the next service is in Los Angeles on June 11

About Chris Wells

Chris Wells

CHRIS WELLS is an Obie award-winning writer, actor, singer, cabaret performer, lyricist, teacher and arts activist who has made original theatre, music and performance for many years.

WONDERWALK HIGHLIGHTS

Here’s a list of tasty highlights from the walk! It’s this Saturday, come on down! Go to Brownpapertickets.com to get your ticket–only $10!!!

We’ll start by stretching at 9:30 on Linden Terrace at the
Cloisters. (Ft. Tryon Park) Baked goods will be offered by Pamela Gregory, master baker of Napa, CA. Jeremy
Bass will play guitar for us.

We’ll depart Ft. Tryon Park at 10am.

We’ll then visit the High Bridge Tower where Lisa Rothe will
tell us a bit about the history of The High Tower and the Croton Aqueduct.
Then we’ll walk along the Harlem River, and stroll past the Jumel Mansion.

We’ll worship at the monument to John James Audubon at
Trinity Cemetery, where Christian Frederickson and Eve Miller will play some
chamber music for us.

Actor Gibson Frazier will celebrate his birthday by
expounding on the beauty of Hamilton Heights. Ethan Lipton (of Ethan Lipton and
his Orchestra) will sing for us on Convent Avenue.

Choreographer/performer Gabriella Barnstone will dance on
the steps of St. John the Divine.

Then, we will eat our lunches, which we will have brought
with us. We will leave St. John the Divine at 130, walk over to Riverside
Drive, meet up with Kim Ima’s Treat’s Truck, and enter Central Park.

Central Park expert David Cobb Craig will reveal the
mysteries of The Angel of The Waters and Bethesda Fountain.

Kamala Sankaram and Drew Fleming (of Cowboy and Indian) will
play Astor Piazzola at the bottom of the Mall in Central Park.

Justin Sayre (of My Gay Agenda) will perform an Ode to
Gertrude Stein at her statue in Bryant Park.

Yours truly may perform a song at the Farrugut Monument in
Madison Square Park.
Actor Joanna P. Adler will read, Why I Come to the Secret City, at the statue
of Peter Stuyvesant in Stuyvesant Square.

We’ll visit Tomkins Square Park and snack on Ranger Cookies,
from Chef Amanda Freitag of Tribeca’s The Harrison Restaurant.

Leah Coloff, of Lucibel Crater, will play her unique brand
of Cello Rock in front of New York’s Marble Cemetery.

The Quavers will play some acoustic tunes in Sara Roosevelt
Park.

We’ll all grab dinner in Chinatown. Then,

Our last meeting spot will be in front of the statue, The
Triumph of the Human Spirit, in Foley Square, down by the courthouse. Then
we’ll walk the final 15 minutes of the walk in silence, arriving at the middle
of the Brooklyn Bridge at midnight.

As soon as we arrive to the middle of the bridge, we’ll
dance to the Romanian Gypsy Punk stylings of Luminescent Orchestri.


How can you possibly miss out?!? 

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Here comes the WONDERWALK!! Saturday, Sept. 12th

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, The Secret City is thrilled to announce the First Annual Manhattan Wonderwalk, a day long walk exploring the on-going work of art that is The Island of Manhattan.

We will meet at 10am up by the Cloisters and walk down, around and through Manhattan. Along the way there will be
informal discussions, a few
performances
, camaraderie and the occasional legitimate tour guide. The walk is
designed to encourage looking at the Island of Manhattan as an ever-changing
work of art.

And, you can walk as much or as little as you like. 

And, all this for only $10!!! Go to TheManhattanWonderwalk.com for details on the walk, buying tickets and more. 

Come on–you don’t to want to miss out on this incredible adventure.

