Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Looking Glass Studios Art Opening

There's nothing like a highly spontaneous art evening to kick one into creative mode.  I've waited a while to attend an opening at Looking Glass Studio where my friends, Shaggy, Justin Brown and guest artist, Joe, were displaying the works.  The studio is in a very cool house previously owned by one of my friends and is now a studio plus art gallery.
Art covered all the walls of the home decorated with furniture reminiscent of Beetlejuice or Dr. Seuss, and the display or surrealism, fantasy, realism and abstract took every every inch of wall space. Visitors were greeted by Homer playing acoustic guitar on the porch and the spontaneous acts or an artistic nature erupted from then on.  There were poetry and spoken word moments, spontaneous dances, and lots of conversation.  I sort of persuaded/bullied Shaggy into reading poetry to some Lindy and Gail,. Then Becky, Justin and I read some of our poetry, Becky read form her horror novel, Blood in the Orchard, Homer and Vicki did spoken word poetry.
I didn't know I'd be reading, but Shaggy dug up some of my chapbooks and so I pulled a few out and read, Seeds and The Quintessential Language of Bridges, from my chapbook "Spirals in Copper" and then Julia read one of my poems, "New Orleans 2008" too.  Julia and Vicki were sent on a wild goose chase by their GPS but ended up there to be greeted by Homer and a wild kitten who, as it turns out, happens to be a fan of art and poetry.
I wish I could have stayed longer, and didn't make it to the Valentine Wolfe or IFB show  - it just got too late. But I came home brimming with ideas and inspired and while Kendall was here, we drew and sketched and painted and did collage work so events like these, which are not simply voyeuristic but participatory are so much more fun and beneficial than I could have realized.  I haven't read poetry in years, not since I did on the sidewalk of the Pendleton Arts District with Brian K. Ladd, Becky, Rick and others in an random act of street performance art.  The lights at Looking Glass were low and that made it easier to read, as well as the highly appreciative audience which, at the example of Shaggy, snapped their fingers as applause, which I imagine made the neighbors grateful. One of the highlights was Homer playing and singing Nirvana's, Heart-Shaped Box, while we sat in the dark on the porch - a transport to earlier times, for sure.
There was even a multi-dimensional time traveling Homer, which made the evening, very interesting as you can see in this photo, he was just reappearing in time to hear Becky read.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

V. S. Ramachdran: Synesthesia and Creativity

As quantum physics and neuroscience stretch out, I find it so interesting that creativity is more connected in both than we've ever realized. With the new brain mapping, neurologists, such as V.S. Ramachandran are working with individuals whose sensory sections in the temporal lobe of the brain are connected differently from other people creating single sensory streams whereas most people would experience these as separated sensory experiences one at a time. These connected sensory streams are often cross-connected in a brain activity called Synesthesia, where someone experiences  numbers as colors, or tastes musical tones, shapes or metals.  At one time this brain activity was attributed to crazy people or individuals who have suffered a brain injury but it;s been found to be genetic.  Such a discovery proves how different each and every one each of us has totally different perceptions of the world and universe. I took the time while at the Art Bomb show to ask fellow artists if they felt any of these off sensory connections.
Artists such as DaVinci may have had numerous sensory connections and sensory streams which enabled him to see the world in such an advanced way.
Shaggy described how he feels intense emotional reactions to the texture of each food. Mark mentioned how she can taste metals. I can taste metals like copper and when hearing the tones of the cello and other instruments as colors. Ramachandran also spoke about how Synesthesia, as a sensory function and not a cognitive or memory function is immediate and is also an brain unusual brain wiring which enables people to easily come up with metaphors - making unusual connections which abstractly fit one idea with another idea, and Ramachadran states, "Synesthesia is eight times more common among artists, poets, novelists and so forth."  He also discovered in his research that it's found in one in every two hundred people. Until I was exposed to books and videos by Ramachandran, I thought everyone experienced the world this way. I'm curious to see what further brain mapping and studies will reveal about creativity and the brain - it can only become more fascinating and revelatory.

Influences - the call of spirit; the movement of soul

There's nothing like the power of influences - those sensory moments and unforeseen triggers which set us back on our various paths of creativity.  It's as if a parade strides by, music playing, mimes and jugglers; visionaries and buglers; performers and portrayers and because of their enthusiasm, their ingenuity, their mesmerizing spirit, we feel summoned to join in, despite our doubts, our white page blocks, our fears. Suddenly, we are filled with ideas and  we rush towards a project with renewed hope and energy.  This is the call of spirit.  And as we work quickly, testing, exploring, creating, editing, erasing, recreating, we develop that idea into something which has never yet existed in the world.  Something unique and personal to ourselves, our own movements of soul - and that action has altered the world in some way, simply because you followed your gut and treated art as play.
Too often, we over think and overplay, turning the joy of our creativity into work, forgetting that our soul knows the way, our hands and eyes only need to heed the subtle messages crowding into our dreams, daydreams, imaginations.  As an expressionist style artist and one who likes to write magical realism, dark fantasy and steampunk, I've learned to let go and go at it. The method works for me and often results in my work surprising myself, many times revealing things hidden in my subconscious which I hadn't turned over in my mind until it appeared on a canvas or manuscript page. The heart and soul strings vibrate with the strings of the universe and it all comes together in a way as individual as a snowflake, as individual as you are, if you only listen.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Art Bomb and more...art!!!

