Dear Smith’s,


Dear Smith’s,

About 7 p.m. Friday August 3rd, I was with my husband and mother-in-law at your 7130 North Durango Drive location in Las Vegas, Nevada. I went to a checkout lane where the cashier and her African American customer appeared to be bantering in a socially acceptable but congenial manner. The customer was a casually dressed, mid to late thirties cleancut man.

The woman, and this is really important because it goes to why I’m writing this letter, was 50s-ish, 10 or 15 years younger than I am; and though the platinum bouffant was a bit much, she was in a little better shape than many women are at her age. She was old enough to have grown children and young enough to have teenagers if, given the American marriage statistics, she’d been married enough times. She was really assertive for a grocery store cashier and seemed somewhat clever.

As she gave the young man his change receipt, the auburn haired cashier she’d apparently been relieving came back from her break. This cashier was pleasant but too haggard for her age, probably mid-40s. She also was old enough to have teenagers but one can only hope that prematurely aged as she seemed, she didn’t have grown children.

As I waited for the cashier transition to be completed I was thinking about how lucky I’d been to be a legal professional in decent-paying jobs for 35 years where one of the perks is a level of social status no grocery store clerk could achieve unless she owned the grocery.

So when the blonde cashier made a jungle bunny joke to the previous customer that clearly shook him up after she’d been so friendly and seemed to embarrass the haggard redhead, I was feeling sorry for those two women who were younger than I am, had low status level jobs and, if they had children, especially adolescents, probably struggled every day of their (probably) disappointing lives.

Soon, the blonde was brandishing a big set of keys, which indicated she was probably a low level supervisor and the redhead was laughing nervously at the jungle reference, probably because she obviously was not the supervisor.

In Carson McCullers’ novel, TO KILL A MOVKINGBIRD, the black man falsely accused of rape by a poor white girl shocks the courtroom by saying he often performed chores for her because, “I felt sorry for her.”

It’s probably clear by now that I believe I got a better deal out of life than those two younger than I am white women. I would bet a week of happiness that most people who commit racial harassment act out for reasons that have nothing to do with race. I also believe most people will not stop acting out in a racist way in the workplace unless they are told by management that they can’t and that is why I am writing this letter.

Nothing can be done about the kinds of disappointments and frustrations of middle aged women (very often divorced with children) in low status jobs until there is equity throughout our society.

#racism #statusofwomen #genderequity #socialclasses


Sylvia Toy St. Louis Monography on Visual Container TV through September 30

I am very pleased that a two-hour monography of my work (works completed between 2015-2018) is being showcased on Visual Container TV through September 30, curator Alessandra Arno.

#videoart #artfilm #monographs #exhibition #performanceart

A More Common Flower at Solstice

Always uplifting. Irene Bernard’s “This Little Plot.”

This Little Plot

Somehow it’s already the Summer Solstice (in the northern hemisphere), when traditions prompt us to celebrate midsummer‘s fertility with festivals and bonfires. Earth’s rotational axis on this day tilts at its greatest incline toward the star that it orbits – our sun. It is the year’s longest day and shortest night.

Usually, fall and winter are where my sympathies lie: the cool, dark, and damp. But summer enchants me. The sheer gorgeousness of nature in its fecundity. The nonchalance of birds daily chasing down bugs and beetles. And such birds! Towhees, chickadees, white-crowned sparrows; the dance of cedar waxwings as they wait and swoop in turn down to the birdbath, wings fluttering amidst countless burgeoning blossoms. Every flower has beauty, but often I forget the startling forms of the more humble blooms sprouting from plants that feed us, like onions and artichokes. In the process of growing, these remarkable…

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DERMALIAN by Sylvia Toy: Outline of Act One

Act One

DERMALIAN by Sylvia Toy - ACT ONE 2 © 2018The story begins when Dr. Jane, during her routine checkup on The Reenactor, is alarmed by the readings on the medical monitor. She follows him from section to section of the Space Bubble, as he wanders in a zombie-like state reciting monologues from Shakespearean tragedies (Macbeth, Hamlet, Lear). The Reenactor eventually disappears, merging through the Plasma covering an entryway at the of a hall. The doctor studies the readings for a moment, shakes her head and puts her instruments, gloves, mask and head covering into her pockets. She removes her jacket and begins to merge into Dermalian form. She comingles with the Plasma as the scene ends.

DERMALIAN by Sylvia Toy - ACT ONE 4 © 2018In the meantime, Captain Barack is at the helm reporting via IntraSpacial (the Dermalian communication system) to his superior at Dermalia Prime High Command, Sub-Commander Jacqueline Pearce who is Director of the Earth Archaeological Project. As he closes his communication, Dr. Jane enters the cockpit to make her routine checkups on Captain Barack and Plasma in the cockpit. Dr. Jane reports to Captain Barack that The Reenactor’s endless wandering is stressing the Plasma throughout the Space Bubble and possibly creating a life-threatening situation.

DERMALIAN by Sylvia Toy - ACT ONE 1 © 2018Captain Barack is in his ready room watching his IntraSpace screen. Sub-Commander Pearce appears on the screen.


