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

26 November 2010

Announcing My New Design Shop! Also, New Videos From The Light & Shadow Tour...

"If magic were to drop its unfulfillable pretensions as a science and come out of the closet as an art, it would ironically enough obtain the freedom to pursue its scientific aspirations, maybe even sneak up on some unified field theorem of the supernatural, all in terms acceptable to modern culture. In purely evangelic terms, as propaganda for a more enlightened magic worldview, art must surely represent our most compelling ‘evidence’ of other states and planes of being."
- Alan Moore, in "Fossil Angels"

New Merchandise Design Shop at Arts Projekt!

People have been asking me for years whether I put my work on clothing...now I can proudly say I do. Not just cool new t-shirts, but shoes, ties, iPhone cases, stickers, stamps, skateboards, buttons, postcards, and my favorite: the Painting While Dancing 2011 Calendar, with a different piece illuminating each month. Of course, I'll still be selling original artwork and inexpensive poster prints through the holiday season, but take a moment to check out my new project and if you think of anything that should be in the store, let me know - I'll be happy to add your ideas!


Ukulele + Fish Ladder =
New "It Hurts So We're Not Dead" Video

The latest from my series of spontaneous unplugged music videos shot on tour, Light & Shadow: Unplugged Across America. Something about the juxtaposition of such a serious song with the salmon striving to swim upstream behind me gives it that "je ne sais quoi"... Enjoy!


New Video From The Light & Shadow Tour:
MG On the Perils of Letting Go

More footage from last month's national Light & Shadow Tour with Charles Shaw, in which I discuss my issue with so many self-proclaimed "spiritual" people – namely, that we tend to use transcendence as an escape from who we are! (I can squeegee that third eye all I like, but if I'm not this and not that, then what reason do I have to be here?)


Eric Moorcroft & Audrey McNamara
Join the Field Guide To Live Artists

Two brief-but-lovely interviews with some of the live painting scene's freshest faces, as part of my ongoing mission to create a directory of inspiring stories from the front lines of process art:

"Painting and music are two art forms I believe complement one another."

"You have to do your thing 'on demand'. You can't get flustered or shy, you can't hesitate or just buckle under the pressure of having others watching. You must be confident."

18 November 2010

Four New Paintings From An Artist-At-Large... Also, Shredding

• Four Live Paintings From Art Outside Festival & Bear Creek Festival

Juggernaut Paisley
2010 10 22 The Parish, 10 23 Art Outside Festival,
11 11 Bear Creek Festival
(Big Gigantic, Alex B, Govinda, Anahata Sound, Ricochet, Toubab Krewe, Alex B, Rebirth Brass Band, Umphrey's McGee)
24"x30" - paint markers on masonite
original for sale - check asking price / email me
11"x17" prints for sale* - email me

Dedicated to journalist and filmmaker Charles Shaw – who, after we struggled through the first three weeks of our Light & Shadow Tour, finally saw me in my element the night I started this painting in Austin. (Not that I don't love playing concerts to empty churches...seriously, I do.) It ain't easy to share the front seat with someone for six freaking weeks, but eventually, our buddy-cop-movie caricature grew into an assuredly lifelong friendship. Intense art-and-activism road trips come highly recommended, if you're looking for your own forty days in the desert.



Together & All Over The Place
2010 11 11, 12 Bear Creek Music Festival
(Umphrey's McGee, Garaj Mahal)
24"x30" - paint markers on masonite
original for sale - check asking price / email me
11"x17" prints for sale* - email me

Dedicated to Fareed Haque, guitarist of Garaj Mahal, with whom I had an excellent conversation while waiting in the dinner line later that night. Fareed's only moonlights as a rockstar; he's a professor of both jazz and classical guitar most of the time, and recently contributed to a book on the neuroscience of guitar. Needless to say, he has a refreshingly unique perspective on the intersections of music, psychology, and biology, and I hope that we're able to continue the conversation in public at some point...



These Things Happen...
2010 11 12 Bear Creek Music Festival
(Eliot Lipp, Everyone Orchestra, Chali 2na, Umphrey's McGee)
24"x30" - paint markers on masonite
original for sale - check asking price / email me
11"x17" prints for sale* - email me

The second mass extinction on an Earth-like planet three stars away, happening right now. Points to anyone who can identify the film from which I pulled the title for this piece. (Hint: The line is in reference to a different extremely rare and disruptive weather phenomenon...)

Dedicated to biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge for their theory of "punctuated equilibrium," which argued that life maintains a kind of business-as-usual stability most of the time, then rockets through periods of rapid and radical transformation...not exclusively gradual or catastrophic. The fractal landscape of evolutionary change, vast and inexplicable.



