By Jessica Dearborn | SDUN Reporter
The Verge is a gathering of artists of every imaginable variety. It is a place where poets, painters, writers, sculptors, photographers, doodlers and muses can share ideas, spark inspiration and display their work. It is an event where generative exercises will ignite new creative endeavors, where good art, good drink and good food will encourage an ever-growing sense of community.
—The Verge Salon
Solidarity, truth and openness are words that come to mind when envisioning an artistic community. In a city that’s filled with so many different venues, it’s sometimes difficult to discover just one that suits an artist’s longing.
However, there is such a community that fosters budding artists: The Verge Salon has created an environment where artists are confident and inspired to exhibit their work, sometimes for the first time. It is a place where perhaps once timid imaginations now flourish.
The group’s launch party May 9 was held at Thorn Street Brewery, located at 3176 Thorn St. in North Park. When I stepped into the setup for the event, it was already abuzz with creative energy, and my first impression was that of familiarity, like an old-school turntable.
Co-founder Jen Lagedrost took the microphone to start off the evening and thanked the artists and attendees. She asked for participation in a deep-breathing exercise, which was to guide all to a tranquil, positive, artistically transcending and sophisticated experience.
My senses were copious, and combined with the glorious flights of beer that Thorn Street Brewery provided, I was enjoyably lost in the artistic air and vivid imaginations circulating the room.
While pursuing their master’s degrees in fine arts at San Diego State University (SDSU), Lagedrost and friends Rachel Gellman, Danielle Hunt, Francine Rockey and Erin Rodoni came together to create The Verge “as a way of expanding and continuing our artistic community, post-graduation,” Rockey said.
The group’s salon series is to “reinvigorate poetry readings,” she said, “to infuse them with the energy of all forms of artistic expression.” Rockey called the San Diego artistic scene lively and fragmented, saying they wanted to be a “uniting force” and “central hub” for local artists.
“We are working to bring artists of every variety from all over San Diego together,” Rockey said. “We hope to see our quarterly chapbook expand into an anthology of artistic work and someday perhaps a small press dedicated to showcasing San Diego’s amazing artists.”
The Verge will be hosting a variety of events each month, starting with the May 9 Thorn Street launch, and will include quarterly chapbook parties, Rockey said. The first chapbook event is scheduled for Aug. 29.
“Each event will be centered around the idea of a salon, a gathering of all types of artists to share ideas and receive feedback,” she said. “Our next event is Thursday, June 13.” They have future plans to team up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County, as well as conduct community outreach through the SDSU literary journal, Poetry International.
For the Thorn Street Brewery event, the evening unfolded with art in its raw form. Stimulating pieces of photography, beautiful music and inspiring spoken word etched their way through the air, as one voice.
The Verge collaborated with Jeans 4 Justice, a non-profit organization that fights for justice for domestic violence and rape victims. Some artists participating that evening lent their talents to Jeans 4 Justice’s project, LIVE IT, which is a story-sharing platform of how each artist plays a role in social change.
Gill Sotu – artist, producer and host of “Train of Thought,” a community of artists that perform at different venues throughout San Diego – was originally contacted by Jeans 4 Justice staff to help coach people that want to learn the art of spoken word during their LIVE IT challenge. He said he attended The Verge event to support Jeans 4 Justice, as well as his students as they read for the first time.
Amanda Odish is a Celtic harpist and singer who has been performing since she was 5 years old, and began singing opera at age 9. She is a harp therapy intern for patients with dementia at Apreva Hospice, and performed that evening.
Another artist at The Verge launch party was Jennie Edwards, owner of Guided by Imagination and a professional photographer. She was also invited to participate in the LIVE IT challenge, and initiated the Gratitude for Greatness project, where she spotlights individuals and nonprofits making an impact in the community.
The evening left me feeling inspired, creative and invigorated. The raw honesty of all artistic voices was engaging and impressive to the ever-present audience, who swayed to spoken word and harp music. For more information on The Verge, visit thevergeseries.wordpress.com.