Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: Paintings from an Electric Forest; Music from an Acoustic Jungle

20 July 2011

Paintings from an Electric Forest; Music from an Acoustic Jungle

"Lend your ears to music, open your eyes to painting, and...stop thinking! Just ask yourself whether the work has enabled you to walk about into a hitherto unknown world.
If the answer is yes, what more do you want?"
– Wassily Kandinsky (possibly the first live painter)

"The waking mind is the least serviceable in the arts."
Henry Miller (reinvented the novel; also a painter)

This is how I started 2011:  playing and painting in the mountainous rain forest village of Sinai, Costa Rica; watchless, clockless, countdownless, uncertain of when consensus time made the New Year official; enchanted by strange bugs and the quiet depth of its isolated village culture.  New Year's Day, I played a concert outside the village kitchen to a receptive lawn-full of international appreciators, deep in the dreamy mystery of our strange little festival.

That show is now my latest free live recording, Vive En Costa Rica.  I released this album in secret back in March – made it available for people who paid for a copy of The Body Electric – and then figured it might as well just be out there for everyone to enjoy:


The spacey, kinda spooky improvised first track (named in honor of a genuine faerie sighting) scores this reel of the travel clips I took down there.  Looking through my eyes:


And here are the paintings from my Fourth of July weekend up in Michigan at Electric Forest Festival. Click on each picture to see it in terrifying full detail:

Looking At The Blue Flame
2011 06 30 & 07 01 Electric Forest Festival
(Toubab Krewe & String Cheese Incident, Tiesto)
18"x24" – opaque pens on stretched canvas
$20/1 or $30/2 for 11"x17" signed posters – email me

My original plan was to have a blue-and-gold series of sculpted pieces based on themes I'd started at Sonic Bloom...but original plans don't count for much in an improvisational sport like live painting.  Especially when the skies open up and drop a huge "welcome to the festival" storm on everyone...which is perhaps why the design ended up with so many little blue dots:


Rainbow Tunnel
2011 07 02 Electric Forest Festival (String Cheese Incident)
18"x24" – opaque pens on stretched canvas
$20/1 or $30/2 for 11"x17" signed posters – email me
check availability/price of original painting

The festival's official documentary team caught a delicious HD timelapse of me (and Christian Jaxtheimer, and Rae Vena) working on this piece, start to finish – check 1:48 of this video to watch the whole Saturday Night String Cheese Incident concert breeze by.  It was a return to older themes, dating all the way back to my idle classroom sketches in college...but in a lively, tribal style that capitalized on my chisel-tip bold markers and completely ignored the patient layer upon layer of outlining I developed in my own pen-specific voice.  Working in the ghost sunlight of my awesome new powerful battery-powered LED lamp, this painting came together like the holographic tunnels in some private realm of sylvan dreaming...I've never felt so eerily transported while working on any other piece.




Lesage's Wall
2011 07 02 & 07 03 Electric Forest Festival
(REO Speedwagon, Big Gigantic, Shpongletron & Railroad Earth)
18"x24" – opaque pens on stretched canvas
$20/1 or $30/2 for 11"x17" signed posters – email me
check availability/price of original painting

In honor of Augustin Lesage, coal-miner turned compulsive visionary artist whose enormous early 20th Century paintings evoked the transcendental architectures of Ancient Egypt as if transcribed onto even greater scale into grandiose heavenly landscapes.  I don't even know where to start in describing how hypnotized I am by Lesage's work, but maybe you'll see it in this Navajo-inflected homage:



...and I painted on a lot of beautiful people while I was there.  Check out the full gallery on my facebook art page:


Body Art at Electric Forest Festival 2011