Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: January 2013

29 January 2013

New Live Painting | MG at AURA Festival | Make My Skateboard Real!

‎"No one should be ashamed to admit they are wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that they are wiser today than they were yesterday."

"To a sincere student, every day is a fortunate day. Time passes but he never lags behind. Neither glory nor shame can move him."

Thanks in no small part to the support of everyone reading this, 2013 already feels like a success.  Not like things have been easy for me or anyone, but they're certainly moving!  Among my recent merit badges:

• Winning "Live Painter of the Year" for 2012 in Treethugger's national people's choice awards, on the heels of completing my most time-intensive painting so far;
• Hitting #1 Experimental Musician in the world on the Reverb Nation charts (hard to believe, but I'll take it) and booking a slew of great gigs for this spring;
• Getting back to my paleontologist roots to tell the story behind my latest live painting (below).  Integration!

It's my goal this year to climb my two biggest projects – a book and a studio album – through steady, incremental work.  Telling you the stories behind each new piece gives me the chance to integrate art, science, and spirituality and put flesh on the bones of this long-avoided book-to-be.  So thanks for reading, and enjoy...!

Last Day To Vote For My Skateboard

I'm gonna squee if this becomes an actual skateboard.  And it can!  Just take two second to click the pic above and "like" my design in the Creation Skateboards design contest.  The competition is almost over and it's neck-and-neck...voting and sharing it with your friends really makes a difference!

Thanks to the 800+ people who have already voted to make this skateboard a reality...!

MG @ AURA Music & Arts Festival

This will be my first year at AURA – one juicy berry of a festival, happening this month in Florida.  Not only will I be on their all-star live art team alongside legends like Jack Shure and Jeff Wood, but I will be working in close collaboration with yoga teacher Kelly Searcy to offer live acoustic-electronic guitar music during her classes all weekend!

SAT & SUN: 11:00 am (Morning Yoga) & 4:20 pm (Savasana Meditation)
w/ Yoga Teacher Kelly Searcy

I'll also be speaking in a fabulous lineup of presenters at the Tribal Council dome – giving a talk entitled "Taking A Cosmic Perspective."  And then of course you have the two dozen musical acts, including my friends Papadosio and their awesome sound therapy side project, EarthCry.

If you can, join us!  If you can't, I'll do my best to bring you back something beautiful.

Last Call for Preorders on Grassroots Collab #2

Would you just look at that fine hat/woman combination?  Thanks to my hottie guitar tech-slash-BFF Nicole Taylor for modeling my new artist signature design, to be released any day now (!) by Grassroots California.

Here's how you can buy one direct from the artist for $55.  That price includes shipping and handling, as well as courtesy waterproofing, so not only is it cheaper than retail but it'll last longer.  Only 420 will be made and then it's on to the next idea...

If you've already ordered yours, thanks for your patience; I'll let you know as soon as I do exactly when it'll ship.  If you haven't received the download code for that complimentary "secret" musical EP to enjoy while you wait, let me know!

This Was All Ocean, Once
24"x32" - paint markers on stretched canvas
Painted live at:
2012 09 21, 22 Alloveus Music and Arts Festival
(Loose Leaf, Holding Space, Sheer Khan & The Space Case)
2012 11 16 The Parish (Austin, TX) (The Floozies)
2013 01 18, 19 Crown Plaza Hotel (IAAF Convention)
2012 01 20 The Granada (Eliot Lipp, Sound Remedy)

“It is absolutely impossible to transcend the laws of nature. What can change in historically different circumstances is only the form in which these laws expose themselves.”

I grew up in Los Angeles, Orlando, and Kansas City – three places with vivid recognition of their prehistory:  L.A. has the La Brea Tar Pits; all of Florida is basically a giant fossil reef crawling with living fossils; and the whole Midwest has been for most of its existence a warm and shallow sea.  No matter where I clambered as a kid, there were fossil shells beneath my feet.

