Denton’s creative communities have spent the last few years obsessed by the notion of “cross-pollination.”
Indie musicians have wondered what might happen if dancers rocked with them a while. Dancers have challenged one another to choreograph dances to local music.
Musicians and would-be comedians paid tribute to the variety television show Hee Haw with a Denton version of the show, D-Haw.
Before those collaborations were a glimmer in the collective eye of the do-it-yourself arts scene, two established nonprofit organizations were exploring cross-pollination.
The Denton Poets Assembly and the Visual Arts Society of Texas fashioned an exhibit of poetry and art in “Merging Visions.”
The joint show turned five years old yesterday. “Merging Visions” challenges artists and poets to either study the connection between poetry by assembly writers and their own work. Some artists find a finished piece that relates to a poem. Others read through poetry submitted to the arts group and use a selected work to inspire a piece. An exhibition coordinator then selects pairings. The goal is to put a pairing by every participant in each of Denton’s three libraries.
Beth Honeycutt, a founding member of the poets assembly, said the group has been supportive of the Denton arts scene since its founding in 2005. Bonnie Allmond began the assembly for locals who like to read or write poetry, and Honeycutt said the founder wanted to “see if we could give the group a more public face.”
“We approached VAST to see if there was any interest in doing a project with us,” Honeycutt said.
The arts group took the assembly up on the offer, and “Merging Visions” was on its way to Denton library walls, where the exhibit has been displayed each year.
“It seemed like a natural pairing,” said Lynne Cox, the art society’s executive director. “And I think we’ve got a growing number of people who are members of both organizations who look forward to this show.”
The exhibition has earned attention from other poetry groups around the state, Cox said. The assembly is the local chapter of the Poetry Society of Texas, which is the state chapter of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Cox said the annual exhibit has helped both the assembly and the arts society grow.
“I think any organization has to have a strategy if it wants to stay relevant,” Cox said. “I know in my career and in my art, I want to do something meaningful. When I look at this exhibition, I think this is impactful. I think this is meaningful.”
Honeycutt, who is also on the arts society board, said for the poets, the annual show has pushed them into new creative territory.
“I think it’s forced a lot of us to get outside of our comfort zones,” she said. “Creating is — and probably should be — an intense process. And let’s be honest: For most of us, whether we’re in the assembly or in VAST, this [creative work] isn’t our primary job.”
Honeycutt and Cox said the art and poetry have gotten better since the joint show began.
“The quality of the poetry continues to improve,” Honeycutt said. “When we meet in the fall, we read poems round-robin, and in the fall, our members start talking about this project.”
Cox said the show helps artists shake off the inertia that can keep artists from taking risks and growing.
“We can fall into this habit as creative people of doing work and you either like it, or it is what it is,” she said. “Responding to test and feeling something, and then trying to create a mood is good for us.”
Cox said having the pairs up at each library removes some of the barriers that keep people out of art galleries.
“Having it in the libraries means anyone can see it,” Cox said. “You don’t have to be dressed up; you don’t have to pay to get in. I think that’s a really important part of this project.”
LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
IF YOU GO
What: “Merging Visions,” a joint exhibition of poetry and art by the Denton Poets Assembly and the Visual Arts Society of Texas
Where: Emily Fowler Central Library, 502 Oakland St.; North Branch Library, 3020 N. Locust St.; South Branch Library, 3228 Teasley Lane
When: On display during the libraries’ regular business hours through May 19.
Details: A limited number of books, Collections II, which catalogs each pairing of art and poetry in the show, are $12. To order a book, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEXAS TWISTER KISSER
by Lloyd “Sandy” Sanborn
with Tornado Love by Isabel Cano
This is my Texas poem for you
I sure hope you embrace it
He will love you wild
if you let him
sidle in closer
o Now xx x
by Becca Hines
with Nature’s Parachutes by Nancy Waldo
Each little dandelion,
Yellow like the sun,
Is lots of tiny flowers
Gathered into one.
Hugging one another,
Standing in a bract,
Waiting for their seed
To do a flying act.
When the flowering’s finished,
And petals dry and fall,
Seeds lift off in puffs of white
With parachutes for all.
by Annie Neugebauer
with I, Pandora by Jenna Murray
Laden with clay jar,
Pandora, blessed with gift, with scar,
Eyes bright, and two lips curious —
Furious for being sent
As a punishment for theft of fire,
for mankinds’s desire to acquire —
imagining she’ll free a star,
the sapphire, kiss, or land afar,
she twists the lid off, sure and swift,
and out fly sins and fear and hate:
setting her adrift upon her fate.