Lawndale’s SPEAKEASY series celebrates our historical relationship to live music and performance by presenting new works by artists and performers working in a range of disciplines from across the nation.

March 9, 2019 - SPEAKEASY feat. House of Kenzo

featuring House of Kenzo
Saturday, March 9
John M. O’Quinn Gallery
8 PM: Artist panel moderated by Max Fields
8:30 – 10 PM: Permutations
Suggested Donation: $20

Saturday, March 9 beginning at 8 PM at Lawndale, House of Kenzo (HoK) presented Permutations, a 20 minute production exploring systems, fluidity, work, and cycles. The trio–Ledef (sound production), Brexxitt (choreography), and Grapefruit (concept design)–embodied possibilities through splash choreography and projection mapping.

Doors opened at 8 PM beginning with an artist panel discussion moderated by Max Fields, followed by HoK’s Permutations production.

House of Kenzo: Artist Statement & About Permutations
There is more than one way. Systems corrupted. How will we go back to the beginning? When the only laws are of nature. How humans can exist as naked as they were born into the world without society and police berating. Being as we were born and holding space for everyone without being limited to mature audiences.

Work is done when a force applied to an object moves said object; work is calculated by multiplying the force by the distance and object moves (W = F * d). In Permutations, HoK will carry large bags of water across the space and their bodies, representing a reappropriation of “work,” serving incipient natural systems and themselves.

The curated soundscape that Permutations runs on features unreleased compositions from Der Kindestod, Ledef, and Rabit. Sampling sounds of black metal, world music, and industrial, the composition grounds listeners in energy of the earth and the systems that are eroding it.

HoK will host a digital bath and wash themselves clean of modern systems that no longer suit them. How quickly the consciousness connects.

The fury of the earth . Natural disaster. Geography. Online moment internalized and captured. Shrink geography. Industria

Max Fields is an independent curator working in Houston, TX. His recent projects include The Color of Love (2018) featuring Peggy Ahwesh, Julia Brown, and Skylar Fein; Not Quite Verbatim (2018), an exhibition presented at the Hessel Museum of Art featuring Jay Chung and Q Takeki Maeda, D’Ette Nogle, Amie Siegel, and Audra Wolowiec; and a commissioned project by Ian Wilson titled A Selection of Discussions (2018) published by aCCeSsions Journal. His forthcoming curated program for CounterCurrent 2019, Ten Tiny Dances: Nightlife, brings together artists, dancers, and club scene icons for a night of performances that reflect the ways in which cultural knowledge, unique to individual club cultures, is transmitted and archived through dance, gesture, fashion, and music. He currently works at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts and has held positions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. From 2012 to 2016, Fields was the Director and Curator of Suplex Projects, a curatorial platform based in Houston, TX, and Chicago, IL. He is a recent graduate of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College

February 9, 2019 - SPEAKEASY feat Akirash

featuring Akirash

Saturday, February 9, 2019

On Saturday, February 9 at 2:30 PM Lawndale held a SPEAKEASY performance featuring Akirash. At this performance, exhibiting artist Akirash activated costumes featured in Ara Oru Kinkin, that was on view in Lawndale’s John M. O’Quinn Gallery.

This performance celebrated water deity Yemoja (translating to “source”) of the Yoruba religion. Yemoja is the source of the river, of the people, of children, and of life. Her elemental power as the source of Sweet Waters on Earth (the fresh waters) makes life possible and preserves life for creation. Yemoja’s presence introduces an intoxicating joy that makes everything brighter, more beautiful, and more wondrous. She invites us to dance to her sacred drums and surrender to all of the pleasures of a life well-lived.

March 23, 2018 - SPEAKEASY featuring Jamire Williams

featuring Jamire Williams

Friday, March 23, 2018
8 PM
John M. O’Quinn Gallery

Playing with concepts established on his recent solo album, ///// EFFECTUAL, Williams explored how spirituality and abstraction are made manifest through the nuanced sounds made on his drum set.

Jamire Williams is a world renown musician and visual artist who has grown to sincerely feel that his purpose is to meld these mediums together in an organic, seamless fashion. A graduate of Houston’s acclaimed High School for the Performing & Visual Arts, Williams received his BFA from The New School in New York City in 2006. Since then he has grown into one of the leading voices of his generation performing and collaborating with such artist as Herbie Hancock, Solange, Madlib, Christian Scott and Chassol. He has also begun to journey into more conceptual spaces with abstract painting and curated installations. In 2012, he received the Harlem Stage Fund For New Work grant and was also an integral contributor to Jason Moran’s BLEED exhibition at the year’s Whitney Biennial. Williams released a solo concept record entitled ///// EFFECTUAL in 2016 where he explores the dimensions of the drum set in acoustic and electronic capacities accompanied by his personal paintings. “Jamire Williams shows himself to be an inspired crafter of sound, capable of building entire worlds from just his drum hits.” – Pitchfork

His goal is to push the envelope within these creative disciplines by performing in unconventional spaces and creating 2D and 3D still life works that join sound and structure to space and place.”

