Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: Epic New Live Painting & Intimate Living Room Recordings

25 April 2010

Epic New Live Painting & Intimate Living Room Recordings

"There is an almost sensual longing for communion with others who have a 
larger vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendships between those
 engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality 
almost impossible to describe."

Aloha from the Love Without End Tour! In the first week of April I set back out on the road to continue the endless pilgrimage I started in 2006; in these last few weeks I've been back in the saddle, bringing art and music and science-inspired and -inflected presentations to people across the country. It's been an amazing run so far and there is so much more to come…

For now, I trust you all won't mind that my updates have been more erratic than usual. I've been so inspired by the amazing people I've met and events I've participated in that my productivity is through the roof…and so busy it's been hard for me to keep up with everyone in a timely fashion. In order to keep every email readably short, I'm going to start breaking my updates up into smaller pieces and sending them a bit more frequently. That way, we all win: I get to share everything while it's still fresh, and you don't have to wade through a tome every time I send you my new work. So here we go!

After my last brief interview with live artist Kris Davidson, he and I decided that we hadn’t drilled quite deep enough into the mystery of what compels us both to paint. So over two weeks, while Kris was on the road in India and I was couch-surfing in Boulder, Colorado, we kept a lively correspondence about symbolism in art, mapping the unconscious, the visionary experience, anarchism, sacred geometry, and more. Here is the transcript of that conversation – an exchange that inspired us both to go even further sometime soon, that left us both delighted but wanting more...

> Music (listen & download here)

My last few days in Boulder were marked by long-anticipated visits from out-of-state friends and epic goodbye gatherings – including my buddies' monthly art and music event, CASh & Check. The fourth CASh & Check featured a living room open mic stacked with some of Boulder's finest unsung talent, and I was lucky enough to squeeze into the program for a quick one-two.

It isn't often I have the chance to play for such an engaged, attentive, open audience, and you can totally hear the difference. (This EP is dedicated to everyone who was there that night.) You can listen to those eighteen minutes – some of the sweetest and most intimate I have ever played – at my bandcamp page. Among the three songs I performed was a rough first acoustic draft of Yeasayer's "Ambling Alp," my favorite song of 2010 so far – and so, unlike the rest of my recordings for which I accept whatever people care to pay, I'm making this one entirely, don't-even-argue-with-me-about-it free. Enjoy!


18"x24", opaque paint markers on canvas panel
2010 04 08 320South (Octopus Nebula),
2009 07 23 & 07 24 10KLF (Garaj Mahal & Boombox)
- original stolen; prints unavailable -

On my first day's drive from Boulder to San Francisco, I happened to be in Breckenridge at the same time as my friends Octopus Nebula and ended up sticking around to paint for their show.

This is the first painting to be stolen from me. My apologies for the lousy picture, but I didn't have the opportunity to get a better one; the guy who now has it (his name is Nicholas Hernandez) sold me on a beautiful story about how it reminded him of his lost lover and how profoundly he connected with it. He went so far as to talk me down to half my asking price, grab cash from an ATM, help me pack up my stuff at the end of the night, and offer me a place to stay before he disappeared in the confusion with both my painting and the cash.

I have a sense of humor about these things…I mean, wow, if he needed it that bad, he needed it a lot more than I did. I consider this theft as an initiation into my grand unprecedented road trip, a slight improvement in my gas mileage, and a worthy story. It was also a lovely reminder to trust the world completely, and people only as far as I can throw them. In spite of how entertained I was by the whole debacle, Nick Rodriguez demonstrated an almost hilarious, scarcely believable lack of integrity. This painting is dedicated to him…here is his email address, in case you want to write him a thank-you letter for reminding me to keep my street smarts sharpened (or for any other reason).

As for the painting itself, I took this opportunity to attempt a technique I've wanted to use for years: the distortion of an image through a transparent lens or bubble. Wherever the ribbons coil behind the spheres, there is a distorted refraction…it's an exercise in holding the vision, imagining not just the forms I paint but how they interact. A challenge to start thinking and painting more multidimensionally. That one orb is different – it radiates from the luminous coil held within. If you're curious about the first two nights of work I put into this one, you can read about its origins here.

