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Dispatches from the Glass Museum

Energy transmogrifies into a physical form at the Thing

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I know I’ve been talking mostly about music in our time together over the last few weeks. Well, music and myself: I’m no journalist; I can’t separate my point of view from the story, and often fall into wild storms of adjectives. My editor tells me all of that is antithetical to the real crux of journalistic integrity, but I can’t listen. I write like I talk, and that involves marathon censoring sessions at the paper. I’m not saying he’s wrong at all. Objectivity is important when relaying the facts to people; instrumental in encouraging balanced debate. Imagine if you will, reading about a high school basketball game where the writer is hellbent on making you understand the next-level connection of the choreography of the sport and the recently discovered ripples from the big bang. Could get messy. (Editor’s note: Every dribble of the ball causes a butterfly effect that has drastic consequences! We all orbit ‘round the Spalding.) But I would wager my esteemed editor would be heartily up to the challenge, inspired by his recent tournament victory, and taking advantage of his ankle sprain, sprawled on a dirty sidewalk, furiously typing away, like Spider Jerusalem on some righteous crusade. So bear with me good people, while I lay down the facts as I see them.

In recent editions of The Thing in the Spring, we’ve enlisted an artist to show work as the stage backdrop. In 2012 it was Luke Ramsey, a Vancouver artist who I met in the record store during his stay at MacDowell, some ten years ago. We spent time driving around in my old hazy Buick, sharing mixtapes and looking at the stars. It was as if no time had passed when I picked him up at Logan years later, and we hit the airport bar awaiting the touchdown of a flight from China carrying the inimitable Ryan Wilson. Once in Peterborough, Luke strung up amazing and strange faces with fishing line and patience, as well as adding more of his improvised drawings on panels at the Toadstool Bookshop. In 2013, Anna Von Mertens’ work adorned the stage; gigantic quilts telling a story of currents and jetstreams. She’s a wild genius, distilled and sinewy, winding thread, fabric, dyes, and a heavy archaeology. Her work was suspended via some Yankee craftiness, and her father Carl. This year, we’re so happy to have Pat Ireton (or pi, as she signs her work) projecting her energy photographs, a unique work for each performer on the main stage Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (6/6-6/8). Pat and I go back to before the Thing even, as she is also the wife of thee Dredd Foole, and together they are basically the godparents of the entire weekend.

The Iretons came to Peterborough when I first brought Paul Flaherty to town, and were helpful in connecting me to Thurston Moore, J Mascis, and MV & EE, among other luminaries. I got Dan (aka Dredd Foole) to play as well, at the Union Mill, when it was a hallmark of the future of Peterborough. Our adventures really began there, as well as Brilliant Corners, and the inaugural Thing in the Spring. Dan and I are kindred spirits, and communed our friendship through side after side of perfect wax. Pat is a gentle listener and easy to laugh. I saw her work first as I became acquainted with their home in Brattleboro; her photographs are everywhere, though still fairly inconspicuous. Pictures of Dan performing; Sonic Youth; Jack Rose; Chris Corsano; Flaherty; among many others, faces awash in light, the images and stature of each performer bent and alien. Any surrounding light scrawled across the canvas in a wild calligraphy. I instantly loved the way they presented entire moments, rather than the split seconds of traditional photography. She presents a composed and thoughtful exterior, but her focus and inner fire are so apparent in her work. She’s a lone wolf; waiting with her camera, in constant dialogue with her surroundings and ideas, aware of the elements, and the minute orchestrations in which we are all enveloped. Pairing these photographs with the various performers, the audio and visual elements will become entangled, and ultimately, an inseparable element to the experience of each evening. Do come out and join us; Pat’s work will be much like her presence: warm and reassuring, whenever you’re ready.

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