We had the good fortune of connecting with SKY Palkowitz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi SKY, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
“MAKE ART, MAKE ART, MAKE ART. IT IS THE ONLY WAY TO GO. THE ONLY WAY TO RIDE THIS WAVE WE CALL LIFE.” – Rachel Rosenthal
I can still remember sitting in a circle on the floor, maybe 13 years ago, with our then newly formed company, Fauve Conspiracy, a select group of avant-garde trained performers that made up our expressive performance collective. In her private studio, Espace DbD in Culver City, our divine artistic director and guru, the late, great Rachel Rosenthal sat on her throne, leading a profound discussion on the life of an artist, how important art was during this phase of worldly events, and the necessity to follow one’s calling. I wrote down that quote immediately and have carried it’s message with me ever since. Rachel was my close friend, my kindred spirit, my mother figure, my mentor… When one is on the path of pursuing life as an artist of any kind, whether writer, or dancer, director, producer, performer, singer, painter…there will come every so often an important teacher or guide who will make a large impact on you and help shape the direction and scope of your work. Rachel was one. The point was this: Some of us as artists, are born knowing that we have a calling, something artistic that pulls us forward, that we are part of a larger picture on the Planet and that we are given special gifts and talents to use to help move the greater consciousness forward, to advance the evolvement of the rest of our species, and to make the world a better place, a more aware and educated place. Rachel said that if you don’t follow your calling and you choose a different path, then life always seems to be filled with obstacles. You must follow your calling, your dream, your passion…you must stay on your path and make your art, do your craft, develop your talents, because we artists face the toughest struggle in making a living at it, yet, we are the only people on the Planet who can truly influence change and make a difference. Therefore it is our responsibility to follow our calling. It is our duty to Humanity to “MAKE ART.” I have felt this “calling” from the first moment I can remember, and have lived this artistic life and made choices based on this calling throughout my career. With a driving passion to entertain and make people laugh, the joys of recreating myself as an actor over and over, the exploration into characters and the human spirit, the use of theatre and multimedia arts to share positive messages and promote expansion of community and compassion, my body, my voice, my music, my writings, my teachings, my artwork, my performance art…become the tools I use to mimic and re-sculpt the world around me. Many of my friends and colleagues tell me that I am the art. That I am a walking piece of art. That the life I lead is the life of a true artist. I feel that the process is more important than the product, and this ongoing life and the act of making works that are relevant to our times and needs as a society, is what is necessary and keeps me going. As long as I’m in the mode of creating something, or helping others to realize their artistic potential, then I’m on my path and I’m doing ok. And hopefully others will get some inspiration from who I am and what I’m up to, and follow their calling.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m an Avant-Garde Multimedia Performance Artist, Actor, Director, Producer, Writer, and Educator. My first discipline was dance at age 3 in New York City, I started singing and playing music at an early age, then re-found the stage as a musical theatre actor at age 14. I trained at the country’s top graduate conservatory (PTTP at U of Delaware) in Shakespeare and classical theatre, and completed my MFA in Acting at the U of Iowa, where I taught acting to undergraduates, began my studies in interdisciplinary arts, and began delving into creating and directing my own multimedia, theatrical works. I’ve toured the nation performing and creating educational theatre, I’ve created and produced 7 solo multimedia shows around the country, and in my last big off-Broadway premiere, I played over 50 characters in 90 minutes to sold out standing ovations. I love the theatre, I love creating works that challenge peoples’ ideals, creates havoc in the audience and opens community discussions. This leads to people having more understanding and tolerance of each other, so that we may respect each other’s differences and move forward and beyond. The work I create always has a message. The message is usually something to the tune of “Love Thy Neighbor, For They Are You.” I love people, and I love peoples’ stories, and for some reason I am blessed with the abilities and skills to portray multitudes of characters, with a huge versatility and range in voices, accents, dialects, physicality, gesture… I love to disappear onstage and channel the roles I create, retelling the stories of people I have met along the