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Posts Tagged ‘Sunday Morning Music’

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“I’m not sure this will make sense to you but I felt as though I’d turned around to look in a different direction so that I no longer faced backward toward the past but forward toward the future. And now the question confronting me was this: What would the future be”

― Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

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This small painting that is hanging as part of the Little Gems exhibit at the West End Gallery (opening Friday, February 7) is titled Memoir.

The thought behind that title was that that while the future seems uncertain as we look forward, our pasts as we recall them are often just as uncertain.

Our personal histories are a patchwork, like the sky in this painting, of half memories and dimly lit stories. Faces and names fade. Words once spoken are lost in the void. We have grainy snips and snaps of what we recall as significant moments and some surprisingly sharp images of insignificant moments that puzzle us, leaving us to wonder why they remain so clear.

Do they mean something more and we just don’t see their true meaning?

I looked at this small piece and wondered what I would include in my memoir. What would I pull from that haphazard patchwork that I would want to share now and into the future?

After sifting through the shards of broken memories, I come to the conclusion that I don’t want to write a memoir. Let my memoir show itself in my work, let my story be told in paint and line and shapes, a crude group of hieroglyphs that will no doubt go untranslated in generations to come.

Let the future, if it is so inclined, write my past. That shall be memoir enough for me.

For this Sunday morning music, here’s a song to go along with this painting. It’s the Nick Lowe pop classic, When I Write the Book.

Have a good Sunday.

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When it comes back around you’re gonna get what’s coming.
You sit on your fence and you scream about justice.
Between the have and have-not’s only one feels the difference.
And when it comes back around you’re gonna get what’s coming.
When it comes back around you’re gonna get what’s coming.

Rival Sons, Get What’s Coming

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This is a little raucous for a Sunday morning but I think that’s just the way it has to be this morning. Just warning you.

Over the past few years, we have been subjected to reports of constant wrongdoing by this administration, ranging from ridiculous amounts of lying about things both monumental and trivial to corruption and abuses of power to actual atrocity.

This administration knows no bottom.

There is just so much wrong taking place that it’s hard to keep track of all the wrongs without losing sight of some.

Take for example, this week reports surface that the number of children detained by this administration is upwards of 70,000 now and that babies born to women in ICE detention are taken away without any way for independent child welfare observers, or the mother for that matter, to know their whereabouts.

Is this what we want to be now?

Or take another example, the president* grants a pardon to a soldier who is accused of war crimes, killing innocent non-combatants. This pardon goes against the advice and wishes of the Pentagon and its internal justice system. Nine members of this criminal’s own company testified against him and none backed him up in any way for his actions. This gives this nation and the military a black eye and makes the job of our troops even more dangerous.

Is this what we want to be now?

Or in Syria, reports last night of massive attacks against the Kurds, our longtime allies who we abandoned with little notice. There are reports of U.S. military officials expressing that they are ashamed and sickened by our treachery. While we have prided ourselves as being the “good guys” to the rest of the world, we are quickly becoming the “bad guys.” Our word is no longer our bond. Why would anyone trust us now, especially when being asked to sacrifice, to fight and die on our behalf?

Is this what we want to be now?

I could go on and on. Wrong after wrong after wrong after wrong, ad infinitum. Countless lies and deception. Abuses of power and a twisting of our laws and the Constitution. Massive amounts of corruption and self-serving. Every act seems designed to punish the public in general in some way while only benefiting those with great wealth or power.

Is this who we want to be now?

I don’t think it is. There have been points in these past three years that have been depressing and deflating, where it looks like we won’t be able to stop the fast slide we are on into real authoritarianism or at least a system of where wealthy connected oligarchs run everything behind a wall of sham democracy. Some of those days, the present and the future has looked very dark especially when you see family and friends eagerly accept the lies and deceptions without actually giving any real thought to future repercussions.

But there are signs that it does not have to go that way, that we can regain our footing once again. That we can be the nation that we want to be, the nation that we believe we are. There are cracks forming and the recognition by the general public of the great wrong before is starting to take hold.

Karma, my friends. What goes around, comes around. And those who know better, who knowingly are complicit to the corruption and deceit that has and is taking place, to the disassembling of the American system of governance and justice, had better either have a come to Jesus moment soon or brace themselves for a hard fall.

Because when it comes back around you’re gonna get what’s coming.

And it’s coming back around soon.

Okay, here’s the song for this Sunday, an electric Get What’s Coming from Rival Sons.

Brace yourselves.

And have a good Sunday.

 

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Stopped in at the West End Gallery yesterday to see how the work from my new show, Moments of Color, looked on the walls.

I was pleased.

