Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: Toad Painting From Gratifly & Arise Festivals | Aya Awakenings Video | My New Visionary Culture Gig

20 August 2014

Toad Painting From Gratifly & Arise Festivals | Aya Awakenings Video | My New Visionary Culture Gig

“Creativity occurs in the moment, and in the moment we are timeless.”

Finally back home from all the traveling. Ready to dig in for a few months and finish some much-loved but long-overdue projects. Very eager to share recordings from this summer – the music, yes, but also my talks on transformational sobriety (wow, THAT one was well-attended!) and art as politics (because we vote with our attention).

Time to huddle and create for a couple months, until Art Outside in October:  new studio music and paintings, and A LOT of writing for my new gig at Globalish, and the necessary sweet moments of stillness that punctuate the creative act.

I'm still available to book for custom work or gigs on a lark.  Until then...  


Painted live with Molotow, Montana, Elmer's, Sharpie, & Liquitex paint markers at:

Gratifly Music and Arts Festival (2014-07-26, 27)
during Wildlight, The Polish Ambassador, Zach Deputy, Rising Appalachia Music, William Close And The Earth Harp Collective, Closing Ceremony

ARISE Music Festival (2014-08-08, 09)
during Gaia Experiment, Organix Jam,KatsüK, Celestiowl, Sonic Geometry, Mikey Fisher Breaks, NumiNative, Inti, Buddha Bomb

"Żabka" is Polish for "little frog." Toads are amazing creatures – ancient, metamorphic, sturdy, adaptable. Their habit of consuming the skin they shed has made them an especially potent image for transformation. The most potent animal toxin comes from a frog (batrachotoxin, from Phyllobates terribilis); the most powerful hallucinogen does as well (5-MeO-DMT, from Bufo alvarius). Amazonian tribes use the secretions of another species (Phyllomedusa bicolor) as a ritual purgative to purify themselves for hunting. (This "kambo" ceremony renders people temporarily and inexplicably immune to the shock of electric eels.)

I used to draw frogs for a living. Working as the scientific illustrator for the Department of Herpetology at the KU Natural History Museum, I stippled the description plates for dozens of new species of frogs my boss, Dr. Rafe Brown, discovered in the Philippines.

The trend continued in grad school, when I was hired by my graduate advisor, Dr. Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, to provide a frog-themed cover illustration for his amazing book Integral Ecology: Uniting Multiple Perspectives on the Natural World.

Come to think of it, I've always had a thing for frogs and toads. My first recognition as a writer was for a short story I wrote in the second grade, about talking dart poison frogs. My earliest attempt at an illustrated manuscript was on the life cycle of frogs and toads, the year before. My first detention was for skipping class to hunt for toads in between school buildings, growing up in Florida. (I spent SO much time catching toads and tadpoles as a kid.)

My most enduring shame is the memory of killing a toad by throwing it, before I was old enough to know what death is. That's probably why I defended them so fiercely from bullies in middle school...and why I love that scene in E.T. when Elliott liberates the frogs from his school's bio lab.

My great inspiration Ernst Haeckel, who coined the term "ecology," is also famous for saying that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" – meaning, the development of individual organisms is a kind of re-enactment of their whole evolutionary history. We all start out as single cells, then grow into worm-like creatures, then fish, and so on...humans do this in the womb but frogs and toads go through their transformation out where everyone can see. Perhaps that is part of their enduring mystery and appeal. Certainly it resonates with my own open-studio process as a live painter, letting everyone observe the work unfold in public.

This piece in particular marks a turning point for me – the moment when I took paint pen technique into a new dimension of blending and transparencies. A little Alfons Much, a little Futurama, with this painting I find myself one turn up the spiral of my lifelong love for these amphibians.

Clip from the Austin Aya: Awakenings Panel Discussion

A short clip from my hour-long panel discussion (free download here) with directors Rak Razam (Aya: Awakenings) and Mitch Schultz (DMT: The Spirit Molecule) on "mnemonic cross training" and how the entheogenic experience can help us learn to maintain our integrity through complex, difficult situations.

Futurism & Visionary Culture Writing with Globalish

I am so, so glad to be back in the saddle as a writer – this time, a futurist and visionary culture correspondent for Globalish, a very cool team tracing the outlines of emerging planetary culture.  Name an aspect of the human experience and they're covering it – emphasis on dazzling visual content, framed by deep commentary.  Here are a few of my first pieces for them:

This Hilarious Old Spice Commercial Is A Window Into Cyberculture

Japanese Artist Arrested For Open-Sourcing Her 3D-Printed Vagina

Lux Moderna: Reviving The Role of Priestess In Sacred Ritual

THC Without Cannabis: Biohacking Yeast For Future Highs

Light & Sculpture Twist Together In This Awesome Brainy Installation

Brainterface Mind Controlled Synthesizer To Hit Markets In September

Vantablack: The Darkest Material Ever Created

Hozier's Powerful Music For The First (And Last) Religion

Coming Soon