ALL TOGETHER, NOW

AN EVENING OF CONTEMPORARY QUEER CINEMA AND PERFORMANCE ON THE OCCASION OF ROCHESTER PRIDEFEST 2015 

Friday, July 17, 2015
Rochester Civic Theatre
Performance at 9:30 pm
Screening from 10:30 – 11:30 pm
FREE ADMISSION 

FEATURING
Never a Cover, 2015, Lauren Tabak and Susie Smith (San Francisco, CA)
Work of Art, 2012, Chris E. Vargas and Greg Youmans (Bellingham, WA)
The Infamous T, 2013, Melissa Koch, Grey Duck Pictures (Minneapolis, MN)

With live performance, A LESBIAN’S GUIDE TO SELF-CARE!!!, by Kat Marie Yoas (San Francisco, CA)

Now in its third year, Rochester Art Center and Rochester Civic Theatre bring you an evening of contemporary queer cinema—and new this year, live performance—in celebration of Rochester PrideFest 2015. For this iteration, the emphasis is on contemporary selections from around the country: Never a Cover, 2015 by Lauren Tabak and Susie Smith (San Francisco, CA); Work of Art, 2012 by Chris E. Vargas and Greg Youmans (Bellingham, WA); The Infamous T, 2013 by Melissa Koch, Grey Duck Pictures (Minneapolis, MN); and a performance, A LESBIAN’S GUIDE TO SELF-CARE!!!, by San-Francisco based Kat Marie Yoas. Shannon Fitzgerald shares, “It is important to participate in all our communities in Rochester and I am proud of this smart and timely, curated presentation of Queer Cinema as resonating, now! The first addition of a performance for Rochester Art Center and Rochester Civic Theatre is provocative and most welcomed!”

Curated by Susannah Magers, Rochester Art Center’s Curator of Art & Public Engagement, these selections reflect contemporary investigations into concepts and themes relevant to the queer experience now, such as: the importance of queer community space; navigating the art world as a queer cultural producer; the concept of a family of choice; and queer desire, self-discovery, and self-care. Each explores these themes through numerous approaches, including social documentary, satire, auto-biographical narrative, and humor.

Never a Cover (2015) reveals the voices, faces, and lives of the community surrounding the recently closed iconic lesbian bar, The Lexington Club (located on the corner of Lexington and 19th Streets, in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood) through candid storytelling, and vivid recollection. Contextualizing the role the Lex (as it was affectionately called) played in the Bay Area queer community for nearly 18 years—both within and beyond the physical space of the bar—co-producers and co-directors Lauren Tabak and Susie Smith weave together photographs and interviews with those who founded, worked at, or frequented the bar into a moving tribute. As gentrification continues to impact the Bay Area, and queer communities specifically, Never a Cover (a nod to the bar’s motto, “Never a cover, always a party”) offers a cathartic reckoning with the loss of the Lexington Club and serves as testimony to the crucial function of queer spaces to shaping and sustaining their communities. Never a Cover is a part of the Lexington Club Archival Project (www.lexingtonclubarchivalproject.org) dedicated to documenting the stories, sounds, and images (and collecting photos, videos, and ephemera) related to the Lex.

ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Susie Smith is a documentary filmmaker specializing in urban stories. Recent projects include directing People Live Here, collaborating with the students of the Change for Good program on Live Oak Stories: The Making of the Mural, Associate Producing the film Free for All: Inside the Public Library, co-creating the 2013 Queer Arts Festival performance piece White Lies, and collaborating with the UC Urban Studies Critical Sustainabilities Group. She has worked as a Production Manager, Editor, and Post Production Supervisor in the Bay Area for over 7 years. In 2012 she earned her MA in Social Documentation from UC Santa Cruz.

Lauren Tabak is a filmmaker and photographer living in San Francisco. Her recent short film, The Shepherd and the Guardian, was commissioned by, and premiered in, the 2014 San Francisco International Film Festival. Her other short films, photographs, and music videos have been featured on Pitchfork, Spin, NPR, Funny Or Die, The Guardian UK, The Washington Post, Slate and other places one might go to be entertained on the internet. You can browse her portfolio at laurentabak.com.

Chris E. Vargas’ and Greg Youmans’ Work of Art (2012) is an installment of the long-running series Falling in Love…with Chris and Greg (2008–2013). Here, Vargas and Youmans compete on a reality television show to be The Next Great Artist. Appropriating footage from the former Bravo reality series, and inserting themselves as contestants, they adapt the challenge: “create a successful piece of queer art about failure.” Satirizing the critique they are given by art-world illuminati on their work throughout the episode through the addition of various voiceovers, Vargas and Youmans provide a clever commentary on stereotypes about queer cultural production and what the commercial art world champions in regards to this. Can they make it through a double elimination? Take a guess.

ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Chris E. Vargas is a video maker and interdisciplinary artist based in Bellingham, WA, whose thematic interests include queer radicalism, transgender hirstory, and imperfect role models. He earned his MFA in the department of Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2011. From 2008-2013, he made, in collaboration with Greg Youmans, the web-based trans/cisgender sitcom Falling In Love…with Chris and Greg. Episodes of the series have screened at numerous film festivals and art venues, including MIX NYC, SF Camerawork, and the Tate Modern. With Eric Stanley, Vargas co-directed the movie Homotopia (2006) and its feature-length sequel Criminal Queers (2013), which have been screened at Palais de Tokyo, LACE, Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, and the New Museum among other venues. Vargas is also the Executive Director of MOTHA, the Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art, an arts & hirstory institution highlighting the contributions of trans art to the cultural and political landscape. www.chrisevargas.com

Greg Youmans is an Assistant Professor of English and Film Studies at Western Washington University. He earned his PhD in the History of Consciousness program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He often writes about queer activist and experimental cinemas. His book on the 1977 documentary Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives appeared in 2011 and he has published articles in Camera Obscura, e-flux, and Millennium Film Journal. He is currently working on a manuscript about queer media activism in the 1970s. He is also an artist and videomaker, whose work has screened at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Forum, and the Tate Modern. www.gregyoumans.com

From Minneapolis, Melissa Koch’s documentary
The Infamous T (2013) follows 18 year-old Jonathon as he navigates joining a middle-class queer host family (through The Avenues for Homeless Youth GLBT Host Home Program) Alex and Mike and their 7-year-old daughter. From vogueing with his friends to working towards his high school diploma, Jonathon’s ambition and talent is obvious—but he struggles with the transition from a lifetime of homelessness and unstable housing with his loving mother and brothers to his new queer host family. The film offers poignant insight into the search for authentic self, the transformative power of friendship, and the creation and notion of a chosen family.

ABOUT THE FILMMAKER
Melissa Koch is an independent documentary filmmaker who tells stories about the human condition from marginalized points of view. Koch’s films have screened at many international film festivals and markets including the Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History, Galway Film Fleadh, DOK Leipzig Market, International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) Docs-For-Sale, Sheffield Doc/Fest Videotheque, Frameline Film Festival, Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, and DocuFest Atlanta, and have been broadcast on PBS affiliates across the US, and is distributed internationally on DVD and television broadcast. Koch was awarded the 2012 Frameline Completion Fund for her film The Infamous T (2013) which went on to win Best Short Film at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, Out Twin Cities Film Festival and Translations: The Seattle Transgender Film.

Koch has BA in Cultural Studies, Media Arts, and Social Justice from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Arts in Social Documentation from the University of California, Santa Cruz. In addition to filmmaking, Koch has an extensive background in youth work, non-profit administration, teaching, and program coordination & development. She has worked with community & arts organizations for the past 12 years including the genderBLURcollective, Femme Mafia Twin Cities, District 202, Vanguard Youth Services, Youth Farm and Market Project, and In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre where she served as the Community Programs Director from 2005 – 2010.

A LESBIAN’S GUIDE TO SELF CARE!!!
is a comedic, feminist, crystal laden, bath house soaked, astrologically drunken hero-journey. In Kat Marie Yoas’ latest one-woman show, she finds the road to wellness is under construction and bumpy at best. She is a Midwestern working class lady who believes she is clueless and seeks to find herself in the uncharted landscape of San Francisco woo. She travels from seeking psychic dating services to healing grief with a massage to a tarot wielding cabaret singer to the perils of simply being a wild woman in the world. All the while she ventures deep, using absurd humor to light the way to find a place for all of us – of connection in a world which is increasingly plugged in
and disconnected.

San Francisco-based Kat Marie Yoas began performing as an extension of literary readings, where she felt she “didn’t fit in.
I started slowly taking up the space of the stage, and it evolved out of touring with Sister Spit.” Originally from Michigan, Yoas moved away when she was 19, to be “a professional lesbian,” and ended up at Smith College. She started writing the performance a year ago, and the work was presented by the National Queer Arts Festival this year in San Francisco. Yoas thought the content would be specific to the Bay Area, but notes that while it’s definitely a West Coast-influenced piece of work, it’s also rooted in the Midwest and her background: “I engage, in a nod to my cultural background, in physical comedy. All of the live shows have a feeling that is cultivated; like a living room, with an emphasis on the intimate moment. I’m excited to see how other spaces and audiences will respond to the work.”

Autobiographical, the performance addresses Yoas’ personal experiences, expectations, and hopes related to being a lesbian, incorporating crystals, tarot, an inflatable dolphin, among other props. The audience joins Kat on her journey. Yoas describes her performance as responsive and participatory; an exercise in building mutual trust between herself and the audience and an active, intentional subversion of the passive viewing relationship between the performer and the audience.

ABOUT THE ARTIST
Kat Marie Yoas is a spirited performer, writer, comedic artist, and candle making kitchen witch who lives and loves in San Francisco. She has performed her feminist brand of comedy and story telling on stages across the US, Europe, and the UK.  Kat Marie is a Sister Spit veteran and has held residencies in the literary and theatrical worlds with RADAR Lab in Mexico, as a CIIS writing fellow and as the artist-in-residence with the San Francisco theater, The Garage. She was a featured performer at this years National Queer Arts Festival and Co-produced her work with CounterPulse Theater in a sold-out run for A Lesbian’s Guide to Self Care!!!, her most recent show.

Kat Marie’s performances are comedic catharsis and the heartbeat of her work is rooted in healing the not so funny wounds brought on by shame, class, sexism, loss, grief and fear.  She believes stories are magic, laughter is radical and sharing that is her life’s work.

Kat Marie is also at work on a novel and her line of hand made candles and intuitive services called Stevie Wicks Magic.

Prior to the performance and screening, enjoy live music by Lost Faculties on the Rochester Civic Theatre’s patio stage, food by Johnny Mango, and a cash bar will be available. The event is free and open to the public. Due to the content of the films (including sexual content, partial nudity, and language) this program is intended for mature audiences only.

ALL TOGETHER, NOW is generously funded by John Knudsen and Brian Austin.

ALL TOGETHER, NOW is curated by Rochester Art Center, and in partnership with
Rochester Civic Theatre.

To learn more about Rochester Pridefest 2015 visit www.glcsmn.org/Pridefest

Photo credit: Krista Ruet