The Mystery of Atlantis 

Reaching the heights of esoterica with the Atlantis Arts Colloquium

Hello! Welcome to the Atlantis Arts Colloquium of the Atlantic Hotel art show for this month of January 2000 at Butterfly Herbs.

So. There is a thing called this. I’ve spent many minutes in the dim recesses of We Buy Anything on North Higgins shopping for esoteric statues and odd mirrors and old books, having no idea what was going on upstairs.

What was going on upstairs was work, work, work. By writers— journalistic, fiction, science fiction, poets, ‘zine creators —and by painters— oil, watercolor, canvas or object —and by musicians— country, folk, jazz, punk, rock, guitar, trombone, piano, saxophone —and similar people such as— radio DJs, filmmakers and video creators, photographers, weavers, costumers, dancers, healers, hair cutters, astrologers, gamblers, etc. The list goes on ....!

So writes Melissa Kae Mason in a short, pink-fluorescent intro to the Butterfly Herbs exhibit. “Life is always an eclectic mix in the hallowed halls of Atlantis,” Melissa continues, and then she signs her name “aka Mooncat! of Atlantis!”

Ms. Mooncat! has several pieces in the exhibit. I found one right away by reading The Atlantis Arts Colloquium of the Atlantic Hotel Response Book. “Wow, there’s some breasts showing up there!” the respondent wrote. This was in reference to Mason-Mooncat’s “In the hands of Mary,” an arresting collage featuring a photograph of a nude woman kissing a statue of the Blessed Virgin, with several more Mary statue photos surrounding them, and at the top there is an oval mirror framed in blue glass beads. The mirror has feathers.

The Response Book is displayed within easy reach just above the booths at B. Herbs and just below the items in the exhibit. There are two other books in close proximity—Fox in Sox by the late Dr. Seuss (New socks. Two socks. Whose socks? Sue’s socks.) and Traveling New Trails, by the unknown Spencey Fritchler, a brown, vintage-typefaced book that promises to feature Mounties. You will not want to make any firm assumptions about whether or not these books belong to B. Herbs or are part of the exhibit. Artists who are colloquiumally oriented tend to be pretty generous in their definitions of the stuff of creativity. Anyway, the Dr. Seuss works for me. (Six sick bricks tick. Six sick chicks tock.)

I’m still thinking about the Atlantic Hotel, though. The last (and only) time I was in there was at least 15 years ago when I tiptoed up the dark, cavernous stairway (reminiscent of a waterfront pensione) to arrive with a timid knock at Custom Fashions, a tailoring shop that has since relocated to a less mysterious spot across the alley from Worden’s.

Some small vestige of those days of the Atlantic are perhaps retained in a tiny pencil drawing that is included in the Butterfly Herbs exhibit. It is of either a Buddha with breasts or a woman sitting in a lotus position and it is framed in sunburst fashion by sewing needles in various sizes. This work is by Barb Tellin, who also gives us a clue to the exact whereabouts of the Atlantis project in a work titled “The Portal”—a photo of the painted door to the hotel, or maybe it’s the photo itself that is painted. It might be a photograph of a painted photo or a painting of a plain photograph. Anyway, among the swirls of color is the number 521. The windows along the side of the building bearing this door with this number—you might note it on your strolls downtown—emit whimsy and festoonery. But inside, as I’ve said, they’re churning away.

You have two more weeks to see the Atlantis Art Colloquium of the Atlantic Hotel art show at Butterfly Herbs, and when you do, don’t miss the artwork above the counter stools. And don’t forget your glasses, either; it’s hard to read the inscriptions, often scrawled, on these pieces, and the artists’ names.

I heard a rumor that the writer Andy Smetanka had something in this exhibit made out of dried beans and I was under the impression that it was a nude, because Andy, according to my source, “whips up a mean ‘Nude Descending a Staircase.’” But the only dried-bean work I found was of a laughing skeleton wearing a crown and some sort of suit jacket, and this was by Rusty von Knotkers. There is some explanatory text accompanying the work. According to my notes, it reads “Mr. Fox, sir, I won’t do it, I can’t say it, I won’t chew it.” I’m joking! It is quite the opposite sentiment—“One nice twelve-pack, two sandwiches, and we’ll see what happens.”

See the Atlantis Art Colloquium of the Atlantic Hotel art show on display at Butterfly Herbs, 232 N. Higgins, through January. Call 728-8780.

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