Michael Garfield Art & Music

23 April 2015

Perhaps My Greatest Blog To Date: New Paintings (Cleopatra, Lion, Shark, Madonna) + San Marcos River Cyberballadry + Giger's Alien Tribute Time-Lapse Video + New Articles & Gig Announcements

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I've been circling for thousands of years
and I still don't know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
– Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Hours

Photo by Shane Dooley
Photo by Shane Dooley



No joke:  This is my proudest moment in six years of publishing this blog.  Not only do I get to share with you the biggest and most time-intensive painting I have ever made, but also THREE more paintings, each of which expand my work into a new terrain.  I also have the latest live recording of my ten-year musical experiment in looping the guitar, now all grown up and totally unique as hybrid solo instrumental music blended up with psychedelic glitch, all improvised to suit the special time and place it was performed.  

And here are SEVEN new short essays on my favorite topics (revolution, travel, art, and life).  And here's the latest time-lapse video I made while painting Giger's alien through Google Glass.  And whee, updates about some great new gigs I have on the horizon!

I'm honored that I have the opportunity to bring this all to you – and hope it lands as deeply as it can, inspires your day and week and month, prepares your auric field for major upgrades, lubricates your mind to slip right out of limiting assumptions, and motivates reciprocal creative acts that awe your friends and neighbors.  

Stay in touch – and thanks for reading!


Some words about my latest record:  “Yanaguana” is Coahuiltecan for “sacred waters.” I learned the phrase from Yakona, Paul Collins’ amazing film about the San Marcos River. What's now the city of San Marcos is the oldest continuously inhabited site in North America, with an unbroken archeological record dating back perhaps 18,000 years…and we can thank the river’s crystalline spring water for its hospitality. The headwaters of the San Marcos – which now flow through the Texas State University campus, after burbling up from the aquifer at Aquarena Springs – make the area a truly, obviously sacred place.

That first mile of the river is also the home to numerous endangered species that live nowhere else – including Zizania texana, or Texas Wild Rice, the only wild plant I know that has a festival named after it. This was the second year I got to play at Sewell Park on the banks of the San Marcos in honor of this place and its inhabitants.

The Texas Wild Rice Festival, a public free event thrown by my friends to raise awareness of the river and the creatures it supports, is just as magical a moment as you might imagine. For someone whose career is basically a quest for gorgeous spots to play, it’s hard to find a more inspiring venue.

Everything in this half hour you’re about to hear was improvised with one guitar, one voice, and fifty pounds of pedals – no software and no pre-recorded sounds – everything a live response to that specific place and time. The music, like the river, flows continuously from one moment to the next, a stream of thoughts and feelings, sometimes wide and languid, sometimes turbulent, and always headed on toward the sea…

(For fans of Boards of Canada, The Books, Four Tet, Kaki King, Ratatat, Nicolas Jaar, Zoe Keating, Tycho, Tortoise)


PS – I'm happy to answer specific questions about my gear, technique, etc. for any curious musicians.  Don't be shy if you would like to learn the one-man orchestra modality! I'd be glad to teach it to you.

New Age Cleopatra Basks Apocalyptically in Neon Light 
Like Galatea, Word Made Flesh
32"x48" – oil & acrylic pens on masonite

Dedicated to my many visionary artist friends, whose inspirations and recurring themes are honored, teased, and stolen in this piece – a comprehensive catalog of new age painting silliness that ended up becoming something much more dear and meaningful.

Editor's Note: While I was underpainting this at Art Outside Festival, I swear I saw a tiny pale gray moth fly out of the painting. To date this is the only piece that has appeared to generate a living creature – which is appropriate, since Galatea, the woman referenced in the title, is the name of the mythological Greek sculptor Pygmalion's statue, with whom he fell in love. The love and desire animated her and she became a real woman. Theirs is a story of fiction crossing the line into fact, the individual creative process manifesting an impossible boundary dissolution. (But it's not really impossible, since all of our facts are simply practical fictions...)

Click on the image below to check this painting out as iPhone cases, laptop skins, etc.:

Good Kitten (New Age Male)
24"x48" – oil & acrylic pens on canvas

The meeting of opposites: aquatic and celestial, organic and machine, masculine and feminine, soft and serrated, still and fluid. A new age male, both powerful and gentle.

Click on the image below to check this painting out as iPhone cases, laptop skins, etc.:

Shark Week All The Time
18"x24" – oil & acrylic pens on canvas

Sharks have lived on Earth almost unchanged for over 400 million years. They are immune to cancer and provide an invaluable role in oceanic ecosystems, and yet we slaughter them for soup and out of fear. This piece is dedicated to these majestic and misunderstood creatures...

Click on the image below to check this painting out as iPhone cases, laptop skins, etc.:

Our Lady of Cosmic Reproduction
18"x24" – oil & acrylic pens on canvas

The cosmos manifests through vortices across the polar axis of a toroid flow – the "Grail" of esoteric systems, an emotional outpouring mirrored in our hourglasses and our double entendres.  This is just the shadow cast in four dimensions by a crystalline pleroma greater than the world we observe – the universal womb within which everything both bounded by and utterly beyond our short horizon of the possible exists.  The Matrix or the Mother of all matter, beyond all life and death...

Click on the image below to check this painting out as iPhone cases, laptop skins, etc.:

New Articles at Globalish

My job at Globalish has catalyzed a major transformation in my life and work.  We're like a laboratory for collective inquiry – a platform for awakening in our new digital society.

Cyberspace is our monastery – and so we question our society’s assumption of the “digital dualism” between internet and life, because we question our assumption of duality in general: where is the line between the mind and body?  Art and nature?  Self and other?  Just how useful are these categories, and can we embrace them as experiments instead of final truths?  Are we the stories that we tell – and if we aren’t, how can we use the stories that we hold as tools for our awakening?

How will we understand ourselves in ten, or twenty, years?  How does that understanding change how we engage our lives right now?  

These are the questions we are asking here.  We welcome you to join us.  Here are my latest pieces:


Giger's Alien Time-Lapse Video

Watch me paint my H.R. Giger tribute xenomorph piece, "Rainbow Warrior," filmed from my point of view through Google Glass.  (You can grab the soundtrack free right here.)  And if you like this kind of thing, here's every time-lapse video that I've recorded.

Upcoming Gigs

The community experimental music monthly I started with looping cellist Jen Mulhern has been renewed for three more months!  If you are interested in what totally unique improvisation games in Austin's finest listening room sound like, come out May 7th and enjoy an evening with Jen, myself, Shane Dooley, Michael David, Jimmy Allison, Todd Sloan, and Nikki Taylor as we take it to the limit in acoustic-electronic music hyperspace...


What more!: I am literally the very last addition to this year's Levitation Festival lineup, on a bill with Flaming Lips​, Tame Impala​, The 13th Floor Elevators​, The Jesus And Mary Chain​, The Black Angels​, Lightning Bolt​, The Sword​, This Will Destroy You​, and Spiritualized​.

I'm playing a Saturday morning set with a totally fresh quartet featuring live drums and a string section.  It's going to be a spacious, groovy, radical re-envisioning of the cyber-acoustic terrain that I've explored for the last decade, and I'm super psyched to share it with you...


“Every great and original writer must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished.”