way, mixed with zany performance art elements that allow the audience to make their own interpretations and be moved. I currently, still direct and coach privately/via zoom for stage and media. I have been exploring with my students and clients, whose work was originally intended for the stage, how to recreate content for social media and reach a worldwide audience. Together we re-imagine the ways we can film solo work while in quarantine. I encourage the performer to use what’s available and at hand to create characters, costumes, settings, language, art, and to film their pieces. Then I produce and edit the final stage and put it all together into a short film/web series episode. With our current situation, this is a way to stay in action and to broaden the scope of expression, while using technology to create urgency and intimacy. More info can be found on my website, www.DelusionalDiva.com or on my YouTube channel. As a proud member of SAG-AFTRA, I have done a fair share of acting on television and film. My next venture is to play guest star and recurring roles on Netflix and cable. There’s so much great content now for daring and diverse people like me, I can’t wait until the Entertainment Industry gets back on its feet. I think what sets me apart from others is my versatility and diversity as a performer, my uniqueness as a person and my chutzpah and desire to push boundaries. Some artists focus on one craft, or one particular school of training, but being the Gemini that I am, and owning the adventurous spirit that embodies me, I am interested, trained, and versed in various aspects of many crafts and endeavors when it comes to the world of Art. I’m a musical, classical, goofy yet smart, character illusionist clown. As a visual artist, I have a large body of mixed media work comprised of mostly Aliens, UFO’s, pyramids, dolphins and elephants. For 17 years, my prior residence in the heart of LA was known as “The Alien Art Museum”, with wall-to-wall art, lights, colors, and mystery, like a Bohemian speakeasy in the 70’s. I paint Aliens on wood and canvas, and do commissioned work. Check out my stuff on instagram: @DelusionalDiva On my journey as an Actor and Artist so far I have learned a few things. I hope to pass these sentiments on to young artists and creatives: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Never give up (on yourself or others). Treat Everyone with kindness. Work begets work. Ask and you shall receive. Try anything once. Try new things. Be likeable. Be early, be quiet. Be your word. Be truthful. Be confident. Culture yourself, watch things that uplift you, read things you haven’t read. Expand your horizons and look at great works of art, listen to classical music. Stretch yourself. Do work that inspires you and that is in line with who you are. Find and build a community and stay connected to the people who are cheering you on. Your network is your net worth. A body in motion will stay in motion. Make a positive impression. As long as they’re talking about you, you’re in the game. Make Art in any shape or form. Your freedom of expression is YOU and your craft. Follow your inspirations; be in action for your dreams. Your contribution to this Planet is your voice. Make it heard. Say it, paint it, scream it, sing it, write it, film it, sculpt it… DO IT!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love the city of Los Angeles and the magic of Hollywood and all of it’s surroundings. There’s so much to do here for visitors that don’t get to live the dream here every day. My favorite activities always revolve around the arts and theatre, and most of my close friends are lit up by the same things. The Center Theatre Group theatres, like the Ahmanson and Mark Taper always have great shows (until Covid), the Hollywood Pantages, the Geffen, A Noise Within, and so many small theatres scattered around the city and neighboring cities are constantly producing new works. I would make sure we had tickets in advance for evening shows, concerts, Hollywood Bowl, etc…. Then we would hit the museums and art galleries during the day. LACMA, The Getty, MOMA, The Broad, the Brewery galleries, downtown…So much art, so many places to go. Then there’s nature. The mountains, the beaches, the views, the trails, the hikes…Definitely I would take my friends to Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Malibu, Griffith Park, and the Observatory, and out and about in all directions. A day trip to Santa Barbara, a boat ride to Catalina Island, a dolphin watching tour in Newport Beach, an excursion for a couple of days to San Diego… there’s so much in reach, a week is not enough! And as far as restaurants go, I am a strict vegan, so I only know my favorite spots for great ethnic/vegetarian food: Green Leaves in Los Feliz, Sage, Real Food Daily, all of the restaurants in Little Ethiopia Village on Fairfax Ave., for great Indian food: Cardomom on Beverly Blvd. or Anarkali on Melrose Ave., for great Thai: Bulan, Ruim Matir, Araya’s Vegetarian Palace… Other than that, it’s home cooking for my visitor! Another great activity would be to take my friends to see “the sights”: Beverly Hills, Malibu, Topanga Canyon, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Walk of Fame, drive around the studios, Paramount, Disney, Universal, maybe take a walking tour of Hollywood and/or West Hollywood, see the clubs and glamour of Sunset Blvd, learn some history, and eventually wind up at The Abbey and surrounding bars and the heart of the gay scene in West Hollywood. This is all when the world returns back to normal and public places are once again safe.