On the one hand, it's easy to imagine how ancient people, our ancestors, would have thought these grew out of the land – that the soil had its own simple kind of life, an intuition of our planet's invisible bioplasm, the bacterial layer into which we are born and within which we live our entire lives.  To a simple, natural religion for which life is an elemental force of nature, the stones themselves are living and "inanimate" is unthinkable.  Crystals dream their own part in the world being, resting in an ageless knowing of geometric truth – direct apprehension of "the music of the spheres."  And so of course the earth, just as the air and water, would spill forth its own kind of rocky life.

On the other hand, it's native to my own upbringing, my own wild current culture, that the Earth is in a state of constant transformation.  There are mountains where oceans used to be, and oceans where mountains used to be.  As a child I would (and still do) frequently look across valleys or up at stretching architecture, and imagine it all under water.  There are pictures of The Great Flood of 1993 all over Kansas City and Lawrence, where familiar buildings poked out like ruins from the water.  Some of those buildings have lines on them above where I can jump to reach.

In recent years, as weather has become more unpredictable, there are more and more people around the world who have lived through these drastic shifts in local landscape.  The not-always-ness of everything is sharper in relief.  The utter sameness of the news cycle is increasingly a joke against the quickening fertile chaos of our daily experience.  Everyone's a Heraclitus, these days.

And yet that groundlessness has yet to really land itself in us.  Physicists recently measured variations in what they call the "fine structure constant", or the strength of the electromagnetic force.  Modern science relies on universal constants in order to maintain its conceit that the universe can be essentially known; postmodern science, by contrast, recognizes that all knowledge is relative and that what we have really sought and found are local consistencies.  

Somewhere, billions of light years away, there are in all likelihood life forms dependent upon an entirely alien physics.  We could never teleport to meet them, or even send a message by beaming a transmission.  We would have to change, from inhabitants of our own physics to inhabitants of theirs, in order to make the trip.

This is the kind of change I believe we must hold in heart as we pass through the years to come...


Since I'm spending so much more time on each painting than I used to, it makes sense for me to try and offer these graphics in as many formats as possible.  Here are a few ways you can grab the new piece in useful formats to carry around with you or gift your friends...

(If you want this on another item, just let me know and I'll make it happen for you!)


(Click to enlarge & view the process...)

Custom Hats Are Taking Over My Life

Yes, it's true.  But I don't mind, because it keeps me in a non-stop creative flow, always trying out new ideas, always honing my technique for the larger, more time-intensive paintings.  Here are the newest designs...  




If you'd like one of your own, hit me up with your ideas – but be aware that my waiting list is about a month long right now.  (Not because it takes that long, but because I have so many other things to do!)

New Experimental Guitar Set FREE @ Archive.org

I have released so many free live albums in the last couple of years that my bandcamp page is starting to look a little crowded...so henceforth I'll be putting up my free sets in the Live Music Archive over at archive.org.

This 40-set from December of last year was improvised start to finish for an audience of noise-lovin' experimental music appreciators, so I got even weirder and more rambunctious than I ordinarily would.  If you're in the mood for a real psych-rock trance-fest, this is where I would suggest you start.

(But if you're looking for prettier, more melodic, subtle stuff, then go have a listen to Love Scenes & Field Recordings, my double-disc highlights reel from last summer's tour.)

...And that's all for now.  Bless it and bless you!  You know where I am if you want to reach out.

10 January 2013

NYE Live Painting | Embroidered GRC Hat #2 | Skateboard Design | Evolution & Guitar

"A deeper feeling of care begins with allowing ourselves to move into awe—with all of the different creatures, no matter which ones we’ve picked. If we would attend to them, we would see their colossal grandeur. Abraham Heschel said that awe is the first step into wisdom."
– Brian Swimme

Vote For Me in the Creation Skateboards Design Contest!

Make this dream a reality by voting for my "Every Day Is A New Year" deck at the Creation Skateboards design competition!  One of the coolest skateboard companies ever – judging from the all-star roster of visionary artists who have contributed designs – they'll pick the winner on February 1st by whose skateboard graphic gets the most "likes" on Facebook.