It’s the end of a staff meeting with Captain George Méliés and his reports Medical Officer Dr. Jules Verne and Lieutenant Blondie. Dr. Verne is yelling incoherently and she is so out of control that she is phasing wildly from Human to Dermalian form. Captain Méliés is very startled and tries to calm her, saying, “You’ll rupture yourself!” Dr. Verne yells: “I already am ruptured – Earth has ruptured me. Noone has ever been as ever been as glad as I am that this is almost over.” Lieutenant Blondie quips: “That’s a lot of drama for a Librarian – are you sure you’re pure and not half-Creative.” Dr. Verne screams and runs out of the room. Captain Méliés admonishes Lieutenant Blondie: “Not empathetic, not at all.”


DERMALIAN by Sylvia Toy – PROTOTYPE 1: Dermalian Base Command from Sylvia Toy on Vimeo.

THE CONCOURSE. In the grand sculpturally designed concourse of High Command, Dermalians are passing through, congregating in impromptu meetings as they encounter each other, and huddling at the windows to enjoy the magnificent view of Prime, the Dermalian capital city.

DERMALIAN by Sylvia Toy - ACT ONE 5 © 2018THE OFFICE OF SUB-COMMANDER JACQUELINE PEARCE. Captain Barack is on the screen as he and Sub-Commander Pearce end their meeting. Once the screen clears, the sub-commander sits thinking for a few moments. Then she opens the Empathy Pad of her desk, lays her hands palm down on the pad and closes her eyes. The three-Dermalian committee that governs Dermalian projects appears on the screen. Sub-Commander Pearce requests a face to face meeting, saying there is a matter of extreme urgency regarding The Reenactor.

THE CONCOURSE. Sub-Commmander Pearce makes her way through the Concourse. She seems to know everyone and appears to be quite a wheeler and dealer. She has a friendly manner and even briefly stops at the window to admire the view.

DERMALIAN by Sylvia Toy - ACT ONE 9 © 2018THE SOUL. (Backstory: though Dermalian culture is atheistic, true to the Dermalian love of history and culture, the Dermalians value and revere their origins, the symbol of which is the large cave named The Soul, an ancient habitat of early Dermalian ancestors. High Command was constructed over The Soul and The Soul was adapted to become the office of the Committee that governs High Command.) Sub-Commander Pearce enters The Soul, where the Committee is waiting for her. She tells them about the problem that The Reenactor’s roaming is causing on the Space Bubble. They tell her they will need to consult The Reenactor’s Guardian, since freedom of movement was at the heart of the Guardian’s granting permission for The Reenactor to go to Earth.

DERMALIAN by Sylvia Toy - ACT ONE 7 © 2018THE GREETING ROOM. The Guardian meets with Sub-Commander Pearce. He proposes a solution based on recent research and discoveries about Human exercise practices.

DERMALIAN by Sylvia Toy - ACT ONE 8 © 2018THE OFFICE OF SUB-COMMANDER JACQUELINE PEARCE. Sub-Commander Pearce is in her office watching her IntraSpace screen. Captain Méliés appears on the screen. The Sub-Commander grants him permission to communicate empathically. She informs him that his team is ordered to extend their time on Earth by eight weeks in order to assist Captain Barack’s team in their transition. She senses alarm in Captain Méliés’ reaction. He explains that Dr. Verne has become increasingly difficult. The Sub-Commander assures him that she will assist him any way she can in mitigating his difficulty.

#Animations #storyboarding #femalefilmmakerfriday #scififri #greenscreen #DERMALIAN #movie #preproduction #sylviatoyindustries

Some thoughts about jurying

I have just had the privilege in the past couple of months of being on a film festival jury. Once the awards are announced (I think next month) I am going to start workshopping a paper about my experience. But I want to share some of the things I learned with my artist network.

I already knew I am a freak about sound. I am not a person who will absolutely not watch your movie if the sound is bad; but I absolutely will write copious notes about what’s wrong with it and how you shot yourself in the foot.

Also – newsflash: wall to wall music in your movie does not make up for underdeveloped backstory, thin subtext or weak dialogue.

Also again: everybody else is using the same sounds that you are and likely for the same reason.

I have a new pet peeve: under-rehearsal of actors. One of the movies I watched had every damn thing going for it and it would/should have been nearly perfect. Attention, people: having actors run their lines with an AD or more likely, a PA, does not constitute rehearsal. They otherwise put so much work into that movie that I still get mad thinking about it.

My epiphanic moment, however, confirmed what artists already guessed was so: getting curated or juried into a show IS a crapshoot but not necessarily for the reasons we might think. What I realized is that as good as a movie might be, as well as it might compare with the other movies in its genre or otherwise, or even as not as well it might compare with the other movies, a movie either makes you care about it or some aspect of it or it doesn’t. Technically a movie might be exceptional and have enough marketability to get distribution. But that does not necessarily make it special or make a juror care about it. That “caring about it” is a very unpredictable, personal factor.

More later.

#filmmaking #filmfestivals #juriedcompetition