"Hey Jack Kerouac" was all Natalie Merchant had to say, and you had to listen to the song. The Beat Generation's impassioned chronicler, patron saint of the open road and the search for cosmic kicks, his name compels to this day, ringing the allure of bohemia.
It's that energy the Boynton Beach Arts District -- that fervent, funky DIY arts engine -- has seized upon for its annual celebration of the beatnik spirit. It's on its third KeroWACKED, which, as with most BBAD events, is the brainchild of resident sprite/evil genius Rolando Chang Barrero.
Like the Beat Generation's culture, this year's KeroWACKED is all over the place (in a good way). It includes live music, dance, flow arts, readings (including one of Allen Ginsberg's definitive Beat epic Howl!), and a drum circle (natch).
Visual arts will represent with a group exhibition inspired, according to Rolando:
"...by the post-World War II writers who came to prominence in the 1950s, as well as the cultural phenomena that they both documented and inspired. Central elements of Beat culture included rejection of received standards, innovations in style, experimentation with drugs, alternative sexualities, an interest in Eastern religion, a rejection of materialism, and explicit portrayals of the human condition."
The exhibition's centerpiece is work by Jessica Gwen, whose "Molly" is "a meticulously crafted silicon sculpture of a lifelike genetically modified cow." According to Gwen, the work will "allow us to reflect upon Monsanto and our scientific application against humanism."
We're especially curious about the work of Modernity Art, whose "Kaleid-O-Krank" projector uses a technique it calls "Surreallations" and produces brilliantly colored psychedelic imagery, often with religious symbols. As the Beats would say: "Om."
A footnote about Kerouac:
Jack ended his days an embittered drunk, living with his third wife and his mother in Pinellas County, repelled by the 1960s counterculture he inspired. But that sorry coda never swept away the fire he lit with prose like this:
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh..."
Dig you some Beats here, in the underground classic written and narrated by Kerouac:
Third Annual KeroWACKED, 2 to 11 p.m. Sunday, April 20, at Boynton Beach Art District, 422 W. Industrial Ave., Boynton Beach. Visit Facebook.
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers public affairs and culture in Palm Beach County and elsewhere. Got feedback or a tip? Contact [email protected]