Chihuly Oyster
2010 11 13 Bear Creek Music Festival
(Dubconscious, DJ Logic, Eliot Lipp, The New Deal, Bonobo)
24"x36" - paint markers on canvas panel
original for sale - check asking price / email me
11"x17" prints for sale* - email me

Keith Haring went on a date with H.R. Giger...

Dedicated to all of the other live painters at Bear Creek, alongside whom I busted my butt all weekend – and to Carrie Curtis and Chris O'Toole, who were hilariously (at least to me) each charged with the responsibility of coordinating the visual arts there. (What kind of festival hires competing art coordinators??) We had multiple visual artists working the main stage for the entire five-day event, and a real family vibe started growing on me by the end of it. I'm already excited about next year, and want to thank everyone involved for making it happen!



• Bear Creek Festival Gallery & MG/Odenedo Collab

Costumes, collaborations, body painting, and over a dozen live artists...this festival was a treat for the eyes. Check it out:


Each stage at Bear Creek had large wooden placards with the band names painted on them. It was arranged that we live painters could go to town on them, ultimately auctioning them off to support the festival's greening program...so admirable artist Kevin Odenedo and I finally went to it on our first, long-awaited collaboration:

2010 11 13 Bear Creek Music Festival
(The New Mastersounds)
collaboration with Kevin Odenedo
24"x48" - paint markers & acrylic on laminate board

I doodled on numerous band placards over the weekend, but this is the only one that ended up looking even slightly coherent. (Having such a plenitude of live painters was kind of a traffic jam, but it was still a blast.)

• "Autocatalysis" Music Video From The Light & Shadow Tour

And lastly, here's a new video for an old (2005) solo acoustic guitar tapping etude from my first studio album, Get Used To Being Everything. I already have one video of this, but I wanted another that didn't have me yammering on about evolution before I start playing (although this take is somewhat slower than that one). Plus, the forests of North Carolina were too beautiful not to film something there. Enjoy...more for you next week!


* 11"x17" UV glossy poster prints (shipping included):
1/$25, 2/$40, 3/$50, 4/$60

11 November 2010

Sacred Activism - Video & Transcript


All of the media in this video was composed, produced, and performed by Michael Garfield under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike License and can be downloaded and shared accordingly. (For more information on what the license allows, visit bit.ly/ccbyncsa - I highly recommend these licenses for the publication of your own creative work.)

While all of this is available for free, I do of course love your contributions...money and publicity are easier to transfer via internet than food or physical affection, but I'm open to receiving whatever you have to give. :)

Music - "Touring The Body Electric"
...improvised live cyber-acoustic guitar loopscapes:
bit.ly/​thebodyelectric

Narration - excerpted from "Meeting The Self You Aren't"
...talks on the "shadow" from last fall's evolver.net-sponsored speaking tour:
bit.ly/​meetingtheself
Artwork - timelapse video of "Stun Flower"
...which you can see in hi-res and read all about here:
bit.ly/​sonicbloomart

Sacred Activism

The goal, as I understand it, is to facilitate a really moving, meaningful conversation about the role of the repressed voices in the self and in the society, and to understand what we have to learn from these voices - or, possibly, engage them in a way that we can learn from them - so that we can ride the wave of this transformative crisis that I'm certain everyone in this room recognizes this country, and our species, is currently undergoing.

What I want to talk about is why the "shadow" even exists. To have some part of ourselves that we declare as "not me" is obviously a survival advantage. It keeps us safe from external threat. Or is it the other way around? Is it that we only perceive external threat because of "the other," that when we perceive something as other we are inherently afraid of it.

In a number of communities I've seen this, where people say, "Oh, that's somebody else's shadow...but when it comes time for me to explore my own shadow, I somehow never get around to it. Cuz I'm a pretty well-integrated guy, I mean, after all, I'm like, more in the know than most people, so...I don't really have to worry about it. I tend to be someone who likes to think of things in a positive way. Maybe my attitude alone is gonna change the world. All we gotta do is meditate and the world will be better!"

There's this "Maharishi Effect" that's been measured and demonstrated; you get a certain number of meditators together in a city and it lightens up the crime. Focused intention has this measurable, empirical effect, something that's been supported by research at Princeton and a number of different institutions: that there's something, there's a "Force," we can make disturbances in it...

There's a huge body of literature on this stuff, and it's valid. And that's great. But that doesn't somehow exempt you from actually putting your finger in the mud! That doesn't actually get us out of the duty of activism!

But there's this reasonable concern with activism, which is that it's extremely difficult for one person to bear the suffering of the entire world. How do we deal with that?

