The Chicago Queer Arts Mentorship Program (CQAMP) supports Chicago queer arts and artists by partnering emerging artists with established industry professionals through year-long mentorships focused on project or career specific goals. CQAMP fosters artistic partnerships, invests in queer cultural heritage, supports healthy professional practices, and is modeled after similar mentorship programs in New York (Queer Arts Mentorship), San Francisco (Queer Cultural Center), and New Orleans (Queer Youth Theater).
Under the guidance of Program Director/Creator Joe Varisco (JRV MAJESTY Productions), the program aims to help mentees develop both a well-rounded understanding of the creative process and the knowledge of how to sustain one, such as budget planning and strategic funding options. Each partnership is provided with organizational support, resources, development strategies, community partnerships, venues for presenting and discussing work with the public and peers, and a partnership stipend. The aim of the partnership is not necessarily to complete the goal or project, but to elevate the professional skills and engagement of the emerging artists’ works.
Support through High Concept Labs’ Institutional Incubation Program provides CQAMP with financial support, administrative and programming assistance, as well as exhibition, performance and rehearsal space.
ARTIST: ALEXA GRAE
ALEXA GRÆ's work is a combination of artistic disciplines informed by specialized academic training in music composition and opera. Rigorous training as an opera student challenged them to transcend the boundaries of various art forms and to understand cultural boundaries of art in the everyday world. They bridge these chasms by focusing on how art informs identities, socialization habits, self-expression, and the ability to create, creating genre-defying performances that incorporate multiple dance styles, theatrical personas, and experimental storytelling styles.
MENTOR: Steve Abrams
Abrams has been a driving force of Chicago’s diverse cultural landscape for the past three decades with a celebrated career spanning nightclub and restaurant scenes of the 90’s through executive leadership positions at Steppenwolf Theatre and the Harris Theater for Music and Dance at Millennium Park, Abrams currently serves as Interim Managing Director at Chicago Children’s Theatre and was recently named the first Guest Artistic Director at Navy Pier, leading newly formed arts & discovery programming. He is principal at The Abrams Group, LLC, an innovative arts management and production company and partner at TADA Theatricals, LLC, a commercial theatrical producing entity, both based in Chicago.
PROJECT: SEEN - A multidisciplinary movement song cycle including portions of contemporary opera, solo/ensemble dance, and R&B music with text from the composer's Mother.
SEEN is an experience of identity. The moonstone holds magic and light within it, that appears ever trapped inside the smooth, glassy surface. What happens when a moonstone is cracked open? Does the light flood out?
POST-Q, listed in NewCity Magazine in the TOP 5 Queer/Trans Dance Performances (2015) is curated by JRV MAJESTY Productions' Joseph Varisco, is a performance series exploring the collaborative multidisciplinary works of 10 queer artists discussing the politics of a post-queer world.What makes one more or less queer than another? What structures imitate queerness and what are authentically queer? Where has queerness succeeded or failed us? These are questions artists will be asked to answer. What does a post queer world look like?
NOVEMBER 2015 Featuring: TIFF BEATTY | RUSTY C. COOK | ANDY KAROL | JORDY MARILYN | SOJOURNER ZENOBIA | ISAAC SAMUELSON | DEVAN CAMERON
APRIL 2015 Featuring: LUCAS BAISCH & JULIA KRIEGEL | ROLO RODRIGUEZ | ANNA HOLMQUIST | MAR CURRAN | ALEXA GRÆ | ZO//RA | CRUEL VALENTINE | DARLING SHEAR | BEA CORDELIA
Links Hall's Poonie's Cabaret is named for Poonie Dodson, a much-loved Chicago dancer/choreographer who died of AIDS in the early 90's. Originally inspired by Patrick's Cabaret in Minneapolis, Poonie's Cabaret welcomes all forms of expression and anything which cannot be defined but can be thoroughly enjoyed. It features works in progress from artists working in many different creative realms - dance, music, contact improvisation, puppetry, performance art, theatre, voguing, freestyle rapping, drag, burlesque, cheerleading, stand-up comedy, etc
As Artist-In-Residence at Links Hall JRV MAJESTY will be producing three more POST-Q events over the 2015-2016 season.
A monthly installment of queer collaborative performance hosted and curated by JRV MAJESTY's Creative Director Joseph Varisco, part of the Salonathon series. Salonathon is a five-year running weekly series of underground, emerging, and genre-defying art every Monday at Beauty Bar Chicago created by Jane Beachy.
View recent performances below and check back via the LEX·IC·A Channel on Vimeo for regular updates.
Salonathon (from left to right): Bindu Poroori host/curator, Joe Varisco host/curator LEXICA, Jane Beachy creator & host/curator, and Will Von Vogt host/curator The Callbox. Photographed by Karmen Elaine (2016).
Queer Lexicon is a JRV MAJESTY Production series of 20-30 minute interviews profiling, investigating and exploring the lives and experiences of the TQILGBA & Gender Non-Conforming community. The conversations range from discussing historical issues of segregation, youth homelessness and street economies, intersectionality of race, class, gender, sex and religion, the failure of academic and non-profit institutions and the personal and intimate details of everyday life as creators, artists, activists and culture makers in this community.
Listen to our latest interview a recording partnership via StoryCorps Chicago with Jackie Boyd. For past interviews please visit the QUEER LEXICON Channel on SoundCloud or catch the latest by subscribing to our iTunes Podcast.