6/22: Lit Lounge monthly series kicks off at SMoCA

An art museum can feel stuffy and unapproachable. Patrons are admonished to not get too close to the artwork, to speak in hushed voices and mind their children.

But the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is known for thinking outside the box, often hosting events that display such art forms as dance, music and comedy.

Now, with the opening of SMoCA Lounge, museumgoers can interact with art in a new way. The evolving public space debuted last October, bringing together various art forms with food and cocktails.

During the day, the space features educational seminars. this Friday, June 22, it will launch a nighttime series, Lit Lounge.

Valley writer, performer and activist Tania Katan is SMoCA Lounge’s program coordinator. Katan is best known for her memoir “My One-Night Stand with Cancer” and one-woman show “Saving Tania’s Privates” about surviving breast cancer twice.

“I spend a lot of time leaving Arizona, traveling for performances,” Katan said. “Then I realized, I live here and want to be active in developing the arts and cultural experience here. I’m already tapped into the performance community, I just needed the space.”

Lit Lounge is an all-ages performance night featuring Valley and national writers and performers sharing true stories, set to live music. The concept is based on the “Sit ‘n’ Spin” series at the Comedy Central Stage in Hollywood.

“The SMoCA Lounge is an interesting artistic space within the museum, that was made for rules to be broken,” Katan said. “The lounge is vibrant and open, and is a mishmash of a theater, gallery, dance studio — whatever we want it to be.”

The writers and performers tell true stories based on an open-ended theme. this month, Katan drew inspiration from SMoCA’s current exhibition, “This Is a Present from a Small Distant World,” and asked the performers to write stories relating to a long-distance request.

Valley stand-up comedian Leslie Barton will tell a story that spans her early childhood to her young-adult years, involving several of her pets.

“It will be funny, but there’s a lot of depth to it too, so I hope I don’t choke up and cry,” Barton said.

The line-up also features five other performers, including New York Times best-selling author from San Francisco, Beth Lisick, and such Valley residents as Micheal Weakley, director of One n ten, a support group for gay and lesbian youth.

Live musicians perform between sets, building on the stories, adding to the ambiance and framing the entire evening. this month will feature acoustic singer-songwriter Doug Bale, who works for Republic Media.

“These events are meant to be accessible and not so formal,” Katan said. “It’s supposed to feel like an extension of your living room, and encourage conversation.”

Guests are encouraged to stick around after the show to discuss it with the performers and other patrons; they also can tour museum exhibits. there will be a cash bar for adults 21 and older.

6/22: Lit Lounge monthly series kicks off at SMoCA

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