Saturday, February 14, 2015

Out and About – Winter 2014-2015

UPDATED: 2/26/15

Regular readers of The Wild Reed will no doubt be familiar with my "Out and About" series, one that I began in April 2007 as a way of documenting my life as an “out” gay Catholic man, seeking to be all “about” the Spirit-inspired work of embodying God’s justice and compassion in the Church and the world. I've continued the series in one form or another every year since – in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and now into 2015. So let's get started with the latest installment . . .

Above: With friends Kathleen and Cheryl at the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra's 8th Annual Salon and Silent Auction, Saturday, January 31, 2015. As well as showcasing and raising funds for the MPO, this event also served to officially introduce and welcome to the wider community the orchestra's new Music Director, Alexander Platt.

Above: Friends, longtime and new, at the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra's Salon and Silent Auction. From left: Rita, Gregg, Paul, Rick, Tressa, and Matt.

The MPO was founded in 1993 by Kevin Ford, a gay man who had a vision of a gay and lesbian orchestra that would build community and fellowship through the performance of classical music. Notes the MPO website:

Although Kevin succumbed to complications from HIV-AIDS in 1995, the organization he created continues to grow and diversify today. The MPO includes players from a variety of backgrounds and orientations who share a commitment to inclusivity, non-discrimination, and to the performance of works by under-represented composers.

My good friend Kathleen (pictured with me in the opening image) is the orchestra's Principal Second Violinist.

Left: With my TRUST Meals on Wheels colleagues Julia and Betsy – December 18, 2014.

I've worked part-time as a Site Coordinator with this south Minneapolis-based 'meals on wheels' program since June 2011.

As I've previously noted, in a lot of the church reform work I've facilitated and engaged in – and, to some degree, am still part of – rarely is positive change something that happens immediately; it's very much future-oriented work. With my work with meal-on-wheels, however, I experience the satisfaction of knowing that every day – here and now – our work is making a very real difference in people's lives. These two very different types of work make for a good balance in my life. And for that I'm very grateful.

Above and right: My home in south Minneapolis. I share this lovely abode with Tim, the best housemate and friend anyone could possibly want.

Throughout this past winter I've enjoyed many quiet and restful evenings in the warm glow of what I call the parlour (above). I light the candles, pour myself a Scotch (or sometimes a brandy), curl up in a blanket on the couch, and enjoy the music of Claude Chalhoub, Moby & Co., Edgar Meyer, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Bobbie Gentry, Miloš Karadaglić, and/or Kate Bush.

It hasn't all been "quiet time," though. Early in the winter Tim and I hosted a Christmastide/Winter Solstice gathering for a number of our friends. We also celebrated the New Year with a party. Images from both these events can be found here.

More recently, our friends Brian and Kathleen (left) came by for coffee, conversation, and . . .

. . . a winter walk along Minnehaha Creek.

Above: from left: Tim, Kathleen and Brian – Sunday, January 18, 2015.

Right: On Friday, January 16, 2015, I joined with some really wonderful folks to celebrate our friend Ken Master's 91st birthday! Happy Birthday, Ken!

Above: My friend Joan hosted a lovely dinner party on the evening of January 16, 2015. From left: Katie, Joan, Ian, George, Raul, and Karl.

Back in the summer of 2013, Joan and I spent a great weekend in Bayfield, Wisconsin. It's an incredibly beautiful part of the country, as I hope I documented in the many photographs I took while there. Many of these photos can be viewed in the previous Wild Reed post, Days of Summer on the Bayfield Peninsula.

Left: On Sunday, January 11, my friends Liana and Curtis' daughter Amelia turned one! This special occasion was marked by a gathering of family and friends at the home of Amelia's grandparents, my friends John and Noelle.

Right: Amelia's first birthday celebration was made all that more special by the presence of Uncle Phil, visiting all the way from Georgia.

Above: From left: Phil, Curtis, John, Noelle, Carmen, and Mark – January 11, 2015.

My friend Phil was a guest writer at The Wild Reed back in 2012. To read his insightful op-ed on bisexuality, click here.

Left: The birthday girl with her parents, Curtis and Liana. I had the honor of officiating at Liana and Curtis' wedding in the summer of 2013. For images of this happy event, click here.

Also, in the summer of 2012 I spend a wonderful weekend in Chicago with Liana, Curtis, Phil, John, and Noelle. For images, click here.

Right: With Eddie, the Wonder Dog!

For more images of the lovable and very photogenic Eddie, click here, here, here, and here.

Above: Ziggy!

For more images of this handsome cat, click here, here, here, and here.

