Michael Garfield Art & Music

11 August 2015

What Is Transformational Sobriety? Plus, FOUR New Paintings...and a Violin.

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”
– Henri Bergson

It's been a crazy summer!  My apologies for going an unprecedented six weeks between updates, but that just means this blog post's packed with even more new art and writing than it usually is.  And wow, this summer's given us so much to savor...

Let's begin with what I think might be the most intense and awesome talk I've ever given – on how we're all made of drugs, and how sobriety is not about abstaining from embodiment in all its messiness, but listening to intuition, learning to embrace life with full-bodied wisdom, and surrendering to that which knows what's really best for you.

I offer this to anyone who might enjoy or benefit from conversations on addiction and desire and mindfulness and new beginnings. In retrospect, it is a kind of ladder to the Moon that only makes it just beyond the chimney. But perhaps it points you in the right direction.

Presented at Arise Festival, Loveland, CO, 10 August 2014.  Cover Art by David Titterington.

New Paintings!

This summer really satisfied my need for adventurous art – holding on for dear life to my easel in a windstorm, surfing weird waves of synchronicity, working in new media and venues.  Each painting has a story and a field of meaning.  I hope you'll take the time to click through and read more about whichever piece you find speaks to you strongest...

"Strength of Conviction"
Paint pens on canvas (18"x24")

About the white tiger as a totem, from Balanced Women's Blog:  "Seeker of personal truth, having the power and strength of conviction, living simultaneously in the realms of both shadow and light..."

Paint pens on masonite (24"x32")

Original piece painted live at Firefly Gathering & Sonic Bloom Festival 2015 during the music of Warp9, ProJect Aspect, PEGA5U5, Unlimited Aspect, Cirque Roots w/ Jyshua Pcalyps, Deya Dova, Aligning Minds, Nanda, Luminaries, Safi's Lab, Little Giants, Saqi Live Band, Jeremy Sole, Nickodemus, The Trancident, Shpongle, Sonic Bloom Orchestra, Kaminanda feat. Eve Olution, Phutureprimitive, & Random Rab.

A portrait of the roadrunner ( Geococcyx californianus) that lives in the yard of my hypnotherapist friend in Albuquerque. I feel a kinship with these birds. They're fast, alert, decisive creatures, not excellent flyers but agile, charismatic, colorful, and radiate the strange enchantment of their desert home. They're sometimes called "Snake Eaters" because they're quick enough to eat rattlesnakes (and catch dragonflies and hummingbirds from the air) – that alone is amazing, and in fact while I was working on this painting at Sonic Bloom Festival, at the foot of the Spanish Peaks in southern Colorado, a friend of mine found a rattlesnake among the tents and killed it with a hatchet. He showed me the tail tip and the rattle that he kept, the tail still squirming on the hatchet blade...

"Moving On"
Paint pens on canvas (18"x24")

Original piece painted live at Sonic Bloom Festival​ 2015 to the music of Unlimited Aspect​, Russ Liquid​, VibeSquaD​, Desert Dwellers​, Kinetic Groove​, Mustard Tiger​, Talib Kweli​, & STS9​.

When visionary chaos theorist Ralph Abraham wrote in the MAPS Journal a few years ago about his original experiments with DMT in the 1960s, and how they inspired his explorations of fractal mathematics and computer visualizations, he mentioned that one of the notable characteristics of the tryptamine "realm" is how entities don't seem to be restricted to contiguous space. We mundane animals in meatspace need to be connected by nerves and blood vessels and skeletons, etc., but the seeming-beings of the DMT-verse are "wireless" unities of pattern, rhythm, and color. They exist more as musical themes than solid blocks of meat...

Untitled Diptych
Paint pens on canvas (16"x10")

Now in the private collection of Bill Ottman, founder of the exemplary social network Minds.com and host of this amazing conversation I had last year with Erik Davis, Neil Theise, Richard Doyle, and Mitch Mignano.  (Links go to interviews.)

Custom Texas State Flag Violin

Not much to say about this one, except that I love painting instruments and hope to do more soon!  Some of you might remember this piece from last year, when I was asked to paint the front of the violin.  The client asked for a matching back and white sides so that he could have it signed by famous fiddle players.  Super fun!