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WATER and LIGHT

Our last service of the season was this past Sunday, July 26th. The theme was WATER and LIGHT, inspired by summer. The painting above is by Robert Lucy, aka Bobby Lucy, and his Oregon Seascapes were the featured visual art of the day–there were 18 images on the walls, beautiful and crisp. Full of water and light. For more of his work, check out his website, robertlucy.com. Here’s the artist himself:

Here’s our dear Liz Morton reading the Cultural Calendar:\
The service was designed to cool the body and relax the mind, especially as summer in the city sets in. We watched a great clip from Footlight Parade, and old Busby Berkeley musical from 1933? Or is it 1935? Can’t remember right now, BUT, it was the heart of the depression, and here comes this incredibly opulent, magnificent and over the top music number, BY A WATERFALL, starring Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell. Hundreds of young women in very sexy swimsuits, frollicking and dancing and playing in the water, a HUGE pool on a soundstage, with lights and fountains and an endless variety of patter and design. Just beautiful.
We thought it might be a small crowd, due to the summer vacation factor, but lots of NEW PEOPLE came, like Cusi Cram.
Here’s a few more pics of sweet folks who joined us for the service…
Here’s Danyon, service his food offering, WATERMELON JUICE (fresh squeezed…)
Betty and Clare–
Joanna and Katie–
Hannah, Jeremy, Danyon–
And here’s Eric with Ella Rose–our youngest member.
Caitlin and Meredith–
So, a lovely time was had. By most, I think. And a season comes to an end. It’s been an amazing year of growth, and joy and creative faith. We’ve watched movies, listened to stories, tasted foods, witnessed escapes, looked at pictures, collages, weavings and more…we’ve discussed the sea, and memories, we smelled things together, chatted and mingled, we were apprised of goings on all around the city, we honored the deaths of many great artists…and, the organization itself grew a LOT this year–people gave money to ensure that the services continue, and fundraising continues, and the mission blossoms. The Secret City is now a place where artists come to relax, renew, refresh, and to commune with other, like minded folks, AND, to be reminded of the holy calling of the artist in our society. Oh, I know, spelled out like that here, it can sound kinda precious, but really, that’s what we practice, that’s why we gather, to remind one another that creativity and imagination are sacred, they are what makes the world, and what remakes it, too. And, it WORKS!!! Again and again, and isn’t it right to celebrate them? Yes.
We’ll be back at the end of September, with our regular monthly services. In the meantime, there are grants to be written, and a HUGE walk to be planned. THE SECRET CITY WALK is September 12th, a whole day to walk nearly the entire length of Manhattan. More to come. Until then, LOVE.

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ECSTASY!! our service from June 28th

We had a magnificent gathering at the end of June. Here are some pics from the service–the theme was ECSTASY, inspired by Gay Pride, and Independence Day.


New York artist Harry Krishna created an instillation for our service that day. It was mostly found images, several of which were depictions of Michael Jackson. Harry had put the piece together the day BEFORE Michael Jackson died.

The wonderful Jennifer Miller performed for us that day–

she escaped from a straitjacket RIGHT BEFORE OUR VERY EYES! Here are some other fun images from that day. SHOES!!
>
Danyon and Emma!

Nikki and Gib!

The fabulous Patrice Quinn arriving just in time for The Mingling Ritual!

The remarkable Justin Sayre read the Cultural Calendar with aplomb!

We re-enacted that old acting exercise, HA, and laughed our asses off for a few solid minutes…IT WORKS!!

Who else but Jammie and Michael, in the most ECSTATIC outfits of the year. By the way, Jamie also contributed the food offering for this service, Sister Emily’s Pralines–dear lord, they’re heavenly. (ouch). As Jamie taught us to say, in the words of dear Sister Emily, “Comment-t’allez-vous, y’all?”

Our dear Jack and Jonathan.

Mona Mansour and her birthday cake!

A group of lovely pals–John Kellam (visiting from LA), Laural Meade (also visiting from LA, and sang for us in the service), Joanna Pee, Kelly Mares and Gib Frazier. Wonderful company.

Those sparkly Coloff sisters, Leah and Rachel. In a bit of synchronicity, Leah had her Coney Island purse on that day, which has the sign for the CYCLONE on the flap.

Here I am with two of my dearest dears–Laural and Patrice. Scrumptious!

LOOK! It’s Patrice and Bobby!

And now, our own Jeremy Bass, eating cake.

Incredible day. Thanks to Bobby for taking the pics, and to all the amazing people involved in the service, and to all the friends, old and new, who came out on a sparkling summer day, with the gay pride parade going by just a block away. It was an ECSTATIC moment. Love and Happiness.

