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

30 October 2009

The Studio Evolution Of A Live Painting

> Imagery

In honor of live art's transparency of process, this time I'm not going to just throw a finished piece out there and call it a day. For my latest painting, I want to give some exposition and a before-and-after, because the photograph of the finished piece verges on not communicating what is actually going on. First, the after:

2009 08 07 & 10 28 Dancin In The Streets Festival & Studio
(Darkstar Orchestra, Chicago Afrobeat Project, Billy Kreutzmann and Papa Mali, Nailhouse)

18"x24" - opaque pens, acrylic, & spraypaint on masonite
original available for purchase - signed 11"x17" prints available for $15

Once upon a time, I started by brushing on a uniform background in black, then gold acrylic paint...then I took the board to Dancin' In The Streets Festival back in August and tried my hand at the kind of colorful plaques I see coming out of Indonesia and Tibet – you know, lots of gold, intricate central design, kind of a pointy floral thing going on:

And then this painting spent nearly three months in a stack while I made disappointed faces at it. What happened to my grand vision of layering? The gold isn't really integrated; it's just sitting in the background doing nothing. All the right angles really kill the flow, and in spite of the clutter of colors and angles, it didn't give me any feeling of depth. So I decided I'd wait until the painting was least suspecting it, then pounce with gold spraypaint and turn the whole thing into Layer One.

It worked out pretty well. Boulder got hit by 23 inches of snow the other day, giving me the perfect opportunity to hole up with my friend and wire-wrapper extraordinaire Dan Donohue and devote our day to the muses. First I applied a coat of noxious spraypaint. (For those unfamiliar with illegal street art or home renovation, there's a special touch that will get the spray paint canister to spit out fat drops instead of a fine mist, leaving semi-transparent galaxies instead of a uniform blanket.) Then I followed the original implied octagons with the good old Breath of the Compassionate, an Islamic tiling pattern that signifies the infinite expanse of divine creation and destruction. Throw a snowflake in there for good measure, ignore the inner nagging voice about how the six-fold and eight-fold geometries don't quite line up, and call it a day.

The end result is one of my subtlest and deepest pieces – really hard to get a feel for from just the above photo. Here are some details that demonstrate how the spraypaint alternately hides and reveals the red underlayer, depending on the light:


27 October 2009

New Paintings From Kelli Rudick & Bonobo

> Imagery
2009 10 07 & 23 The B-Side Lounge (Kelli Rudick, Gloam & Jungle Bums)
18"x24" - opaque pens on canvas panel
11"x17" signed prints - $15
Certain events are major obstacles to my intended painting. Kelli Rudick is a badass neoclassical-experimental live looper who plays percussive guitar and several unique instruments like the array mbira and nail violin. Gloam put on a surprisingly epic show – one of Boulder's sweetest prog rock ensembles, solid beyond their years. And the Jungle Bums are a hard-hitting drum & bass collective with some pretty impressive rappers. Which meant that at both of these shows, I didn't get a lot of work done...I was too busy watching, dancing, or just hanging out. So I took this out to the Boulder Farmer's Market last weekend and set my easel in the grass next to other rogue vendors with lovely feather earrings and a massage chair. It was a beautiful and strangely warm fall day, and everyone was in a good mood. You can't tell too well from this picture, but the yellow orbs in the background have a lot of gold in them and they gleam like medallions in the sunshine.

2009 10 22 Cervantes (Bonobo, Mike Slot, Juno What, Jantsen)
20"x30" - opaque pens on masonite
11"x17" signed prints - $15
I spent the first hour+ on this one with a fat-tipped green marker just making the trees, one sweeping feathery stroke after another in a state of hypnotic flow. My friend, fellow painter Tye-Dye Paul, who falls far more on the "energy painting" side of the spectrum than I do, was very supportive of this expressive and gestural work, and came over to shoot me significant looks and cast spells of blessing on the painting while I was at work. It was really intense, but he is a considerate guy and always asks before getting all up in my space. Apparently not every painter is into his extreme acts of professional friendliness. At any rate, expect more trees like these. It was a liberating new approach, and took me deep into memories of old trips out at Clinton Lake in Lawrence, Kansas, glowing kaleidoscopic jewelry breathing out of the bare winter woods...

24 October 2009

New Videos From The Walnut Room

> Music
Anyone who has ever talked to me about music knows that my favorite guitarist – far and away – is Andreas Kapsalis. So it was an honor – and a humbling experience – to open for him for the third time last Sunday night at Denver's finest small venue, The Walnut Room. He played in a wonderful duo with nylon string Balkan guitar virtuoso Goran Ivanovic, and Jonah Smith headlined with some soulful-but-upbeat Brooklyn pop. I only got half an hour to turn on the dozen or so people who showed up early enough to see me play, but it was worth it. Not only did The Walnut Room give me an excellent seventeen-inch walnut and pesto pizza and a pitcher of beer, but I managed to record two decent videos from my show. I hope you enjoy them...and, of course, please share them with your friends if you do! You can also subscribe to my video channel at Youtube if you're geeking hard enough. :)


