Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: January 2009

29 January 2009

New Paintings With New Pens

available - 2009 01 17 - Jackpot Saloon (Breakbeat Buddha, Johnny C, DJ Clandestine)

A milestone in both the "redshift" and "blueshift senses: my last gig in Lawrence, and my first gig using the new ultra-fat-tipped "Hardcore" brand markers I bought to mix it up a little. Working with only one width kept me from throwing broad swaths or solid patches of color on the paintings, which led to a lot of tiny, clustered, focused work; the idea was to start with a few bold strokes and then use the finer lines to bring out detail. You know, some kind of actual painting technique! But those big pens with their wide flat tips were more difficult to wield than I had anticipated. It takes A LOT more work to an even line - kind of like being a kid playing with your parents' calligraphy set (if that metaphor connects at all with anyone!). Those fat ribbons ended up a little more wiggly than I had meant to make them... I like how the fat yellow pen is kind of transparent and you can see the ribbons a little bit through the orbs. Keeping everything overlapping in the right order was the biggest challenge of this piece, but I think overall the depth is fairly convincing.

available - 2009 01 26 Hodi's Half Note (Vibesquad, Bass Science, Savoy)

This is what happens when I drive for eight hours and THEN paint, only to try and finish it at 5 AM after the concert, when my brain is wondering why I'm keeping it awake. Exhaustion aside, I got to try out a lot of cool new things with this piece - like making transparent orbs out of concentric circles, and giving scaly leaves to the bold wide strokes of green I laid down first. Another experiment with this one - and something I'm going to have to try again a few times, because the idea is so satisfying - was to create a minor explosion of light IN THE MIDDLE of the object, BETWEEN the tentacles or whatever they are, as if the roots of the thing are ripping open and illuminating everything from the opening rift. The electric blue margin on that foreground tentacle really pleases me, but it wouldn't have looked as if I had extended it anywhere else. Kind of like part of another painting busting into this one.

available - 2009 01 28 The Root (Pnuma Live PA, Lazer Sword, Eskmo, Welder)

The transparent plants were a first. And this one is another attempt to leave more and more of the painting "unfinished" as it goes from one side to the other, to reveal little glimpses of the process. This one didn't leave MUCH unfinished - just a little at the top. I also tried creating a "scalloped" boundary along the outside of the bubbles, giving them a bit more of a liquid look to them, by outlining them with one wavy line and then again by normal curves that partly occluded the waves. You can see some of the original wavy bubbles up toward the top. Looking at it now, it seems like those plants are trying to grab the bubbles as they float by but keep missing. Or maybe that's just how I felt at The Root while painting this. It was a weird night - not many people there, given the talent, and SO cold, even indoors.


16 January 2009

10 Jan 2009 - Critical Mass @ The Uptown Theater

18x24, taken - 2009 01 10 The Uptown Theater (Vibesquad, Somasphere, Johnny C, The Floozies, GEM)

Another investigation of partiality, transparent process (leaving some parts incomplete allows people to follow my train of thought), and layering of complementary geometries (letting hanging "vines" drop over the top of the painting and the partial wall gives it a "trellis" effect...I'll be returning to this combination of discrete abstract and organic elements in future work). I like how the negative space at the bottom gives the entire arrangement a feeling of suspension, like you might be able to duck under it and check it out from the other side.

This was painted in the smallest room of the biggest electronic music event I have ever seen in Kansas City. Three different production groups got together to pack the historic Uptown Theater with people covered in blinky gear; it was pretty amazing. Big events like that come so rarely to the Midwest that the excitement was palpable, everyone was flashing eager smiles to each other as they came in...there was a definite contingent of dressed-up club types, but just as much tie dye, as well as less ostentatious general nightlife aficionados. They don't call these things "raves" anymore...but, uh, what are they called? Cuz that's basically what it was. Only with three rooms on as many floors.

The main room was headlined by Bad Boy Bill and DJ Magic Mike - of whom I can say nothing, because I was in the room put together by Lawrence KS's Cicada Rhythm Productions. Johnny Gallup, the man behind the cicada, has done more than any other person to bring quality electronic music to the KC/Lawrence area, and he's a genuinely friendly guy to boot. EOTO thanked him by name in their liner notes, because he's just that cool. And he brought some great music to the little bar by the entrance where I was camped all night:

G.E.M.

Lawrence local live electronic groovers, the golden child of the scene, here/now. Still in the early line-up flux stage, but strong in The Force. Potential energy...just like an actual gem.

The Floozies

Drums and looped guitar/synth duo with entirely too much funk and talent to be languishing in Kansas City. If you produce shows, book these guys. I've seen them bump two hundred people like they were just rolling out of bed.

Johnny C

A Cicada Rhythms standard, this DJ not only put "tasteful" and "dub-step" in the same room together for the first time, he officiated their wedding and delivered their kids.

Somasphere

Lincoln, Nebraska quintet riding the wave of techno-translated-into-rock, high energy, high tempo, great drummer...they make it around to festivals, so keep an eye out. They're a lot of fun.

