Gern en Regalia: Zoe and I found the name on a trip back to the west coast where we went to visit a friend in LA and then Maui.
Gern en Regalia is music related. Our friend Chris, the musician fin des terres, used the term Gurn when he was at a techno club in LA and Zoe and I were both curious about it.
Post LA but on the same trip we ascended a mountain in Maui to visit our friend Elliott, with a vision of lush green and misty fog. We kept playing with the words and gained interest in obscure combinations as the instrumental jazz fusion composition by Frank Zappa “Peaches en Regalia” came in through the frequency air waves. The live xylophone performance by Ruth Underwood is phenomenal.
If there were words to the Zappa instrumental It would sound like:
the golden marzipan of the moment
dissolves in glorious ostinato
Thus Gern en Regalia seemed esoteric enough to the point we kept it.
I was dyslexic as a kid and I also misspelled the term Gurn. I interpreted Gern as also being from the German conjugation Gerne which means for enjoyment or with pleasure.
In terms of the music community being intertwined with Gern, friends communally go to shows that we perform at and visual art openings at our space. We frequently overlap poetry and music as an event at Gern for a visual artists’ exhibition. Poetry readings are integral to us and even though our current location is small it adds to the intimacy of readings at Gern with people gathered together on the floor or sidewalk.
Ravenna Hunt-Hendrix performed for the closing of her show alongside four writers. Her 20 minute set radiated out into the street as everyone experienced the transcendental solo metal set. For upcoming painter Jessica Dean Harrison’s solo exhibition the guitarist and Psychotherapist Matt Baldwin will perform a psychedelic guitar set for the closing.
Zoe and Mario have performed as a poetry and guitar music duet set as well for Anne Waldman’s Bard, Kinetic book release. Music is naturally collaborative and inspires us to formulate the programming of the space.
Programming exhibitions at Gern also revolve around tour dates for Mario when he’s out of town. Zoe in her downtime at Gern records guided meditations for WFMU’s monday morning show. You might catch her recording in the back room during open hours at Gern.
New York has been a great place for starting an artist-run project space but as long as you’re able to show artwork from your friends and collaboratively work together to exhibit, artwork can be shown anywhere. Our friend Joe Speier is an artist as well as curator and has a project called Sinkhole which began as an exhibit on a fence in Baltimore. He currently has organized an exhibit with us at Gern with two really awesome oil painters Caroline Zhang and Karen Fan.
We also have a sporadic apartment gallery called Odelon and just started a zine press called Ode. Our first zine is a collaboration called Shortest Century between poet Anne Waldman and I and Mario did the cover drawing. We’re inspired by Anne’s history of self publishing and small presses, Angel Hair with the poet Lewis Warsh and her imprint Erudite Fangs. We hope to continue publishing spontaneous intimate zines with artists and poets, bridging visual art with poetics. We’ve been honored to do screen-printed broadsides with texts by poets Will Alexander and Cedar Sigo and hope to continue that with Ode.
Collaboratively, we sometimes blur the lines between organizing and making artwork ourselves. Sensitivity to having many hats is important to us. We see the interconnected web between genres and scenes and operating as an artist-run space is part of the ethos of gern. Zoe and I have that in common, we’ve both always done multiple creative streams, not just one medium.
Esoterica, small press lineages, homage, and collaboration factor into my poetry practice and I feel music and poetry definitely influence the operation of the Gern.
Zoe’s poetics is rooted in a DIY punk ethos and practice of giving readings and performances and exchanging zines and pamphlets among friends as a form of mental sustenance and creation.
Bridging music, poetry and visual art scenes and placing poetry where it isn't always expected or found has propelled us with momentum for Gern.
We work similarly with Gern and always try to stay true to ourselves; idiosyncratic and genuine. We are guided by an altruistic pulse and are always filled with admiration, awe, and respect for the incredible visual artists and poets we’ve been able to work with.
We hope to always be able to infuse a sense of play, experimentation and spontaneity in our programming and continue to connect genres and keep a spirit of open-mindedness.