Thursday, March 29, 2018

Mandalas & Marching Bands: David Wayne Reed and his Eternal Harvest

Going Back Home

It’s always odd recalling the first time you returned to your family home and realized that things were no longer the same.
For me it was spring of freshman year of college. I was returning to Wichita to see my newborn niece, and suddenly understood how her arrival had shifted everyone’s family position. I was no longer “the baby”. There was a real baby. I was now an uncle, and my parents were now grand. A new life showed me just how much we were all changing, and how this process would only continue.
Sitting with artist David Wayne Reed and his cat Neely in his North KC home, talking over donuts, he paints his revelatory moment as one that was more sobering than my own.
On Father’s Day of 2016, he returned to his family home in Louisburg, Kansas to the death of his aunt. Starting that day he began to see things differently.
“My family was starting to change and disappear, and who knows what could happen with the land?” Reed says. “I remember it was such a beautiful day. I’d never seen the farm so beautiful. And maybe I was just looking at it through the eyes of grief, and everything just seemed brighter somehow – but it really inspired me to capture that [beauty]”
It was that 2016 Father’s Day trip back to Louisburg, as well as another trip with his nephew “going to Colorado, getting stoned and talking about his drone”, that led to the concepts behind David Wayne Reed’s Rocket Grants project titled Eternal Harvest.
Eternal Harvest is Reed’s seasonal performance installation series and film about the cycle of life, shown through the landscape of his family farm. In the clips released so far on his personal blog you can see the results of Reed arranging different markers of his hometown and family identity into living patterns.

Reed freed dozens of quilts sewed by his grandmother from a closet in her home, and used their designs to form interwoven, kaleidoscopic visions. Other choreographed sequences, viewed from above, depict community members moving in formation around carefully placed tractors and pumpkins, forming larger-scale patterns as they unfold and display the quilts.

Legacy & Impermanence

“I started to see the quilts as their own landscapes.” Reed says. The pieced fabrics are a crafted representation of his family history on the land where he grew up – like viewing it all from a plane flying over the farmland. And as the 7th generation of Reeds in Louisburg there’s a sense of legacy that he feels the pressure to fulfill.
“As a single, gay man with no children, I feel like I’m kind of an end of the family tree… and so to leave something lasting is very important to me.” Reed says “I don’t foresee myself doing that with children, but if I can honor those who came before me and also leave some mark of permanence on my community then that means a lot to me.”
I listen to David Wayne Reed talk about his project and see just how much he’s thought about both the conceptual and visual sides of his process. And the more we talk, the more Eternal Harvest breaks down. The project becomes a conversation between Reed and his roots about the larger existential questions that have no answers – like reincarnation and life after death.
“It’s hard to craft an effective narrative to that because those ideas are so vast! I felt like the only way to bring them into any kind of beautiful form would be through movement and music and landscape, and let that tell the story” Reed says. Using his personal life story and interests as inspiration, he creates a meditation on existence. By rearranging the imagery of his rural Kansas community with Buddhist-inspired philosophy and artwork, Reed expands his tools as a writer by developing a visual language – which has been a learning experience for him.
Eternal Harvest still from @davidwaynereed

All In

But what’s been most remarkable throughout the filming and preparation of Eternal Harvest is the significance that this installation and film have come to represent for the community of Louisburg. The project has gathered a spirit much larger than just the Reed family.
In addition to participation from the local High School band, Eternal Harvest has gained the support of the Louisburg Historical Society. It will be part of a regional quilters’ conference, and the film will be projected onto the side of the town’s community building and broadcast over a local radio station for people to tune in and watch drive-in style.
The performances and filming have brought together the past and future in this small town. It’s the 150-year anniversary of Louisburg’s founding and the local Library plans to incorporate Eternal Harvest into their celebrations. It is also Reed’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, the High School band marched in the Rose Bowl parade this year, and his family farm will be a stop on the Miami County Farm Tour (where the project will premiere May 12). The time in Louisburg is ripe for the coming of Eternal Harvest.
“I didn’t realize what an impact [an art project like this] can have in a community and it’s been really special for me to see how that’s evolved.” Reed says
“All these things coming into my lap… and engaging with my nephew who’s the drone operator and my dad who’s moving hay bales around for these installations, it’s such an all-hands-on-deck experience.” Reed says. “It never started out this big”
“Being able to really engage with members of my own community that I left and returned to – of which my family has been a part of for generations – it’s really meaningful… I will submit [Eternal Harvest] to film festivals, but right now it’s so micro-local…and I’m more proud of that!”

Shelf Life presents Stolen Goods


Breaking and entering in the suburbs, a pink flamingo in hiding, a scrapbooking racket, Kama Sutra wallpaper from a famed porn theatre, stolen youth, and a memento from the police. 

