Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: February 2010

15 February 2010

Gem & Jam, Entheon Videos, and a Valentine's Day Exclusive Track

> Imagery

Crystal Eggs
2010 02 04 Plush
(Ana Sia, BLVD)
20"x30" - paint markers on masonite

I can't seem to shake the bad habit of hauling ass on zero sleep from Colorado to Arizona only to leap out of the car and immediately begin painting...which is exactly how it went down at last year's Gem & Jam, and exactly how it went down this year, as well. My friend, globetrotting photographer Megan Illgner, and I made it there with literally five minutes to spare before Ana Sia went on, after burning a fierce downhill highway from Durango to Tucson in one lightning stretch. It was pretty epic to begin with, considering our two-day drive together rang in her first real foray into vagabonding (and snowy mountain driving...ask me to tell you about our near-death experience on an icy road over Durango, one of these days). And no, I'm not just trying to terrify my mother. We were perfectly safe the entire time.

This painting is inspired by the oil pattern on the lenses of a pair of sunglasses I bought that morning (they were so cool I had to buy them, but they bore an MTV logo I had to scratch off with a pair of scissors so as not to infect my vibe), and it is dedicated to Amy Otto the masseuse, who took good care of my hands that night and is a luminous woman. After such a strenuous trip down, painting this in the company of friends I rarely see was a real treat. And I think it shows.

Whomporaptors vs. The Sunrise, or Dubstep Dinos Defeat The Dawn
2010 02 05 Rialto Theatre
(Telepath, Random Rab, EOTO)
20"x30" - paint markers on masonite

After my recent critical review of EOTO's ongoing dubstep obsession, I figured I'd make a point to tell keyboardist/guitarist/looper Michael Travis that whatever they played that night would not be dark enough. Because I'd be painting dinosaurs. Half kidding, but I really was in an unusually grindy mood, and after all my railing on their overwrought fixation I was smitten by irony: their set was, indeed, not dark enough for my tastes. However, Megan and I talked on the way down to Arizona about how we wanted Travis to include bongos in their dubstep, and we had a high five moment when it actually happened at the show...pioneering a new genre she and I have lovingly dubbed "bongstep."

So this painting is dedicated to Megan, and indirectly, to bongstep. Here's to having the first Google hit for something (like I did for the statement, "Imagination is our greatest natural resource"). It's a direct response to my friends who insisted on more dinosaurs, and it was a challenge to myself, since the Maniraptorans were covered in feathers and I knew it'd be a growth opportunity to attempt them. Also, it's difficult to tell from this photograph but the background of this painting has a lot of really intricate dripwork and subtle color layering going on. I had a lot of fun prepping it.

As for the dinosaurs...well, I meant for them to be Velociraptors, originally, but I hadn't looked at any in a while. So we ended up with one likely Velociraptor in the middle, there; one anonymous sickle-clawed beast above; and something that looks like a primitive Tyrannosaurid (perhaps Dilong) in the lower right. I had no choice but to invent a taxon for this bizarre menagerie...genus Whomporaptor. So much for scientific precision. :)

Serpent DNA Love Regeneration
2010 02 06 Rialto Theatre
(Pnuma Trio, Vibesquad, Boombox)

Another painting named courtesy of the lovely Leesah Noble. I need to draw more snakes...after all, they're one of the few subjects with which I have significant professional experience from my time at KUNHM's Department of Herpetology, and it'd be a shame to squander what little official training I have in these things. So I got all Jeremy Narby on the green-and-yellow-and-silver background and delighted in scales for a few hours.

This painting is dedicated to Taylor Lupardo, with whom I stayed (along with about a dozen other people) during Gem & Jam, and whose Facebook profile picture I took at sunset from the roof of the parking complex across the street from his place...one of the most magical moments I had out there, maybe the closest any of us got to soaking up "real" Arizona during the festival. Thanks for the crash space, man.

> Writing & Speech

At Burning Man's Entheon Village in 2009, I participated in a series of lectures and panel discussions on evolution, consciousness, 2012, and the future of our species. And they were videotaped! I am SO excited to share with you the fruits of that project:

In this first (two-part) video, I'm on a panel with authors Daniel Pinchbeck, Tony Vigorito, and Mark Heley, as well as the mysterious Mark Martinez. It was incredibly fun to share the stage and assume the guise of expertise for this conversation about the evolution of consciousness and our current global transition, and except for a few rough spots the discussion was truly inspired and inspiring. It was an honor to participate, and it's an honor now to finally get to share it with you.


Right after the panel, I gave what is doubtlessly the most important speech of my life so far: a half-hour presentation on the emerging science of biogeomagnetics, a discipline that studies the relationship between living creatures and the electromagnetic fiels of our planet and star. By describing how magnetic fields trigger the release of various human biochemicals, and by grounding the presentation in the understanding that mind and matter are two perspectives of the same phenomenon, I suggest that the 2012 prophesies may actually have a legitimate, modern, naturalistic explanation – and that biogeomagnetics may offer us a prescription for how to stay afloat through the tumultuous years to come.


Those are my good friends, visionary artist Adam Scott Miller, activist and hero Taylor Steelman, beacon of joy Tessa Ruttan, and synchromystical faerie goddess Jacqueline North listening rapt in the audience (both pics are courtesy of the magnificent Sergio Lub, founder of favors.org, who moderated many of the panels that week with wisdom and grace). These talks are dedicated to anyone who might benefit from them, but I'll give a special nod to my friends who were actually in attendance that amazing day.

> Music

For my last gig at Quixote's in Denver, my friend M Vincent Miller, virtuoso pianist, sat in on about half of my set. It was messy, unrehearsed, and utterly ridiculous...it was also a dream come true. I've wanted to gig with Vince since we met in the fall of 2007, and I am so, so glad that at least some of the recordings came out well enough to share them with you. As a blog exclusive (except, of course, for the people who were there), here is one of my more intense love ballads – a gift to you all for Valentine's Day.

This unusual recording of "Underground River" captures my first-ever duet performance with Vince, who turned this ordinarily brief-but-trancey number into a sprawling, edgy jazz-scape. Truly strange and beautiful...enjoy!

03 February 2010

New Music Videos, Painting In New Orleans, Praang & Crystallize Festival

> Music

I just posted new music videos for two of my old (2002) songs that come about as close to "standard" status as it comes: my zero-gravity love anthem "In Zero With Grace" and my live looping theodicy-in-a-first-person-cosmology ballad "Time Machine Dream." The first is all rowdy passion; the second is a slow-burning cathedral to the illusion of life and death. If you enjoy these enough to rank or favorite them on youtube, you'll want to know you can download the audio tracks for them at michaelgarfield.net...


"In Zero With Grace"
Live at Avery Brewing Company
Boulder, Colorado - 2010 01 14

"Time Machine Dream"
Live at Quixote's True Blue
Denver, Colorado - 2010 01 28

In related news, my 2008 self-produced studio EP, Double-Edged Sword (download it free here), finally just got its first review. Performer Magazine said:

"Michael Garfield's extraordinary acoustic work...finds the ears captivated and entranced in a dance of delightful sonic textures. A gifted instrumentalist...Garfield's vocal prowess should not go unheard either, resonating in haunting fashion, full of chills and thrills. This is wonderful, simple music for the listener's ears to feed on."

Woot! You can read the whole review here.

And if you're in Denver, come see my next show there, back at Quixote's on the 19th with my friends in The Mile High Sound Movement's numerous excellent projects and Hawaiian hip-hop-jazz outfit Guerilla Jazz.

> Imagery

First, the tying up of loose ends.

Before
After
Sawmill
2009 06 28 & 2010 01 14 Sonic Bloom & Studio
(Tipper, David Starfire, Beats Antique, Heyoka)
20"x30" - paint markers on canvas panel

I hate it when I call a painting "done" for the purposes of demarcating a moment in time and then people tell me it looks incomplete...so I had no choice but to add a ludicrous amount of detail to this piece from last year's Sonic Bloom Festival, even though I ended up losing a significant section of the original pattern. It's the first piece I'll be making available (soon) through the excellent Transglobal Arts, a business that deals artwork from around the world and donates 10% of all proceeds to charities of the artists' choice. When this goes up for sale there, in all likelihood I'll be having 10% go to either the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies or Students For A Sensible Drug Policy – both groups that are making important strides toward a saner and more humane world.

This painting is dedicated to my friend Lady Chadwell, whose gypsy adventures with me on the last night of Sonic Bloom are the reason this painting was never finished properly in the first place.

In other news, I passed a major personal milestone a week ago when ActionPacker Pro Presents flew me out (!) to paint their first two events in New Orleans and Lake Charles, Louisiana. Jeff and Felicité of ActionPacker Pro are among the most gracious hosts I've ever encountered, and I had a magnificent time tromping through the haunted festival of blooming decay that is the creole South. Seriously, something feral and adventurously irreverently deranged takes over a person, there. To compound matters, it was the weekend that The Saints got into the Super Bowl. Major league sports aren't my ladle of étouffée, as it were, but it's hard not to get swept up on a wave like that...

When we got to the first night's venue, The Maison on Frenchman Street (not a joke), I found my concert poster on the telephone pole outside. Kind of like attending your own funeral...especially because the actual sign outside for The Maison was in the exact same font I'd used on the flyer, which weirded me out to no end and continues to feel a bit strange. This poster is dedicated to Jeff and Felicité, in honor of their inaugural shows, and to whom I am profoundly grateful for giving me the respect and treatment of a professional performance artist (all too rare for live painters in the Denver area, a reality I lament and work hard to correct).

