“On February 13 2022 we hosted 13 Love Songs at Milagros Coffee House in downtown Alamosa. 13 Love Songs is a show that was originally created by George McConnell, artist and professor (ASU Theater Department).
Christopher Cates Jr. and I reached out to 13 local artists to create the line up. Once they agreed to participate they were each assigned a love song to inspire their own piece. This includes performance, dance, spoken word and visual art.
It is not necessarily an annual event, but it will definitely happen again at some point. McConnell and many of his friends, collaborators, and past students have hosted this event. It’s bound to make another appearance.
As for Christopher and I, we will definitely be making more work in the near future.”
– Hannah Eubanks
By Madeleine Ahlborn | firstname.lastname@example.org
GEORGE McConnell is a professor at Adams State University in the Theatre Department. We had a great conversation via email, talking a little bit about the history of 13 Love Songs and the origin of the series.
Creative Citizen: Where has this series been performed?”
George McConnell: “I curated/produced it I think four times in Tallahassee, one time in Tucson, one time in Minneapolis, and one time in Alamosa. Then other people have curated/produced it a few times in Tallahassee, three or four times in Chicago, one or two times in New York, one time in Minneapolis, one time in Denver, and the most recent time in Alamosa.”
CC: Where did the idea for 13 Love Songs come from?”
McConnell: “The idea started with me attending a performance in Minneapolis. The performance event was that a local choreographer had turned 30, and so they looked up the #1 song for each of their 30 years of life. They then asked 30 different artists to each make a ‘performance cover’ for one of the songs. I believe it was a two-night performance with 15 songs each night. I only saw one of the nights, but it was so great, and I thought it would be cool to do something similar. So a couple of years later when I was teaching at Florida State, I rented a warehouse space and was
hosting different performance events. I was madly in love with someone who was not in Tallahassee and I was missing them, so I thought it would be great to make a sort of performance mixtape, and so I decided on the idea of 13 Love Songs, and asking 13 artists to make performance covers of them.
I’m not sure why the number 13… I also always say that when I make the mix, I’m not choosing my favorite 13 love songs, nor what I think are the best 13 love songs, but just 13 that seem to fit together to me in some way. Once the playlist is made, I then approach artists and ask if they want to make a performance cover. This can be pretty much anything as long as some part of the song they are assigned is in the piece in some way. It could be the entire song, or for example, there was an artist who chopped and screwed Umbrella by Rhianna to the point it was unrecognizable, but it was still there. It could also be one lyric from the song … or the entire song. Then people have done all sorts of things … dances, other songs inspired by the song they had, poetry, skits, stranger and stranger things. One person in Tucson had been vegan for years and had the song I Believe in a Thing Called Love by The Darkness and they ate a beef heart and vomited. So. Yeah, the work made runs the gamut.
13 Love Songs is my idea as much as an idea can belong to anyone. I am happy when other people want to curate/produce it. I very much appreciate when people ask me (I have never said no) and credit me either in writing for the event or when they host it. I can’t police that in any way. I don’t license it or hold a copyright on it. If I live in the town where it is happening, it seems strange to me that people wouldn’t ask me or credit me. If I’m not living in the place, I might not even know it’s happening, so if people just do it, they just do it. I think with contemporary art there is a fair amount of borrowing and repurposing, so I can’t think about holding too tight of a grip on it … it’s more of a courtesy thing.”
CC: How are artists chosen to participate in the performance?
McConnell: “I don’t know how other curator/producers have chosen their roster of artists. For me, I usually ask people who I know and think are interesting and I think would make a cool piece. I have asked a few people (like you) who I didn’t know personally, but came highly recommended from people who I did know and think are interesting and trusted.
THE beauty of this ongoing project is the collaborative efforts from artists in different aspects of life to interpret a “love song” in their own way and choose their own artistic medium. Whether that’s dance, performance, spoken word, or visual art, as Eubanks and McConnell stated earlier.
I had a chance to ask performer Isabel Rae about her experience and talk about the piece she developed for the event:
“My experience as a participant in 13 Love Songs hosted by Chris Cates and Hannah Eubanks was incredible. I’m not a performer so I was very nervous. I had incredible support from them, it was a really incredible show! The song I was assigned was Space Girl by Frances Forever. This song sums up sweet sapphic love and was an opportunity for me to feel safe, comfortable and seen in my community as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in the San Luis Valley. My performance was a spoken word piece based on the song and I was talking on a bright pink phone to ‘space girl’ about my car’s extended warranty. There was such a
wide variety of performers that night from our endlessly creative and talented community here in the valley.”
– Isabel Rae
You can see more of Isabel’s work this spring at the upcoming Adams State University BFA Exhibition, and current works at the SLV Museum on Hunt Avenue in a group exhibition through the end of March as part of a new monthly rotation of local artists.
IN 2020 I was asked to participate in 13 Love Songs as an Adams State University Alumni. The “Alamosa Remix” was hosted by Square Peg Brewerks and my assigned song was Geyser by the artist Mitski. My piece took the form of spoken word poetry. Even though I am familiar with speaking in front of a crowd, being the first performer of the evening can bring a different sense of pressure, in a good way.
All artists, performers, or however you identify, have a different process when interpreting something/anything. I often use a “cut and paste” mentality in a very physical way in order to arrange and rearrange my thoughts. My spoken word piece was a conglomerate of statements, sentences and words compiled together to create a poem. All of these words and phrases were from the year prior to joining the project.
Keep an eye out for Hannah Eubanks, Christopher Cates Jr., and George McConnell for future performance projects. Who knows where it will land, but be sure you can find updates on Alamosacitizen.com
That’s for your ongoing support for Rural Journalism !
Photos by Sabin Eubanks and Madeleine Ahlborn
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