Miguel Gutierrez Curator Note Mar 6, 2014

by Lane

Truth be told, my pulse picks up a bit when I’m around Miguel Gutierrez. He says what’s on his mind and sometimes the words whizz by your head like spinning rocks. It’s part of his charm.

It was rainy on Monday night when I picked him up from the airport. I welcomed Miguel to “sunny Seattle” and he said, “Yeah, it’s going to rain for the next week.”

He was exhausted, having just flown in from Paris from an engagement at Centre Pompidou. Somehow we got onto the subject of the choreographer Alain Buffard, who recently passed away. (His last work Baron Samedi will be performed at OtB, May 8-11) I asked Miguel to tell me about Alain since I had never gotten to meet him, and he explained how he owed a lot to Alain since the first two times he appeared in France were through collaborating with him. He used words like “sensitive” and “decadent” to describe Alain; “the consummate Frenchman.”  I think it was hearing an artist speak about another artist that made me feel like I was receiving sacred information.

Then I congratulated Miguel about being included in the recently opened Whitney Biennial and he said he missed the opening party because he was in France but didn’t really mind because he doesn’t like parties and all of that standing around.

While I was waiting for him to check into his hotel, I thought about how a playwright friend wants to see the show because she likes the way Miguel writes. Maybe this is why I suggested he might like to check out Café Mecca for breakfast where the late August Wilson purportedly penned prose in the margins of his newspaper. “I’ll go write a poem there,” he said and then acting like he was writing the poem said, “I am pissed off, too.”

Ultimately though, his artistry has a lot more to do with intuition and skill than audacity. He’s a contemporary shape-shifter capable of transforming himself and the energy of any room through the ability to make something out of nothing. Sometimes the effect is startling. Like, Miguel could turn over a dinner table and push the pot roast and plates to the center of the room, and the dinner guests would magically find themselves on hands and knees in a circle, pulling flesh apart with their hands and laughing wildly.

When Miguel collaborates with The Powerful People, the shape-shifting only intensifies. He has assembled a group of all-star artists, many of whom have performed before at OtB. Together, they try for something very difficult, aspiring to feats of aesthetic levitation and transcendence, and seemingly find a slightly raised edge between this world and the next. 

– Lane Czaplinski, On the Boards Artistic Director