Look, I'm getting tired of competitions too.  I'd rather put your precious energies and attention to a nobler cause.  But success is shared, and I know that it'd make a lot of people happy to skate on this bad boy.  So take a moment if you please!

(If you missed the post about this most-epic-of-my-paintings, you can read it here.)

And now on to the really juicy stuff...

Soaring (The Opposite of Trees in Cages)
Painted Live At:
2012 12 30 Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
(Random Rab, Tipper, Ill-Esha, Human Agency, Seied, Cualli)
2012 12 31 City Hall
(Amon Tobin, EPROM, Kastle, Future Simple Project, Seied, Digital Connection)

My last painting of 2012 (and my first painting of 2013) sets the tone for a year of dynamic and reverent animal art...

I saw 67 red-tailed hawks (63 live and four dead) on my drive out to Denver for New Year's Eve...that was a pretty big hint that I had to give this bird its due in my next painting.  The hawk is a powerful animal totem, symbolizing vision, truth, and initiative – all good things to hold in heart while setting out on the new adventures that 2013 is bringing us.

The hawk reminds us to nurture our latent power, to notice what others miss, to view our lives from a higher perspective and move forward with bright eyes and a bold heart...

"When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about.”
– Albert Einstein

"I refuse to be enslaved by a single perspective."

– Timothy "Speed" Levitch


Thanks to my design shop at Arts Projekt, you can buy this painting on a number of handy items, ranging from cool to crucial.  I only make about 10% on these sales (most of it goes to the website), but it's such a fun way to offer my art to everyone:


Click to view the painting in progress:

My Next Embroidered Grassroots California Flatbill

I'm so honored to have another great hat by Grassroots California coming out in just a few weeks!  The first one was a huge hit and I'm still running into people wearing it everywhere I go.  With this one I wanted a subtler, classier design that would suit more people (the first one was so overtly psychedelic it took a special type to even wear it).  And GRC just got a new mold to make size 8 1/4 hats for all of us with giant heads!

Preorder through me if you'd like to support the artist – I won't profit from any sales made on the GRC website.  I'll also waterproof your hat for you at no extra cost, and I'm happy to paint it up a little too if you'd like.

To preorder, just send $55 to michaelgarfield[at]gmail[dot]com via Paypal as a personal gift, and leave your hat size and mailing address in the note box.  I'll take it from there!  And you'll get your hat in early February, just in time for spring festivals.  :)

Evolution & Guitar:
My Set from Art Outside 2012

What does my training in paleontology have to do with my career as an improvisational musician?

This is my first combination talk/concert, a blend of improvised cyberacoustic guitar loopscapes and the science ideas that inspire my musical experiments.  For a half hour introduction to both my music and ideas, you can't do better than to download this free EP.

In it, I explain why we have a lot to learn about the silver lining of humankind's  current evolutionary crisis by looking back at earlier events – like how algae almost killed off all life on Earth by inventing photosynthesis.  And how, by studying how the fin became the leg, we might be inspired to find creative new uses for old, familiar tools...

Thanks to Art Outside for giving me a stage to inspire people, three years running...!

More Custom-Painted Hats

The latest couple of one-of-a-kind custom designs.  Check out my full gallery for ideas if you'd like to order one of your own...



Top Mystical Films on Reality Sandwich

I'm a regular contributor to one of the coolest blogs I know, Reality Sandwich – an exploration of consciousness, ecology, culture, relationships, politics...  (And what isn't covered by that list?)  They just published a list of everyone's favorite mystical films, and I chose The Fountain – easily one of the most awe-inspiring films of my life so far:

Darren Aronofsky's epoch-spanning reincarnation love story is about more than the quest for eternal life or the fanatical love that justifies it. Somewhere in the interference pattern between a dizzying braid of worldspaces past, present, and future, Aronofsky shows us the transcultural yearning that defines our human condition, regardless of (or, rather, beyond) space and time.


(You can read my original 2007 review of the film here.)

And that's all she wrote, for now.  Thanks for reading, stay in touch, and live in health!