On the afternoon of Friday, January 30 I hosted a tea party for a number of the wise and inspiring women in my life. It was an event I've been meaning to do for years, as the last tea party I hosted was in my former residence in St. Paul in January 2012. Since then, my collection of tea cups and saucers has been languishing in boxes in the basement of my now not-so-new home in south Minneapolis.

Pictured above from left: Brigid McDonald, CSJ; Marguerite Corcoran, CSJ; Rita McDonald, CSJ; Theresa O'Brien, CSJ; Paula Ruddy; Rita Quigley; Florence Steichen, CSJ; and Kate McDonald, CSJ.

Back in 2007, Paula Ruddy, myself, and a number of other local Catholics launched The Progressive Catholic Voice online forum. It's still going strong!

Then in 2009 we worked with others to form the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR). We both still serve on the board of this organization and have, over the years, planned and organized many initiatives and events together. Recently, Paula and two other representatives from CCCR and the Council of the Baptized met with Archbishop John C. Nienstedt. To read Paula's account of this meeting, click here.

Above: My friend Kathleen Olsen with our mutual friends Brigid McDonald, CSJ, Marguerite Corcoran, CSJ; and Rita McDonald, CSJ.

Left: With Rita and Kate McDonald – January 30, 2015.

It won't surprise you to know that many of the "wise and inspiring" women who gathered at my home on January 30 are members of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet – St. Paul Province.

My friends Kathleen Olsen and Rita Quigley and I are consociate members of this Catholic order. Marguerite Corcoran and Rita McDonald served as my companions during my two-year consociate candidancy (2006-2007).

To read "A Change of Habits," City Pages' 1999 cover story on Kate, Brigid, Rita and Jane McDonald, ckick here

Above: Friends (from left) Rita, Paula, Florence and Theresa – January 30, 2015.

And yes, I still had my Christmas tree up at the end of January! (For reasons that I explain here.)

Above: On the evening of Saturday, February 7, 2015, I attended with my friends (from left) Mark, Dan and Raul a performance of Contra-Tiempo's show "Full Still Hungry" at the Ordway.

About Contra-Tiempo, the following is noted in the show's program guide:

Contra-Tiempo is a bold multi-lingual Los Angeles-based company dedicated to transforming the world through dance. Its unique urban Latin dance theater brings to life voices not traditionally heard on the concert stage while building community, facilitating dialogue and moving audiences.

The company's work is rooted in salsa and Afro-Cuban and draws from hip-hop, urban and contemporary dance-theater. Contra-Tiempo creates performance work that pushes the boundaries of Latin dance as an expressive cultural and contemporary form, taking Salsa back to its roots as a mode of expression for the struggles of the working class.

Contra-Tiempo includes a rich tapestry of professional dancers and performers of varied styles, many of whom are immigrants or first generation North Americans, and exist within the complex political and personal landscapes addressed in the company's work.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the performance was its various portrayals of Carmen Miranda. Notes a review on the Ordway website:

Each of the three parts featured a version of Carmen Miranda the Portuguese-Brazilian singer/actress of the 1930s and 40s who became a stereotype of Latin American culture in American movies. In the first part she was “Full Carmen” wearing her signature fruit headdress and representing the over-the-top culture that eventually consumed her. In “Still” she was “Carmen Belebi,” still grounded and still rooted in the past and looking back to the way things used to be.

In “Hungry” there were two Carmens. The original Carmen now wore a headdress made of trash which symbolized the negative effects of consumption. She was confronted by the Hungry Carmen, a woman wearing simple clothing and a head scarf. The two mirrored each other and then partnered in a competitive duet. In a dramatic climax the Consumption Carmen overcame the Hungry Carmen and took her position on a high pedestal of chairs while the dead Hungry Carmen was carried off the stage and down the aisles.

To read an insightful interview with Ana Maria Alvarez, Artist Director of Contra-Tiempo, click here.

Above: My friend Raul in downtown St. Paul – Saturday, February 7, 2015.

Raul is pictured in Rice Park, which every year is transformed into a veritable winter wonderland thanks to the hundreds of lights strung throughout the park's numerous trees. It's quite the sight.

The Annual Rice Park Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony actually took place three months ago on Saturday, November 29, 2014.

Above: Breakfast with my friend Pete at Victor's 1959 Cafe in Minneapolis – Thursday, February 12, 2015.

Above: Winter beauty – February 2015.

Left: On the evening of Thursday, February 12, 2015 my friend Julia and I attended the James Sewell Ballet's "Ballet Works Project" at the TEK BOX Theater, one of a number of performance spaces at the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in downtown Minneapolis.

