Last week Proteus held a celebration and fundraiser called Nomad Mixer, in honor of our yearlong Migration theme. As always, our benefit was designed to deliver – along with delicious food and drink — actual experiences. This as opposed to, say, long speeches and nervous small talk. For example, upon entering our ‘gritty’ alleyway, guests encountered video projections on the old brick walls of people walking, walking, walking. Also a seated man hanging from on high, rigid and colorless…with butterflies migrating from his belly, off to a new life. And a steampunk Seed Machine, about which more in a moment. These installations were created for our party by Holus Bolus, an art collective.
In the courtyard, the Union Street Preservation Society played a mix of bluegrass and old-timey jazz, Katya Redpath sang gypsy folk songs, with a cameo appearance by Proteus
founder Sasha Chavchavadze. The centerpiece of our culinary offerings was the pulled-pork sandwiches with purple coleslaw served up by Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue. Never heard of it? Bill Fletcher, also known as Barbecue Billy, is opening Fletcher’s on Third Ave in Gowanus this summer. We’ll let you know when that happens. We thank Bill from the bottom of our hearts and also Damascus Bakery, Sahadi’s, the wonderful Brooklyn Brewery, Heights Chateau and Scotto’s Wine Cellar for their generous donations to our benefit party.
Indoors, you could Map Your Life by drawing your lifetime migrations on a world map. This was a remarkably engrossing experience. If your thing is intimate encounters, you would have been drawn to the Gypsies from the Poetry Brothel who led guests into a darkened room for private encounters with poetry. And, because our current exhibition at Proteus Gowanus is Future Migration, we set up a nomad tent and offered Tarot card readings to guide guests forward into the unknown. As always, guests also writhed with The Writhing Society. We thank all of the artists, performers, readers and writhers who made these experiences possible.
The evening culminated in a live auction of extra-ordinary experiences including 900 years of Russian Art History in One Hour; Talking Trash: a tour of Gowanus recycling centers; a guided coyote walk, an encounter with a genuine man o’ God and more. We also, by the way, sold raffle tickets during the evening and guess what the winner got to do? At the end of the evening, he (our Hall of Gowanus curator Eymund Diegel as it happened), followed by all the guests, walked back down the alley to the dark and rusty Seed Machine (made by Jesse Farrenkopf) and, after some verbal drum-rolling, switched on the machine. We all watched as the wheels creaked and turned and – whoosh! – the machine blew dandelion seeds, straight from the gray heads of dandelions, down the alley and into the night air. One guest admitted it brought tears to her eyes.
More photos can be found on our Nomad Mixer 2012 Benefit page.