Perform! Now! was graced with perfect weather. A balmy weekend with a full moon on the wane hovered over old Chinatown, one of the most romantic secret spots in Los Angeles. The four-day performance fest featured over eighty artists.

At Francois Ghebaly, Marcus Civin shot off his ‘American Rifle,’ a comic and tragic reminder that we humans have a hard time processing passion, sexual and otherwise. Civin illustrates the disparity between our Hollywood hopes of high-tech national security and the simple, homemade efforts of a terrorist with passion in his heart, an idea in his head and a bomb in his underpants. To the Motown upbeat of “Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher And Higher,” Civins brings down an airliner over Detroit and our fantasies of safety with it. This UCI MFA grad has our keen eye and a solid sensibility.










Photos by
Megan Gagnon

The question of agony or ecstasy has been an artistic concern ever since the Divine proposed the state of both in one nutshell. Is it pain or pleasure? Julie Tolentino does not choose in her performance “Cry of Love; A Labyrinth” at Human Resources.
Tolentino could have been a Gauguin model, with the face and body of the Proto-Woman. Leaning against the wall, Christ-like, her face upturned to the heavens, Tolentino was both agonized and ecstatic. A golden cord, hung from on-high, directed a river of raw honey into her open mouth. Was she choking? Drowning? Was she orgasmic? The sweet manna slowly covered the artist in a glossy glow.
In performance art, classic dramatic acting skill is often given the short-shift in favor of intellectualism and abstraction. Tolentino is an actress, capable of emotionally engaging her audience. She had us tied up in a labyrinth of fervent knots.
Throughout the overwhelming and compelling performance, I was standing in one of two ways. My arms were crossed, fingers clenched painfully into flesh. When I wasn’t agonized, I stood with hands outstretched as if I were rapturous at a fundamentalist tent revival. Never did I, or anyone else in the audience, take our eyes off the madonna.

Last year, at the first annual Perform! Now!, Lucas Murgida of the Charlie James Gallery stole the fest with dazzling reviews in the best publications. This year, he overwhelmed any expectations. As a continuation of his ‘future forecasting’ work, his piece “The Oracle” gets rid of the Middle Man (a fortuneteller, a Priest or a shaman) and puts you in touch with your Higher Power and Greater Self.
This Northern Californian has created an old school phone booth in modern pine with glass and mirror. If you want to make a call-above, you need to pass through the red velvet ropes governed by our dapper–dressed, carnival-barking artist. Once inside, you are left alone with your mirrored reflection, your Higher Power. Speak to the Oracle—Speak to yourself. The notion is sublime. The execution was pristine.

Lucas Murgida and his 'Oracle' Photo by Marty Schnapf

Micol Hebron waves ‘goodbye’ to Los Angeles. In honor of her hardworking eighteen years in this city, Hebron re-created all of her solo performance pieces in one seven-hour extravaganza. Hebron is leaving us to take the Senior Curator position of the Salt Lake Art Center.
At the Jancar Gallery, the audience controlled the show, telling the artist what we wanted to see from a long list of past performances.
I was on-hand for the Hannah Wilke nod. We boys in the audience got to chew spearmint gum, sculpt a pussy and glue it onto the artist.
Another piece had everyone scribing love letters. Western Project painter Cole Case wrote to his sweetie Carol and then scented his words with perfume.
Unfortunately, I had missed the frank and political discussion of the vagina, visualized with mirrors. Flavorpill’s Shana Nys Dambrot said the banter got quite “lively and at times a bit aggro.” All it takes is one little vagina and everyone gets in a lather.

Photos by Marty Schnapf

Volume Projects made a loud splash with several events, most notably a three-hour performance by the multi-talented Steve Roden. Scattered over several areas, Perform! Now! was a victim to the busy din of Chinatown. Roden solved that by creating a sound wave that bridged the two worlds.
Roden is best known for his thoughtful, meditative and Zen-beat works. For this show, he stepped out of character and pumped-up the volume. We love him for it.

Despite a SRO crowd on the Human Resources patio, Cal Arts tart Zackary Drucker punctuated his monologue with a canned laugh track for stunning effect. He didn’t need it; we were laughing anyway. The photog was doing a stand-up riff on sexual ambiguity. Like an exploding cigar, sex is always good for a loud laugh.

With Oprah’s ratings in the toilet, pink-haired Margie Schnibbe could be the next daytime talk show queen. Her TV set piece featured everything but the cameras. She had a Green Room (littered beer cans) and a theme: “My Mother, My Self: Coffee, Cocktails and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” We caught her interviewing gallerist Francois Ghebaly. Artillery Magazine’s Mitchell Mullholland wanted to TiVo the show!

Mariel Carranza Photo by Marty Schnapf

Abundanza! There was so much to see!
Superstar Nancy Popp kept popping up on the hour, every hour, on every rooftop.
Mariel Carranza didn’t look too happy sitting in her rocking chair made of glass shards. It’s hard to think of cancer with a smile.
Gratefully, Skip Arnold could only accost us from a video screen.

The art-centric audience was as interesting as the performers. Our Man of the Season John Baldessari, collectors Blake Byrne and Joyce Austin, actors Natalie Portman, James Franco and a few of the ‘L Word’ coven brought the star-power down to earthly sublime.

Confused by so many actors angling for film and TV, Los Angeles has never wrapped its palm fronds around performance art. Perform! Now! will change any misconception. Organized by Francois Ghebaly, Marcus Civin, Dino Dinco and Danielle Firoozi, Perform! Now! offers a smorgasbord of the best and worst of an exciting and powerful medium. We can’t wait for Season Three!

GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based artist and writer. His comprehensive new work of ideas and relevancy, “The Fellowship of Fortuna”, can be found at www.FortunaNow.com.