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Monday, November 14, 2005 | “Poetry and Art,” a quarterly series at the Museum of the Living Artist, brings a combination of words, music and visual art to the Balboa Park gallery scene. The sounds reverberate off the paintings and sculptures through performances that unite audiences and artists in a variety of cross-fertilized genres.

“Poetry and Art” is performance artist Guy Lombardo campaigning for the White House, laying down feverish presidential poses and spouting the usual abstract, meaningless rhetoric. He says almost nothing of importance, then cues the crowd to applaud the rubbish that’s being purported as good common sense. And the crowd obliges, claps like a bunch of lunatics because, well, that’s what happens at political conventions.

“Poetry and Art” is Al Howard and the K-23 Orchestra rocking the museum’s 10,000-square-foot gallery. It is a community of art freaks, thinkers and everyday folks, young and old, conservative and liberal, dancing together.

“Poetry and Art” is Professor Steve Kowit’s words and his poet’s bible “In the Palm of Your Hand,” and Professor Fred Moramarco and his PowerPoint poems in dialogue with William Bouguereau’s “The Young Shepherdess” and Picasso’s “La Vie.”

It is anarchist lawyer Cecil Hayduke burning a U.S. flag. It is Taos World Slam Champion Pat Payne ranting verses and displaying her Urban Angst Vending Machine.

Poetry and Art is author Mikel Dunham’s words and photographs from his book “Samye, a Pilgrimage to the Birthplace of Tibetan Buddhism.”

The audience members and participants experience poetry and prose in dialogue with painting, photography, sculpture, music and dance. The featured artists serve not only as entertainment but also as inspiration for developing artists and fans of the arts. The open-mic portion of the show is for all performers to strut their stuff. There is music throughout, performed by Israel Maldonado (guitar), Shannon Bates (saxophone) and Zuri Waters (saxophone).

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, the first feature of the night will be Xdrop dance troupe (www.xdrop.org). Xdrop’s cutting-edge performances have been described by San Diego writer Jennifer Chung as “a mix of modern dance, yoga and athleticism with oversized props and (Liliana) Cattaneo’s distinctive brand of edgy, haunting and visceral choreography.”

Cattaneo and Sarah Keeney of Xdrop use space and movement to delineate personal stories and feelings.

“Our work originates from something that we need to communicate, something that we need to get off our chests,” says Cattaneo, whose dance background ranges from ballet to burlesque. The two dancers incorporate new music and props that include a large, black dress, a rood and a trashcan filled with water. On Nov. 16, Cattaneo will perform a wet solo, and the audience should be prepared for a crucifixion!

The second feature of the night is Los Angeles poet, Larry Jaffe. He is the editor of Southern California Poetix (www.poetix.net) and producer of the Buddha Jam Poetry Series. For Jaffe, the written word is most important. He was recently quoted in Britain’s “poetry landmark,” The Poetry Kit magazine: “The written word well-crafted and well-read … there is simply nothing like that. You have to understand as a host I see hundreds and hundreds of poets. Today’s live poetry scene is a most dramatic moment of extreme importance. The people have a voice!”

The film “BeauteouS” by UCSD film Professor Giovanna Chesler will be the third feature of the night. In “BeauteouS,” a Long Island beauty queen humorously realizes she is more than just a pretty face. In the days leading up to her senior prom, Donatella begins to explore her intellect and her sexuality.

“The central character in ‘BeauteouS’ uses poetry to escape from her plastic, suffocating surroundings, so the idea of screening the film alongside the work of poets and other artists is quite fitting,” said Chesler.

“Film draws from all art forms – particularly photography and poetry, and should never remain completely removed from and out of conversation with other arts,” she said. To read more about Chesler’s films, visit www.g6pictures.com.

After the features, there will be a brief intermission with snacks and music. Then the museum microphone is open to the public. All artists are welcome to present written and visual art. Musician Zuri Waters is also available to accompany your words with saxophone if you choose.

Join San Diego’s local arts community for some modern dance, music, poetry and a movie. Meet the creators in person. If you’d like to perform on the open mic, sign-ups start at 6 p.m. Take your artwork to share, verses to read or simply go and enjoy the show.

Museum doors open on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. For more information, contact the Museum of the Living Artist at (619) 236-0011, e-mail

Michael Klam is a freelance journalist and San Diego author who moderates poetry and art events in the Museum of the Living Artist.

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