Side Note:  In case you ever need to make your stringed instrument playable again, my fiancée is an amazing luthier and does magical things to violins and guitars all day (I know because I visit her at work).  Here's her FB page.  She also plays viola in the Sienna Quartet, in case you're gettin' hitched.

New Articles for Globalish.com

These are, seriously, some of the best pieces I have ever written.  I'm honored that I get to share them with you.  And some of them are super controversial!  So please have fun with that...  :)

Comparing The Religion We Call Marriage to the Wilderness of Love
Marriage is a species of religion, insofar as both are ways in which romantic re-connection is pursued by those who do not feel complete already. Binding to the narrative of loss and rediscovery this way, we’re wearing double-image goggles: Heaven isn’t now, so we postpone our bliss in time; true love is out there somewhere, so we look for it in other people.

"Change Is Everything": Where Fossils, Digital Culture, & The Seeker's Journey Meet
Created or discovered? These are categories, just more reflex action of a mind uncomfortable with the bottomlessness of experience, another raft of thought afloat on oceanic mind without an explanation. Every tale we piece together of prehistory from the traces that remain is no more real, and no less guess-work, than the stories of our own identities – extrapolations, inferences drawn from recognizing patterns, vesicles of meaning we produce as effortlessly and unwittingly as burrows, nests, or trackways.

The Problem with An International Flag of Earth
Perhaps a name tag like the Flag of Earth can be excused on our first day as universal citizens, but someday we’ll regard such seeming-noble notions as the acts of childhood, no longer needing banners under which to join our separate factions. We won’t be “international,” because our solidarity is grounded in our prior unity, within which tribes and nation-states precipitate like bubbles in the ocean.

In this millennium, societies and worldviews collide and splash into each other, merge and breed and multiply, and what we used to think it means to be a human exponentiates until we reach what would have seemed an unimaginably far horizon, and the word “humanity” no longer holds its meaning.

“No ground to stand on,” we complain when we feel insecure – but do we really need the ground to tell us where we’re standing? Or is there potential in the human spirit, on display in Kompong Khleang, to find our way within a vast, mysterious expanse, to learn to orient ourselves in ever-shifting waters?

Shoes with Human Teeth Provide an Opportunity to See Beyond Duality
Teeth are a kind of koan, if we let them be: reminding us that basic binary distinctions – inner/outer, nature/culture – aren’t sufficient to explain or to experience our lives as they appear in truth.

Does it make a difference if this undying flame forever burns within the ribs of Jesus or atop the middle finger of Saul Williams?

And that is that.  Thank you so much for reading!

26 June 2015

New Live Tracks & Feature by The Untz | New Jellyfish Painting & Collab with Tourmaline Todd | Podcasts & Interviews Galore! | New Articles for Globalish

Photo by Clay Collins at Firefly Gathering 2015


This summer has already been so powerful and awesome!  Things are really moving, settling into new configurations.  Just when I thought I was done with festivals, two of my old steadies – Firefly and Sonic Bloom – restored my faith in the power and potential of small, intentional celebrations and in my ability to meaningfully contribute to them.

And having a job I really believe in – my work writing for Globalish.com – liberates the art and music from the hustle that have kept them down for years.  All of my work has been transformed by the focused creativity-as-spiritual-practice that Globalish provides, and puts it all within a greater context of serving everybody-all-at-once by pointing past our stories to the peace within which everything exists.

I'll have much, much more to share about them both in the next newsletter.  But while I'm getting photos taken of the latest paintings, rendering my talks and concerts, and catching my breath at home in Austin, here is plenty to enjoy.  Take care and stay in touch!

New Live Tracks & Feature by TheUntz.com

Videos from my Loopers' Night residency at the acclaimed Strange Brew Lounge in Austin, Texas – featuring visuals by the audioreactive Synesthesia software, and a guest performance by my beloved Nicole Taylor on viola.  Download these tracks for free here.

