gonna post some old undercurrent articles that never got up here.
Ed: Another month rushes by, and it seems that Fresno has been named, yet again, the worst at something in a nation. We've been called dumbest, fattest, worst, most illiterate, and now we're also the drunkest. Some people are going to get super defensive and go way out of their way to disprove this survey, which, by the way, isn't very difficult to do. Others will completely ignore the survey, which is also easy to do. The difficult road is to really examine the survey and to agree with the elements that are true, point out the problems in the methodology, and still try to make Fresno a better place to live. I mean, for those that already think of Fresno as a punchline, this was just another hay maker to throw. I'm not going to change that person's mind by getting all aggravated and fighting tooth and nail to prove it wrong. They'll just come back with some other reason why they think Fresno sucks. But if I really want to change their opinion, and change the results of future surveys, I need to show them what is good about Fresno. This month, we get to see one of Fresno's best, and yet somehow Fresno's almost unnoticed gems, the Rogue Festival. Yes, some people might enjoy alcoholic beverages while attending Rogue events that are held at venues that serve booze. For those that don't know the Rogue, and it's hard to imagine someone reading the Undercurrent doesn't know the Rogue, it's a large performing arts festival held yearly in Fresno. And, one of the biggest, best parts of the Rogue is that all of the money from every show goes directly to the artists and performers. All the blood, sweat, tears and years invested by the artist are rewarded directly through your financial support. Instead of sitting on your couch, loading another bowl or slamming back another beer, get out and spend that money on a show. The shows are done by local performers, as well as performers that come from across the globe. Literally, the Rogue has drawn international acts, acts from other cities and states, alongside our home grown talent. And as the Rogue has aged (this is the ninth year) it has improved in many ways. More venues have been added, more acts, and visual arts alongside performing arts and music. This is where I give a shameless plug for myself and Adam who will both be showing work at Ashtree studio throughout the Rogue and the month of March. You can also hear each of us speak about why and how we created our artwork at the "Why Did You Do it That Way? Artist Discussion Forums" that happen during the festival. They are rather interesting little events where you can not only hear an artist's thoughts but also ask questions about their work. Adam, what are your thoughts and feelings about the Rogue festival and its impact on Fresno?
Adam: I can’t say I disagree with your framing. People who don’t like Fresno (local and out-of-towners) will always cling to whatever evidence supports their pre-conceived notions, ignoring all the rest. Rogue is just one more glimmer on the sometimes purposefully obscured gem of Fresno. It’s one more instance of unpaid volunteers who dearly love both Fresno and its creative community coming together to enliven a local neighborhood with all manner of talent from the art world. Rogue is Fresno citizens who put up with all the derision and still work their asses off to bring something good to the city. Rogue is where you can get a taste of some of the bigger performance companies or hear a local musician plying their trade or see an experimental show. Some of these acts have been performed by people who have never done such a thing before. That’s the beauty of Rogue being non-juried; it can be a place where someone gets a foot in the door and makes a start. This festival is the kind of thing that all the naysayers should come out and see. They should come in droves. Go to the ATM, pull out $20, and go see three or four or five shows. See a one-person show. See a comedic show. See the visual art. Meet some other Fresnans, meet some artists and performers, and have a good time seeing that our town and Rogue have a lot to offer.
Ed: Very good points. I’d like to challenge all of our readers, and myself as well, go see an act or group that you haven’t seen before. I know several of the performers from previous Rogue festivals, and I’m sure they will put on very good shows again. But I need to get out and see someone new, and I won’t consider my Rogue festival experience a success unless I do. And if you miss the Rogue completely, well, shame on you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see many of the local Rogue performers doing their thing throughout the year. It may be old hat for us to promote local entertainment and events through this column but who cares. There are talented artists, musicians, performers, actors and more here in Fresno, and if we’re ever going to make this a legitimate market we need to help it along every step of the way.