Vibesquad

Aaron Holstein of Zilla's DJ/producer project. He actually went to school for music, knows the theory, has killer studio skills, can play bass and keys at the same time...and yet when he gets behind that laptop we can forget all of that and just let his luxurious bass rattle our hips and levitate our waving arms. My first night live painting was for him, so I get all sentimental whenever I have another opportunity to do so...largely because his positivity is unstoppable. Right before his set, some dumb girl unloaded a fire extinguisher over the crowd and they had to close the whole room for half an hour while they cleaned up - we weren't even sure if he was going to be able to play. (What's worse, we all thought it was a fog machine and stayed there, breathing toxic fumes, until we were all coughing and realized something had gone awry.) But then he just booted the whole party back up like nothing had happened, reminded people that nothing really stands between a dancing crowd and a good time.

So yeah, it was a lovely night, and I met some amazing people in the crowd. Everyone was at their sexy best, lots of glitter and feathers and custom ballcaps and trophy girl/boyfriends. A real lust parade, which as far as I'm concerned is one of the best live painting environments. I really wanted to get out of that room a little more and shake it in the main hall...but hey. I had a job to do.

***

In other news, for those interested in art theory and philosophy and psychology and spirituality and where those things all tie together:

Around this time last year, I interviewed the internationally renowned integral philosopher Ken Wilber. We talked at length (75 minutes) about his elaborate (but previously unexplained) perspective on the future of art and music, the common qualities of post-ironic expression, and the spiritual significance of the artist. If you can handle reading along to my transcript with its handy notes (necessary for understanding Ken's dense and specific philosophical language), I HIGHLY encourage hearing what he has to say about this shit. It is SUPER important information for anyone who wants to learn more about how the evolution of consciousness we're all going through is starting to take shape in the arts. I never found a suitable place to publish it, though. So here it is:



11 January 2009

New Year's 2009 Week Paintings (Denver & Boulder)

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Each painting is available in 11"x17" prints for $15 each.
(Email me - michaelgarfield at gmail dot com - if interested.)

18x24, available for sale - 2008 12 29 Cervantes (Everyone Orchestra, Eric McFadden Trio)
Experiment in pseudo-tesselating stars, hexagons, and diamonds; three variations on a bubbling fringe; suggestions of a hidden gold and white layer behind and between; broad hatches as background noise; an occasional eye; implying directionality in flow. At Everyone Orchestra conductor Matt Butler's suggestion, I got this one signed on back by half of the band (a first).


18x24, available for sale - 2008 12 30 Cervantes (Panjea, DNALand, Lynx & Janover)
Play with ribbons: creation of an "obstacle scape" through which to thread orbs while teaching myself about layering; precision trial in black outlining; attempted "curtain" effect with ambiguous implied-motion relationship between ribbons and orbs (Rising together? Falling together? Moving past one another?); use of simple color theory to suggest depth (blues behind reds to simulate "bluing" with distance).


18x24, reserved until February - 2008 12 31.1 Quixotes (Sporque, Vibesquad) (late show for the 30th)
One continuous field of hexagons (reiterated inside themselves) split into two "passing" schemes; an attempt at something more primordial and diagramatic (as if those two things go together). Purple lines in the blue sections half-create cubes, and half leave it looking like a cross-section. It reminds me of a microscopic view of pollen collected on some membrane, or maybe natural glass.


18x24, available for sale - 2008 12 31.2 Cervantes (Panjea, DNALand, Lynx & Janover)
Another study in curtains of helices and bubbles, this time more formally related. Hoping to follow the festive New Year's theme resulted in inadvertently and uncannily illustrating the purple ribbons hanging from balloons on stage (although they weren't released until after I'd started the painting...). People kept asking if I was painting the balloons. I guess I was.


18x24, available for sale - 2009 01 01 Crowne Plaza Hotel & Owsley's (Boombox, Everyone Orchestra, & Vince Herman) (late shows for the 31st)
Picked up from a monochrome tunnel pattern I started on this board but left in my trunk for a month, this one's awkwardly balanced between two and three dimensions (Are the minicubes inside the bigger ones, or attached to their faces? Are the bubbles emerging from the golden void within each cube, or resting on their golden lids? Are the cubes actually receding into the distance, or just getting smaller?). Ambiguity and liminality were kind of themes for the night, but I can't claim total intentionality.


18x24, reserved until February - 2009 01 02 Rock N Roll Grill (Project Aspect, Motion Montage, Jeff The Box)
I wanted the ribbons in this piece to obviously organize the orbs, sweeping them up into a coil rather than just interacting idly - not a caress, but a grab - thus the contrast between free-floating and "wrapped" elements. Hexagons give a "trellis" style backdrop, and I finally attempted some kind of patterning on the ribbon itself. Lots of silver outlining. The artists at this show are all local basement projects that merit your attention - I can easily see this same line-up selling out The Fox in a year, so take notice!


18x24, available for sale - 2009 01 03 The Fox Theatre (Bonobo, Big Gigantic, Future Simple Project)
Varying states of completion in two interlocking elements (the flowers and orb clusters) made for a quick background that still gives the sense of approaching/receding and various depths; "plants" and jellyfish in the foreground rooted the image in something recognizable and took the flow off the sides of the board. Simple foreground coloration didn't confound the already-intricate backdrop. Modularity was emphasized. After a year of people telling me I draw deep-sea stuff, this is the first one to put representational and nonrepresentational elements together in the same painting in a way that unequivocally shouts "aquarium!" Expect more stuff like this, probably integrated with the ribbons and helices, in the months to come.