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

26 August 2009

New Merchandise Store & CO Paintings

First of all, I'm excited to announce that I've been inducted into the roster at ArtsProjekt.com, a super-hip and progressive online artists' collective. Which means that I have a new merchandise shop – now, you can buy my artwork in the form of postage stamps, coffee mugs, postcards, buttons, stickers, skateboards, and soon plenty of other items. I'll be adding new products with some regularity and am happy to take suggestions, so if you have any ideas for sweet art/merchandise pairings let me know! And enjoy your new options...

2009 08 14 Mishawaka Ampthitheatre (EOTO, Vibesquad, Big Gigantic)
16"x24" - paint markers on masonite
Another trip out to the beautiful Mishawaka Amphitheatre yielded this lively number...an attempt to cover "surfaces" with tetrahedral reliefs, a la the Epcot Center's Spaceship Earth and other quasi-geodesic structures. Thanks to the Mish's crazy late-summer weather, I did indeed get to paint while it was raining for a while...right next to me, fellow painter Kenzie Page was having a blast with her drippy acrylics, whereas my pens were impervious to the weather. It worked out for both of us. The show was a blast – I've made it known on every possible occasion how much I enjoy painting for all of those artists. And I got to soak up a lot of Colorado love, lots of friends I haven't seen in ages. This show made it very, very hard to stay away.

2009 08 15 Boulder Theatre (Freq Nasty, Heavyweight Dub Champion, Ana Sia, Jantsen)
20"x30" - paint markers on masonite
The next night was the homegrown SoundQuake Fest at the Boulder Theatre – a real landmark venue, and one I'd never painted in before (although once upon a time I DID get to play Chapman Stick on stage there, for the 2008 Bao Bao Festival, in a fairly ridiculous highlife band). Majestic and spacious, the Boulder Theatre was decked out with fabulous chill spaces and a stage half-filled with busted old TVs displaying static and weird visual noise. My man Ralf put the whole show together himself, a real grassroots achievement...even if the Boulder crew was strangely thin that night, probably still burnt out from Phish tour and STS9's Day Out Of Time. Eva Andreano set up along the opposite wall, painting on board and frame all at once. And I ran the whompy, aggro theme of the night, applying my unique appreciation for heaviness and paradox to the night's work. It feels good to be getting back to more focused, centralized, object-oriented compositions, after a summer of so much play with background layers and fields. This piece goes out to a special woman in my life, who wonders if our feelings for each other are more wings or anchors. Here's your answer, babe.

24 August 2009

Dancin' In The Streets

August 7 - 9 marked the first Dancin' In The Streets Festival at in Denver, a romp two years in the making (due to the red tape involved in persuading city to shut down its busy Five Points intersection for a party). Not only was it a weekend of multiple sets from great bands like Darkstar Orchestra, Steve Kimock Crazy Engine, and Cornmeal...it was also an explosion of live art the likes of which I've never seen. Not only did I get to work on several paintings of my own, but I also participated in a few massive and enduring collaborations. It was a weekend of playful experimentation and satisfying artistic community. Enjoy!

2009 08 07 Dancin In The Streets Festival
(Darkstar Orchestra, Chicago Afrobeat Project, Billy Kreutzmann and Papa Mali, Nailhouse)

16"x24", paint marker on masonite

A two-tone gold background and fat red markers got this off to a fun start. The nature of improv: what I had intended as a kind of Indonesian jewel-relief ended up very strange and sort of insectile. I have half a mind to lay a coat of gold spray paint on top and keep going, letting all of it drift sort of holographically out of a metallic fog...

2009 08 08 Dancin In The Streets Festival (Hot Buttered Rum, Steve Kimock Crazy Engine, Head For The Hills, Cornmeal)
16"x24", paint marker on masonite

Fat white marker on naked masonite laid the foundation for this maze of flourescent tubing. Sheet after sheet of partial outlining gave it a glistening metro vibe but complicated the layering...ultimately, it's hard even for me to follow the lines, and my eye drifts aimlessly through the labyrinth of closed loops. Which is actually kind of cool, but it lacks the coherence of a strong central image.

