'floodlines': Hyde Park again awash in wonders

This Sunday, when Jaclyn Pryor's floodlines is presented again, the Hyde Park neighborhood will be abloom with mystery and have wonders wending their way down its streets

'floodlines': Hyde Park again awash in wonders

Most Sundays, Hyde Park looks like pretty much any old neighborhood – leafy, sedate, ordinary – but this Sunday, it will be abloom with mystery; wonders will wend their way down its streets. Curious figures in white will stand on its corners, sun themselves in its yards, bicycle before its elegant homes. Unusual messages will appear on curb signs. Bridesmaids at a church will suddenly run from it, bolting into the roadway as if terrified. And winding past these enigmatic sights will be a creeping caravan of Volvos, before which will run a tiny man in a black suit and yarmulke, dripping wet and gesturing insistently for the cars to follow. He is leading the way to a yard for a moving ceremony of remembrance and transformation.

This is floodlines, a remarkable performance work created by Jaclyn Pryor, the creative engine behind the First Night project Bread, in which she and an army of collaborators distributed 2,006 freshly baked loaves to households across the city, each loaf containing an invitation to join the Grand Procession and a ritual for the new year, and pink, in which she developed a system for Austinites to send messages of affection – on pink paper inserted into small bottles with monogrammed tags – to loved ones anywhere in the city via bicycle couriers dressed in pink. Pryor is an artist who thinks big and works big, on a scale almost unseen here, using the city as a canvas for grand gestures and visions. While floodlines is considerably more intimate – only 40 people may take part in the full experience – it still unwinds over 3 miles, draws upon dozens of collaborators, and will take seven years to complete. (She mounts it once each spring, this being its fourth performance.)

The work, which I experienced last spring, has the feel of a waking dream, making the familiar unfamiliar, drenching the known in mystery and opening one to wonder and change. By the time you read this, this year's performance will likely be sold out, but it may still be worth a wander through Hyde Park Sunday to see if you can catch a glimpse of its mysteries. In any case, you should still know about it and about Pryor, an artistic alchemist walking among us.

floodlines takes place Sunday, April 22, 2pm, leaving from Eastwoods Park, 3001 Harris Park Ave. For tickets, visit www.texasperforms.com.

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floodlines, Jaclyn Pryor, Bread, pink, First Night Austin, Hyde Park neighborhood

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