the next service is in Los Angeles on June 11

Posts In Chris Wells

2015/2016 Season

Here it is, folks, the big line-up for the year. Very excited about the themes and the venues and the few changes – note the Winter Solstice event at Judson Memorial Church on December 20th. It will be our first evening service and a much bigger venue.

Thanks to all who helped out with suggestions of themes.

  • Sunday, September 27th – NYC/Dixon Place – COLOR
  • Sunday, October 11th – LA/Bootleg Theater – FANTASY
  • Sunday, October 25th – NYC/Dixon Place – EVOLUTION
  • Sunday, November 22nd – NYC/Dixon Place – DIRT
  • Sunday, December 13th – LA/Bootleg Theater – SUGAR
  • Sunday, December 20th – NYC/Judson Memorial Church – STARDUST
  • (Winter Solstice event – starts at 5:30pm)
  • Sunday, February 21st – NYC/Dixon Place – THE FORBIDDEN
  • Sunday, March 6th – LA/Bootleg Theater – PROPHECY
  • Sunday, March 20th – NYC/Dixon Place – ENERGY
  • Sunday, April 24th – NYC/Dixon Place – RISK
  • Monday, May 23rd – NYC/Dixon Place – Secret Admirers
  • Our annual benefit to support the work of The Secret City
  • Sunday, June 12th – LA/Bootleg Theater – FREEDOM
  • Sunday, July 31st – Woodstock – PLAY

So, you can see, it’s going to be a LOT OF FUN. And, because it’s The Secret City, it will also be deep and meaningful and beautiful and rare. And it will be so much richer and better if you’re a part of it.

See you at The Secret City




What a magical summer it has been! Swimmin holes and lots of friends. The Woodstock event was a big success with a packed house and people coming in from far and wide to join in.

Since then, we’ve had just enough time to chill out before the big-ol freakout of fall. We’ll be launching our new season with our first service on Sunday, September 27th – the theme will be COLOR. Watch for a separate post of all the dates/themes.

It’s going to be a big new adventure for us this year – we have 2 new staff members, a bunch of fabulous new volunteers joining our wonderful crew of die-hards, a growing board of directors, and we’ll be expanding things with our Winter Solstice event on December 20th at Judson Memorial Church – our first evening service ever!

I’m so excited about it all – and to see so many of our friends and community gather. It never gets tired.

See you very soon.

Yours in Art and Community –



From our Grand Poobah | CAMP


It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a GRAND POOBAH note – it was a busy few months there and then I slipped into the green lush summer of Upstate New York. BUT, I have news, of course: our last service of this season is coming up in 10 days here in Woodstock. The theme is CAMP! The meaning of camp is many-parted, of course – we’re hoping to examine it from a number of angles. The idea of camping out in the woods, yes. The idea of being campy, yes. The idea of camp being a way of getting at the truth about something by expressing it in a superficial or kitschy way, yes. The lie that tells the truth and all that.

We had our first Woodstock gathering last summer and it was a glorious event – lovely crowd and a great mix of folks up from the city and locals. This year we’re back at the Byrdcliffe Theater and I’m assembling a great group of artists and presenters to share their work and their love of art and art making with us all.

It’s also a really exciting time in the life of The Secret City – we’ve just started building a staff, we have a new associate producer and a new general manager – what a huge leap for us! In addition, our board of directors is cooking with gas and our growing team of intrepid volunteers is showing up to make things happen in the most wonderful of ways.

Next month will be our only month of the year without an event to produce. We’re going to continue to refine things and build infrastructure. We’ll also be launching our annual crowdfunding campaign – so watch for news about that, too.

In the meantime, I’ve got an outfit to plan and a yard to clean – there will be folks camping out in it in the very near future. I hope you can join us – live, in spirit, or sometime in the new season.

Yours in art and community – Chris


From our Grand Poobah | MEMORY, FETISHES & CAMP

Bobby and I just got back from Maine! We took part in an informal artist retreat with some pals on a beautiful island in Penobscot Bay then we had a couple of days just adventuring along the coast. We left the morning after our benefit auction closed. Good timing! The setting was idyllic and the time away was crucial for recovering and rest and preparing for these next two months.

