Free State Festival

This week in Lawrence, KS is the Free State Festival, which brings together film, art, music, talks, and a lot of other creative goodness, all happening at the same time! I go through periods as an artist where I’m so hungry and can’t get enough of taking in and experiencing art, that I want MORE, MORE MORE! It gets my brain going in new directions and helps to get me out of my little world that sometimes becomes too small. This week, I feel like a kid in a candy shop.

There are so many fabulous things to see/hear/experience as part of the Free State Festival through the Lawrence Arts Center. - Thomas Frank book signing


My friend, Thomas Frank, kicked off the Free State Festival with a pre-festival talk to a full house on June 15th, about his new book Hey Liberal: or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People, followed by a Q&A, and then a book signing. We’ve been friends since we were almost adults–he’s the smartest person I know, but he’s also funny and a very nice guy. His talk made me feel better that my financial struggles are nationwide–it’s because of the economy and not necessarily anything I’m doing wrong. After he was done doing his thing, we went out to dinner with his dad, Brad Allen who is the director of the Lawrence Public Library, and another friend. Although our visit was brief, it was great to see him. - cloud interactive installation - 01


Saturday when I was at the Arts Center, this very interesting piece, made from burnt out light bulbs, was being installed outdoors in preparation for the Free State Festival. - cloud interactive installation - 02


I stopped and talked for a bit to the two artists, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett and then went Monday evening to their presentation about their work. I was blown away by their various projects–all dealing with reappropriating items ranging from light bulbs, eyeglass lenses, and even houses set for demolition. I was impressed with the scale of their work–not only the physical size of it, but how far reaching it was–their projects are interactive with the viewer/public and they also travel with some of it to different countries for exhibits and installations. It reminded me to “think bigger,” beyond myself. In their presentation, I was also impressed with how well they’ve documented their work. Their photographs and videos were very well done. - cloud interactive installation - 03


Here are some videos about their work, but they have done much more! Go to their site to see more photos and videos. Their work is impressive, and they are very nice people.





Tuesday evening I went to a talk by Luke Dubois. He also blew me away. He writes his own computer programs to use various kinds of data and information that he has collected to create visuals and videos. That description doesn’t sound very interesting and doesn’t do him justice. But when you see what he does with all of that, it’s unbelievable. His mind never stops, and his ideas are incredible. When it was Q&A time, it took awhile for people to start asking questions because everyone’s brains were trying to catch up and process everything he had just shown us. Check out his website to see some of his work. After hearing the things that he does AND that he has a full-time job, I felt like a real slacker.

Here’s a TED talk that he did, that shows some of the same videos and info that he presented at his talk at the Free State Festival.


Wednesday night I saw the documentary, Uncle Howard by Aaron Brookner. It’s about the young film director, Howard Brookner, and his nephew’s quest to track down his old film archives. Brookner, who died from AIDS in 1989 at the age of 34, produced and directed films about William Burroughs and Robert Wilson, and also made Bloodhounds of Broadway.

The film is a nice mix of his uncle’s old film footage of  Burroughs and other Beat artists, along with interviews, and his journey to find and retrieve his uncle’s archives. Some of the footage with Aaron in it was shot and edited to have the same feel as his uncle’s old films. And he looked very much like his uncle, which added to the similarity in visuals. The film takes you on an emotional journey, not only in present day with Aaron retrieving the archives and going through the memories with his uncle’s family and friends, but also in learning about Howard as a person and director, and the connection that Aaron had with him.

It was followed by a Q&A with Aaron Brookner, who came all the way from London for this, and James Grauerholz, with Porter Arneill as the moderator. I highly recommend the film!


There are a lot more things going on before the festival is over Saturday night! If you’re in the area, don’t miss this great opportunity. Here’s the schedule.

Posted in inspiration and tagged , , , , , , , , .


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *