Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: Three New Paintings From The Desert & A Few Words About Music

13 September 2010

Three New Paintings From The Desert & A Few Words About Music

"This is the first thing you learn about the festival: to get there, you must leave here. You must, in other words, cross over, out of the ordinary world. Maybe you haul your tent to a glade in the middle of nowhere, and maybe you just hand some guy your ticket. But either way, you must cross a threshold... Though the festival rarely marks its participants with the obvious cuts and tattoos of a puberty rite, it does hold out the potential for real change, and this potential lies in the liminal: the deeply felt sense that the normal rules are suspended or warped, that a possible world is emerging, and that a new self can rise to greet it."
- Erik Davis, from the introduction to Tribal Revival: West Coast Festival Culture

First, the art. Then, the articles. Thank you deeply for your time and attention...stay in touch and have a marvelous day!

• Images

Tunnel To The Sun
2010 08 21, 22 3SidedWhole
(Rev, Totem, Lunar Fire, Buddha Bomb, Lil Sum'n Sum'n)
24"x36" - paint markers on canvas
email me about $20 poster prints or the original painting


Every time I go back, 3SidedWhole is more and more amazing, more and more a home away from home. An incredible community brimming with love and talent...

This painting, started on a ceremonial all-nighter of legend, is dedicated to the entire 3SidedWhole community – Dr. Blue, Chance, Ron, Maurice, Ben, Issac, Issa, and everyone else who keeps that place humming year round and maintains the vortex of synchronistic potency out there in the New Mexico desert.

Painted as a counterpoint and complement to July's "Tunnel To The Moon," this one emphasizes brilliance over depth, capturing the desert's fiery, spiky radiance. I don't normally work on canvas, so it was cool to get on the other side of the easel from time to time and see the painting from behind, light shining through:



What you can just barely tell from these photos is that the entire piece shimmers with a translucent red, only visible at low angles...with all these shiny touches, this one has two distinctly different characters, depending on where you stand.

Heart/Space
2010 09 01 Entheon Village
(Audiafauna, Kai, Pyronauts Drum Troupe, Govinda, Heyoka, Vibesquad, Opiuo, Antennae)
24"x30" - paint markers on masonite
email me about $20 poster prints or the original painting


Last year, my painting from the Wednesday night dance party at Burning Man's Entheon Village got me on a thematic roll that lasted the better part of a year and still flares up with a vengeance from time to time...so one year later, when the sun rose after a gruelingly awesome evening of nonstop art and love and music, I took a step back and appreciated predictively what a wonderful year of exploration this painting is about to ignite.


This one feels very much like The Fountain's mycelial microscopy shots simulating the Orion Nebula. My dear friend Nicole Taylor – who accompanied me to and around the burn this year and to whom I dedicate this painting - pointed out how this one is reminiscent of those distant dusty stellar nurseries in the Hubble photographs...a place where hearts are born. (Does it sound like Burning Man is a nebula to anyone else?) Which is of course perfect, because the temporary structure in which all of this occurred is called the Heart Space. And those ("heart" and "space") are kind of synonyms, the longer I think about it...as within, so without.

Endlessness
2010 09 02 Portal Patch
(Lynx, Vibesquad, Future Simple Project)
18"x24" - paint markers on masonite
email me about $20 poster prints or the original painting


A variation on the original design I did for Entheon's Heart Space patch last year. After such an epic experience the night before, this one was also an attempt to downstep it a bit and lean into the comfortably familiar, returning to "old" octagonal themes and simple repeating patterns. I love this one for its simplicity, and even if it doesn't capture the same depth as some it has a cool "official currency of space" feel to it. This one is dedicated to Cameron Grace and all the other kids at Portal Patch for putting together such a killer soundcamp year after year.


For those of you who want a better idea of how insanely inspiring Burning Man is, or who are already getting homesick and want to wade around in sentiment for a little while, my photographs from Burning Man 2010 are now online and visible to friends of friends on Facebook. I wrestled with whether or not to hand these over to those rights-grabbing jerks (Facebook, not my friends' friends), but ultimately it was the easiest way to share. So enjoy


• Words

Guitar International Magazine just republished a few of my finer pieces of music writing. As much as I enjoy visual art, part of me is more deeply connected to the ways that language - messy, imprecise, and frustratingly linear – can so clearly and compellingly communicate an idea in ways that sound and symbol cannot. And however much people see me as a painter, I identify at least as much as a poet. So I'm delighted to share these articles with you – many of them are from a few years ago, but odds are that they're new to you:

"The 3-2-1 of Musical Performance" – Taking multiple perspectives on the artist-audience relationship (impersonal other, personal other, and self), and how that changes the dynamics of a concert. One of my friends just wrote to tell me what a difference it made to read this before playing his first solo show at Burning Man's Center Camp Café:

"It was my first time being the only person on stage [as] the connection point to the audience. And having that awareness of playing with the audience turned it into this beautiful experience of oneness, being connected on such a deep level that there was no me and them. That experience has opened me up to realizing that I'm ready to go out in the world and share that with all those who are open to it."

Best review I've ever had?

"You're the Musician; YOU Make Some Noise!" – Who is actually responsible for the creative act of the live music experience? Further explorations in breaking down that artist-audience barrier...except when it belongs there.

"An Ode to the Chapman Stick" - Waxing (very) poetic about one of my favorite instruments and its sacred significance.

"Best & Worst New Musical Instruments of the 2000s" - Part of a writer's poll for H+ Magazine, in which I stick it to Guitar Hero with one hand and exalt the Reactable with the other.

Lastly, I recently gave a brief interview about my music to Colorado's Mousike Magazine: "Esoteric and intricate, I found myself struggling to describe his sound and style..."

Next newsletter: The musical highlights of this summer's Love Without End Tour; audio from my lecture, "Self as City, City as Self" at Entheon Village 2010; and probably, yeah, some new artwork.