The 2014/2015 season is starting to come to a close. But it’s gonna be a big finish! Starting with our final NYC service of the year, this Sunday, May 31st at Dixon Place – the theme is MEMORY then our final LA service of the year will be Sunday, June 14th at Bootleg Theater, the theme will be FETISHES. We’ll wrap it all up in Wodostock on Sunday, July 26th at the Byrdcliffe Theater where the theme will be CAMP! In between all of these services we’ll also be presenting a couple of evenings of stories and music. We’re embarking on recording the stories so we can begin podcasting – which I’m very excited about. The first of these evenings will be Thursday, June 4th at Dixon Place. STORIES FROM THE SECRET CITY – I’ll read some stories and Jeremy will be along, too, playing music. The next evening will be July 10th and 11th at Franklin Stage Company in the Catskills – really excited to be performer there this summer.

It’s been a big, beautiful year of art and community – we’ve grown in lots of ways, many of which have been behind the scenes with our new board, new staff and lots of infrastructure. It’s been a season of stabilizing. Our recent benefit was an example of that – a beautiful night of support for the organization. Now, these final two months of the season feel jam packed and exciting.

I’m excited to share these final events with lots of wonderful folks – to experience the work and craft and joy of so many fantastic artists and performers. It gives life meaning and depth, to experience these things – and sharing them is one of the best parts of being alive.

See you at The Secret City.


From our Grand Poobah | TRUTH AND LIES

Spring is FINALLY here – the bulbs in the yard and the sun through the trees and the fact that I can walk outside barefoot, wearing shorts – well, let’s just say, I’m no dummy. It’s SPRING!

Our next NYC service is Sunday, April 26th and the theme is TRUTH AND LIES. It’s a fresh theme for us and it’s really fun to curate around. The more I ponder Truth and Lies, in terms of art and creativity, the more I see the slippery nature of both. It was Picasso who said, “Art is the lie that reveal the truth.”

We think of truth as something fixed, absolute, but living our lives, we’re reminded of the subjective nature of the truth–and of lies, too. Perhaps art, creativity, artistic process, etc – reminds us of this. The complexity, nuance, the great greyness of everything.

One truth I can share with you is this: at this month’s service, we’ll be presenting our first piece of theater. Meaning, we’re presenting a short play in the middle of the service. The wonderful playwright, Christina Anderson, is writing a piece inspired by the theme and we’re assembling a small company of players to perform it. It’s something I’ve been wanting to add for some time. We have so many wonderful playwrights and actors in our community and it’s exciting to start creating original work with them.

In fitting with the theme, and in the spirit of balance, I feel like I should now share one lie so here it goes: I hate this sunshine, this warmth, the bright blue sky and the joy that comes from the woods and the yard coming back to life. I hate spring.

See you on April 26th.


From our Grand Poobah | ANIMALS!


ANIMALS! Wow – it’s a new theme for us and what a WILD theme it is…makes me think of the horse we had when we were kids, none of us rode her or took care of her but we loved her! We lived in the suburbs but dad really wanted us to have a horse. She lived in a stable across town…we would go visit her but, frankly, she scared me. I was afraid she would kick or bite me…we got rid of her a few years later, sold her to the woman who took care of her for us. I had chicks one time from the fair – didn’t do so well with them either. I loved them but they were chicks and they lived in a birdcage in the downstairs bathroom and didn’t survive much beyond the week after the fair. I wasn’t one of the 4H kids, far from it. I had, and still have, a great love of animals but am not a great steward. I did have a parakeet for a few years, his name was George and he was yellow and blue and pale green…he sang so sweet. ANIMALS also makes me think of when we went on safari when I was a kid – we saw elephants and rhinos and zebras and cheetahs and all the amazing wild animals of the bush…pink flamingoes taking off into the sky en masse. We also had cats and dogs – the cats always intimidated me but it was the dogs who stole my heart. I’m gonna write about all of this for this month’s story…the dogs in my life, esp the last one and the current one. (this pic is of SALLY, our new little dog – we adopted her in December.) And, as is our way in The Secret City – we’ll really be looking at the HUMAN ANIMAL, us, with our bodies and hairs and skin and bones…This Sunday, March 15th in LA – and then we’ll be doing ANIMALS again in NY on Sunday, March 29th. Hiss. Purr. Growl.


