Jacques de Beaufort is easily bored. It's a problem. Or not, as he's decided to do something about it, and not for the first time, though this time in peculiar little Lake Worth, on the funky west end of town.
The Cal Arts-schooled, D.C.-born, LA expat grew up on Fugazi and the east wing of the National Gallery. But de Beaufort's new thing is arts space Unit 1, the first tender shoot -- maybe wild shoot -- to spring up out of the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency's seeding of an arts district on the wrong side of the tracks in the city's downtown main drag.
Tonight's show, The Invisible Horde, reflects de Beaufort's discontent and his faith. His curator's statement reads, in part:
I would call your attention to another unseen Horde, silently working in a twilight zone of fantasy and reality... On a razor's edge of narcissism and self-loathing, turning the shit of reality into glittering jewels through some strange alchemical self-immolation. We call these people artists, and there are actually a lot of them in the area despite their lack of immediate visibility...
Making the invisible visible, de Beaufort's putting work by more than 30 of the local horde on display tonight (with after-show music by the Sunny Devilles) on the ground floor of his townhome/workspace/gallery, Unit1.
Tonight's is the third such event at Unit1 in the past two months, the first two drawing notice from area hipsters and art world insiders, this one more likely to be the breakthrough to the broader public. It's part of de Beaufort's long-range plan for
world domination lighting a local artistic fire.
An associate professor at Palm Beach State College's Eissey Campus, De Beaufort moved here in 2010 from Los Angeles, where he was part of that city's Chinatown arts scene, living above an abandoned mahjong parlor.
That formerly bustling milieu shriveled when arts patrons' money evaporated in the aftermath of the 2008 economic collapse. De Beaufort looked east, saw the PBSC position advertised in the Chronicle of Higher Education, got the job, packed and landed in Palm Beach Gardens.
Culture shock ensued: "I realized," he told us, "if I'm gonna have a life here I've got to start it." The move to Lake Worth was the next logical step, courtesy of the city CRA's artist housing program.
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"They really made it appealing," de Beaufort said. "It's someplace to live, to do my work and to have space for events." What kind of events? "Music, art, performance, film... We could paint the whole place red and have everyone over for pie. The thing is, it's not motivated by money."
Tonight's show, de Beaufort said, was "organized by word of mouth. I reached out to everybody I know, though I'm sure I missed a lot of awesome people. There's a lot of potential here, people doing great work in spite of a poverty of diminished expectations. It's more sophisticated than it seems."
Lake Worth's been the site of avant-garde arts adventures before, and they've gone under, the prime example being the late, lamented Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art. But Unit1 is free of that enterprise's costly overhead, and since it's also de Beaufort's residence, economic pressure is minimal.
"We may sell some work," he says of Unit1's shows. "We may not. The point is to create some energy, create an event, create a scene."
The Invisible Horde. 7 to 10 p.m., tonight, September 20, AfterHorde music and dance from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., at Unit1, 1202 Lucerne Ave, Lake Worth. Call 213-255-0730.
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.
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