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Sandy Ewen’s Busy, Busy World

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Were Richard Scarry still alive today, he’d surely add Sandy Ewen, one of Houston’s most active and engaging performers, to his Busy, Busy World children’s books.  To the average Joe, her schedule would seem exhausting but whether performing with Weird Weeds, creating visual art, performing solo, or playing with various other performers, she is someone with seemingly boundless energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity.  This November and December are no exception as Ewen not only has a visual art show but also multiple performances in which she is either performing or organizing.  We somehow got her to sit still enough for us to have her walk us through it all.

Leon casino,  

You’ve been one of the busiest performers.  What inspires you?  Where do you get the energy? How does it all fit together?  And what drives you as an artist?

Sandy - I think of ideas and then I like to see them happen. Often, my ideas include other people, whose talent, energy and enthusiasm motivate me to work longer and harder than I could on my own. I’m not sure where I get energy, half the time I can almost manage things, half the time I feel totally overwhelmed. My life is a bit frantic, I work 8-6 Monday through Friday and I’m busy with something almost every night of the week. I have a habit of saying Yes to other peoples’ projects and creating new projects until I have virtually zero down time. I love all of my projects so the effort seems worthwhile most of the time.

Your art is currently on display at Fresh Arts(Spacetaker)*.  Can you elaborate about your visual art, how it began, and your approach to it?

Sandy - I bought a slide projector at a garage sale about 3 years ago. I didn’t have any slides so I decided to make some out of plastic and paint. Since then I’ve acquired several more projectors, a heat gun and a blowtorch. I’ve been experimenting with burning, melting & fusing different types & thicknesses & colors of plastic and mixed media. I’ve experimented with black & white photo chemistry, using a projector as a photo enlarger. I’ve also experimented with digital printing. On display now at Spacetaker are about 8 projectors and about 100 handmade slide, as well as 21 digital prints. I am particularly proud of the prints - I feel they live at an interesting intersection between abstraction and photo-realism; sculpture, painting & photography.

OK Let’s run through the shows you’ve booked over at the Fresh Arts.  I’ll call them out and you tell us a bit about each?  Ready?  OK, let’s start with a band you play in Weird Weeds who is playing with Plutonium Farmers on November 16.

Sandy - The Weird Weeds had a mini-tour this Spring. We went to Dallas, Fayetteville, St Louis, Louisville & Nashville. A longer tour would have been nice - I love using up a years’ vacation time in the back seat of a van on the interstate feeling sick and hung over.

OK next on November 17 you have Compositions for vibraphone and large ensemble by Nick Hennies.

Sandy - Nick has written a piece for an ensemble of 5-7 people. I am in charge of putting together the ensemble. Nick says no guitar, so I can’t play. I think it involves a lot of sustained and matched pitches. Nick is a talented dude; I know it’ll be good. I’m also excited to hear his vibraphone composition, of which I know nothing.

November 30…Projections and Improvised Sound: You/ Damon Smith/ Rebecca Novak, Thomas Helton/ Jonathan Jindra, Illicit Relationship.

Sandy - Rebecca and Damon and I will have a trio accompanied by slide projections. Rebecca will be showing some of her slides alongside mine. Jonathan Jindra made a beautiful video piece with Thomas that was released on DVD a year or so ago. They continue to work together & will be showing some video work with their live performance. Illicit Relationship will also be showing video work. For my art show, I wanted to curate an evening of music & projection collaborations, and these projects seemed like a natural fit.

December 7 - You playing Solo Guitar, Continuum performance art & Black Leather Jesus

Sandy - Continuum is a Houston based performance art collective. Jonatan Lopez of Continuum has been making a foray into experimental/noise music lately, so inviting him & Continuum seemed like an excellent idea. I’m not sure who/how many Continuum members will be representing, but I expect the performance on the 7th to be some sort of collaboration between the musicians and performance artists. It’ll be weird, it’ll be loud. I am planning to perform an extra loud & noisy set on this particular evening, and I can’t wait to hear/see Black Leather Jesus. BLJ is Richard Ramirez and many of the better parts of Houston’s noise music scene. Fun times for sure.

And finally, December 14 - Architects of Cinema performance ensemble with you, Y. E. Torres & Chris Nelson.

Sandy - This is me, Y.E.Torres & Chris Nelson with guitars, projectors, projection screens, video, etc. We killed it at 14 Pews back in August and I’m really excited for us to perform again. The white walls of the gallery space will be a great canvas for projections. I love working with Chris and YET. This project is abstract, beautiful, lush, encompassing. This’ll be the show’s closing.

November 2 - December 14, 2012 - Projection & Amplification: solo exhibition by multimedia artist Sandy Ewen

November 16 @ 10 p.m. - Weird Weeds, Plutonium Farmers
November 17 @ 8 p.m. - Compositions by Nick Hennies for vibraphone and large ensemble
November 30 @ 8 p.m. - Projections and Improvised Sound: Ewen/Smith/Novak, Helton/Jindra, Illicit Relationship
December 7 @ 8 p.m. - Sandy Ewen Solo Guitar, Continuum performance art & Black Leather Jesus
December 14 @ 8 p.m. - Architects of Cinema performance ensemble  featuring Sandy Ewen, Y. E. Torres & Chris Nelson

All shows at the Fresh Arts ARC (Artist Resource Center)
2101 Winter Street, #B11
Houston, TX 77007

*Note: Fresh Arts & Spacetaker recently merged and are now simply referred to as Fresh Arts.  The two are referred to interchangably in this interview.