Underground River (Live Remix) - The Walnut Room, 2009 10 18


Bête Moiré - The Walnut Room, 2009 10 18

23 October 2009

Cosmic Consciousness & A Custom Hat

> Imagery
2009 10 17 City Hall (KiloWatts, Big Gigantic, Emancipator, Heyoka)
20"x30" - opaque pens on masonite
11"x17" signed prints - $15; full-size signed & numbered (x/30) prints - $50
I recently had the honor of painting alongside Alex & Allyson Grey, Mars-1, and J Garcia at one of the most epic parties I've ever attended, thrown by my friends at Boogie Down Productions in Denver last weekend. It took place at City Hall – not the actual civic building, but Denver's most promising new venue, three floors and a majestic outdoor balcony/lounge area that, all together, make for a ridiculously awesome event space. Plenty of corners and corridors, four stages, a fashion show, two floors of live painting, a hefty and delicious array of vendors, and some of the most lovely electronic music I've ever heard. Alex started the evening off with a sweeping survey of his work since the age of five, showing how his psychological development was reflected in a growing capacity for perspective-taking. I don't think anyone there, myself included, had ever seen such a glorious presentation initiate what ten years ago would have been called a "rave"...the otherwise insane, crowded, sweaty, intoxicated evening was still somehow activated, lucid, and open-hearted. And no doubt Alex's excellent primer on visionary art was largely responsible.

That was just one reason that this evening was one of the highlights of my entire artistic existence. Ten minutes after I started, I damn near had a panic attack about my sloppy first layer, the evidence of that day's anxiousness and confusion. But I stuck with it, and the painting ultimately took on an edgy, urban quality I've never managed to capture...and a ghostly inner glow that half captivates me and half gives me the creeps. The crowd was thick, and since I wasn't granted my own riser that night, I was getting bumped and jammed all evening. But momentum is conserved, and all of that energy traveled up my spine, down my arm, and into the piece. You're looking at the vector space of some 2,500 exultant partiers.

I should also mention that this painting was fueled by the excellent cuisine of my dear friend Araminta David, whose pre-show catering for the artists and production team was definitely on par with the quality of all other art that evening. I can't believe she got a "Guest" lanyard instead of an "Artist" lanyard. If you ever have a chance to eat her food, you had better take it. Just might change your life.

2009 10 14 Studio - Owl & Ice
In more modest news, I finally got to do my first custom hat! This was a surprise birthday present for one of my friend's boyfriend. He likes owls, and she suggested cubes...minor constraints like that really helped "narrow the search space" and focus the vision, and the hat she sent me to work on had just enough texture that it opened up new expressive possibilities with my pens. The "feather" of ice cubes on the left side was just silly enough to work, and I love being asked to do characters, which I normally don't have the nerve to attempt in a large format live context. Not to mention, someone is wearing my art ON HIS HEAD, now! Point being, I LOVED working on this hat. If anyone else wants some custom headwear, email me about it. I'd be honored and delighted.

12 October 2009

Evolutionary Biology Symposium At Entheon 2009

> Writing
Over the years, I've cultivated an identity as kind of a trickster-academic, lurking on the fringes of half a dozen disciplines and diligently synthesizing them in ways that wouldn't be options for me if I'd stayed in the tenure-track system. And it's starting to pay off. So I started a new page, evolution.bandcamp.com, for audio downloads of the various lectures, interviews, and discussions in which I've participated.

First item on the menu is an amazing discussion about evolutionary biology I had with three other, somewhat less rebellious biologists at Burning Man's Entheon Village this year – a freewheeling symposium that veered from one topic to the next (including the emergence of order from chaos, whether evolutionary theory can actually improve society, when going backward is actually going forward, and – somehow – the ethical demands that beauty makes on a person) with delightful caprice and strangely rigorous whimsy. One of the attendees came back the next day and told me that sitting in on it had been like "going to Awesome College." Here it is, folks – my first swing at being a professional public presenter of mind-blowing ideas, with help from fellow cool geeks Cory Bishop, Jason Hodin, and Ruben Valas:


If you like it, please share it with your friends! (Bandcamp has made it very easy to post worthy audio to Facebook, Twitter, and several others via a menu right next to the download button.) This talk really confirmed for me the value of conversations like this for the greater social good, as inspirational learning that reminds us of the incredibly awesome vastness in which we live and of which we are made...

New & Rediscovered Paintings

> Imagery
2009 09 13 & 22 - Trinumeral Festival & Crosstown Station (RJD2, Pretty Lights & Toubab Krewe)
16"x24" - available
I started this one on Trinumeral Festival's last night, but midway through got severely distracted by Signal Path's set and Emancipator's cute photographer, and lost all motivation. So getting the opportunity to pick it up the next week in Kansas City was pretty great. It's kind of a visual paradox, the way the ribbon interacts with what appear to be cubes. The first time I ever painted straight over another piece that wasn't going the way I'd hoped.

2008 12 xx - Studio 01
8"x12" - available
This one and the next were pieces I started and finished at my friend Rick's place in Kansas City last winter and promptly forgot about until my recent move back to Colorado. I was playing with new markers and new methods – neither of which feel very new anymore, but I'm pretty happy with these tiny studies nonetheless. They've weathered well.

2008 12 xx - Studio 02
8"x12" - available

05 October 2009

New Album: Live From Entheon Village

> Music
Here it is - my latest free live album, straight into your Eustachian tubes via the dusty wastes of Black Rock City and the electron-irrigated delta of the dreaming embryonic internet mind:

Live From Entheon Village (2009)

It's 1:11:11 of intense acoustic guitar anthems, ballads, etudes, and banter charged with the electric intensity of Burning Man and the holy playfulness of Entheon Village, one of the Burn's most progressive and conscious theme camps. It's also the best set of live recordings I've released so far. And in honor of Burning Man's gift economy ethos, I'm offering the entire album in high quality .wav format for free. Enjoy!

If you have any questions or feedback about the album, send it my way. Feel free to share it with your friends by inviting them to the cyber-listening party on Facebook. And have a beautiful day...