus is that it’s the barely audible low buzz of my Naomi-Judd-inspired vocal harmonies. To be fair, the groups polled for these surveys have been culled from a pool consisting only of me and my collection of stuffed poodles and ceramic figurines. The REAL best thing about the album is Jim – his gorgeous songs and his heartbreakingly beautiful voice. You can hear the album HERE and even buy real vinyl records, cd’s and t-shirts HERE. Also, I did the album art & t-shirt design.
Look out for Jim Andralis & the Syntonics’ NEW album coming out soon plus a long overdue My Beautiful Enemy record release concert that just might be combined with the release of the new one. But hell, don’t take my word for anything. I don’t know shit – I’m just a Syntonic!
Once the pandemic really kicked in, almost nothing happened with in my life that halfway resembled any of life’s “itties” that I usual depend on: creativity, productivity, or even the strategic and sensual draping of a single human titty, let alone two. BUT a few straggly rays of sunshine did peek through.
For example, in June 2020, XFR Collective, a non-profit dedicated to preserving at-risk audiovisual media, programmed my 1993 video “Islands in the Stream” in a streamed broadcast called “(Art)Work from Home”. (Find others of my newly digitally preserved early video work HERE). Also, the Battery Journal included lyrics of three of my songs along with images of selected “Then and Now” pieces in their published anthology of poetry and art called UNI-VERSE POETRY – PRINTS – PROOFS BY VISIONARY HUMANS and hosted an online salon-style reading where I sang my “poetry” to the masses. The wonderful Millay Colony included me in their publication BARNSWALLOW’s 2020 pride issue, featuring two of my pieces, “Then and Now (Rainbow Order)” and “Then and Now (Fruit)”
My beloved MacDowell published my writing and presentation of my “You Ought to See My Heart” t-shirt project benefitting BLM on the first in their series of features on their website called, Conversation About Social Justice.
Like so many of my artist and musician friends, I did not do so great creatively over the past year. Much of my time was spent stewing, worrying, and pacing, while I watched the wasted hours, days, and months pass me by. At some point, though, my friend and showbiz cohort Molly Pope approached me with a collection of her childhood cross-stitches, wondering if I might have a use for them in my work. Molly & I met, masked, in Tompkin’s Square Park, where she delivered to me a 1980’s Elizabeth Taylor perfume gift bag full of her renditions of teacups, Victorian girls flying kites, and a whole lot of Christmas cutesiness made from cross-stitch kits and in varying degrees of completion. I took the collection and ran with it, challenging myself to make work that would both celebrate Molly’s girlhood identity and craftsmanship while subverting the gendered and religious content inherent in the pieces. I made some crazy shit that I’m still totally not sure about.
How did I survive financially during the pandemic, you may ask? Well, barely. But I did make a sale right before the curtain dropped, plus my husband Jim’s work as a therapist was consistent throughout the pandemic with only a slight dry spell while he suffered his own extreme case of COVID. Besides that, I can thank the Foundation for Contemporary Arts for their Emergency Grant and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) and New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) for inviting me to donate works to their benefit auctions and then sharing money from those sales with me.
And now I must thank Yaddo! I was scheduled to have my second residency there in April 2020, but, of course, that had to be cancelled. However, they regrouped and extended invitations a year later to those of us who were willing to attend with strict COVID rules in place. I accepted eagerly, and this is the man who emerged:
Yes, that is a smile on my face.
I spent my time at Yaddo regenerating, writing in my journal, drawing pinecones,
and managing to create some small “Then and Now” pieces using plastic canvas/needlepointed coasters as a starting point.
I also dove into a project that’s been brewing in my mind for years: a book. I’m still afraid to commit to it, as this will be something completely new for me requiring skills I’m not sure that I have. But this format – a mixed up memoir/self portrait that incorporates uncensored introspection and coming-of-age stories with a manifesto, advice column, cook book, health tips, “art” “theory” for “dummies,” and a last will and testament – feels like the exact right way to build on the ideas of layered identity, humor, art/life melding, and accessibility/non-preciousness that have been so important to me in my work from the beginning. So, I did what I have seen other writers do and started charting out the outline of the book in color-coded sticky notes and signs.
In the months since I’ve gotten home, I’ve written some passages, edited and revised, and even purchased “Scrivener,” which I’m confident will bring the whole thing together, but I haven’t learned how to use yet.
Oh, gourd, this is getting so long. I can’t stop now, though – I’m almost at the present day!
With no live performances happening, House of Larréon has been mostly on hiatus. BUT I did have a fun gig. FOLAM (Family of Larréon and Muse) Bridget Everett commissioned me to make tasteful luxury set bags and keychains for her to give as gifts to the creative team working with her on her UPCOMING HBO TV SERIES SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE. Though I might have faltered on “tasteful,” I feel confident that I got everything else – including the show’s lightning bolt motif – incorporated into the 20 or so luxe hand-detailed no-2-alike custom accessories. Here are a few examples.
