Category: Archive

NYC artists, writers head for the hills

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Dickson is one of several prominent Irish New Yorkers involved in the arts who are taking off for foreign parts in September. Colum McCann is launching his latest book “Let the Great World Spin ” in a series of European cities with the help of musician Joe Hurley, while Long Island writer Tom Phelan will spend four weeks’ residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Co. Monaghan,
“I’m an organizer, not really a performer,” said Dickson, a highly regarded neo-expressionist painter.
In March, he organized an event in New York that featured competing rock bands, motorcycling videos projected onto the walls, a blackjack table (the dealer was his friend Dublin artist Myk Henry, who is also Beijing bound), a bar and a variety of other activities. All the while the event was filmed from different perspectives. “It was to supposed to reflect the chaos we see in the world today, with war and so on,” he said.
Newtownards, Co. Down native Dickson has made the “futility and stupidity” of war one of his themes. His backdrop is often the conflict in Southeast Asia that came to head in the late 1960s and ’70s. He and wife have been to Vietnam and Cambodia several times over the past decade. “In Beijing I will gather local people such as street vendors, cooks, musicians, tradesmen and ask them to do their everyday job in a gallery space,” the artist said. “The random mixture of visuals, sounds and smells will come together to create a beautiful and chaotic scene. Visitors to the show will be able to eat and drink and participate within the event much as they would at a street market.”
Said Phelan, who was awarded the Annaghmakerrig residency by the arts council of his native County Laois: “During my stay, I hope to finish the novel I am working on, a book that examines the ease with which the powerful in society can manipulate the news for their own ends, and the defenselessness of their victims. It’s the first time I’ve written a story set in the U.S.” Afterwards, he and his wife will visit relatives in Laois and then do some traveling in Counties Wicklow and Wexford.
Hurley will launch his EP “The House that Horse Built” which is based on characters in McCann’s novel. “We begin the tour with the London bash on a houseboat on the Thames,” Hurley said, “and then next onto the 35th annual Deauville American Film Festival in France, before heading to Paris, Hamburg, Berlin, Innsbruck, Zurich and Vienna, all fantastic cities.
“In certain cities, I’ll be playing concerts in venues after the launch, so the cross-cultural-collaborative will be exciting as local musicians join me onstage, and I’m always thrilled by that — the unexpected, and being back in Berlin and Paris. I love these cities and miss their electricity and their people,” the singer songwriter added.
“The combination of Colum’s powerful readings followed our songs based on those characters is a lovely dynamic. Our shows together went over very well in Aspen and New York,” Hurley said. “It’s a new experience for me. I’ve been loving it. With the foreign audiences, I’m sure each night will bring a completely different set of kindred and crazy souls to the table — book and music lovers both.”

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