Butterfield Garage Gallery holds PAM Jam throughout November

Inaugural event brings together poets, artists and musicians to share stories

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This month at the Butterfield Garage Art Gallery a group of passionate poets, artists and musicians came together to create pieces for the inaugural PAM Jam.

Although the name is short, the history behind PAM Jam is anything but. 

Originating as the brainchild of Chris Bodor and Loretta Leto (two long-standing members of the Ancient City Poets) and artist Cindy Wilson, this year-long cultivation story began as a way to encourage artistic expression and spread joy in the community. 

Members of the Ancient City Poets teamed up with artists from the Butterfield Garage and set loose to collaborate on new and exciting pieces. 

“The poems had to have an element of imagery,” said Bodor, poetry coordinator and participant in PAM JAM. “They had to tell a story.” 

Bodor chose to write his poem about a dog adoption story in Jacksonville, and once he was happy with the result, he turned it over to artist Laura O’Neal, who then used Bodor’s words to create a striking painting. 

“Now we have the ‘p’ for poetry, and the ‘a’ for artist, so all that is left is a musician,” Bodor said. 

As both poets and artists finished collaborating, they handed their combined works over to a musician to be turned into a song. Bodor’s words and O’Neal’s painting were used as inspiration for bluegrass band Skin & Bonz in its song, “Present Moment Bliss.” 

The original idea for PAM JAM was to host a live concert where musicians would perform their new songs in front of live audiences, but when the COVID-19 virus hit, plans changed. 

Instead of trying to arrange a restricted concert at the Butterfield Garage, the founders of PAM JAM decided that pre-recording the songs as music videos would allow gallery guests a better opportunity to appreciate the culmination of all three collaborations at once. 

While browsing the artworks at the Butterfield, guests can find QR codes with links to the coordinated music videos posted next to the poetry pieces.

Members of the PAM JAM are coining the event the “perfect pandemic project,” because despite the aspect of collaborating, participants were still able to work efficiently while isolated. 

“It was not something that was born from the ashes of the pandemic, it is something that carried on through the pandemic,” Bodor said. “It was just a fantastic experience.” 

In the future, members of the Ancient City Poets have plans to host similar PAM JAM events in both the Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra areas.

For now, all 18 poems and pieces of art are on display at the Butterfield Garage in St. Augustine throughout November, and the 18 coordinating music videos can be found on the PAM Jam website at pam-jam.com.

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