Saturday, October 23, 2021

Ravenswood Notes: Senses

   The whole point of these little italic intros is to alert the inattentive reader that they are not reading something by me, but the Saturday report of our esteemed Ravenswood correspondent, Caren Jeskey. Because occasionally readers, particularly new ones, will miss that. However, with today's  post, and its plunge into the world of Jeff Yang and his art, I don't think there's much risk of confusion. I try to get about, but usually end up on the sofa with a book, while Caren, indefatigably buzzes from flower to flower, gathering her sweetness and light. 
   Graffiti artists sprayed paint on large canvases on either side of the stage during a DJ set at the last Sundays on State for the season back in September. I had just marched with Clamor and Lace Noise Brigade playing my flute (well, mostly pretending to play since I could not really see the sheet music affixed to my arm on a bracelet of sorts—my first attempt at a marching band), and dancing along as the crowd lit up. It was so much fun! Shortly thereafter I pulled out of the band since I do not have the time or dedication to give them their due rewards for being so awesome.
     The spray paint art brought me back to the days at The Hot House when it was on South Wabash. An artist would paint while a band played. I’d become transfixed, watching the strokes of paint on canvas in time to the music, or to the rhythm in the artist’s head.
Jeff Yang, in his shop.
     I recently reconnected with an acquaintance from the past. We had brunch at Five and Dime and then I walked with him back to his violin shop in Evanston. Jeff Yang played with Mannheim Steamroller for many years, before leaving that world in 2015 to pursue another path.
     “My ultimate goal is to change the way arts and music are being viewed and consumed right now," said Jeff, who brings all of the senses into his creations. Music, olfactory stimulation, visual stimulation, color, and even gastronomy.
     As Jeff talked about his passion for awakening all of the senses simultaneously, I flashed back to my one and only visit to Alinea. Discreet round speakers were placed in the ceiling above each chair, and sounds played to coincide with the dining experience. For example, when one was eating a crisp caramel glaze, the speaker would emit a tinkling sound as the caramel cracked .
     Jeff is intrigued by the power of sound. He has learned that sound frequencies create varying patterns. “Circles, triangles, snow flakes. There is an order that sound is incorporated into.”
Jeff partnered with a perfume blogger Victoria Frolova, as well as perfumeries in New York and Tokyo, and launched his first event in 2018. A representative of Pod Majersky's group—of Pilsen art district fame—provided ample space on the Halsted art corridor where Jeff showcased his first event, Elements. The focus was on the five elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Metal.
     The exhibits blended food, perfume, music and art including film. He hired a well known chef from Arun’s Thai, and presented Dining in the Dark with various textures to stimulate the taste buds and overall experience. Jeff encourages the chefs and other artists to go with what they feel, and contribute in a way that makes the experience more fluid between various artists and mediums.
     The Violet Hour sponsored Elements as well, and developed the Juliet & Romeo cocktail in homage.
Jeff's next performance, In The Realm Of The Senses, (click here for tickets) is coming up next Friday night, 10/29, in Evanston. It was delayed due to COVID, and will celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday. A string quartet will play Op. 59 No. 2 and Sergio Gomez will create real time art inspired by improvised music. An ornate floral creation by Stacey Bal will drop down and shower beauty on the crowd while aromas will be diffused throughout the air in a subtle yet awakening manner.
     I will be there for an evening of forgetting about everything else.

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