But what about music?? The good news: The monthly songwriters’ group I’m in has continued to meet on Zoom throughout the whole pandemic! The bad news: I haven’t written many songs that I think are any good. In fact there may only be one. This song is an angsty take on the after-effects of overbonding with our dog Dory, mixed with the torment of the short life spans of pets.
Don’t Go ©Larry Krone 2021 I feel the change I rouse from sleep I hear the sound Of jangling keys I know what’s next It’s no mystery You’re getting ready To leave What can I do To make you stay You may never come back If you go away I’ll block your path Throw myself on the floor At your feet Between you and the door Don’t go, don’t go, don’t go Don’t go, don’t go, don’t go You put on your pants So quietly Get your things together Trying not to look at me But don’t look now The jokes on you I’ll steal your socks And I’ll sit down on your shoes If you make the mistake Of sitting on the couch I’ll pin you down With my paws and my mouth I’m not too proud To scream and cry In your face So we’ll never have to say goodbye Don’t go, don’t go, don’t go Don’t go, don’t go, don’t go You try your best to keep me calm With Prozac, CBD, and Trazadone But my love is stronger than anything you can do And I can’t be without you, alone Don’t go, don’t go, don’t go Don’t go, don’t go, don’t go Don’t go, don’t go, don’t go Don’t go, don’t go, don’t go Now, I don’t know this But you do The day will come When I leave you These desperate stunts That I pull today Won’t seem so crazy To you on that day So please Stay with me Don’t go, don’t go, don’t go
Home stretch starting with a medical moment:
The past couple of months have been all about the orthognathic surgery I got to fix my sleep apnea. Specifically, I got maxillomandibular advancement for sleep apnea, which means that they cut apart my upper and lower jaws, moved them both forward about ½ centimeter, then put them back together with titanium plates.
Recovering from this has been pure hell, and I’m not sure that I would recommend it to most people for that reason, BUT I think the surgery has really worked, and I no longer suffer from sleep apnea! While trying to research the surgery and decide whether or not to have it done, I had a really hard time finding people to talk with who had been through it. So, I would love to be that resource for anybody who is thinking about it. I plan to set up a tagged page on this website with all the information I have to share. In the meantime, please reach out to me if you think I can help you or someone you care about who suffers from sleep apnea to make a good decision for themselves about this surgery.
Uh oh- I’m exhausted from writing this. HOW MUST YOU FEEL READING IT???
Last 3 things:
1. In my convalescence after my surgery, I completed this custom Tallit for my niece Iris who was Bat Mitzvahed on June 12.
I have a tradition of making Tallits for my nieces and nephews, customized to their tastes and styles. Iris is the last of her generation in my family to get a Bat/Bar Mitzvah, so the hours (and hours) working on this was a real extended “Sunrise, Sunset” situation for me in my mind. The thing is, though, that I DO remember growing older! (Watch this video of Robert Goulet singing the song if you don’t get that reference.)
2. Are you or is anyone you know 60 or older? You can take my Art Appreciation Class!! Sometime in the Fall, the Hope of Israel Senior Center where I’ve taught art for the past 19 years asked me to come up with a class that would work on Zoom. I was dubious, but the Art Appreciation class that I developed has been a complete success! It’s a very relaxed, no pressure forum for its participants to compare and contrast 2 works of art that I share with the class on my screen. The conversations have been amazing, and the class has enlivened my love for looking at art both familiar and brand new to me. I may even expand the class beyond the senior center and offer it to non-seniors for some kind of a pay situation. Stay tuned!
3. September 2021 isn’t that far away, so get ready to see some of my physical actual art in person on the wall and maybe even performed right in front of you in an exhibition at The 8th Floor Gallery, scheduled to open then! It will be a curated group show about queer kinship and chosen families that’s been in the works for a long time and was rescheduled several times because of the pandemic. Let’s cross our fingers that it actually happens, because I have some exciting things planned for it, and there will be a handful of other great artists involved, too.
Thank you for reading this if you did! If you skimmed it, I hope this thank you is one of the nuggets that caught your attention, because you deserve the thanks for paying even that much attention to my bullshit. If you didn’t read this far, then I don’t even know why I am saying anything to you, because you’re not seeing it. If any of you who are reading this, however, know somebody who you know gave up on this War-and-Peace-letter-only-longer-and-more-boring as soon as they saw the “Ruin Your Life and Look Great Doing it” picture, please send them my heartfelt thanks, and extend to them my promise that I will TRY to be more succinct next time.
Please stay healthy and safe, happy even. And look out for a spontaneous, semi-consensual hug from me next time we get to see each other in person!