May in Greenville, SC is the vanguard of the arts season and it opens with a bang.  First there is Artisphere, the major arts festival held downtown near the Liberty Bridge and in Falls Park featuring international artists, live music, mimes, extreme circus performers, performance art with Brian Olson, glass blowing and blacksmith's demonstrations and even an aerial act on the Main St. Bridge.  It's a sensory experience from one end to the other and gets larger every year. Inspiration is unavoidable as Mark, Gail, Lindy and I witnessed the most progressive, talented artists around.  At every booth we were in awe and surprise and I came home in a rush of ideas geared to work and create in new ways.  I'd already branched out this year with new mediums and techniques but now it was time to try new approaches, concepts, layouts and visual angles. 
The trends of the festival changes every year and while last year was the first to feature so many collage artists, this year featured collage artists using odd materials: metals, plastic, friction, movement, glass, water, light.  Artisphere is like walking into an Artist's Disney Land which we don't want to leave.  Of course, there were lots of mediums, textiles, wood, clay, glass, oil,s watercolor, photography but I was drawn to the collage art, the history keeping art collage, including one of my favorite pieces by John Charbonneau of Santa Fe, NM (pictured above).
My only wish is that Artisphere would feature more local artists.  We have a number of artists of this level who have achieved national and international recognition, but few are juried into the show each year. 
Then there was the ten year anniversary of The Art Bomb and wow!!  Once again ground breaking works and experiences and as ever a packed house.  This year The Art Bomb featured live music with The Fine Art Ramblers outdoors in the now very much grown herb garden.  I remember my first time there (will never forget, it was like being transported to New York) and the garden was just started, now the trees offer shade and the area is lush with foliage, flowers, aromas and sights. Mark, Gail and I went and then were joined by Shaggy, ran into Frank and Dabney and spoke with some of our favorite artists who reside there., watched an amazing indie film installation on silk screen complete with theater seating - WOW!
So, Shaggy and I plotted an planned and then I spent a good bit of the weekend, mixed up among lobster, and shopping and excursions and reading, I finishing up and added to collages and framed a good many pieces. And the fun's not over yet. Friday the 27th, will be The Opening Show at Shaggy and Justin's studio followed by the show at Fatso's of Valentine Wolfe and IFB with my friend, Ben. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

more Steampunk - the Victoria X

Finally - Victoria X, the exciting fast paced novel by Gypsey Teague is available on Amazon. A few months ago, author Gypsey Teague let me read a portion of this adventure novel and let me tell you - this woman knows her stuff - the history, the technology, the detail is amazing and the main characters are spunky go-getters who won't be restrained.  I've read a number of steampunk short stories and novels now, from YA to adult, from fantasy steampunk to high tech cyperpunk and I have to say this is one of the authors who most cares about research, in the chapter I read, there was high adventure and incredible imagination but in addition, sound research.  Not surprising coming from a librarian, but something of note. I'm really looking forward to the entire novel which as I know so far will be available, perhaps even signed by the author at both ConCarolina and the Upstate Steampunk Con.
And not to forget the awesome cover - created by Jim Cross of Anderson, SC, an incredible visual artist and illustrator in my eyes and that's not only because his brilliant work graced the cover of the special steampunk issue of Fissure magazine, which I edit and publish.  I'm so happy for both Gypsey and Jim, an unbeatable team in this fast moving genre.  
From the book blurb
"Victoria is dead. Leopold has usurped the Throne from Edward. The Germans are on English soil and only one aireship, the Victoria X, can save the Empire. Read how a single Captain, Abigail Buckman, may be the last hope of the Realm as she assists the English Aire and Naval Services against those loyal to the illegal King and Queen. This is Steampunk at its best and aire war at its grittiest."

Art, ducks and Flowers!