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CONEY ISLAND!!

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Playing catch-up on the blog!! Here are some pics from last month’s adventure, which I wrote about in the monthly sermon, THE PERFECT ESCAPE. Bobby and I went to Coney Island one misty, Friday morning. AND, we rode the CYCLONE. First stop–The Boardwalk. Misty morning in June.

I guess i would be the FREAK.
 

George Tilyou, the great Coney Island impresario once said, “Coney Island, between June and September, is the world.”
But on that misty morning, Friday in early summer, no one was going to Coney Island but Bobby and me.

We snuck into the back of Dreamland, which was still shut that early in the day. We wandered around and got to see some of the locals up close…
FINALLY, we made it to the famous rollercoaster–the ultimate goal.
The entrance to the ride…after this, I would never be the same.

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Memory: proust

In honor of Proust, we had madeleines as our food offering on Sunday. Sadly we don’t have a picture of them. Everyone was too busy tasting them to get a shot. But, they were SUBLIME! Pamela Gregory, of Napa, California, sent them to us. And we all tasted them at the same time–such flavor, such texture. Is there lavender in a madeleine? Lemon?
Here’s a snippet of what Proust had to say about the power of taste to evoke the past…

“…after
the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell
alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent,
more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting,
hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and
almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”


And here’s a shot of some lovely folks who came on Sunday.

 

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MEMORY.

More from this past Sunday’s service on MEMORY. The service was full of memory-spurring experiences…the interactive portion of the service was SCENTS/MEMORY, where we shared various scents, to see what memories they might evoke. The scents were Hawaiian Tropic Suntan Oil, Lavender, Curry, Tiger Balm, Cody Air Spun cosmetic powder, Clove and fingernail polish.

“…the sense of smell, almost more than any other, has
the power to recall memories…” Rachel Carson

above image: Sally, Danyon and Justin, smelling scented cotton balls. 

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MONEY!!

Good morning world! It’s monday, May 5th–Cinco de Mayo!It’s a week since our last service. The theme was MONEY!

The inspirations for this month’s theme were the current global economic situation, and the upcoming fundraising efforts for The Secret City. MONEY proved to be a rich and valuable theme for us–artists and money have a very complicated relationship.
Somerset Maugham, that very successful writer, said, “Money is like a sixth sense, and you can’t make use of the other five without it.”
The service was filled with surprises…
And lots of new, lovely visitors…
This is the moment to ask people to invest in something that reminds us of our calling, something that reminds us that relationships and experiences are the most valuable things. And our monthly rituals do that, they remind us of the importance of the life of the senses, the importance of having a place to come where we are reminded of purpose, and connectedness. And as a result, community is being built, people are showing up, conversations are starting.
It’s nice to see the services growing in JOY, too…We held a game show–kind of like Let’s Make a Deal, but the questions were all about currency…like, how many ridges are there on the side of a dime? (118). There was triumph…
And there was loss…
Mostly, tho, there were sweet people having good times…
So, today is a day of beginnings…I have meetings with development people, we’re finalizing the fiscal sponsorship with The Field, so that the funding letter can go out. And going to the County Clerks office to file a DBA for the Secret City bank account. All business stuff. Trying to make the set up of the organization and the funding of the organization a creative activity–to include people in the process as much as possible, and to ask for help along the way.
SO, MONEY! Here we go. Or, should I say, MONEY, here we come!
Oh, and don’t forget, we now offer childcare!!

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The New Blog

Hey there. This is the first entry on this new blog. The Secret City is a monthly art sanctuary in New York City and we’ve been in operation for about a year and a half. We meet in a small space on 14th St, the last Sunday of every month. It’s an amazing thing, if I do say so myself. This is a quicky entry to get started and see how things work here. I have been using blogger, but this seems to be more useful, as I’m going to be starting podcasts, seeking donations, selling books, and building a national/international community. I have a pal who’s going to help out, too, with design and linking and all that stuff. For now, I’ve posted some pics from our latest service, which was last Sunday. The theme was style.

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