The 2015 Art Taco Person of the Year is Jesse Vance, owner of the Venture Compound. I am keenly aware that Jesse has been lauded in many local publications, but I was at the Venture very early, and immediately recognized he had chops, and not only as a musician, but as a venue owner/director/operator/MC.
Three years later, and the Venture Compound continues to grow in several directions. Vance and his crew can do anything from a Zine Fest to Modern Dance, to Hard core Noise music, and do it well. Whether the house is packed, or lightly attended, everyone is always functioning at 110%. This is not a tidy, corporate, conventional space. It is in the grand tradition of classic Bohemian Paris, a place where anything is possible, nd artists are encouraged to utilize the maximum degrees of freedom Jesse generously gives them. The audience, too. The Venturians, as I call them, are never more than a few feet from the performers, and they return the trust placed upon them with utter respect for the constraints of the space and performers.
The number of extraordinary performances at the VC Compound is totally out of proportion to its shoestring budget and tight space. Nequam Sonitus' performance leading the entire audience of the VC out into the streets, blocks away, the many masterful noise concerts, poetry fusion, Nick Boutwell playing a real cow's heart, and another time, a scantily clad woman, Eli Blasko's dance and installation, the list goes on, and all for a pittance admission price.
Then there's the Art Galleries, where similar energies are unbridled. The variety of shows has been eclectic, the quality, overreach into the unconventional consistent. Everything from post-it note art to a Victorian Parlor installation where a woman wearing a Bird's head mask spread Pimento cheese on my Co-pilot's arm, and I licked it off (!). The VC Galleries have also given many artists their first shows, and/or solo shows, and 100% of the proceedsback to the artists. No one does that!
After three years, I can clearly see the effects of the Venture Compound on the community, particularly the increased self-image/confidence in so many musicians and visual artists, particularly women artists. While the VC has had a macho aura for a lot of its existence, it always gave true equal opportunity to women artists. Many of them are now rising in prominence.
Jessee has bootstrapped and injected attitude and pride into the Warehouse Art District as well.
For all this, and being one of the top shining lights in the City of St Peterburg, Jesse Vance is Art Taco's 2015 Person of the Year.