Last week Pecha Kucha landed squarely in the middle of downtown at the Square Room. The event has made the rounds as it bounced here and there. I saw the first one two years ago at the West Jackson Work Shops and absolutely loved it. I missed the next few, including one held at the Knoxville Museum of Art, but caught the fifth Pecha Kucha at Relix this past November. I liked each of the previous locations, but I have to say the Square Room is the most comfortable location so far. I hope the event has found a home. The next one is in April and no venue has been announced.
For those of you new to the idea, the word “Pecha Kucha” translates from Japanese to mean something akin to “chit chat.” The idea is that a number of creative endeavors are presented in rapid-fire fashion. Each presenter must use precisely 20 slides and utilize twenty seconds per slide and stop after exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds. I believe the first one started at 6:40 PM, but this one began at 7:00 PM.
This edition got underway at 7:00 PM and started with a bang as Alex Oliver introduced Jaopro, which is a “nationally recognized leader in quality, high-definition digital cinema.” Instead of slides, he offered a video of high-definition high-impact action shot by the company. It was quite a splashy start to a good night. They are a downtown company located at 120 S. Gay.
Brian Pittman followed with his story of the renovation and reclamation of the Mary Boyce Temple home. He joked about having to follow the splashy presentation by Jaopro, but with his understated humor, stories of prostitutes living in the home before he started his work and the beauty of the restored home, he easily captivated the crowd. This home will be the only original downtown single-family residence used for its intended purpose in the entire downtown area.
Whitney Kaul talked about belly dancing which she pursued after college as she cast about for a kind of dance she could continue as she grew older. She belongs to one of several local belly dance groups and she talked about the events they sponsor as well as the camaraderie they enjoy. The group includes all ages of adult women and she encouraged women to consider signing up.
Bobbie Crews finished the first segment of the night speaking of “Intimate Portraits of Automobiles.” As you can see on her webpage, her oil paintings really are intimate portraits. The cars are the centerpiece, but they reflect a world around them. This probably qualified as the most unlikely thing to interest me that interested me the most all night. The paintings really are beautiful and what she is doing is unique.
Whimsy took over after the break and for much of the next three presentations I wasn’t sure what we were talking about. Forrest Kirkpatrick of Fork Designs talked about “Flow,” and I eventually gathered that he does design and follows projects all the way through production and into installation. Whereas most people break those tasks apart resulting in a construction crew attempting to follow a blueprint, he does it all. His presentation almost took a poetic bent. Fork design is also a downtown business, located at 617 E. Depot Avenue.
When Bob Sutton took the stage to deliver a presentation entitled, “My Pact with Satan,” I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was entertaining, but I had a hard time separating fantasy from reality and when he finished I wasn’t sure what I’d just witnessed. My (much smarter) friend Greg sat beside me and didn’t seem to have any more idea than myself. Maybe someone who was there could clue us in. I don’t think Bob really made a deal with the devil, but I’m not sure.
Chris and Robyn McAdoo followed and their presentation seemed marginally more accessible. Entitled “Right Brain in a Left Brain World,” I think the idea was that creative sorts need to be tethered to the earth by more structured sorts in order to fulfill the promise of their creative impulse. Their presentation included a dramatization of their own household with him as the obvious left-brain sort and her as the voice of reason. It was a fun ride. He also spoke at the first Pecha Kucha and similarly seemed to be engaged in a performance piece.
The final set topped the night off in strong fashion, starting with Beauvais Lyons talking about the course he teaches at the University of Tennessee on the fine art of Pranking. Who says students aren’t getting a quality education? He talked about the fake student organizations such as the Urine Drinkers Association which attracted a number of students who were willing to drink the yellow fluid on the display table, among several other things.
Stuck Inside of Knoxville reader Chad Hellwinckel entitled his talk, “Small Slow Solutions using Permaculture.” I had no idea what “permaculture” entailed. Chad is a member of the Knoxville Permaculture Guild. Permaculture, it turns out, means, “a system of cultivation intended to maintain permanent agriculture or horticulture by relying on renewable resources and a self-sustaining ecosystem.” Chad demonstrated how his family has made decisions that are ecologically sound while often economically beneficial starting with purchasing a smaller home right through their rotation of land uses involving chickens, manure and garden crops.
Kim Trent of Knox Heritage ended the night with her talk, “Circle of Life for Fashion Architecture and Preservation.” She took a highly enjoyable tour through the last hundred and forty or so years showing the parallels between women’s fashion and architectural styles. She showed what happens as homes or buildings go out of fashion and they are abused in modification or destroyed but, as with fashion, they often come back into style. She showed some beautiful local and national examples.
So, as I’ve come to expect, the night was fantastic, never boring and I learned a great deal. I know what permaculture means now and I’m pretty sure Chris McAdoo is somewhere to the left of seriously left-brained. It’s something I will look forward to in April and I’d love to see you there. As Jack Neely noted in the Metropulse these events tend to elicit elevated conversation. How many things can you say that about in your normal day?