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John Duykers (Sebastopol) collaborating with Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (Occidental) and First Look Sonoma/Arts Council of Sonoma County (fiscal sponsor)

Award: $40,000 Performing Arts Grant (Creative Work Fund/ArtPlace award), 2012

To premiere: Fall harvest season 2014

Performing artist John Duykers is collaborating with Occidental Arts and Ecology Center on Hand to Mouth, a song play about food that takes a humorous and theatrically vivid musical journey following the seed from the soil to the plate. The piece will incorporate farmers’ stories of how food grows and text from Michael Pollen’s Food Rules, an Eater’s Manual. Working with Duykers are musician Miguel Frasconi, director Melissa Weaver, singer Valentina Osinski, light sculptor John Watrous, scenic designer Chad Owens, and advisor James Pelican. Occidental Arts and Ecology Center’s documentary film team of Jim Coleman and Ben Zolno will create video settings and backdrops based on the Center’s two acres of gardens and orchards.

Lead artist Duykers has had a long stage career performing both cutting-edge and standard opera with major companies throughout the world. He’s appeared in more than 100 world premieres, including the role of Chairman Mao in the premiere of John Adams’ Nixon in China. He lives on an organic farm near Luther Burbank’s Gold Ridge. Occidental Arts and Ecology Center is a nonprofit organizing and education center and organic farm in Sonoma County, founded in 1994 by a group of biologists, horticulturists, educators, activists, and artists seeking innovative and practical approaches to the pressing environmental and economic crises of the day. It offers programs in biodiversity, intentional communities, permaculture, and ecological agriculture.