This weekend I took a step away from art and writing to once again experience life - to enjoy wonderful events and lots of great and talented people. Friday night, another Mark, Lindy, another Gail, and my granddaughter, Kendall and I ventured out into Greenville's First Friday Art Crawl in the Pendleton St. District and encountered amazing and beautiful local art, pottery, photography, metal sculpture and even embroidered silk scarves from such artists as Dabney Mahanes, Suzanne Vitti, Shane Bryant, Glen Miller Susannah Melee, and Kavita's (also known as Urban Peacock) one woman show at my old stomping ground The Village Studios .  It was Gail and Lindy's first  art crawl and they loved it.  I ran into my Fissure sidekick, Shaggy, who is an incredible surrealist artist in his own right and can't wait until his show on May 27th.
Saturday it was off to the annual Ducky Derby with my granddaughter, Kendall, who had a great time, doing lots of arts and crafts, seeing the wide variety of entertainment and of course watching 10,000 ducks coming sailing down over the fall of the Reedy River.  Her favorite part of the day was when she and about seven other boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 9 became on the spot duck rescuers, standing at the edge of the river, tossing stranded ducks back into midstream so they could race towards the finish line.
Then Sunday was a great Mother's Day, restful low key with my daughter, Beth, my son, Jeff and Kendall. We grilled out and caught up on each others lives, watched some of Jeff's videos from the travels of his Snakesession skateboard team  and talked gardening and flowers.  My porch is now a sumptuous outdoor arboretum, thanks to their gifts.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

my story in Danse Macabre

I'm fortunate to see  my story, "Yoke Not Yokel,"  included in this issue of one of my absolute favorite online mags.  It's intelligent, risky, ground-breaking and well written.
Danse Macabre
opens Fri 6 May @ http://dansemacabre.art.officelive.com/Publicite.aspx

From Adam Henry Carrière, Verleger / Herausgeber, Editor
at Danse Macabre:
"While somewhat modest in scope, you will find Morgenblätter a macabrely way to colour your May mornings breakfast treats of   I;m humbled to be included in such company are: New fictions from Patricia Carragon, Gail Gray, and Keith Laufenberg ... poetry from Kate Falvey, Dennis Mahagin, and Ken Poyner ... PLUS! We present a new transaltion of Hungarian master Endre Ady by emerging poet Károly Kiss, a delightfully eerie gallery of both 19th Century illustrations & 20th Century gag photography, as well as out-of-print klassiche by Irish ghostlies J. Sheridan Le Fanu and Elliott O'Donnell.

Please help spread the word with all your fans, family, friends (and frenemies). The value-add of Danse Macabre as a platform for avant garde work derives in no small part from people like you helping to expand Danse Macabre's  worldwide readership, already in the many thousands monthly. For your convenience, you'll find printer-friendly Publicité @ http://dansemacabre.art.officelive.com/Publicite.aspx.

Thanks all, for helping build another coloratura triumph. I hope this finds each of you in the best of Spring prose. Servus!"

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Steampunk: Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers

I heard yesterday from Suzanne Lazear at Steamed! Writing Steampunk Fiction! that I'd won a copy of Tim Akers steampunk novel, Horns of Ruin,
Needless to say I'm very excited. And not just because I'd won a book, and a steampunk novel at that, but especially because of the intelligent, insightful blogpost Tim wrote about the way writers are different.  Many times over the years of my weekly writers group we've discussed how different our approaches are.  And I have to admit, I never got a grip on it, until I read this post How I Write by Tim Akers.  
So as soon as I finish reading Horns of Ruin, I'll post a review. It already has a number of great reviews so I'm looking forward to reading this writer who originally hails from North Carolina and now lives in Chicago. Maybe it will be the inspiration I need to finish Orchidelirium, which is so close to being completed.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Architectural painting

I didn't plan to go back to painting and leave the paper arts projects, but I was inspired to work on an architectural piece by both the art and photography of Wendy Farrow and by the wedding of William and Kate.  I created the first piece on the day of the wedding using a mixed media approach, started with a vintage photograph of a castle which soon was transformed into a very impressionistic approach to Westminster Abbey.  This is a style I love, which I started a bit in my New Orleans paintings during the early 2000's.  I don't do realism, and in fact want to distort my buildings in some way so they are more dream like, evasive and moody.  I don't know why the red came up - but it did.  I tend to just go with the flow, work fairly fast and just let the piece dictate how it wants to look.  I used a combination of paper, gesso, acrylics and water colours on mat board, then used masking fluid to remove the paint in random ways. 
The second piece I did two days later.  This is a painting of a part of the Brooklyn Bridge as inspired by the movie Stay, and it's dream sequences of the bridge on a rainy night as experienced by the young artist, Henry Letham, as played by Ryan Gosling.  It's one of my favorite films in the entire industry, due to the story, and certainly the amazing cinematography. Henry's paintings in the movie always move me and come to find out they are photographs taken by a German photographer, Stefanie Schneider
For this piece I decided to use canvas since I'm using more and more layers of paint.  This one started out in acrylics and then I added layers of watercolour and glaze, once again used the removal of paint with the masking fluid, then went over with a glaze, wiped it off, Drew in the cables of the bridge in blue and black pen and then went over the engraved lines with pigment inks, wiping off the residue so only the lines held the purple and green inks.
There's a scene in the movie near the end where the bridge actually comes alive in Henry's mind and perhaps also in the mind of his psychiatrist  and they float and move.  I was trying to catch that element although the photographs are quite different from my painting. Here's a photo from the movie of the series of polarized photos by Stefanie Schneider.
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