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Feels like we’re kind of in the calm before a storm. There’s a sense of pent up energy just waiting to be unleashed and the only question is how it will all unfold in two days, what kind of damage will be done.

Or undone.

It’s a schizophrenic time filled with high moments of excited hopefulness followed by lows that are comprised of doom and gloom. I dislike both the highs and lows of this time. The highs because I fear I am just kidding myself in thinking that the best thing might happen and the lows because of the future the worst case scenario presents.

All in all, it leaves me, and I think a great many others, exhausted from walking this ragged edge of social/political schizophrenia.

So finding this video this morning was just what the doctor ordered for me. I don’t exactly know how I got to it. I started with watching Lola from the Kinks, moved to a Spanish group named Cafe Quijano doing a song called La Lolagreat song, kind of sexist video–then took a couple of turns and there was this.

It’s from a group called Too Many Zooz. It’s three guys– Matt “Doe” Muirhead on trumpet, Leo P on baritone sax and DavidKing of Sludge” Parks on percussion– who started performing as subway buskers in NYC. Their call their genre of music brass house, a mix of house music, Afro-Cuban, and jazz. I think we can dispense with labels and just say that it is high energy.

They have taken off in recent years as a result from a video that went viral that was shot by someone watching them perform on the Union Square platform in NYC. They have performed around the country and in Europe and Leo P, now widely known for his frantic dance moves, even did a performance on the BBC Proms with a full orchestra. They are currently on a European tour but will be back in the states next month. I see they are appearing not too far from me at The Haunt in Ithaca in December.

This video is called Bedford and was shot on the Bedford subway platform in Brooklyn at 3:33 AM. If anyone was thinking about going to bed at that point, this most likely woke them up.

So, if you find yourself in need of a pick-me-up, take a look at this.

As John Lee Hooker once said, “If you can’t dig this, you got a hole in your soul– and that ain’t good.”

Then take that energy and get out there and vote. Vote. Vote. VOTE.

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I have been going through my files lately, trying to find some misplaced or lost images and somewhat organize twenty plus years of chaos. I came across this video which I thought I had shared at some point but couldn’t find any evidence anywhere of having done that. So I guess today is a good time to do so.

This slideshow is a group of the images from my Exiles series set to one of my favorite pieces of music, Gymnopédie #1 from composer Erik Satie. I believe this was put together back in 2006.

I’ve written about the Exiles series a number of times here. It was created around the time of my mom’s death back in November of 1995 and focused on how I saw her suffering in the last several months of her life as lung cancer ravaged her body. It’s a personal series, one that was important to me in many ways.

This film is flawed and doesn’t contain all the series images but it captures the series perfectly, at least in how I saw it then and see it now.

 

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There’s a building along the highway in Maryland heading toward Washington that opened this past year. It say Indoor Skydiving in large letters across the top of the structure that catch my eye every time I drive by.  I find myself wondering what the heck is going on inside that building. My wonder passes pretty quickly and it fades from my consciousness.

Well, this morning I came across this video of the kind of activity that takes place in these kinds of buildings. Actually, I came across two videos. One shows this type of indoor skydiving taken to the highest level. It shows the winning performance from Kyra Poh at the 2018 Wind Games that took place earlier this year in Spain.

I didn’t know this was a thing.

It certainly hasn’t made its way to my neck of the woods.

But it’s sort of mesmerizing to watch. Very sci-fi and futuristic. I feel like I should be rubbing an energy orb while I am watching this in my sleek silver bodysuit.

Instead, here I am with dirty painting jeans and coffee breath, wondering how much I would ache after contorting my body like that.

The other shows an instructor with some new flyers with all the difficulty that implies. Less futuristic. More like someone being dragged,kicking and screaming, into the future. You will see what I mean.


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Ave Maria

It’s a cool and wet morning here with a soft rain falling that I wasn’t expecting. The ground around the studio is saturated like sponge and when you walk through the grass there are spots where the green of the tall grass– my lawn needs mowing– is overtaken by the brown of the muddy soil.

It sets a quiet tone within me. The last several days have been so busy that I haven’t had the chance to just spend the time in the studio to which I have been accustomed for the past decade or so. It’s not just time spent painting but, more importantly, time spent mulling things over and trying to set things in an orderly way that allows me to more fully function.

Not having that time makes me uneasy, like I am on the verge of losing my balance.

So the quiet of the cool air and the soft rain and the muddy steps in the grass feel good this morning. This quiet allows me to slow my thoughts, to abate the tensions of those things which I can’t control.

Oh, they’ll be back soon enough but for  a short time I recede into this quiet. And that is a good start.