2009 08 09 Dancin In The Streets Festival (Everyone Orchestra)
16"x24", paint marker on masonite

The most intricate background work I've ever done – four colors (blue, maroon, purple, and gold) plus extensive scratching and blending – made the major challenge with this piece trying to leave enough of it exposed. So I saved it for a one-set quickie with the beloved Everyone Orchestra, and made my experiment with this one more about the technique than how I was filling space. After working with brushes on the Welton Street Mural (pics below), I was on a paint-smearing bender and tried streaking the wet white marker as I laid it down. The bubbles all have a soft glow from this, and it was fun to apply – one hand chasing the other, rubbing the masonite before it dried. Everyone Orchestra's fabulous line-up, including Bill McKay, Steve Kimock, Dominic Lalli, Reed Mathis, and the entirety of Hot Buttered Rum, made for another great show – what I've routinely come to expect as one of the most memorable sets of the festival. And I was all jazzed up because right before the show, EO's conductor Matt Butler showed me that he's been using my painting from their set at 10,000 Lakes Festival as his iPhone's wallpaper. So yeah. This painting will never, never turn out right in a print. I like that.

2009 08 09 Dancin In The Streets Festival (Disco Floyd & Nershi Mosely Deutsch Miner)
16"x24", paint marker on masonite

I spent half an hour getting in people's way trying to set up my easel to paint in the crowd for Leftover Salmon (asking people to move so I could run an electrical cord for my lamps, accidentally setting up too close to someone's video camera, half-blinding people with my ridiculous full-spectrum CFL...), and then as soon as they hit their first long-delayed note the skies tore open and dumped an enormous storm on us all. Half the crowd ran for shelter, including me – even though I can theoretically paint in the rain on masonite board, I had my prints out and I was worried about being plugged into a street lamp for power during the lightning. So I ran breakneck back to the tent at the front gate, where I had to put all of my supplies up on chairs because the whole place was starting to flood. As I looked down the alley towards Welton Street through the downpour, a fountain erupted out of one of the manholes. I later heard that all of the Five Points intersection was underwater, including the amps for Stage Two. It was a pretty epic catastrophe to end a weekend of otherwise idyllic weather, and most of the Sunday-nighters were scared off. But that just meant that the late-night sets indoors at Quixote's were for the determined remainder. Disco Floyd (exactly what they sound like, a Discoed-out Pink Floyd cover band) was great fun, and the supergroup SCI's Nershi and Mosely put together included Erik Deutsch, one of my favorite keyboardists. My first monochrome painting. I look forward to more.

Unfinished Massive Two-Panel Collaboration (approx. 8 feet tall) – w/ Frenchie, John Bukaty, Scramble Campbell, Norton Wisdom, Darci Hill, Michael Garfield (...and probably a few people I am forgetting)

I never saw what the finished product looks like, so hopefully I'll make it back there in the next month or so and can post an updated picture. But in the meantime, here's the last of what I saw: another big fun mess of the kind that only happens when you have a ludicrous number of live painters all in one place. ALL FOUR of the "elders" of live painting (at least in the States) were there: Norton Wisdom, Frenchie, John Bukaty, and Scramble Campbell. These are the guys that were heroes for MY heroes, if you know what I mean. Which made working on this, and the Welton Street Mural, a real honor. And it was extra cool to work right on top of Wisdom's little dragon and rider...I had never heard of him before painting with him in LA at the Global Sound Conference last year, but he's on a whole other level. (He sets up a huge backlit screen and works with wet paint, creating new portraits out of the old ones every few minutes. It's very different from any other live artist's work I've seen, very alive and engaged.)

Collaboration Detail – Norton Wisdom & Michael Garfield

Here's a closer look at my tiny contribution to the panel, all of the intricate penwork I threw on top of Wisdom's fantasy figurine. I might open the original fullsize image in a new window and get a closer look at it, because at this size it's hard to see all of the feathery features.

2637 Welton Mural

From across the street, here are the results of a huge collaborative effort from over a dozen live artists. John Bukaty, bless that man, organized the whole thing – he secured gallons of acrylic paint and a sizeable scaffold, then scheduled us all in to work in three- or four-hour blocks during the music. Don Callahan helped run ship while Bukaty was away on Saturday. This mural is going to remain outside Cervantes and Quixote's indefinitely...which means my "Starry Night With Giant Squid" contribution is just about the most public and eternal thing I can lay claim to. Not that "public" and "eternal" are necessarily better...just more obvious.


