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Friday, July 13, 2012

Amanda Palmer Thanks Fans with Intimate Show, Pop-Up Art Exhibit

Posted By on Fri, Jul 13, 2012 at 11:43 AM

KATE CONGER
  • Kate Conger

What's it like to party with a freshly minted millionaire? You'd expect caviar maybe, champagne at the very least. Some sign of their newly extravagant lifestyle, surely. But Amanda Palmer, a musician who recently raised over a million dollars on Kickstarter to fund her forthcoming album, seems not to have changed much over the last 10 years. She's still got the reddish crop of messy hair and the distinctively husky voice. If anything, she's relaxed. She's abandoned the more extravagant costumes and makeup that were her signature look when she fronted her former band, The Dresden Dolls.

Last night, she hosted a private party and gallery exhibition at Public Works to honor some of her higher-level Kickstarter donors. If not for the artwork hanging in the next room, Palmer's acoustic, flashlight-lit performance may well have been an intimate house show at a crusty Oakland squat. The small audience of roughly 200, Palmer's friendly banter with them, and her decision to sit on the floor with her fans during her performance rather than on stage made the whole affair feel very down-to-earth.

It's the casual attitude that has made Palmer such a beloved musician. She keeps a religiously updated blog and Twitter feed, both of which allow her fans to interact with her directly. Many a rabid music lover has said of his or her favorite artist, "I feel like I know them." Palmer's fans actually do. It's this ingredient that enabled her to drop her label and crowd source her funding instead.

Shepard Fairey, "Inspired by 'Ukelele Anthem'" - KATE CONGER
  • Kate Conger
  • Shepard Fairey, "Inspired by 'Ukelele Anthem'"

The only outward sign of Palmer's financial success is the collection of art that accompanied her show. She's amassed a pretty serious collection of commissioned work to supplement her new album, including big names like Obama's controversial portraitist, Shepard Fairey, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love's daughter, who's recently blossomed into a model and painter, Frances Bean Cobain, and author Neil Gaiman, Palmer's husband. (Fans of Gaiman's Sandman will be thrilled to hear that he'll be writing a new Sandman mini-series for DC Comics.) There's also work from fans and other musicians, for a total of over thirty artists.

The artwork, which includes photographs, paintings, prints, and even a dress, are inspired by Palmer's songs and will be featured in a book accompanying her album. They'll also be on display tomorrow afternoon, and in the evening during Palmer's sold-out show. While the exhibit is a little awkward -- Public Works always insists on hanging art in the little hallway out to the smokers pen, rather than utilizing the lovely space upstairs -- the work is something any Palmer fan could appreciate. Many are portraits (of Palmer, duh), while others are interpretations of her songs, with little lyrical clues that someone prone to singing along to her albums will enjoy deciphering.

Of course, this is what the funds raised on Kickstarter are for -- creating an album and accompanying artwork, and sharing it with the people who paid for it. For Palmer's fans, it's what she's always promised them.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.
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About The Author

Kate Conger

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Kate Conger has written for SF Weekly since 2011.

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