June 2002 – Eugene, Oregon Travel Guide
We are all a part of the Experiment,
You are too an instrument
Of artistic temperament.
We are all rearranging our reality,
And all of our humanity.
We are a new movement of bohemian design,
And apocalyptic signs;
The world is probably ending soon,
So come to Inside/out in June,
And maybe we’ll survive.
That little ditty has swirled around my head nonstop for the past two months. It’s catchy, after 30 days it becomes a little maddening, and I’m passing it on to you. The song was my first notion of a massive little art extravaganza called "Inside/out," and ever since I’ve been humming and singing praises, barely being able to wait for June 7 & 8, performance dates for this year’s Inside/out.
Eugene’s got more than its share of the arts: live music â€“ jazz, classical, rock, you name it â€“ throughout the week, all over town; poetry reads; playhouses; dance; galleries and exhibitions. The art scene could almost be Parisian, except you see more dreadlocks than berets.
What you rarely see in Eugene, however, is all of the arts â€“ from painting to dance to music to film to the written word â€“ in one place, for the same performance. A group of local artists and university students decided to do something about that, only that this time around (the first Inside/out was held last June), things would be a bit more organized. Or at least as organized as a bunch of neo-bohemian hippy-town artists can get.
"Eugene is a really elitist town. If you have the connections, or grew up here, or have an in, you can get what you need. But it’s very exclusive," said Taylor Rand, who like everyone else involved in Inside/out wore many hats, from poet to singer to actor to PR person. "Inside/out was contradictory. Everyone was involved. We drew no lines."
In addition to singing in one of the dramatic roles for the first night’s show, Taylor attended organizational meetings and went from making "a couple of costumes" to being costume mistress. As the show came together and more and more people became involved, different attitudes, backgrounds and fields, the amateurs and the professionals and the wannabes, all began to interact. "Inside/out is the indie art. The people who don’t work as artists but are inherently artists" â€“ like Taylor: "I’m not a professional vocalist… I’m an herbalist." Inside/out was a chance for some amateurs, phenoms and some amazing talent to get their time on stage and in front of the community.
The hardest part of bringing it all together? "Bohemian chaos," said Taylor, chuckling. "It’s like when you get a bunch of hippies together to do something â€“ stuff just doesn’t get done." But somehow it did. Act by act, costume by costume, suddenly, gradually, Inside/out was ready, luckily in time for the first night’s curtain.
June 7 finally arrived, and I’d just finished my ironing. Friday night at the McDonald was flashy dresses and sharp suits; "formal dress suggested," the fliers had said, and so it was. On the second night, the formal wear was tucked away, and out came the costumes: monkeys, angels, devils, punks, trees. Despite the large house, human attendance appeared rather low. Even the audience was in on the act.
Taylor and all the other poets and artists and hippies had pulled it off. Among the many different forms of art in one place: bagpipes, African drumming, fire dancing, capoiera (a Brazilian form combining dance and martial arts), poetry, an ongoing play, hip-hop, on-stage painting, bands, video, a life-size puppet, a punk-rock cellist and, of course, an all-audience finale of "Que SerÃ¡, SerÃ¡".
Despite the Inside/out theme song, the world didn’t end. Which is good, because this lovechild of bohemian chaos and free-spirited creativity is something to keep singing about. "We are all a part of the experiment…" Like I said, it’s a catchy little tune. Give it a hum. Think of a march. Crescendo regularly. Sing along. Keep singing. Is it in your head now? Good. I’ll see you next June, and maybe we’ll survive the next one too.
Wanna know what’s on in Eugene? On Thursdays look for the red boxes containing the new edition of the Eugene Weekly, Eugene’s alti, indie, stick-it-to-the-mainstream newspaper of all that makes this town really interesting.
I’ve got a few picks, must-see’s and see-you-there-and-let’s-grab-a-beer’s:
- Oregon Bach Festival. Okay, really it’s just the kickoff that’s in June (on the 28th), with the bulk of the OBF in July. But I’ll tell you now that you should check it out so you can find out what a dead German composer known for organ music has in common with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
- Saturday Market & Farmer’s Market. Eat good food, listen to local music, buy Oregon-made goods and crafts and all that, from instruments to wind chimes to hemp baby clothes. Think I’m kidding? Converge on 8th & Oak 10am-5pm every Saturday. It’s good for your karma.
- Bijou movies. There are plenty of regular theaters in town, but the Bijou (492. E. 13th) is the only place to find the really interesting, non-Hollywood, indie, and foreign flicks. As I write this, Nick just got back from watching the Argentinian Son of the Bride, and I’m still kicking myself for missing Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Don’t make the same mistake when you’re in Eugene.
If you want more information about this area you can email the author or check out our North America Insiders page.