Open Secret

Art Conspiracists try to establish a new Utopia

"I have a vision of, you know, maybe a painter and a ceramicist, a traditional artistic process, and maybe over here you've got a digital photographer and maybe a coder, and they're all sitting around the dinner table together," she says. "'What are you doing?' 'What are you doing? Can I come take pictures of that?'"

Musicians will be an important part of the community. La Reunion's advisors include Happy Bullets front man Jason Roberts, singer-songwriter and recording studio engineer Salim Nourallah, Summer Break Records owner Robert Jenkins and jazz multi-instrumentalist Neeki Bey. Their input will be important in designing a community room that will be part rehearsal studio, part artists' studio, part living room.

"We want musicians to come and stay at La Reunion," Semrad says. "We want the music-writing process to happen at the house...I want people to hear the rough draft of something, a songwriter's latest song or a monologue from a play that a writer is working on. We welcome artists of all media to apply."

The home will be on 35 acres of donated land in Oak Cliff. In keeping with her conspiratorial tone, Semrad won't divulge the name of the anonymous donor or the terms of the verbal agreement for use of the land. Of course, La Reunion's "secrets" could be spilled with a couple public-information requests—the organization was recently approved as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3)—but why spoil the fun?

Semrad knows the Art Conspiracy won't raise the entire $500,000—or whatever undisclosed sum La Reunion lacks. But it'll be a nice chunk of seed money, and future fund-raisers will help chip away at the amount needed. She, Roberts and Weinberg are open to just about any kind of corporate sponsorship, partnership or naming rights agreement—though Semrad balks when Weinberg jokingly suggests the residency program itself could end up being called "Whole Foods La Reunion." And although none of the three mentioned the idea, a house containing wildly different artists and musicians sounds like it's only a few cameras shy of being a high-brow reality show. PBS, perhaps?

"I might lose my brind if I stop to think about it," Semrad says of planning it all, not stopping to clarify if she meant to say "lose my brain" or "lose my mind." An indication that maybe it's too late, evidence that she has stopped to think about it, that she has already lost her "brind"? Maybe. But if herding nearly 200 artists and six musical acts has driven her nuts, at least she's no lone gunman.

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