(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – “The Collected Works of Lady Ramshackle,” a mixed-media installation by Ryder Cooley, and a performance by chamber-folk ensemble Ryder Cooley & Dust Bowl Faeries, both at the Whitney Center for the Arts, will highlight the First Fridays Artswalk in downtown Pittsfield on December 4, 2015. Cooley’s installation is part of the Whitney’s “Third Annual Whimsy” art show, for which there will be a reception from 5 to 8pm, immediately followed at 8pm by a free performance by Dust Bowl Faeries, an ethereal gothic-folk ensemble featuring bittersweet songs with echoes of gypsy-folk, pop, cabaret and dark circus music. The Dust Bowl Faeries concert is the Afterwalk Party at the Whit.
“The Collected Works of Lady Ramshackle” is a mixed-media installation exploring themes of hybridity, ritual, and transcendence through the intimate collaboration between multimedia artist Ryder Cooley and Hazel, a disembodied taxidermy ram. Viewers will be presented with a collection of evocative two- and three-dimensional work, including drawings, photography, video, objects and artifacts. “The Collected Works of Lady Ramshackle” draws inspiration from fairy tales, dreams and hallucinations.
Ryder Cooley is an interdisciplinary artist, musician and performer. Hazel is a disembodied sheep who now exists as a taxidermy ram’s head. Ryder & Hazel have been performing together since 2012. As hybrid performers, they create music and movement-based works as well as site-responsive, durational and aerial performances. Through this unique collaboration, Hazel is resurrected, re-embodied and re-gendered through Ryder, who provides the body and voice for the two of them. The spirit of Hazel is channeled through their collaboration, and Hazel’s ghostly presence resonates throughout their performative work.
Ryder & Hazel are based in Hudson, N.Y. They live and work at the Animalkind Cat Rescue, and they co-host the Club Helsinki Open Mic on Tuesday nights. Ryder & Hazel also perform with the band Dust Bowl Faeries and are recording an album with producer Seth Rogovoy. Ryder Cooley and Dust Bowl Faeries are animal lovers and advocates. Hazel was not killed or decapitated for this project. If anyone knows who murdered Hazel, please contact the artists as there is a warrant out for their arrest.
Dust Bowl Faeries is an ethereal gothic-folk ensemble featuring original songs on accordion and ukulele, with lap steel & electric guitar, singing saw and percussion. The bittersweet songs of the Dust Bowl Faeries’ echo nuances of gypsy-folk, pop, cabaret and dark circus music. Karen Cole, Jen Dubois and JoAnn Stevelos are the other members of this all-lady group. Hazel, a disembodied sheep who now exists as a taxidermy ram’s head, joins the band as spirit-animal go-go dancer. Dust Bowl Faeries is not just a band, it’s a ritual. The Faeries love to dress up in costumes, light candles and perform amidst a lanscape of projected imagery.
Writes Cooley, “The body is suspended, floating. Our breath mingles, mine in life, hers in death. Through me, Hazel visits the living. Through her, I travel into the cloven past. I feel Hazel’s death in my body as s/he becomes part of me. Through my body, I de-masculate the ram as she adorns me with horns. He becomes she becomes we. I am packing the rack when I strap Hazel to my body. The trophy is dismantled, and Hazel is re-purposed. Together, we enter a third realm, re-enchanting destroyed bodies, landscapes and histories. Through our performative actions, time slips into wilderness and the motion-picture begins.”
The Whitney Center for the Arts, 42 Wendell Avenue, will present the “Third Annual Whimsy” art show which will open with a reception from 5 to 8 pm on Friday, December 4th. Curators, Leo Mazzeo and Tammara Leminen, hope to capture some of the special (and often times elusive) magic of this festive season, as well as (in a much broader sense) the universal magic inherent in much of our daily lives, if we can manage to approach it with open hearts and minds. Included in this year’s “Whimsy” will be the works of Purely Patricia, Michael Vincent Bushy, Ryder Cooley, Karl Mullen, Lisa Griffith, Linda Graves, Gary Lippincott, and Tammara Leminen. An After Party will follow from 8 to 10 pm with a special performance by Ryder Cooley and Dust Bowl Faeries.
The First Friday Artswalk includes fifteen different art shows featuring work by over 25 accomplished regional artists in Pittsfield’s so-called Upstreet Cultural District, with venues including Berkshire Museum and Dottie’s Coffee Lounge. The December First Fridays Artswalk will kick off with opening receptions with artists throughout the “walk” from 5 to 8 pm on Friday, December 4th. There will be a guided walking tour beginning at 5pm at the Intermodal Center at BRTA, 1 Columbus Ave. The evening will culminate with an Afterwalk Party featuring live music by Ryder Cooley and the Dust Bowl Faeries at 8pm at the Whitney Center for the Arts, 42 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield, MA, free and open to the public.