For today’s Sunday morning music I am featuring a group that flew under my radar until this week’s painting workshop. One of the attendees, Frank who has been with me for three of these workshops, excitedly told me that he had discovered that one of his most favorite groups was performing at the Smith opera House in nearby Geneva. Frank normally drives in to these workshops in from about an hour or so away. This year he and his wife were staying in Penn Yan  and would be able to see the performance. He was ecstatic.

The group is a renowned, Grammy Award winning male vocal classical ensemble from San Francisco called Chanticleer. They have been performing with a revolving roster of voices for 40 years and this performance was part of their anniversary tour. The clip below is the group performing one of their better known selections along with another elite male ensemble, Cantus, in a bar where the two groups had met up.  The song is Ave Maria from the 20th century composer Franz Biebl.

It’s a stunning display and, unlike Thursday’s judiciary hearing, there are no red-faced mean drunks anywhere to be found. That in itself is refreshing. Give a listen and have a great Sunday.

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Here’s a short video preview of most of the new work that will be coming with me for my Gallery Talk this coming Saturday, September 22, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. It begins at 1 PM.

This is my 16th year doing this Talk which began with the first King Street Arts Festival in Alexandria, which has grown into a pretty large outdoor art show. I view these talks as a chance to get to really talk with folks who are interested in art and what I might be doing with my own work. It allows me to go into a little more depth about some things, giving background details and telling some stories.

The feedback that comes from these talks is invaluable to me. Outside of this blog, my shows and talks are my only chance to get out of the secure bubble of my studio and really see how people interact with my work. It is normally very motivating for me when I get back in the studio.

Plus, these talks give me a chance to express my gratitude to the people who have followed and supported my work over the years. Part of that comes for me in giving away a painting (or two— you’ll have to come to see what the actual number is) such as the painting shown here, Deep Focus. And there are some other goodies that will be given away that I think are pretty neat.

So, if you’re interested, come for the Gallery Talk on Saturday. There will be new paintings, a drawing for a painting, some giveaways, some refreshments, good conversation, a few stories and generally some good laughs.

Hope you can make it.

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+++++++++++++

Those he commands move only in command,

Nothing in love. Now does he feel his title

Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe

Upon a dwarfish thief.

-William Shakespeare,  Macbeth

+++++++++++++

I read an interesting article in The Atlantic  by Eliot Cohen this week that has stuck with me for the past few days. It parallels the possible fall of the current administration to that of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. How fitting that the Scottish play, as it is often called, might mirror the fall of a man with a Scottish ancestry.

The end may be brought about by those he has freely abused and those around him who serve him not from admiration or love but from fear and the self-serving nature of the position, things that will no doubt soon fall away as the downward spiral hastens and his true nature of this utterly selfish person becomes apparent to even those who still follow him with fervor.

As Cohen writes:

…his spirit remains tyrannical—that is, utterly self-absorbed and self-concerned, indifferent to the suffering of others, knowing no moral restraint. He expects fealty and gives none. Such people can exert power for a long time, by playing on the fear and cupidity, the gullibility and the hatreds of those around them. Ideological fervor can substitute for personal affection and attachment for a time, and so too can blind terror and sheer stupidity, but in the end, these fall away as well.

Who will be Macduff, the one who ends the reign of the tyrant, in this version of the play is yet to be determined. But the last words of Macduff before he is urged by Macbeth to Lay on, Macduff should be remembered:

Then yield thee, coward,
And live to be the show and gaze o’ the time:
We’ll have thee, as our rarer monsters are,
Painted on a pole, and underwrit,
‘Here may you see the tyrant.’

In case you don’t know the play, it doesn’t end well for Macbeth.

The Cohen article is an interesting read. You can see it here.

For this week’s Sunday morning music I have chosen a nice collaboration of a song from the great American songbook from Elvis Costello and the late great Chet Baker. The title fits well with an article about a man who demands love and loyalty but offers none in return: You Don’t Know What Love Is.

Take a look and a listen. Have a good Sunday.

 

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Climbed onto the interwebs this morning and made my way to the YouTube. Needed to find something to play for this Sunday morning and wasn’t sure where to turn. Something deep and ponderous? Retro blast from the past? Cool jazz cats?

I didn’t know what would turn up or where I’d find myself.

Oddly, this morning I didn’t have to go far. It was waiting for me on my YouTube homepage.

It was new, just released in mid-July. It was light. It was seasonal. It had a goofy video. It seemed like a nice respite from watching the news and wringing hands.

Well, alright, let’s go with it. It’s a little ditty called Blueberry Jam from Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, aka Will Oldham. He’s been a unique voice on the American music scene for a number of years and I’ve featured his music here a couple of times, once with him performing his I Am Goodbye and another with the epic cover of his song I See a Darkness from Johnny Cash.

Give a listen and grab a blueberry for yourself this morning.

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