GEORGE GRELLA: CRITIC-IN-RESIDENCE

You may be wondering what this is all about, what Critic-in-Residence means in general, and what is means at and for Galapagos Art Space in particular. I’ve been asked this question already, even by other critics and professionals in music. My answer to them, and to you, is: we’ll see.

Robert Elmes contacted me with this idea in the fall, completely improvvisamente, as Italians say so evocatively. We talked abut it, and I was intrigued, by both his views on the problems of sustaining artists in a city as expensive and materialistic as New York, and that he didn’t have a definite idea on what the Critic-in-Residence would be, but wanted to give it a try and see where it went. Improvising is what I’ve always been drawn to as a musician, so how could I say now?

Galapagos is many things, depending on what is filling it at the moment. It hosts art shows, burlesque cabaret, circus acts, lectures and, of course, music. It also has a unique model, in that it supports and sustains selected resident artists, and manages to do so through that same flexible, inventive use of the space. It’s not easy, in fact it seems a daunting challenge, but every time I leave an performance and see the line of colorfully dressed people waiting to get into the ‘nightclub’ portion of the evening, I have the feeling that something is working.

So what am I going to be doing? I think I’m going to be evaluating how well this all works, although that will be subject to change, since this is an ongoing experiment. But first, Galapagos gets far less press coverage than their programming and ambitions demand, and their musical programming has become increasingly expansive. While I’ve been happy to run into Alan Kozinn there, more can be done. And that will be my first step, to write about recent musical performances. Let’s see where it takes us.

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