Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: Bounteous Harvest From STS9's NYE Run (Plus, The Future of Live Music, EOTO Album Review, & More)

02 January 2010

Bounteous Harvest From STS9's NYE Run (Plus, The Future of Live Music, EOTO Album Review, & More)

> Imagery

STS9 NYE Twenty Ten Concert Poster
2009 12 28 & 29 Studio & Newman Opera Hall
(STS9 Acoustic Show "Axe The Cables")

18"x24" – paint pens and spraypaint on masonite
*some* signed & numbered 11"x17" prints (series of 75) available ($20)
original painting also available

It's a dirty little secret that I was never that big of a STS9 fan. I like my music adventurous, and their tightly coordinated sets, stemming from a tribe philosophy that refuses any one member their moment in the spotlight, never quite took the leap of faith I wanted. And as much as I admire their forays into electronica, I didn't much care for the gangster flavor that turn brought to the music and the scene. But I was definitely curious when I heard that they'd be playing their first-ever acoustic show in Denver...and positively psyched when a friend of mine offered me a ticket to the sold-out show. And I have to say, it was a classy, tasteful, well-orchestrated affair: University of Denver's opera house, dress-to-impress, ushers and everything, an understated light show, grand piano/vibes/harmonium...I mean, wow. I felt swept up in something wonderful.

It'll probably be a while still before I actually get to paint onstage for these guys, but in the meantime I was able to sneak this half-finished painting in with me to the show and the ushers didn't seem to mind that I finished it from my seat, using my necklace LED for light in the dark theater. Major props to Kevin Odenedo for inspiring me to paint "guerrilla style" with no concern for how official I'd be...and equal props to Jordan Burghardt for pulling through with the ticket and the opportunity.

I've been getting more into typography of late, trying to find a way to use the elements of my previous paintings to design cool new word art. For this piece I wanted it all to be perfectly symmetrical and read "STS9 NYE Twenty Ten" the same back and forward, but couldn't get the second "S" to not look like an "F." So it's an ambigram from the waist down. Eye in the middle, the still watching center; hourglass above, the anticipation and fatedness; wings below, holding the whole thing up.

This is the first limited edition concert poster print I've ever made, and I still have a few left if you're looking for a way to commemorate that excellent event.

Pluralism
2009 12 29 Gothic Theatre
(Bluetech Live Band, Emancipator, Flying Lotus, Martyn)

20"x30" – paint pens and spraypaint on masonite
signed 11"x17" prints available ($20) – original also available

Nuisances often yield new creative depths. In the case of this painting, running out of the gold spraypaint I used for the background was seriously annoying – I was standing in my friend's freezing driveway trying to cover this board in an even layer of gold and the empty can was sputtering as my hands and faze turned to ice. But the end result was a glorious patina that this photo doesn't really do justice, a lively surface that vaulted my painting out of the realm of psychedelic kitsch and into the "Restoration Hardware" market. Suddenly I had a painting someone like my dad might buy for his house, even though I'm sure there are still plenty of undergraduate trippers who'd hang it in their "Zen Room." (I say this with the greatest affection for both types...)

And holy macaroni, was this ever an epic event. Without any question, Euphonic Conceptions' Denver STS9 afterparties were the best shows they've ever put on (at least, among those that I've attended). There were about a dozen live painters there, ultrasexy dancers, a flippin' RAINBOW LASER...and I had a cozy little spot up in the balcony of the Gothic Theatre, IN the visionary art gallery, where I had not only a great view of the show, but a chill escape for everyone who was temporarily bushed from the raging dance floor.

I'm sure that you've noticed by now how most of my work has some lofty spiritual concept behind it. Transcending and including earlier work like "Order Under Chaos," this painting alludes not only to the deeper symmetry (here, a crystal field of breathing octagons) behind the flowing energy of manifestation (those paisleys), but also how one person's view of the transcendental is "colored" differently than the next's. Adherents to the so-called "Perennial Philosophy" beneath all of the world's religions argue that everyone worships the save God; but the fact remains that every wisdom tradition offers something unique to the banquet of faith, a valuable and distinct perspective on that-which-transcends-all-perspectives. And, intuiting this, we bare ourselves and reach for one another, a cosmic game of show-and-tell that some people have taken to calling "integral spirituality." This is that.

Roaring In The New Year
2009 12 31 & 2010 01 01 Gothic Theatre & Zach's House
(The Glitch Mob, Tipper, Mimosa, David Seied)

18"x24" - paint pens and spraypaint on masonite
signed 11"x17" prints available ($20) - original also available

Kind of a self-portrait. I was working the raffle booth for Collective Conscious at the December 30 STS9 show and got to the afterparty late, so I had to come up with something I could whip out quick, and there isn't anything quicker for me than a good old Tyrannosaurus.

Early on I decided that my New Year's Resolution for 2010 would be to dedicate every creative act to someone or something – to recognize my life as a sacrifice to the world (where "sacrifice" is taken literally to mean "the work of making sacred," just as "artifice" means "a creation of intentional design"); to connect my energies and intentions to something greater than my own satisfaction-in-self-expression; to give an additional layer of depth to everything I do, and to keep myself in a spirit of joyful service.

2009 was a difficult year. I spent most of it sleeping on people's couches and floors, broke, jobless, watching my family struggle with health problems and legal bullshit, and struggling myself to maintain a dear but seemingly star-crossed relationship. At the same time, 2009 was a year of profound growth and positive change. I rediscovered my purpose, inspired thousands of people, and learned the difference between false security and real stability, how to navigate the tides of life with a little more grace and equanimity.

So when it came time to dedicate this last painting of 2009/first painting of 2010, I chose to send it out to that rebellious, rambunctious, primal force that T. rex symbolizes for me and so many other people. Like a coyote howling at the Moon, half sorrow and half exultation, the letting go of what was and the celebration of what is coming, a pure and unselfconscious emotional release directed skyward into the shining heavens (and the heavens were shining, a blue moon and partial lunar eclipse on the 31st). Some of each: the lizard and the angel, the red of destruction and the green of growth. Thank you, 2009. Let's get it on, 2010!

My dear friend Marieam Shohadaee took some great pictures of me at work on this painting, which you can find on my Facebook art page.

(full gallery at tinyurl.com/mgpaintings)

> Writing

"Best Seat In The House: You're Virtually There" (H+ Magazine) – What are concerts going to look like in five years? I follow the last few years' of development in music technology to where the lines converge: on a radically different experience for live music fans. What did I get right, or wrong? You won't know for a while, but in the meantime you can leave your own vision of the future of live music in the comments section.

"Album Review: EOTO's Fire The Lazers!!!" (Colorado Music Board) – EOTO's latest studio album is deliciously dark and sexy, but I miss the radiance that suffused some of their earlier work.

"Stuart Davis Sings The B Side's Swan Song" (Colorado Music Board) – Boulder "punk monk" Stuart Davis, one of my major inspirations, just played his final show at Boulder's finest small venue (now-extinct). The show in review.

"The Mile High Sound Movement Throws Down" (Colorado Music Board) – I recently had the luxury of painting and playing as a member of a positively awesome music and art collective emerging out of Denver's hybrid electronic/hip hop/jam scene. The show in review.