The Art of Poetry Film with Cheryl Gross: “When At A Certain Party In NYC”

When At A Certain Party In NYC
Poem by Erin Belieu
Animation by Amy Schmitt
View at Motionpoems

This has to be one of the most charming video poems I have seen so far.

For starters, the animation is delightful: well stylized and flawlessly (graphically) designed. I am not usually a huge fan of Adobe Illustrator (I believe that is the program Amy Schmitt used to create the artwork for the animation), but in this case the simplicity of her art complements the poem perfectly. The speed and timing with which the graphics are deployed is seamless. The imagery doesn’t overshadow the poem but brings out the poet’s sense of humor. I could go on and on about the execution of the art, but long story short, it’s great.

The dryness of the poetry and the innocence of the art combine for a perfect fit. Our main character will never be part of the New York scene. She leaves the city not necessarily defeated, but with an acquired knowledge and awareness. It’s the realization that it’s all a bunch of bullshit, so why bother?

The message is very specific in terms of coming from a place like the Midwest and going to NYC. In other words, it’s basically a reality check. Belieu points out the pretentiousness of the whole hipster-scene phenomenon, which has gotten completely out of control. As a matter of fact, as long as I can remember, every scene has gotten out of control whether it’s the hipster regime, area- or zipcode-envy. People dream of coming to a place like New York for countless reasons. Some seek stardom and others are just looking for a more accepting lifestyle, a place to fit in. When they arrive, they either feel right at home or on another planet. I myself, a native New Yorker, ironically can relate to the Midwesterner who decides not to stay. I like to take a step back sometimes and observe the people who have come to my home town, agree to pay the high rents and act out their fantasies—which may or may not include someone like me, for of a whole slew of reasons. It is this trite behavior that Belieu has exposed and pokes fun at. Her vision makes me to laugh, and I could not agree more.

The music is great and adds to the nostalgic, late 50s-early 60s, plastic backdrop. I love this video poem. It’s superbly done on every level.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Cheryl Gross (website, blog) is an illustrator, painter, writer, and motion graphic artist living and working in the New York/Jersey City area. She is a professor at Pratt Institute (where she received her MFA) and Bloomfield College.

Her work has appeared in numerous festivals and publications as well as gracing the walls of many galleries, corporate and museum collections.

“I equate my work with creating and building an environment, transforming my inner thoughts into reality. Beginning with the physical process, I work in layers. I am involved in solving visual and verbal complexities such as design and narrative. My urban influence has indeed added an ‘edge’ to my work.”

Cheryl has often been compared to “Dr. Seuss on crack.”