You can only get a small sense of how the work for a show will hang together when it’s still in the studio. The paintings are scattered all over, some in different rooms and some obstructing others. Almost none of them are in frames. I never get to see them fully presented, hanging clearly in direct relationship to one another.

So it’s always interesting to see how the show comes together on the walls, to see if a unifying theme emanates, and to see what pieces jump forward. In this case, the color mentioned in the show’s title is made abundantly clear. It is a show filled with color.

I’ve written here before about coming to painting because I wasn’t seeing the paintings I wanted to see, wasn’t experiencing the colors I wanted to feel. This  show comes close to meeting that desire for color, especially the fully saturated deep tones. They show themselves well on the gallery walls and actually serve as the unifying theme for the show. Even in the Multitudes pieces that feature masses of faces, it is the color of those pieces that binds them to the other works in this show.

One of the pieces, along with so many others, that seemed to jump off the wall for me was the piece shown above, La Belle Vie. That translates from French as the good life or the beautiful life. Either works for me. With its clarity of line and color in its skies, hills and flowerbeds along with its size, 36″ high by 18″ wide, it is a piece that has a real presence on the wall for my eyes.

As an artist, sensing that presence in a piece is an extremely gratifying feeling. It’s a feeling of completeness, as though I have done as much as I am capable of in this piece at this point in time. And that makes it a statement of who and what I am as an artist– and a person– at this point. I guess that kind of sums up my feelings on this painting.

Jesse and Lin have done a tremendous job hanging this show. Hope you can make the opening reception at the West End Gallery this coming Friday. It begins at 5 and runs until 7:30 PM. If not, hope you can stop in and take a look.

For this Sunday morning music, I have chosen a song called Beautiful Tango sung by Hindi Zahara, a Morocco born singer that is based in Paris. Love the feel and pace of this song. It seems to jibe well with La Belle Vie above. I could see the Red Tree dancing a tango here. Give a listen and have a good day.

 

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And the sages of the subway sit just like the living dead
As the tracks clack out the rhythm, their eyes fixed straight ahead
They ride the line of balance and hold on by just a thread
But it’s too hot in these tunnels, you can get hit up by the heat
You get up to get out at your next stop, but they push you back in your seat
Your heart starts beatin’ faster as you struggle to your feet
Then you’re outta that hole and back up on the street…

–Bruce Springsteen, It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City

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The other day, I was working on another of the Multitudes pieces, a 12″ square canvas that was featuring a halo or at least a gold orb hanging over one of the faces. The painting started with this central haloed character and the rest of the faces grew out from it. The faces other than the one with the halo were originally going to be many shades of blues and purples but while I was working, a song from Bruce Springsteen‘s first album in 1973, Greetings From Asbury Park NJ, came on.

I could lie here (as I have been known to do on occasion) and say that it was It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City. That would make for a nice tidy little tale.

But it was actually Spirit in the Night. At first I thought that maybe I should use that title for this piece. It would work pretty well, especially with the dark blues and purples. But  instead I instantly saw in my head the title from another song from that album, It’s Hard to Be a Saint. It fit even better. The painting already had a saintly halo, for god’s sake. So I decided to go back at the surrounding faces and give them a green, jaundiced tone. Give them a uniformly alien appearance that would contrast against the lightness of the haloed one.

It works for me, at least. You may or may not like it and, again, that’s okay.

Anyway, here’s the song that gives this painting its title. It’s early Springsteen so its densely worded in its lyrics, the thing that really attracted me to his work at first. Many of the songs from his first albums felt more like short stories or novellas than songs. As his work evolved, his best work moved from this sense of literature with intimate, wordy description to one that felt more cinematic, with broader, sweeping vistas. I like both styles but this early work still appeals deeply to something in me.

Give a listen and have a good Sunday. And a good Father’s Day.

 

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All over the place this morning as I looked for a piece of music. Went from the 1970’s funk of Curtis Mayfield to 1990’s Tom Waits to Pete Townsend at the Secret Policeman’s Ball to Tom Morello and Rage Against the Machine to early and late Warren Zevon to a William Burroughs spoken word piece (Seven Souls) set against an electro beat. There was also some Jimmy Reed blues and some Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

It was fun, as always, one of my favorite parts of doing this blog. I like sliding down those rabbit holes, moving from one thing to another connected by some vague association recognized by an algorithm that is well beyond my comprehension.

But despite it all, nothing hit the spot that I wanted to hit this morning. I felt all out of rhythm in a way. Then I somehow fell on this bit of music.

I don’t exactly know what connection led to this piece, a classical guitar performance of a composition, Oblivion, from the late Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla. It is performed by contemporary Ukrainian guitarist Nadja Kossinskaja and it just seemed to fit the feeling of the morning at this point in time.