What I feel like I'm compelled to communicate is this balance to be found in something that Andrew Harvey calls "sacred activism": that we do our work in the world - I mean, after all, the tenth oxherding picture of Zen is this painting of the guy leading the oxen (which stand for enlightenment) back into the marketplace. Enlightened business is the deepest form of enlightenment, as recognized by Zen. The willingness to pull this eternal understanding into this chaotic, ever-blooming, ever-decaying mess and actually work with it.

Because what else do you have to do? I mean, if you are truly identified with everything, then you have a sense of humor about this stuff. And also, you can't not do this.

But that little bit of distance required for that kind of work really is required. It really does take zooming out. There's something about that film, "The Powers of Ten," that I feel defines our generation. Something about understanding the workings of the world at multiple levels of magnitude and how they all fit together, and how they all resemble one another.

And it's finding ourselves in this cosmic context that frees us from the conventional human dramas just enough - at least in my case, and I recognize that I'm one specific personality type among many - but in my case, understanding my place in the human superorganism, in the multidimensional co-causative matrix of temporal interactions, understanding the place of my species as a tissue in this ecological body and then what role our planet plays in these larger solar and galactic contexts -

(Come to think of it, it's actually kind of crazy that we as human beings have any insight into this whatsoever.)

- thinking about those things lifts me just enough out of my daily bullshit that I feel like I can get into this.

But then on the other end, hearing the tragic stories of the people who have been caught up in this system more than we have really puts it all in perspective. That we're suddenly the average point between these two poles. We recognize the existence of beings far greater than ourselves, beings in which we are participants, just a piece of the flesh of this greater thing. But also, we've got agency and we have choice over so much - so much that so many other people don't have. And I encourage you to linger with that bring-down for a minute: these people who, for no real reason that we can determine, have had their lives completely destroyed.

And so between those two things is the sacred activism. There's enough "face" there that we have a reason to change something. And there's enough distance and enough context and enough of the universal vastness of things that we're not destroyed, we're not completely burnt out by our striving. We're able to participate in these things in some way, being able to hold the sorry and the gravity of the work, and at the same time have a sense of humor about how little we're able to accomplish - because after all, these rocks are like, three billion years old, and I'm...twenty six?

We're pitiful, really. And yet we're so powerful.

01 November 2010

On Encountering The Shadow, More Process Pics, & Transglobal Arts

"I work on myself because I realize that the only thing you have to offer another human being ever is your own state of being."
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

"...And that is when life really started to pick up its skirt and show
us its beauty."

• Video: On Encountering The Shadow

Charles Shaw and I just entered the last week of our national Light & Shadow Tour, hosting conversations across the country on the role of the shadow in personal and cultural transformation. We've been on the road for over a month, now, and between the high-speed tire blowouts, run-ins with border patrol, debilitating sicknesses, missing keys, missing equipment, missing friends, and other wonderfully unpredictable encounters with divinely-ordained chaos...it's been utterly amazing, a life-changing voyage that has sharpened my social awareness and impassioned me to serve the best potential of a new world already shaping itself from the wreckage of our current crisis. To anchor here and now the sanity and love of the wiser society we can be, and might yet be.

Consequently, this video – footage from my end of our show at San Francisco's Jellyfish Gallery – is my most transparent, personal, and honest public statement so far. In it, I discuss the best methods I've learned to recognize when something "out there" is really "in here," and to defuse the destructive energies of a denial-splintered mind (and of course, I manage to get a song in there). I hope my reflections are useful to you in your quest for wholeness and self-understanding!


• More Process Pics!

While I'm waiting to finish the painting I started at Big Gigantic & Alex B at The Parish in Austin, TX and the Art Outside Festival, here are some series of earlier paintings in successive states of completion. I love to keep these records because they allow me to share and reflect on the thought process behind each piece, and the evolution of my technique in general.

Click on each image to get a look at the full-sized, hi-resolution version:




• Paintings For Sale At Transglobal Arts

I recently arranged with Transglobal Arts to put some of my work on sale through their website, which is designed to market inexpensive hand-made folk artwork from around the world. Net proceeds support the Multidisciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies and their tireless work to revive the practice of safe, legal, clinical psychedelic therapy.

I'm hardly one to unselfconsciously jump on the whole holiday-commercializing bandwagon, but here I am anyway encouraging you to consider gifting someone you love with one of these, or any of my numerous available paintings – all of which have been favorably re-priced...

2008 12 30 Cervantes
(Panjea, Kyle Hollingsworth, Lynx & Janover)

2009 06 25, 26 B Side Lounge & Mishawaka Amphitheatre
(Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Fareed Haque, Lynx & Janover, Ana Sia, EOTO w/ Michael Kang & Kyle Hollingsworth)

2009 09 11 Trinumeral Festival
(The Sun Ra Arkestra, Béla Fleck & Zakir Hussain & Edgar Meyer, The Glitch Mob)

More art and music soon...thanks for your time and have a beautiful day!