Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: - Four New Live Paintings From Wakarusa 2011 -

14 June 2011

- Four New Live Paintings From Wakarusa 2011 -

"Art is only a means to life, to the life more abundant. It is not in itself the life more abundant. It merely points the way, something which is overlooked not only by the public, but very often by the artist himself. In becoming an end it defeats itself."
Henry Miller

"It is the function of art to carry us beyond speech to experience."
Joseph Campbell

(I apologize in advance for the seasonal shift from a biweekly to a weekly newsletter in order to keep up with the flow of new work – I know we're all feeling the acceleration by now (whether you consider it technological, spiritual, or both) and as the evermore rapid influx of information and energy builds toward a local climax over the Summer Solstice, it's all I can do to get the art, music, and talks I've given over the last couple of weeks online before they start to ferment. For a little while here, we'll be in full-bore festival season mode...hold on tight and open wide!)

This week chronicles my third annual stint as the Wakarusa Festival's resident live artist – and this was the year of fruition. The festival granted me permission to coordinate their first-ever Live Art Team & Gallery, and I was blessed to invite eight of my favorite emerging artists to join me in a forty-foot tent poised directly center of the 50,000 person festival's vending area. With the help of Ehren and Renee Cruz of SolPurpose.com and installation artist Nate "Nature" Hogen, we turned it into a glorious, altar-filled chill spot – a sanctuary from the blazing heat, and a non sequitur sacred space in the midst of the event's commercial bustle. It was the fullest realization yet of my efforts to transmute the raw energy of the festival environment into an opportunity for growth, empowerment, and change, as I mentioned in my popular manifesto, "The Problem – & Promise – of Festivals" back in March.

Huge thanks to all of the live artists and friends who contributed to the space, and to Tia Christiansen at Moving Parts Productions and Ami Heinrich at Tsunami Publicity for helping us make this a reality!

Very soon, I'll have much more to share about that – including video of all of us set up en force at the Main Stage painting to acts including STS9, Thievery Corporation, Shpongletron, & Umphrey's McGee – but until that's ready I want to show you my own work from the weekend. For the first time ever, I had every painting sold before they even started:

(Click on any image to enlarge it for a better look!)

Love Bites
2011 05 28 3SidedWhole (Banu Noor, Kobiana and Friends, Faracet and Autumn)
& 2011 06 02 Wakarusa Festival (Papadosio, Umphrey's McGee)
24"x24" - paint markers on masonite
11"x17" prints available, $25 for 1 / $35 for 2 (s/h included - email me)

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. And no, it's not about my mommy issues...more about the dual nature of creation and destruction with a cheeky nod to the Cheshire Cat and other slippery archetypes. Plus, I like vampire romance – not teeny-bopper fang fiction, but the gothic profundity of what love means when you live forever and recognize that you subsist on violence (and we all do).

I'm surprised that there aren't more stories out there with enlightened ancient vampires...after thousands of years of satiating your every carnal desire, don't you think you'd long for something more and eventually grow into a deeper wisdom than one human life can hold?


Tree of Eyes
2011 06 04 Wakarusa Festival
(Shpongletron, Ott, Hallucinogen, STS9, My Morning Jacket)
24"x24" - paint markers on masonite
11"x17" prints available, $25 for 1 / $35 for 2 (s/h included - email me)

I just finished reading Catherynne M. Valente's immensely lush and sensuous fantasy, The Habitation of the Blessed, about a lost Oriental kingdom ruled by the legendary Christian king Prester John. In this magical land, anything planted in the ground will return as the fruit of a tree that grows in its place – so the dead are never really dead, only transformed. In a passage I found especially moving, one character brings another to the grave of his wife, whose eyes gaze out from the leaves and branches. He laments how the whim of nature gave back only her eyes and how, even though he is blessed to look upon her still, he misses being able to hear her voice. In line with my mention of vampire love above, I'm increasingly possessed by a fascination with how eternal life shifts our values and experience. What it is to be Forever.

This painting alludes to the sentience of the vegetable world, to the voiceless reaching of our own planet's living skin to the touch of other distant worlds...the drama of cosmic communion in the fathomless depth of space. "I know you're out there somewhere..."


Paradigm Shift
2011 06 04 Wakarusa Festival
(Emancipator, Nadis Warriors, Thievery Corporation, STS9, Big Gigantic)
24"x30" - paint markers on masonite
11"x17" prints available, $25 for 1 / $35 for 2 (s/h included - email me)

Regarding the interplay of one reality emerging from another – of recognizable from crystallizing from the hyper-order of chaotic flow – of layers upon layers shining diaphanous emergence. This piece is a more well-considered continuation of the themes I established last year, in which one painting is interrupted and dominated by another (see "Let It Go" from last year's Rootwire Festival, here). The best stories start in medias res – and the changes we're going through now are no exception. I don't know if I buy into the whole "Ascension" mythos, but I definitely agree that radical change and black swan events in general demand that we surf the change with as much grace as we can muster.


Maria
2011 06 05 Wakarusa Festival
(EOTO with Beats Antique, Jamie Janover, & Karsh Kale)
16"x24" - paint markers on masonite
11"x17" prints available, $25 for 1 / $35 for 2 (s/h included - email me)

My first live painting started and finished for a trade – in this case, the beautiful jewelry by Carl Weiseth of Third-Eye Pinecones. Like Carl, I see more than just a reminder of our own human pineal organ in these natural wonders...I see a potent lesson in the wisdom and intelligence of the natural world. A pinecone is an advertisement for sex, a testament to selfless progeneration, and a window into the timeless now. No wonder this painting ended up with the same mandorla that graces portraits of the Virgin Mary. They both speak to our wonder at the same enduring archetype of creation...


More soon! In the meantime, I've posted a few new summer dates on my calendar – including appearances at Electric Forest Festival (Michigan), Rootwire Festival (Ohio), and Burning Man (Nevada) – and am always available to answer your questions. Have a wonderful week and thanks for reading!