August 18, 2017 - SPEAKEASY featuring whole wide water

featuring whole wide water

Friday, August 18, 2017
7 PM
John M. O’Quinn Gallery

In conjunction with The Big Show 2017, Houston’s whole wide water collected sounds in anticipation of their performance as part of Lawndale’s SPEAKEASY program. Visitors were invited to use the provided objects and instruments, or their own voices, at the recording stations. The sounds became the foundation for a live musical performance composed and arranged by Anthony Barilla with words by Lindsay Kayser.

whole wide water is an ongoing collaboration between writer Lindsay Kayser and multidisciplinary artist Anthony Barilla. whole wide water encompasses a variety of projects, transmitted over a span of twenty years. The narrative is set in the future when modern civilization has mostly washed away. Previous and ongoing projects include handmade books of nursery rhymes, the creation of a new cosmology and its attendant mythologies, and the composition of songs for an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

Post-show entertainment was provided by Houston’s A.S.S., an accordion and drum quartet that plays new arrangements of classic Lou Reed, Beyoncé, and Bon Jovi songs.

May 25, 2017 - SPEAKEASY featuring Randi Long

featuring Randi Long

Thursday, May 25, 2017
7 PM
John M. O’Quinn Gallery

Randi Long was a 2016/17 Artist Studio Program participant at Lawndale. Long’s works combine elements of performance and sound with sculpture.

Long has collaborated with Gabriel Martinez and James Radcliff for their project Noise Truck, which received an Idea Fund Award in 2016 and 1st Place, Grand Trophy for Best Music, at the Orange Show’s 2016 Art Car Parade. Long has performed in projects with Nameless Sounds at AvantGarten, DiverseWorks, and MECA. She received her BFA in Sculpture from the University of Houston.

March 3, 2017 - SPEAKEASY featuring Mydolls

featuring Mydolls
Friday, March 3, 2017
Panel Discussion at 7 PM, followed by Lazer Kittens & Mydolls
John M. O’Quinn Gallery

Mydolls (1978-present), Houston’s original femme punk band, released a limited edition collectible red vinyl EP, It’s Too Hot for Revolution, in February 2017. The official album release was held at Lawndale Art Center on Friday, March 3, at 7 pm, as part of the 2017 SPEAKEASY program co-curated by Pete Gershon, local art historian and Lawndale’s programming committee chair. Hand numbered vinyl were available at the event, which was free and open to the public.

This was the third installment of SPEAKEASY, a new program featuring music, performance, and discussions of contemporary art that takes its cue from the eponymously titled series that took place at Lawndale from 1993-2002. “With the Speakeasy series, Lawndale is making it a priority to reconnect with its dynamic history as a space for live music and the performing arts,” says Lawndale Executive Director Stephanie Mitchell. “This concert by the legendary Mydolls really brings the institution full circle,” Gershon added.

Mydolls discussed their history at Lawndale with Gershon and former executive director MaryRoss Taylor as well as performed in the gallery. This event built on the legacy role and cultural impact Mydolls have had on the local music and contemporary art scenes and followed their recent program at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 20HERTZ presents: “A World of Our Own: Mydolls and the Houston Punk Scene.”

During the 1980s, Houston’s experimental music and art scenes converged in spaces such as Lawndale, where ideas and information were shared among youth movements, filmmakers and artists alike. Part of the first wave punk scene emerging in 1978, Mydolls was fronted by girl punk rockers who have since paved a path for women in the arts and continue to empower a new generation of fans.

“Performing at Lawndale will be like coming home,” says Mydolls founding member Trish Herrera. “We’re excited to debut this labor of love, our revolution, as an exclusive edition EP for our tribe at SPEAKEASY.”

It’s Too Hot for Revolution was a personal triumph for the band whose members survived cancer and experienced the loss of guitarist Kathy Johnston during the making of the album. Revolution blends classic punk protest anthems such as “Politician” with poetry such as Charles Bukowski’s “Fair Stand the Fields of France.” Also featured on the EP are guest guitarist Dan Workman of SugarHill Recording Studios on “For Her” and bassist Dianna Ray’s dog, Amos, providing backing vocals on “Politician.”

It’s Too Hot for Revolution was engineered by Andy Bradley at SugarHill Recording Studios and Sound Arts Recording Studios, and features cover artwork by contemporary artist Jack Livingston.

January 6, 2017 - SPEAKEASY featuring Jandek

featuring Jandek
January 6, 2017
8 PM
John M. O’Quinn Gallery

Jandek is the musical project of Corwood Industries, a record label that operates out of Houston, TX. Since 1978, Jandek/Corwood Industries has independently released over 100 albums/DVDs of unusual, often emotionally dissolute folk, rock, and blues songs without ever granting an interview or providing any biographical information. Jandek often plays a highly idiosyncratic and frequently atonal form of folk, rock, classical, and blues music, at times using an open and unconventional chord structure. The name “Jandek” is most commonly used to refer specifically to the project.

April 29 & 30, 2016 - SPEAKEASY featuring David Dove/Jawwaad Taylor, Charalambides, Helen Money and Soldier Kane

featuring David Dove/Jawwaad Taylor, Charalambides, Helen Money and Soldier Kane

April 29 – 30, 2016
7 PM
John M. O’Quinn Gallery

Lawndale Art Center was proud to present SPEAKEASY, a new program initiative that re-envisions Lawndale’s “Speakeasy” series that took place from 1993-2002. This series casts a reflexive eye on Lawndale’s historical relationship to live performance and the exploration of issues in contemporary art.

This first event took place over two consecutive evenings in late April and featured David Dove/Jawwaad Taylor, Charalambides, Helen Money and Soldier Kane.