Ferrofluid Palace
2010 01 22 The Maison
(Mimosa, ESKMO, Samples)
18"x24" - paint markers on masonite

My friend, fellow painter and force of inspirational weirdness Kevin Odenedo, who taught me how great it is to sneak into shows and paint with a headlamp, also suggested to me that I try his technique of starting with a black silhouette and building from from it with lighter colors. This painting is dedicated to him and to Tourmaline Todd Shepherd, whose centered and strongly symmetrical mandala-like formalism frequently evokes (for me) celestial cities and fantastical palaces...

I painted this in the bizarre cabaret/attic/barroom upstairs The Maison's jazz club. (Apparently, they had to keep a jazz band playing downstairs to cover the sound of the dubstep, because the venue is on a block known for a specific sound and they might've otherwise gotten in trouble...ha!)

As for the title, ferrofluid is a new and totally bizarre magnetic material that grows dramatic spikes in elaborate patterns when electrified. Starting with a black form and working up, I quickly developed a weird angular fractal volume in this painting that looks like nothing more to me than the ominously beautiful geometry of dynamic ferrofluid art.

I ground-scored these after the show. Never mind that they didn't fit my head...I finally felt enough like a member of the Muppet band Electric Mayhem to cop a sense of belonging in New Orleans.

Corals
2010 01 23 Luna Bar & Grill
(Mimosa, Samples, Nasty Nasty)
18"x24" - paint markers on masonite

This one goes out to Sloan LaMotte, whom I met at Trinumeral Festival and who determinedly recommended me to ActionPacker Pro (and thus, who is responsible ultimately for hooking me up with a trip to Louisiana in the first place). This one went down in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is totally different from New Orleans...a lot less going on, which made the show more savory, somehow. Plus the venue was open to the humid night air on both ends, and even with a roof overhead the outdoors invariably change the experience of – and thus the quality of – my work.

It isn't clear from the above photographs that I added a silvery sheen to the backgrounds of each piece, which make them shimmer and shift as you walk past and view them from different angles. This picture makes it more apparent:

Louisiana was amazing, and I'm eagerly anticipating round two.

Wisps
2010 01 29 Quixote's (Praang)
20"x30" - paint markers on masonite

This is the artifact of an excellent evening with the adventurous electronic/instrumental hybrid project of legendary guitarist Steve Kimock, monster drummer Jason Hann, hammer dulcimer master Jamie Janover, and keyboard loop wizard Michael Travis...a truly wild and entirely improvised roam through heavenly heights and dirty dubby depths, a show at which Scramble Campbell and Don Calleman, two of the live art scene's sage elders, were working on a huge collaboration right next to me (Don gave me a pair of his 3D glasses to trip out with while I worked...it was pretty impossible to wear them and paint at the same time). Travis and Hann's main touring project EOTO often stays in the grindy dubstep hellspace for too much of their shows for my taste, but it worked perfectly in tandem with Janover's irrepressible positivity and Kimock's mythological guitar heroism. It was cumulus clouds one moment, fire and brimstone the next...a delicious combination, especially since this group only gets together to play for a few dates a year. This painting goes to the lovely lady whose birthday it was that night and whose name I forget, but to whom the painting will soon be going...

Symbols of Awakening
2010 01 28 & 30 Quixote's & Crystallize
(Zach Deputy, Audio Virus, DJ Lucina, Paradigm, Coral, Earthmen, E11even)
20"x30" - paint markers on masonite

Every one of those medallions is in a different state of completion than the rest, all of them more complete in some ways and less in others. The whole first night, painting during Zach Deputy, was an exercise in simplicity; the whole second night, a frenzy of experimentation. This was the third painting in over 160 in which I played with the threateningly-messy dripscapes, originally (as usual) an accidental consequence of playing with new and unfamiliar markers. Crystallize, produced by Guildwerks and Sound/Mind, was the first legitimate psytrance party in Denver in YEARS, in recorded memory...considered by all to be a bona fide resurrection, complete with fancy lights. Zach Emmendorfer and I had the entire second room, the chill-out lounge, to set up an enormous gallery (the second room used to be a racquetball court, to give you an idea of size...the walls were the same solid maple as the floor and I bent dozens of nails trying to hang the panels).

This painting is dedicated to Liz Wheeler (aka E11even) for bringing me on board Crystallize and for being so instrumental in the revival of Denver Psytrance. It is another one of those that has so many different subtle sheen effects in it from the wide variety of paints, I have to show you an angled detail photograph to give you a multi-perspectival, three-dimensional handle on it:

And now, off to The Sixth Annual (and my second) Gem & Jam...