"Haunting, introspective electroacoustic magic...These spacey compositions take on new life as [Michael] rearranges, builds, and deconstructs them on-stage."
– The Untz

New Live Painting:
"Watermelon Tourmaline Medusa"

Oil & Acrylic pens on canvas (18"x24")
Available – email with inquiries
Painted live at Kerrville Folk Festival 2015 during Rj Cowdery, Joe Crookston / Milagrito Records, Ellis Delaney, The Don Juans, & Amy Speace and at Parish Austin for Art Seen Alliance Presents FKJ, BRANX, Diamond Cuts, & Lefty

Read about this painting and view it through a magnifying lens.

New Collab w/ Todd Shepherd (Available)

New Painted Hat (Sold)

New Writing for Globalish

Hip Hop's Latest Psychedelic Turn: Dig A$AP Rocky's Hopeful, Romantic "L$D"
There’s always going to be a niche for guns and hos and other adolescent bluster, but it’s looking more and more ridiculous with every passing day. When we’re confronted with the Mystery of Being and open our lives to make more room for it – as seems to be the case for A$AP Rocky – we’re forced to recognize how little nourishment there is in our old games of separation...

Lampooning The Global Addiction to Self: Open Mike Eagle's "Celebrity Reduction Prayer"
More of us are waking up to how we’re squandering our lives on self-obsession. Learning this does not mean turning victim’s rage upon the few who manage to exploit the many’s pride and avarice, in adolescent bids for power. The market only follows the demand, and all we have to do to slay the dragon at the other end of this perceived conspiracy is stop investing so much energy and money on a “self-and-other” story that is dubious at best...

Time, Space, Ego: Is "Change Gonna Come" Because That's What I Am?
Self and world change together as a matter of necessity, since self and world are only separated as an artifact of our perception, tuned to keep one part of our experience consistent for as long as possible. Wisdom is in knowing this, and seeing past the revelation that the self and world both change to notice what unchanging deeper mystery contains them...

Sex & Psychedelics: Are We Ready To See Through Separation For Good?
What psychedelics teach us – and what we continue to mistranslate in our bid to “bring the world together” – is that nothing’s separate, never was, and all this back-and-forth is sheer creative play: a universe that can, and so it must, explore the sense of being selves and others...
Something’s changed in recent years as scientific understanding of our planet’s systems deepened to the point where we can not pretend that we are, or have ever been, a separate phenomenon from everything that we romanticize as “Nature.” We define an epoch of the planet’s life in which the actions of technology and city-dwelling Homo sapiens are actions of geology...

Soul Mates or Cell Mates?: The Blessing & The Curse of "Other" People
If boundaries are ideas, not absolute realities, then we can take them up when necessary, drop them when appropriate, arbitrate together the complexities of sharing space, and celebrate our unity more frequently than we would ever have been able to when we assumed our separation as the basis for our interactions...

Podcasts & Interviews Galore!

"This week we talk psychedelics, philosophy, and discuss whether or not evolution has a defined trajectory."

Shane Mauss is a rare bird and a blessing to the world of stand-up comedy: his jokes are informed by an abiding interest in evolutionary psychology and psychedelic philosophy. He teaches you things while you're laughing, all the while pulling off this "I had a funny thought" vibe reminiscent of late-night dorm room conversations. His podcast, Here We Are, is an awesome series of interviews with scientists and philosophers which he claims helps him research new material for his comedy routine, but also just happens to be a fantastic journey through knowledge and the open horizons of the human experience.

After some mutual friends introduced me as someone who could hold an engaging chat with him about DMT (facepalm) we met up, hit it off, and had a damn-near-three-hour conversation that takes his podcast in some pretty strange directions.

Listen to our conversation here.

I also revisited the lovely folks at Project Bring Me To Life for an hour-long video podcast, and had an accidentally super-intense interviews with Electronic Colorado and Sparkleberry Lane about my participation in this year's Sonic Bloom Festival.  All three of those were fun and offered some interesting space for surprising depth, if you find time enough to venture into them...

Some Upcoming Shows

"In the late 20th century, the formative issues in digital media art were about connectivity and interaction. In this century, our post-digital objectives will increasingly be technoetic and syncretic. Formerly, there was much ado about e pluribus unum (out of many, one) – a unified culture, unified self, unified mind, unity of time and space. Now the reverse applies: ex uno plures (out of one, many) – many selves, many presences, many locations, many levels of consciousness."
Roy Ascott, "Syncretic Art and The Technology of Consciousness"