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I may not have landed in Los Angeles 20 years ago if it weren’t for my dear friend and creative artistic partner, Jason Jenn (multimedia artist/filmmaker/poet/trickster). I met Jason in 1994, we sang and danced in an extraordinary production of “Hair” at the University of Iowa, where I was teaching and completing my MFA in Acting. We knew each other and worked together here and there for 3 years with musical theatre and some original multimedia projects, but it wasn’t until Thanksgiving of 1999, when I was on tour in the San Francisco/Bay area with the National Theatre For Children, that Jason and I reconnected, spent a few fun days together, and got the idea for me to join him and move to Los Angeles when my tour contract was over. Which I did. I moved in with him shortly after. If we were in the same place, we could make a feature film based on my first solo show, “Alien Rhoda”. Which we didn’t. We never got to it yet. But we have done soooo much more. Over the past 20+ years, Jason has been a fundamental fan of my work and inspiration for creation, my partner in artistic crime. He is my little brother from another mother, my soul mate, my artistic collaborator, my foundation, my inspiration for much of the work I do. Together over the years, we have dedicated our lives to our arts and our crafts, and with each other’s support and love and belief in each other, we have achieved numerous works of stage, page, canvas and screen, both as individual multimedia artists, and collaboratively and ongoing. We have created our own careers individually in our perspective paths, yet, when we join forces, we are constantly inspiring each other, teaching each other, expanding our horizons in many realms, in the worlds of music, literature, culture, art… It’s great to have someone on my team who I can depend on and who understands my passion, my quirkiness, my vision, and who I am and what I stand for, and who can take my ideas and mesh it with their own and take it to the next level, add another dimension. Since my arrival to West Hollywood in the year 2000, we have created and hosted multiple avant-garde happenings and wild party/performances (known in the early days as Phylis’ Garage Performance Art Happenings), performed at many venues around the city and elsewhere, studied together, been in company together, created short films, music videos, multimedia, visual art, assisted each other with touring shows, traveled the world together… We are currently working on my future web series hit, “Miss Inappropriate!”, as well as a documentary about selling my childhood home, “Goodbye Ronkonkoma.” A lot of the success of Delusional Diva Productions and my settling long-term in Hollywood is from the encouragement and partnership of Jason. He is constantly pushing me in new directions and I love him for the conscious artist and social influencer and activist that he has grown into. I’ve known and worked with Jason now for 26 years, and I look forward to continuing the plight of getting our art out there and inspiring progressive change in the world for the next 50 years! Thank you Jason, my “Alien Brother”! A shout-out must also go to 3 other extraordinary teammates: 1) My wife, life and film partner, Ingrid Quintas (actress/writer/director). She is the foundation and the shoulders upon which I stand. She is smart, creative, funny, and we have an amazing time together while she pushes and prods me to new limits in my work. 2) Orit Harpaz (photographer/healer/artist/mom), my dear friend and soul-sister, kind spirit, always takes excellent artsy photos of me, encourages me and inspires me, and is one of my hugest fans and supporters of my work. 3) Tom Carrieri (artist/writer/musician/creative spirit), another soul-brother, someone with whom I collaborate remotely and consistently. I have known Tom since I was 15, hanging out with him making music in his room when we were kids was the source of inspiration for my own guitar-playing and songwriting. His visual art is vibrant and powerful. His music is deep and penetrating. He sees me and my work as an artist with open eyes, heart and mind. He nudges me forward in all of my work and is a growing source of creativity, insight and wisdom. These are a few of the people who make up “The Delusional Diva” Network, the like-minded creatives who surround me.
Other: www.imdb.me/DelusionalDiva www.society6.com/DelusionalDiva
Jason Jenn, Orit Harpaz, Roe Carroll, SKY Palkowitz, Cat Gwynn, Guerrilla Garage Arts