Featuring: Georgianna Londre BuchananSusanna Lee Lucky-DeluxeAnson Thee OrneryGlenn NorthMichael Andrew Smith, and David Wayne Reed

Your stuff. Your story. Your Shelf Life.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Come Home With Me

Come home with me.
I'm so pleased to announce that the Reed Farm has been accepted to be a part of the Miami County Farm Tour, May 12-13, 2018. In fact, we have the honor of being the first row crop farmers to be a part of this tour.
The Reed Farm features a historical look at agriculture, including tools, implements, and an impressive collection of antique tractors. This stop presents the world premiere of Eternal Harvest, a short film shot on the Reed farm using drones, dance, quilts, and agriculture to depict the cycle of life.
Save the date and come for a visit!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Everything's Coming Up Roses

The Louisburg High School Marching Band made history today by marching in the Rose Bowl Parade. I sat on my couch and watched proudly as the Wildcats marched. I might've even gotten weepy. (Okay, I totally did.) It's a proud moment for all of us LHS marching band kids over the years. (I played alto sax and belted out a mean Eye of the Tiger. FYI.)
When I began to envision Eternal Harvest, I knew that I had to collaborate with Mr. Cisetti, the LHS band teacher because, well, he knows how to move people. I called him up and asked him if I could meet up with him and tell him about my project. We met at an Olive Garden. I told him what I had in mind-a farm mandala incorporating my grandmother's quilts and my Dad's collection of antique tractors. We hatched a plan.
The fall sequence happened in mid-October on a windy day on the farm. Seventy-five people (part of a marching band, friends, and family) came out to the farm and we gathered in the barn to lay out the game plan at 3:10 p.m. We orchestrated and filmed several large kaleidoscopic formations taking place in a 150 foot circle. We were finished and packed up by 4:59 p.m. before a harsh thunderstorm/near tornado blew through at 6 p.m.
It was such a stunning day when people of all ages (3-83), and political stripes gathered together to wear plaid shirts and march my grandmother’s quilts around in formations for this film.
I’m still kind of gobsmacked by the magic efficacy of this most awesome day.
After the shoot, my nephew, Lenny (my drone camera operator) and I were in my truck driving to Powell Pumpkin Patch to return the 50 pumpkins I had rented. Lenny remarked "Man, it's so great to work with professionals." I looked at him and said "Are you calling me a professional?"
He said, "No, I mean Mr. Cisetti and the band."
Congratulations to them on this momentous honor and occasion and much gratitude for helping me out with this film.
In Wildcat pride,
p.s. Class of 90 rules.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Silo

When I was in high school, I'd go out to the silo on the family farm and rehearse monologues or sing because the acoustics made my voice boom like James Earl Jones. (That's what I thought anyway.)
The silo is a special place to me not only as a personal auditorium, but as a creative space. Silos are also known as a place of ignition, of blasting-off. This video snippet from one of our early days of filming is really just us testing out the drone but it seems like an apt metaphor for the Rocket Grant and contributions I've received so far. I'm so grateful to those who have contributed and ignited this project with your generosity.

I still have a good way to go though. Please, please consider a donation to this project--and enjoy the ride!
Taking off,

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Kaleidoscopic Quilt Fantasia

A couple weekends ago, I spent a full day documenting the nearly 100 remaining quilts my grandmothers had made. Their handiwork is so incredible and the geometry of quilt making, sacred. Examining each quilt I saw pieces of fabric-from the suit I wore to pre-school graduation to dresses my Aunts wore to Sunday School–family history  literally woven in the fabric.
IMG_20171013_232428_resizedMy Grandmothers were part of quilting circles, in which each had a hand in the creation of the quilt. The quilts were constructed stitch by stitch and square by square. This creative process created community.
The process of creating this film is much the same. It’s hands-on and all-hands-on-deck. It takes a community.
2017-05-20 19.41.38_resizedThere have been many hands in this process. From an antique tractor association to a marching band to the friends and family who have volunteered their time and/or resources for filming or to any number of loved ones who have contributed in other supportive and meaningful ways.
The Rocket Grant has been an incredible ignition for this project. There have been numerous in-kind donations (drone/equipment/ volunteers) which has helped immensely with production costs.  I am exactly halfway through the process of this yearlong filming and need assistance in completing the short film for a premiere on the family farm in May of 2018.
Eternally grateful,

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Eternal Harvest Wins Rocket Grant!

