Local Heroes

The 2015 class of the Austin Arts Hall of Fame

Local Heroes
Photo by John Anderson

Heloise Gold

"Restless" is one word that applies well to Heloise Gold, and not in a negative sense. She's been on the move since her arrival in Austin in 1978, intently figuring out how to move, working out new ways to move, never pausing in her quest to make movement that entertains, that enlivens, that enlightens. Spurred on by her experimental performance work in New York City – which ranged from postmodern choreographer Simone Forti to avant-garde theatre maker Robert Wilson (appearing in his 12-hour opera The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin) – Gold linked up with another NYC expat recently relocated to Austin, Deborah Hay, who had developed her pioneering philosophy of movement with the Judson Dance Theater. As the Eighties dawned, Gold began touring with the Deborah Hay Dance Company and also creating her own full-length works, and her efforts during that decade – Bird Dream Dances and Songs, the Watching From the She Palace series, Maggs: The 10,000 Year Old Woman – helped lay the foundation for Austin's independent, experimental dance scene. Though watching Gold's projects, one frequently had the impression that the artist herself wasn't done with them, and she has rather restlessly re-examined and refined certain works over the years. At the same time, however, she's moved into new areas, often seeking new collaborators to help her explore some unknown territory. The list of artists Gold has partnered with is as impressive as it is extensive: Hay and fellow choreographer-dancers Diana Prechter (Genius of the Heart) and Julie Nathanielsz (Gold Show/Rose Show), composer Pauline Oliveros (many Deep Listening projects), actor-writer CK McFarland (Hot Flash: A Comic Coming of Age Tragedy), musician Leticia Rodriguez (Chicken and Beans), percussionist Nick Hennies ("Resonance"), composer Travis Weller (When the Shoes Sing Their Finest Song), actor-dancer Jason Phelps ("The Sound That Shook the World"). Natalie George (1,000 Forest Gorillas in Kansas). And that's far from a complete list. But though space prohibits us listing them all, it wouldn't be fair to omit the artists of the city's homeless community. Back in 1991, Gold and Christi Pate volunteered to teach some art classes for people receiving assistance from the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. The response to their twice-weekly classes was so strong and produced so much good work that Gold and Pate were inspired to display it publicly and offer it for sale. And thus was born Art From the Streets, an important project with which Gold continues to be involved as co-director, art facilitator, and volunteer coordinator. Heloise Gold can't stop moving, and that's moved Austin forward in more ways than we can count.

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