Gretchen Seichrist: “People don’t like artists”

Some artists are happy staying in their own niche, whether it’s musician, painter or dancer.

Then there are those who defy categorization, who see everything as potential tools for artistic expression.

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Poster for Patches and Gretchen’s new variety show

Gretchen Seichrist falls into the latter category. As the creative engine behind the band Patches and Gretchen, she’s now taking the music and combining it with theater in a new variety show called “Headquarters and Dime” at the Loring.

MPR’s Chris Roberts reports “As a performer, Seichrist is like an absurdist incarnation of Lucille Ball. As a singer, she’s Marlene Dietrich’s bluesy, drawling, American cousin.”

She’s viewed by some, including writer and musician Jim Walsh, as one of the most interesting, poetic, provocative performers in the Minnesota art scene.

Walsh remembers one Patches and Gretchen show, in which Seichrist carried around an oversized water bottle. Walsh laughed when he realized it was a comment on the ubiquity of water bottles, and the commercialization of water.

“You could take that right now and put that in the Walker, that water bottle,” he said. “Whether or not that is a validation of art, it’s really funny. And that’s the other thing that Gretchen is. She is really funny, and a very wry observer.”

As a songwriter, Seichrist doesn’t provoke mild responses. Those who are drawn to her claim they’ve never seen anything like her. Seichrist is aware others may not like her style. But she also suspects they’re put off by her devotion to being an artist.

“People don’t like artists,” she said. “They’re suspicious of artists. They resent them, if you’ve figured out that the people saying that they want to be an artist because they’re going to their job every day, and they’re resentful about it. I understand that. ‘Well how come she gets to do that?'”

Do you think Seichrist is right? Do people resent artists? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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