[Update: To my INCREDIBLE disappointment and outrage, the owner of the building had the Bianci brothers (who manage Cervantes & Quixote's) paint over this mural. Apparently some people can't tell the difference between grafitti and artwork, desecration and blessing. If it weren't so pointless to stay pissed about this, I'd probably enlist people to send angry letters and burning excrement. Well. I'll have more pictures of this mural up soon...as a memorial to something beautiful that happened, once. Christ. I'm glad I took a lot of pictures.]

When I get back from my travels in mid-September, I'll be posting a review of Dancin' In The Streets and a more thorough write-up about my experience with the other painters at ColoradoMusicBoard.com...so stay posted for those. In the meantime, here are some other recent festival write-ups you might enjoy losing yourself in for an hour:

Colorado Music Board – Windows Into Rothbury Festival

Grateful Web – 10,000 Lakes Festival (coverage by day):
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday


01 August 2009

10,000 Breaks & My Lark For Zuvuya

> MusicBefore we dive into the paintings, I'd like to invite you to dive into my latest album: Quixote's Lark For Zuvuya, a live recording of my recent opening set at Quixote's in Denver for Zuvuya (the acoustic side project of Zilla's Michael Travis & Jamie Janover, with Xander Greene on acoustic guitar). Being invited to play in support of these fantastic musicians was a tremendous honor, and I had no choice but to seriously step up my game for their audience. Which was easy enough, because it was already a very significant day (marking my little brother's 10th birthday, as well as the transformation of a very long and difficult romantic relationship into something more nameless and profound)...this recording captures one of my most energetic and passionate performances ever, as well as the debut of several new live looping arrangements for older songs. You can download it for free here – or name your price for the music, if you're in a generous mood.

For those of you who were there, thanks so much for your patience in getting this online! For those of you who weren't, check it out! The performance swerved from swinging balladry to acoustic guitar techno to spark-shooting instrumental etudes...and it's yours as a gift of appreciation for your time and attention. So please, download it and enjoy!

> Imagery
FYI, I'm having a liquidation sale f some of my earlier paintings, which have been discounted 30% - 50% from their original asking prices. If you've been waiting for this apparently seasonal event to roll back around so you and your buds can scoop up some affordable original work, have at it! You love art; I love health insurance. Let's play "win-win." Here's the list of available paintings (at facebook and at myspace). And now, onto the new work...

2009 07 24 10KLF (Everyone Orchestra) - 18x24
Certify Electrify

I got into my virgin 10,000 Lakes Festival last week, a delicious gathering in upstate Minnesota held on permanent festival grounds (flushing toilets and shaded camping = major luxury). I was granted entry on journalistic assignment for GratefulWeb.com (my extensive festival write-up coming soon) and spent most of the weekend taking pictures and notes, but found some time to paint for some of my favorite artists. The Everyone Orchestra show was spectacular – with Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic on saxophone and Steve Kimock on electric guitar, and conductor Matt Butler's energy was higher than I've ever seen. The show was a benefit for The Rex Foundation, founded by the Grateful Dead, which was raising money to buy instruments for local music programs – check them out and offer support if you can.

As for the painting...I've been getting more and more into intricately preparing backgrounds with cross-color fades and metallic spraypaint. In this case, I got so carried away with the background that this piece was an exercise in leaving it visible behind my penwork. The result was a perceptual paradox in which foreground objects appear to be behind background objects, like those trick rooms you look into through a viewfinder and kids appear taller than adults. Entirely unintentional. The guy who bought this one named it...he was on a "certify" kick that night.

available - 2009 07 23 & 24 10KLF (Wilco, Steve Kimock Crazy Engine) - 18x24
Swimming In Words