It was a great night of contemporary ballet. I particularly appreciated and enjoyed Shohei Iwahama's solo performance "Suspicious Fisherman," choreographed by Jane Weiner. Both Weiner and Iwahama are guest artists from Hope Stone Dance in Houston, Texas.

Above: A stunning image of dancer Shohei Iwahama by Lynn Lane. For Adam Castañeda's 2013 Houston Press profile on Iwahama, click here.

Right: Standing in the foyer of the TEK BOX Theater, which is home to several amazing dance portraits by photographer Erik Saulitis.

Notes Jenny Zhang of about Saulitis' work:

Dancers leap in the air, maintain perfect form, and contort their bodies gracefully in these stunning images by Minnesota-based photographer Erik Saulitis. Photographed against a plain, white background, the silhouetted figures stand out in elegant contrast as they strike dynamic poses or run through difficult routines, allowing Saulitis to capture the image at just the right moment.

The dancers' fluid movements appear effortless, despite the physical challenges of executing complicated pirouettes, arabesques, or standing on tip-toe. Whether the subjects flow with rippling cloth, soar through the air with sprays of water, or rely solely on their own bodies to capture the perfect photo, each spectacular shot expresses their joy and passion for the art of dance.

NOTE: For more on dance at the Wild Reed, see:
The Art of Dancing as the Supreme Symbol of the Spiritual Life
The Premise of All Forms of Dance
The Dancer and the Dance
The Soul of a Dancer
The Church and Dance
The Naked Truth . . . in Dance and in Life
Recovering the Queer Artistic Heritage
Gay Men and Modern Dance
The Trouble with the Male Dancer
A Beautiful Collaboration

Above: With the wonderful members of my Tuesday night yoga group – February 17, 2015.

Above: On the afternoon of Saturday, February 21, my dear friend Brigid hosted a bon voyage party for me at Carondelet Village, St. Paul. On Friday, February 27, I leave for a month-long visit to my homeland of Australia.

Pictured from left: Kathleen Rouna; Theresa O'Brien, CSJ; me, Kate McDonald, CSJ; Brigid McDonald, CSJ; Marguerite Corcoran, CSJ; Sue Ann Martinson; Rita McDonald, CSJ; and Mary O'Brien, CSJ.

A beautiful "Prayer for the Traveler" by John O'Donohue was shared by my friend Kathleen Olsen at one point during our gathering. Part of this prayer reads:

A journey can become a sacred thing: make sure, before you go, to take the time to bless your going forth, to free your heart of ballast so that the compass of your soul might direct you toward the territories of the spirit – where you will discover more of your hidden life and the urgencies that deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way, gathered wisely into your inner ground: that you may not waste the invitations which wait along the way to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed, and live your time away to its fullest; return more enriched, and free to balance the gift of days which call you.

Above and left: Celebrating my friend Joey's 19th birthday – February 23, 2015.

Pictured with me above from left: Joey's mother Kathleen, Will, and the birthday boy himself!

In June of 2013, all four of us had a memorable week in the Black Hills of South Dakota. For images and commentary of our adventure, click here.

Above: With my dear friends Ken and Carol Masters – February 24, 2015.

Right: A great photo of my friend Brian – February 22, 2015.

Above: Lunch with friends at one of my favorite resturants, Pizza Lucé in Uptown, Minneapolis – Thursday, February 26, 2015. From left: Me, Bobbi, John, Brian, and Rick.

Above and below: More scenes of winter beauty.

Above: Hey, let's just call this "Portrait of a Man in His Fiftieth Year"! It was taken on February 12, 2015 . . . And, yes, later this year I turn 50, a fact I'm still doing my best to get my head around!

Winter 2014-2015 Wild Reed posts of note:
At the Mall of America Today, a Necessary Disruption to "Business as Usual"
Vanessa Redgrave: "Almost a Kind of Jungian Actress"
Christmas 2014: Thoughts and Celebrations
20 Years Stateside
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis (Part 6)
The Gravity of Love
"A Token of Wildness and Intractability"
For 2015, Three "Generous Promises"
Five Takes on Five Dances
The Australian Roots of My Progressive Catholicism
No Altar More Sacred
A Beautiful Collaboration

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Out and About – Autumn 2014
Out and About – Summer 2014
Out and About – Spring 2014
Out and About – Winter 2013-2014
Out and About – Autumn 2013

Images: Michael J. Bayly; except for the two Contra-Tiempo images which are by the Adrienne Arsht Center (Miami-Dade County) and Brandt Brogen of the Richmond Family Magazine, and the image of Shohei Iwahama which is by Lynn Lane of The Houston Press).

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