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travis travis (uncapitalized, no last name) is a painter, performance artist, the front man of cult noise-rock group ONO, vice-president and treasurer of American Veterans for Equal Rights (an advocacy group for LGBT vets), and a computer technician at the University of Chicago's Chapin Hall. travis, along with current ONO member Rebecca Pavlatos, also spent some time in a sort of mystical electronic band called Art Fiction, and a group called Laboratorio del Arte. His own solo recordings can be found HERE.
travis travis was born in 1946 in Itawamba, Mississippi. He joined the navy in 1963 and remained there for six years, serving on the USS America and earning a small pile of medals. The USA he returned to in 1969 was a country in flux. After leaving the navy, travis spent a lot of time in NY gay bars, which seemed to be the only fun loving and spirited places that would host nights oriented to what would later be called "punk". He was also involved in the Stonewall riots, a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid in Greenwich Village, which is widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for gay and lesbian rights in the United States.
travis then moved to Cleveland, joined the Ram Das ashram and started studying to become a Kundalini Sikh. He also began doing poetry performances, opening for Pere Ubu, and becoming friends with Peter Laughner. At some point he decided to leave everything and go to an ashram in New Mexico. On the way there he stopped in Chicago, where he met a brilliant musician named P. Michael Grego. While their backgrounds were widely varied, the two met at a drastically skewed departure from the axis of R&B, and a reluctance to play an instrument the way that it was "supposed to be played". ONO was formed in 1980, under the influence of Eastern music, The Stooges, Velvet Underground, free jazz, The Doors, Bobby Womack, and a gospel singer named Sallie Martin, who reputedly incorporated power drills and saws into her music. ONO's intent was apparently always to dismantle the music. For them, music was often an afterthought - queer spectacle was the thing. For all of ONO's freeform tendencies, travis insists there's a method to the madness: "All ONO's shows, they may seem like they're spontaneous and all that, but they are that and more. I always begin with a well-defined premisse. There's a story being told. You don't have to see it, you don't have to know it, but it focuses all the members. It keeps up directed."
In the mid-80s, travis returned to school, pursuing performance studies with Dr Dwight Conquergood. In 2001, after a visit to the Royal Museum for Central Africa, an ethnographic art museum in Brussels, travis began painting. His art has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions. He struggles, however, with the black art establishment, who find his work "too dark" and negative (travis' website includes a few preposterous quotes from rejection letters, saying things like: "Black people like brilliant colors" and "don't you ever paint flowers; I like flowers"). Besides painting, travis uses other mediums, including calligraphy, drawing, sound, performance art and design. According to himself, his work "springs from a performative approach to race, gendered space and colonial objectification", and focuses on the "passionate life, death and transfiguration of the historic Itawamba shotgun shack community".
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