The Art of Poetry Film with Cheryl Gross: Brent Green and Sam Green

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing Brent Green and Sam Green: Live Cinema at BAM’s (Brooklyn Academy Of Music‘s) Next Wave Festival.

I love alternative multimedia theater, especially when it includes animation. What was so special about this show was the fact that it’s not just the entertainment, it’s the whole experience. From the moment you walk into the theater and wait to be seated, the show begins. Seating is on a first-come basis and a good portion of it consists of old furniture. I had the pleasure of sharing a couch with the person I came with. A cash bar was available and everyone was encouraged to take advantage before and during the performance.

The show was billed as “live cinema.” I had never heard of Sam or Brent Green before this. As it turns out they are cousins and well known in the art world. Their credits include Sundance, Whitney Biennial and MOMA.

Sam is a filmmaker specializing in documentaries. What makes his work special is the fact that he chooses topics that are not necessarily what one would expect. The World’s Largest Shopping Mall, The Oldest Person in The World and a pet cemetery in Ohio (I believe the pet cemetery is a work in progress) are three examples. Although the theme may seem a little dark, there was nothing depressing about it. They were done with love and humor.

Brent on the other hand is the poet, musician and self-taught animator. A master of slam poetry, he too is considered a documentarian by Sundance.

Much of Brent’s storytelling is observational and unusual. His narrative is without judgment and reservation (OK, some judgment, but no reservation). He’s just reporting the facts and like Sam uses humor, which adds to the quirkiness to the show. Both artists set their stories to Brent’s animation and music. He reminds me of an older Bob Dylan, raw and fresh. In my opinion he is the quintessential Outsider artist.

I would say that if were to consider any of this video poetry, Brent would win hands-down. His animations are rough, exquisite and captivating. Hearing him recite his poetry live as opposed to on YouTube makes a huge difference. His ability to slam the story actually gave me chills.

It’s good to know that there are those out there who embrace subterranean lifestyles and spin them into art. If you can catch the performance at some point I highly recommend it.

Check out Brent Green’s work on Vimeo. Here’s an example:

Cheryl Gross

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.”

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