The Piano Puppet
Collaboration with Peter Nevins for the Portland initiative, Piano Push Play.
Often, we think of a piano in terms of the sound it creates - push a key and a note rings out. But seldom do we marvel at what’s behind its wood covers - the clever engineering, connections and precise design that enable a lever to push a rod that swings a hammer and strikes a coiled wire, dialed to an exact tension to produce a set of vibrations that give us C#. A simple keystroke sets off a miracle of movement.
Starting from a place of wonder, we set to continuing this chain of movement into a new direction— a rolling seascape, a dancing dragon, a musical mermaid. The idea was to convert the energy of a piano player into something unexpected, something that would be unique to each player, each song. Like flickers of a fire, each moment would be the first and last of its kind, never to repeat the same exact composition. No song would look the same way twice.
After hundreds of daydreams, brainstorms and burns from hot-glue guns, the Piano-Powered Puppet was made. It’s a celebration of the elaborate systems that operate our lives. A note is more than a keystroke. A decision is more than an impulse. Behind every action, is a unique set of desires. For us, this project was fueled by a desire to connect - with those around us, ourselves and each other. Our hope is that whoever plays this piano is connected with a version of themselves that is filled with wonder, mindfulness and an deepened desire to play.
It was unveiled at the Portland Art Museum, where it stayed until it’s next stint at the Children’s Art Museum. It now lives at RIX, in south-east.
In 2016, I was asked by the Academy Award-winning team behind Curfew, to edit their upcoming film. The collaboration continued in a way that was unexpected and fulfilling.
The story revolves around a married couple in upstate New York whose normality is punctured when they find a recording device inside their toddler's teddy bear.
The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to win the award for "Best Editing" at the Jaipur International Film Festival in 2017.
Redbull Soapbox Derby
Fun fact: noses and ears never stop growing. Learning this led me to the thought of someone who'd grown old enough to have a nose bigger than their body. I mocked this idea up for the 2012 Redbull Soapbox Derby and it won a slot to compete. Then, I realized I needed to quickly learn how to build a nose-car, that I was to race down a big ol' hill in downtown Los Angeles.
The crowd was 50,000 strong, and as I wheeled the nose car to the starting ramp our lead-in music played (play below). Our team put on an opening skit of big noses at a fancy dinner. The pepper shows up, all the noses panic and begin to sneeze, right as the nose car launches through a giant kleenex, starting the descent down Olive Blvd.
I had a fire-extinguisher hooked up to a lever I would pull on the last stretch, to blow a stream of smoke out of the nostrils. On that the last turn, a right-angle at the bottom of the hill, I clipped a hay bail, flipped the car, mangling it's stearing. A bit embarrassed, I pushed the beat up nose down the last stretch, but the crowd gave me a boost, and Team Moustachios won the People's Choice Award. I think I still have the pepper suit, if anybody wants it :)
Clinton Street Theater, in Portland, Oregon is home to the longest-running "Rocky Horror Picture Show," dating back to it's first screening in 1978. It's also where I wrote, directed and performed in my first stage play, "Together," in 2015, alongside the indelible Craig McCarthy. The story focuses on a pair of conjoined twins, who are more than ready to go their separate ways.