Venture To The Stars
24"x40", opaque paint markers on masonite
2010 04 10 Yuri's Night Bay Area, NASA Ames Research Center
(Hamsa Lila, Beats Antique, Glitch Mob, Random Rab, Savage Henry, Vibesquad, Flying Skulls, Dyloot, Majitope, Barb)
- original and prints for sale; inquire by email -

(Definitely click this picture for a more detailed view.)

Two straight days of driving later, punctuated by sleeping in the backseat of the Windhorse, my glorious new 1995 Subaru Legacy station wagon (all shiny silver like a UFO), I arrived in Mountain View, California – home to the NASA Ames Research Center and unlikely venue for one of the most incredible day festivals I have ever attended.

Yuri's Night is a global celebration of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's first manned spaceflight, that pivotal moment in the history of our species when for the first time, one of us saw the planet from space with his own eyes. It is a celebration of our solidarity as a species and as citizens of Earth, an opportunity to unite in revelry with our eyes to the future and our destiny amidst the stars. The San Francisco Bay Area's Yuri's Night party was thrown by legendary West Coast promoters Symbiosis Events, who not only managed to somehow throw a rave inside a federal aviation facility (complete with air show, an entire hanger-full of interactive science exhibits, and a surreal number of people walking around in flight suits), but who also allowed me in as the only performance painter for the entire event. (Such is the glory, I suppose, of using pens instead of spray paint or sloppy brushes…I'm far less of a threat to fancy establishments.)

I haven't ever had such a wonderful opportunity to participate in something that simultaneously stimulated my passions for both art and science...mythic grandeur and investigative discernment…it was a cosmic moment in which I felt uniquely prepared to shine for the benefit of everyone in attendance. And sure enough, I spent much of the twelve or so hours I worked on this piece (noon to midnight) talking to fellow partygoers about plasma cosmology, archetypal astrology, cymatics, holarchies, extraterrestrial disclosure, and other wonderful spacey topics I regard as pointing to the future of science and human experience. Epic introductions were made. Titillating friendships were established. I got interviewed on video by NASA's own media team (although, as is typical with NASA's videography of extraterrestrials, I have no idea what became of that footage). I blew minds; they blew mine. I ended up with my biggest painting yet, with which I explored the ancient "blending-paint-with-fingers" technique to a glorious degree. I finally feel like a gen-you-wine painter.

In other words, and in the parlance of our times, it was a total rage-a-thon. I ended up crashing (Flight 1549 style, not Space Shuttle Columbia style) on the couch of my awesome new friend Lou of The Flaming Lotus Girls, arguably the hippest installation design team at Burning Man, who weld together massive and awe-inspiring inflammatory artworks like this.

I named this painting after a line pulled from John Boswell's life-changing Carl Sagan remix, "A Glorious Dawn": "The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will – one day – venture to the stars."

The entwined caduceus serpents of masculine and feminine, left and right brain, the East and West, positive and negative charge, rise up from their earthly origin to dream together about their common future "out there…" Saturn's polar hexagonal storm cell hints at both the mysteries of the unexplored inky vastness and the enlightened science that will open it to us (and us to it).

Saturn rules time, fate, science, and paternity…the planet featured so prominently in Arthur C. Clarke's novel 2001, the location of so many anomalies (liquid water-bearing moons, angular moons, and the hexagonal storm are just a few), is also the planet which archetypally "owns" scientists in the Western Zodiacal system. As a Capricorn sea goat, with front legs on a mountain and a fish tail in the sea – one of those paleontologist artist types, living between two worlds – this is a self-portrait, my own inner multitude poised on the brink of the transcendent, looking outward the into Great Beyond.

To quote Sagan again: "The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. Recently, we've waded a little way out, and the water seems inviting."

Carl, this one's for you.

> More Soon! (tour calendar here)

More art, music, and inspiring mouth-noises coming very soon from my legendary weekend at the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies Conference, Alex & Allyson Grey's Chapel of Sacred Mirrors Bicycle Day Benefit at Temple SF, 420 at Golden Gate Park, the San Francisco Evolver Spore, Beats Antique in New Orleans, and other beautiful events...

In the meantime, you can check out my swiftly-growing Love Without End Tour photo album on Facebook – don't hesitate to reach out with your questions or comments, and thank you deeply for your time and support.

your comrade in (very) low-Earth orbit,