Snake Dance: THISISSUE Zine Launch at Cat Castle Gallery
Cat Castle Art Gallery is an art space operated out of the house of two couples, co-curated by Lily Valentine and Merry Jo Carter, snuggled in a neighborhood north of the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. On November 9th, Cat Castle hosted the launch party for a new zine run by some of the gallery owners and friends, THISISSUE magazine. The first issue focused on the theme of death, reflecting on the experiences of contributors struggles with the grief of loved ones lost across generations, time and space through photos, poetry, illustrations, and essays. It starts with a vulnerable introduction "what you are holding in your hands is more important to us than anything we have done on our own," and informs the reader that all of the content is a collaboration with at least two people, and none of it can be found on the internet.
Whitney Moore of the PDX psych-rock band Snake Dance appears in three pieces in the zine. She contributes the story of her partner dying in a car crash, minutes after speaking to each other on the phone, through images and prose. Social Symptoms, a photo set of an intergenerational grief ceremony collaged with poetry, hits me harder than I expect. Perhaps because I'm used to seeing beautiful women in images smiling through their highlight reels, or posting stories of their personal, independent suffering- the rawness of the pain put to paper as a group is moving.
With THISISSUE's debut humming in the background of the packed Cat Castle Gallery basement, Snake Dance took the stage, or rather, the space at the front of the crowd. Visceral healing energy oozed out of Whitney's performance, crashing against the audience with sonic resilience while she pounded into the keys. Jake Satterthwaite's guitar intertwined with her melodies in a subtle tango, his body barely seeming to move while his hands darted over the fretboard, brow furrowed in concentration. Their drummer, Kevin Hammond, grinned wildly as Whitney coaxed the crowd into her trance, braids flying and jaw tight. The latest addition to the band, Michael Navarro, tossed his bandana wrapped head to the swing of his 6 string bass. When they finished everyone was stunned, finally screaming encore when they had already politely moved back into the crowd.
The crowd ate up the catharsis, some without even knowing it. A dude flipping through the zine looked up at me after the show, "This is pretty intense!"
"Yeah," I said, socially blasé with the help of cyanescens. "It's all about death."
"I like it," he set it down for a moment, staring across the room, "I just didn't expect it going in."
Cat Castle Gallery's launch party for THISISSUE magazine included visual art by Jason Simpson, pinkgorgon, Merry Jo Carter, Colt Brady, Amy Woelbeat and music by Vivian Elliot, dessicant, Snake Dance, Curb and the Spur, and Kevin.
You can find them on Instagram @catcastlegallery and look out for the date, I'll be joining them to exhibit my visual art for their February show!