SteamPlant in Salida hosts an arts collaborative

SALIDA — New, inspired art in many forms has taken the stage at the SteamPlant for the month of February. Salida’s Jenn Dempsey wrote poems and prose; local visual artists selected one to inspire an original art piece; and performance artists will present a staged reading of the poems in one performance only.

It was 30 years ago that Salida resident Jennifer Dempsey began writing the short humorous and dramatic works. Her writings relate struggle, accomplishment, self-doubt, infidelity, hope, loss, joy, love, fear, angst, confidence, confusion as related to the experience of being a female human.

The much-talked about art exhibit based on the poems, which opened Feb 1 to much acclaim, has made the upcoming play highly anticipated. Local creative Sue Ann Hum scripted Dempsey’s poems into the one-act play and has directed the work. Sunday afternoon, February 25 the play, which Hum calls an “elaborately staged reading,” will be premiered at 3 p.m. in the theatre of the Salida SteamPlant. In the performance seven actors portray numerous characters, in 10 unrelated scenes; each of whom are on their own multi-layered emotional journey.

Live original music, with a collage of Dempsey’s verses used to write the lyrics, will be performed by composer Joan Lobeck. Her “Tightrope Tango” debuted at an art reception earlier this month. Lobeck and her band and tango dancers will begin the 3 p.m. performance. And Hum and Dempsey hint there may be other forms of performing arts at this happening.

“The Big Bad Mood and Other Love Stories” art exhibit remains on display in the SteamPlant lobby until the end of the month and is another highlight of the Feb 25th offering. Twenty-three local artists created 32 art works inspired by Dempsey’s poems. The poem which inspired the art and a brief note from the artist about their inspiration is displayed alongside the artwork. Working with Dempsey to develop the stage show, local artist Hum also conceived and curated this collaborative Art Exhibit.

The SteamPlant Staff says this month’s collaborative art show has been quite popular. “When I first read the poems they touched me deeply. I knew others would strongly relate to Jenn’s poems, which speak of experiences common to many of us,” says Hum. “I’ve seen people reading the poems in the art exhibit standing in silence…crying. They are emotional! Cathartic.”

The play performance will be visually accented by the projected presence of the artwork, when the art’s corresponding poem is dramatized by the actors.

Tickets for the February 25th event are $8 and available at the SteamPlant, The Book Haven and the Salida Chamber of Commerce.

Caption: “Wanted To Be” is new art by Sue Ann Hum featured at the SteamPlant in Salida./Courtesy photo