It finally got me back in rhythm and back on track, regardless of how I got to it.

Give a listen. It’s good stuff and a good way to kick off a Sunday whether it’s wet and gray, as it is here, or sunny and warm. Have a good day.

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The moon, like a flower

In heaven’s high bower,

With silent delight

Sits and smiles on the night.

—William Blake

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Finished this new painting just the other day. It’s a very quiet, almost meditative piece that I am calling Moon Flowers.

It’s a piece that I find myself looking at a lot these past couple of days. While it is simply constructed, there are some there things taking place in it that keep my eye occupied. The relationships between the beds of flowers, for example, with their individual color vibrations and shapes. Or the relationship between the moon and the path below. There seems to be a connection between the two.

These relationships and the organic quality of the lines within it give it an abstract quality that I like very much. If I just let my mind go where it desires, it allows me to move beyond what seems to be represented and see something quite different.

Or rather, feel something quite different.

And ultimately, that is what I hope for in my work– to move the viewer beyond the representation of the image presented. How that’s done, I do not know. Maybe the answer is somewhere on that path under that moon. Maybe that is what I am seeing in this picture that is pulling me in.

Only time will tell.

So, for this Sunday morning music let’s go with a piece with an apt title, Moonflower, the title track of a 1977 album from the great Carlos Santana. Hard to believe this piece is over forty years old now. Time!

Have a great day.

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Want to keep it short this morning as I want to get right to work on a piece that is on the easel. And that desire to go right to the brushes is a good thing, an indicator that a groove is coming.

So, for this Sunday morning here are a couple of noir-ish photos to accompany one of  my favorite songs, Stolen Car, from the 1980 album ,The River, from Bruce Springsteen. The mood of this song, especially within its organ and piano lines, always moves me.

Good painting music.

Have a good Sunday…

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Under the weather this morning but stumbled across this song that I featured here back in 2011. It’s been 7 or 8 years so I guess that’s not too repetitive. Plus, it’s just such a great song from an artist that deserves a lot more attention. Enjoy and have a good Sunday.

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This song is That’s a Rockin’ Good Way sung by Dinah Washington and Brook Benton which made it to #7 on the Pop charts and #1 on the R&B charts in 1959. I heard this song on the radio yesterday for the first time in a long time and it made me think about Washington’s career and legacy.

Known as both the Queen of the Jukeboxes and Queen of the Blues, Washington was one of the biggest recording stars of the 1950’s, singing jazz, blues and pop songs with her earthy delivery.  Her body of work is impressive yet she is seldom mentioned alongside the other jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday. In fact, she is little known today which is a shame not only because so many are missing out on her vast talent but because her story is such a compelling story.

There are all the elements of great drama in her biography, her rise from a poor girl in Alabama to her great success as a major recording artist being only one aspect. There were all the men in her lives including 8 or 9 marriages, depending on which source you believe, and a number of other lovers. There was her battle with drugs and alcohol as well as a struggle with her weight which led to emotional swings that found her fighting with everyone around her, including her fans at times. There was the constant struggle with her record company for the respect she deserved. She had a big, big personality and finally seemed to be coming into her own as an artist when an accidental overdose brought her life to a close in 1963.

She was only 39.

So, here’s just a small sample of her talent. Hopefully, her legacy will continue to grow…

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Running a little late this Sunday morning, so I am just going to share a little music without too much talk. Let the music talk for itself,

The song is The World (Is Going Up in Flames) from Charles Bradley, a latter day soul singer who passed away in 2017 at the age of 68. Bradley had a classic soul delivery, full-throated and with a wail that mixed pain and joy in equal measures, in the tradition of Otis Redding and others.

The song could definitely speak to the condition of the world these days, here and abroad. Here, we are approaching an endgame that many of us saw in the cards two years ago. Back in December of 2016, I wrote about how  the word kompromat would become more and more significant and little by little, revealed detail by detail, that is becoming an evident truth.

We still have the chance to quell the fire that has been raging here. Let’s hope it doesn’t all burn down before it happens.

Give a listen and have a good Sunday.

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I am going to be brief on this Sunday morning. Probably like many of you, time is short and there is much to do this morning. But I wanted to still put out a piece of music and some sort of image as is the norm here on this blog. Long held habits are hard to break.

The image above is a painting, Radiance and Shadow, that is hanging in my current show at the West End Gallery. I thought I’d pair it with a tune from the Danish String Quartet, a group that deftly mixes folk and classical traditions. Their recent album, Last Leaf, is their take on a blend of traditional Nordic folk tunes and dances. This song, Shine You No More, is a new tune by one of the group’s members but is derived from the work of a 16th century English composer. It is definitely a dance tune.

Give a listen and have a good day.

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