The Gift of The Secret City


It’s been a wonderful year for The Secret City – we’ve got a new board and a strategic plan for growing our organization over the next 2 years. We held 9 services in New York; 4 services in LA; and we expanded into Woodstock (!!).

Approximately 150-250 attended each event for a total of 2,700 attendees. 12-25 artists participated in each event by performing, presenting or creating work – that’s about 280 artists from the greater New York and LA areas. And, we did all this with funding from our community.

The most exciting thing is that, for the first time in our history, we’re becoming stable. As in, building for the long-term. That’s because we have a lot of really wonderful people pitching in and helping out. This next year is crucial to our long-term vitality – we’re going to be hiring 2 staff members, working to pay more artists per service, putting plans in place to move out into other parts of the world, expanding our website with more artist generated content and much, much more.

All of this is possible with the generous support of our community of donors. Please consider making a year-end contribution. Simply visit the paypal link on our homepage and use your cc to make a secure, tax deductible contribution.

I’m so excited for the momentum, and for the visions for the upcoming year. Thanks for being a part of this beautiful community.



Every year around this time, in honor of the solstice, we have a special gathering. It’s familiar to those who’ve attended our services but, there’s always something special about it. I think because it’s the darkest night of the year – and, in that regard, we consider it the start of the new year. In the past, we’ve had themes such as DARKNESS and LIGHT, this year our theme for the solstice will be VISION – especially fitting for the end of one year and the beginning of another.
We’ve already started gathering an incredible array of artists. We have a very special guest who’s going to share his work with us. I’ll write more about that in the next few days.

In the meantime, I’m still in LA – where we celebrated SPACE on Sunday. What a great time we all had. Check out the gallery of photos. And, if you’re in the NYC area on December 21st, please join us. Let’s all see what comes into view that day – what our VISION is, and what we sense is behind what we see.


From our Grand Poobah | VISION


Wow! It’s a Secret City Whirlwind! We had our most recent LA service this past Sunday and the theme was SPACE – what a fantastic day it was. Great performances, energy, games, artists, food and music. The choir was fantastic! And, Patrice Quinn blew it up with two great jazz standards – Fly Me To The Moon and East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Felt as if we all took off on an astral plane together for a while there. Just beautiful. I also LOVED the food offering on Sunday – Astronaut Ice Cream. Freeze dried. So perfect for the theme. The Choir did Space Oddity – a fantastic arrangement by Laural Meade and Fred Cassidy. Lots of tears in the house with that one. Oh, the game was really great, too. So fun.

Now, I’m staying in town for another week to teach an intensive of WRITING LIFE – that’s this weekend. Then, it’s back to NY for our next NYC service on Sunday, December 21st. The theme will be VISION – inspired by the solstice.

The community is really blowing up right now – so many great people and wonderful connections being made. There’s also a LOT of behind the scenes stuff taking place – board development and infrastructure building and planning for the future. I’m excited that we’re getting more organized than we’ve ever been.

These past 7+ years have really been sort, well, if not seat-of-the-pants then purely instinctual – it’s amazing to thing about what we can do with some strategies and the addition of a bunch of smarty-pants helping out.

In the meantime – we continue to gather in the ways we always have – grassroots, person to person, looking for the present moment with each other and celebrating the creativity that runs through us all.

Here’s to now, and to the great new year.


From our Grand Poobah | ANCESTORS


What a time it is! I’m in Woodstock and it’s been raining all day. Literally. I love it – but I work at home and don’t have to deal with the city like I used to. I am getting excited to get back into town, though, and have our service for the month. I love autumn, and I love how the events start to get deeper and a bit more somber with the darkening of the year. ANCESTORS, that’s our theme for this month. It’s funny – the word ANCESTORS seems to belong to other cultures and not so much my own – I think of Asian cultures and the importance of ancestor worship. Or African cultures – how those who’ve come before seem to be more present than in my own, middle-class, waspy culture. But this is ridiculous, isn’t it? We all have ancestors and, when you think about it, we all share ancestors. You trace any family line back far enough and they’re bound to connect. And, you know how The Secret City is about connection – it’s the foundation of what we believe and celebrate, connectedness. So, ANCESTORS – whether it’s our grandmothers or our ancient forefathers who wandered the earth – may they all be in the room with us on Sunday, in some form or another – memory or otherwise.

1 2