Growing up on a farm in Louisburg, Kansas without formal creative outlets for his talents, David Wayne Reed created his own venues for self-expression. His family lived off the grid, connected to the world by dirt road and antenna—the CB, the AM/FM, and in small doses, the TV. Alone, with the nearest neighbors miles away, he found creative spark in the solitude of his imagination. David desperately desired an audience, a connection. When people would come to visit the farm, he finally had a captive audience. He performed impromptu drag numbers for visiting seed salesmen. He danced for the hay crew. He made a connection. These memories have informed his creative work—from his trucking musicals to his one-man show about growing up gay on a farm. Having transported farm and country to the city with those productions, he would now like to return to his rural homeland and make a new artistic connection: to put the art in agriculture.
The relationship between farmer and land is spiritual, interdependent, and profound. It is an exercise in having faith in a seed’s future. It is the ritual of daily chores. It is the consequent prayers for rain and sunshine. It is the gratitude for a bountiful harvest. It is the inevitable surrender to the Winter. David recalls asking his father about the idea of reincarnation when he was a young man. His father said that the idea was plausible and offered the idea of a volunteer crop of wheat, or a perennial plant as possible evidence. Life continues from birth to death, from seed to harvest, again and again, he reasoned, creating a vision of the farm as a mandala of life—seasonal, perpetual, unrelenting, and eternal.
Eternal Harvest is a seasonal performance installation series, culminating in a film about the cycle of life as depicted in the landscape of the Reed family’s rural Kansas farm. Using drones, dance, farm implements, heirloom quilts, agriculture, and video installation, Eternal Harvest re-imagines and re-purposes the familiar agrarian implements and landscape to illustrate and celebrate the land, as well as the coming and going of livelihood it brings.
The short film will be projected on the side of a large barn that sits beside a road and on top of a hill – allowing for drive by and drive up audiences. This project is collaborative, and both reflects and shifts the perspective of the landscape back to its own community in a pronounced and innovative way.
David wants to cross-pollinate disparate communities in artistic collaboration. The process will, he hopes, create meaningful exchanges in a way of life and state suffering from an ongoing cultural drought. In addition to his urban creative community, he will be enlisting the assistance of his family and the communities to which they belong—including the Louisburg First Christian Church, the Two-Cylinder Antique Tractor Association of Greater Kansas City, the Masonic Lodge, an elderly dance and social club, and the hometown marching band.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

By Annie Raab  
February 2017

It’s difficult to describe exactly how a room reacts to David Wayne Reed unless you’ve been in a room when David Wayne Reed enters it. 

This is what I learned last December, when I was among the storytellers drafted for one of Reed’s Shelf Life events. I knew the local actor and playwright by reputation, but I’d never watched him work up close. For that evening’s installment of the new-ish series (the theme was a seasonally appropriate “Unwanted Gifts”), the Brick was packed, and when Reed took the stage, wearing a panama hat and a button-down shirt, the room hushed as though everyone present were expecting a healing sermon.

Shelf Life isn’t without therapeutic properties. It’s hybrid of Moth-style monologues, literary slams, and old-fashioned show and tell. Presenters share stories connected to objects (generally on view in the room) that relate somehow to that occasion’s chosen theme. February 25’s is Idol Worship — about which, more in a moment.

Reed landed on the idea for the series while cleaning out a relative’s home. As he separated which items to discard and which to keep, he recognized that behind each possession was a tale of some kind — an origin, a connection. Shelf Life, then, makes up a kind of fragmented play about life with objects, one with a disparate, purposely mismatched cast. 

For Saturday’s Idol Worship, the title suggests objects and events tied to heroes of pop culture.

“My object is a RuPaul doll,” says Megan Metzger, a former Pitch contributor now working toward her doctorate in Illinois. “She’s wearing a red-vinyl body suit with matching thigh-high boots. She’s fierce!”

Metzger’s story involves RuPaul’s Drag Race, a Project Runway-like elimination contest in which participants fight for the title of best drag queen. “Being a superfan of anything is usually perceived by others as crazy or nerdy, but I’m hoping my story will dispel some of that craziness and/or nerdiness,” Metzger says.  She adds that, though she travels back to KC infrequently, “when David Wayne Reed calls, I answer.”

Also participating are Judy Mills (of Mills Records), Ryan Wray, Pamela Liebbert, Gustavo Adolfo Aybar, and Kimmie Queen. Expect to see Loverboy drumsticks, Elvis, autographs from poets, and an imaginary friend.

I heard seven narratives the night of Unwanted Gifts, including Mark Manning’s admission that ceramic clowns seem to follow him, and Jen Harris’ tale about a dog-shaped doorstop. During the latter, the room stayed utterly still, and the already-weeping woman sitting next to me at one point had to stifle a gasp.
Such reactions are why Reed has undertaken the project.  “I think it’s in the act of listening that we incubate empathy,” he says. “And empathy breeds compassion, and compassion tears down proverbial walls of otherness.”

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


As part of a 24 hour playwright challenge at The Living Room. I wrote and directed a new short play titled, Sequoia (in 24 hours!).  

Sequoia: A suicidal squatter is interrupted by a young Christian couple looking to buy a foreclosure. Below is the video:

Starring: Curtis Smith, Marianne McKenzie, and J. Will Fritz.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

There's a white elephant in the room and we want to talk about it! 

Just in time for the holidays, SHELF LIFE returns with UNWANTED GIFTS. 

Clowns, an EZ Bake Oven, a three-ring notebook, a cigarette pen, and more. These are just some of the unwanted gifts. 

Featuring this all-star cast: 

Jose Faus, Charles Ferruzza, Jen Harris, Mark Manning, Sarah Beth Mundy, and Annie Raab. 

Shelf Life is a live themed show and telling event featuring an array of unique objects from the region and the people and stories behind them. Hosted by David Wayne Reed.

Also, everyone who buys a ticket is entered into a raffle for a really cool SURPRISE MYSTERY OBJECT to be unveiled at the event. Ooh, ahhh!

Doors open at 7 p.m. and show begins at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $10.

Shelf Life is made possible with support from Arts KC.