Memphis, TN 2009
Christopher Reyes and Sarah Fleming of 60 Seconds Memphis invited artists to express themselves for, you guessed it, 60 seconds.
Madison, WI 2009
"Out of House and Home" features recorded stories and soundscapes reflecting Gruter's year-long process of purging much of her belongings. The works grapple with feelings of resentment, regret, fear, and ultimately, resolve about having released her belongings into the world.
The show was originally presented as an audio tour in the artist's home. Each room correlated with a different audio track. While listening to selections on their individual CD Walkman, guests were invited and encouraged to go through any part of Gruter’s house, including files, cupboards, cabinets, and closets.
Poetry video celebrating love for testicles, filmed in New Orleans. The poem debuted at Esoterotica, was performed onstage for New Orleans Fringe Festival 2014, and again at La Mama in NYC.
With my dear friend Shane, I toured the country playfully promoting the ritual of relaxation in a time-stressed culture. For nine weeks we hosted tea parties and asked people what stressed out their time. We set up everywhere from Mt. Rushmore to Venice Beach to Zion National Park. What a way to see the country!
People seemed to be coming from two vantage points; they felt their time was either totally stressed out (even while on vacation), or they had come to an epiphany and realized they needed to (and could) slow down. The latter was often a result of a near-death experience, the death of a loved one, a bout with cancer, or the like.
We toured with my Dutch grandmother's 1937 tea set, reflecting a slower time when friends and family would regularly spend time together. Personally, the set also symbolized things I owned but never utilized, which had been a huge time stressor for me. For years, I spent an enormous amount of time tending to things I owned. After an enormous purging, my time was greatly freed up. This process is documented in Out of House and Home.
The tour is also documented at https://teatour2009.wordpress.com
Began in 2009, Ongoing
Here are photos of stuff I've gotten rid of. Purging my possessions is a theme I've carried for years, and has inspired writing, songs, and performances.
I add to the collection of photos on occasion, but the majority of these pictures are from 2009, when I did an enormous purging and reorganizing of my home. The experience turned into my MFA show, "Out of House and Home."
Most of us have strong emotions towards the things we own, with some of us finding great difficulty in letting go of stuff. After years of conditioning, I've learned to not be so attached to objects. But I still can't get rid of the shoes I never wear.
Many of these images can also be found under Inheritance Sale, a glorified garage sale I held. During the sale, I told the story of the object to the buyer. I simply had to let people know what the object meant to me before I could say goodbye to it. Some stories were great, others boring.
Madison, WI 2009
I have had great difficulty letting material things go without someone knowing its story. A glorified garage sale, Inheritance Sale let me tell the story behind every item I sold, passing along the meaning it held for me. I am fascinated by how inanimate objects can hold incredible emotional weight, conjure so many memories, or redirect a mood. Telling the story of each item (some tales boring, some titillating) continued its lineage of memory. Since this enormous purging, I've conditioned myself to not adhere such intense importance to (most) objects. I still keep and love the shoes I don't even wear.
Content shows an ongoing catalogue of things I've gotten rid of.
Held at Aldo Leopold Park in Monona, WI, we created a promotional party and video to get the Tea Tour 2009 rolling!
1st year MFA Show, 7th Floor Gallery, Madison, WI, 2006
Bound by rope, I served people pie. I was deliberately elusive about why I was serving pie, where it came from, if it was homemade, and eluded that there was always more pie to be had. I don't really think I knew exactly what the piece was about, which was fine with me. I suspect it was symbolic of my ability (or lack there of) to keep dipping from my well of energy to serve people, either at my bartending job or life in general.
Madison, WI 2008
I invited people to bring their "someday" projects to the gallery. For three days, we worked on finishing long overdue promised gifts, sorting through paperwork, writing relatives, anything that's been on the back burner.
I wondered if people felt as burdened as I did about their to-do list and asked them to share their feelings. Many people said their unfinished projects and tasks made them feel lazy, overwhelmed, guilty, or irresponsible. Heavy stuff!
50x50 Holiday Show
Project Lodge, Madison, WI, 2008
A nod to Yoko Ono’s 1965 “Cut Piece”, I asked people to cut away at my newspaper outfit. For every square inch cut away, the participant would donate $1 to the gallery. It was a holiday fundraiser, with 50% of sales going to the artist, 50% to the gallery.
Khala Ghali Performance Event, Madison, WI, September 7th, 2007
Non-Static Forms Exhibit, 7th Floor Gallery, Madison, WI, October 3, 2007
People were asked to share what they have a hard time saying no to. Some chose to verbally tell me, while others chose to write it down. I offered a pin to people with one of three sayings: "I NO", "I'm a Nay-Sayer", or "NO-ing is Believing".
The piece plays with a small word that evokes far-reaching connotations and consequences. Allowing oneself to say no to something or someone can often be emotionally charged. Learning to say no can turn into an act of defiance or liberation.
Visualizing Trans; An Interdisciplinary Exhibition
Kupfer Building, Madison, WI
October 20-28, 2006
Performance October 22, 2006
For this performance, I washed thousands of yards of dirty yellow ribbon I had wound on an enormous spool, then hung it to dry. While I washed the ribbon, I sang songs from the Spanish-American, Revolutionary and Civil War era. The songs reflected the futility of war from the perspectives of a soldier, a widow, and a mother of a soldier wounded in battle. The performance lasted three hours.
Commonwealth Gallery, Madison, WI
In this rendition, I made “patriot ribbons” while singing songs dating from the 18th to early 20th century whose content deal with the futility of war. I sat in a rocking chair, surrounded by a living room type setting where patriot ribbon items were displayed that had been marked down in price. The performance lasted three+ hours.
As the Iraq war decreased in popularity, so did the availability of patriot ribbon campaign items. As the items went on sale, the profit made from these products decreased as the number of dead rose.
ArtCore Brewery Annex
January, 2008, Los Angeles, CA
In L.A., I modified the original performance, using a bucket for washing the ribbon, and a clothesline to hang it from. I sang the same songs until I had spanned the room with the ribbon. The sculptures are the work of Roger Rigorth, with whom I shared the exhibit.
At the beginning of the Iraq War, the popular yellow ribbon campaign represented and affirmed patriotism and support both for the troops and the war. I noticed over time, the yellow ribbons (which came in the forms of magnets, bumper stickers, pins, lawn ornaments, etc.) became more and more scarce, although the war still continued. The yellow ribbons, once displayed with pride, had faded on our car’s bumpers, eroded on our lawns, and became virtually extinct in our stores.
I felt these ribbons have came to symbolize our guilt over our tarnished history of the treatment of troops in an unpopular war, a paranoid need to appear patriotic for the sake of public acceptance, and the influence of feel-good shopping in America.
My contribution to the 2005 anti-war collection. The spoken word Ohio Silver questions the 2004 Ohio voting debacle with comedic cynicism. What a ruse.
"No Camouflage" features two dozen Madison-area musicians and was voted "Best Compilation Album" in the 2005 Madison Area Music Awards.
April 17, 2006
Fifty satchels made of patriotic themed fabric were handed out on the state capitol steps. Inside the satchel was a note revealing statistics on the cost of the Iraq war for the residents of Madison, WI.