I'd never seen Wilco before and wasn't expecting much...but they rocked my socks half off. That Nels Cline was wailing on the electric guitar – but unlike fellow headliners Widespread Panic, Wilco's lead lines were integrated into a jangly wall of sound, instead of pushing the rest of the band into the background. And that's my style; I prefer band-as-explosive-organism to band-with-a-badass-hired-gun. I set up in the concrete beach of a general admission area down front for this one, which was kind of foolish. It was a high traffic area but TOO high traffic. One girl spilled an entire new beer all over the place and very nearly destroyed my book of prints; I got bumped into a lot; it wasn't especially visible to anyone but the river of people, and difficult for anyone to actually stop and watch. It was much easier to finish this during Steve Kimock's set, although I was baking in the midday sun the entire time for that one. Regardless, I consider this one a successful experiment in laying down a complex monochromatic background beforehand and spending the "live time" pulling out details and creating many layers from one. It reminds me of what it must be like to live in the naked Logos, deeper than space and time, swimming through the fundamental language of reality.

available - 2009 07 23 & 24 10KLF (Garaj Mahal & Boombox) - 18x24
A Wall Of Windows

I had the honor of painting onstage during Garaj Mahal for this one...if you don't know Garaj Mahal, make it a point to and you'll know what I mean. Every member of this jazzfunk supergroup is a master of his own instrument, and two of them (Fareed Haque on guitar and Kai Eckhart on bass) are actually music professors for most of the year. This band is their recreational project, which gives the music a playfulness and spontaneity rare even among jam bands. And of course, I love painting for Boombox whenever possible. Another experiment in dualtone backgrounds with gold spray. Looking through a fan coral at the evening's first stars, or the reef's reproductive bloom...

2009 07 05 & 24 Rothbury Festival & 10KLF (EOTO, Shpongle, Alex B, Big Gigantic & Big Gigantic) - 18x24
10,000 Breaks Vestibule

I had started this one at Rothbury, painting as an unofficial member of the ReSOurce Center's IAMU visionary art gallery next to the Tripoli Stage. But I was pretty distracted by other things that weekend and didn't have the opportunity to lay the finishing touches until 10K, which was just fine: I had another opportunity to paint for Big Gigantic's heady mix of live drums and saxophone with killer laptop production, which is always a treat. It was weird to be (to my knowledge) the only itinerant sidestage live painter at this festival, but I got a lot of welcome appreciation for it when I set up in the entryway to the event's Saloon Stage (the only permanent indoor venue I've ever seen at a festival – very cool). Thus the title (again, courtesy of the buyer).

available - 2009 07 31 Beaumont Club (Nick Steady, Mixed Method, Galactic Soul Tribe, Clandestine) - 18x24
Bassdream
I can't seem to shake those ferns! This one "happened" at Cicada Rhythm's Sunshine Bassdream, a lovely two-stage mini-rave in downtown Kansas City, where I set up outside in the glorious and unseasonably cool evening air and listened to great local live electronic hybrid acts and uptempo DJs until the wee hours. My friend David Titterington, a truly amazing visionary painter who puts my work to freakin' shame, was in town from Japan, and I enjoyed having him around to offer his painterly advice. The first time I ever started one of these pieces with an intricate background from scratch at the show, which was messy but fun. And even though I didn't know where I was going with it at the time, it does seem to have captured both the "summer" and "bass" vibes of the event with fidelity. I'm sure watching Planet Earth's "Grasslands" episode the night before had something to do with that. :)

> Writing
I've been a busy writer this summer. Here are some recent essays for your reading pleasure, as well as a few solid little interviews:

Vivid Journal – "Michael Garfield: Exposed!"
(...in which they ask me about my artistic process and how I've braided together art and music and writing in my life.)

MusicAndSpirituality.com – Interview w/ Michael Garfield
(...in which I contribute to an ENORMOUS survey of music visionaries by offering my own interpretation of the spiritual significance of music.)

D/Visible Magazine – "Biomimicry: Breathing New Life Into Design"
(...in which I introduce the emergent field of biomimicry, which seeks to solve human design problems with nature's own pre-existing solutions.)

Colorado Music Board – "Field Guide To Colorado's Live Artists: Kenzie Page"

(...in which I interview one of Boulder's newest live painters for my ongoing comprehensive survey of Colorado's insane live art scene.)

Colorado Music Board – "Sonic Bloom Festival In Pictures"
(...in which I share a very tiny slice of a very lovely weekend at one of the most beautiful venues in the world.)

Colorado Music Board – "Luke Redfield's Folk Mysticism And Mystic Folk"

(...in which I review recordings by my friend, legendary nomad-meditator-troubadour Luke Redfield, who demonstrates that spirituality knows no genre.)


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