Bluegrass music mostly originated from the old time music of Appalachia, which itself was partly imported from the British Isles. Country, Gospel, Blues and the amorphously named “American Folk” styles were also thrown into the mix. More or less codified by the middle of the 20th century, the name and instrumentation derived from Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys band whose members also included Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt.
Each piece shown here represents both a bluegrass song as well as one of the instruments that comprise the bluegrass band. The pieces are strung with the strings of that instrument. I did some of the arrangements myself (though that is hardly saying much considering I could only fit a couple of bars on each piece). Yes, in some cases I committed the blasphemy of altering the key to make the notes fit and look better on the staff. The banjo piece was also influenced ever so slightly by the work of George Crumb.
Though Bluegrass music has evolved over the past 75 years, the basic flavor of the music remains the same. The musicians I’ve chosen, who play the music on which my pieces are based, represent different generations of performers and styles but none of the songs themselves are particularly new.
The blackest crow that ever flew would surely turn to white,
If ever I prove false to you bright day will turn to night,
Bright day will turn to day my love, the elements will mourn,
If ever I prove false to you the seas will rage and burn.
Wayfaring Stranger: Johnny Cash
Although this piece was created with Johnny’s version in mind, licensing issues are keeping me from being able to use Johnny’s version for your reference. This cover is by the High Point Bluegrass Band. I cannot find any information on this band.
I’m just a poor wayfarin’ stranger,
While travelin’ through this world below.
Yet there’s no sickness, no toil, nor danger,
In that bright land to which I go.
I’m goin’ there to see my Father.
And all my loved ones who’ve gone on.
I’m just goin’ over Jordan.
I’m just goin’ over home.
Artomatic is back! After 3 years, the artists have taken over an entire vacated office building in Crystal City (over by the Pentagon and National Airport in Arlington, VA). Man what a dusty, stuffy old space. I got stuck with blue carpet but what the hey. I’m generally pleased with my show this time around. It’s another part of The Score is a Work of Art series but dedicated to bluegrass music. If you’re in the DC area, check out Artomatic. My space is on the 11th floor behind the service elevator. (Space#11-3-03-0262 – Floor 11, Section 3, Area 3, Space 0262).
In other news, we just bought a new house and are selling our old one. We move in late June. It’s a great diet! Try and put an art show together while simultaneously packing up your house so it looks like you don’t live there and also chasing a 13 month old around who has suddenly figured out walking. Yeesh. I’ll be happy to get to the beach in July.
Edit: Here are some photos of the bluegrass band. If I was cleverer, I would have named it and posted a set list on the wall.
I finished another piece in The Score is a Work of Art series based on the hebrew song, walking to caesarea (eli eli). It is a very powerful piece – originally a poem – written by poet/playwrite/warrior Hannah Szenes who did not live to see 23 years old. The music was written by Israeli composer, David Zehavi.
For me, this is a simple song about walking on the beach and wondering why there is so much unrest in humanity.
I’d been trying to figure out how to do execute this for a while and am still unsure whether this is a study or a final. I had thought about working with polymer or resin casting in order to be more literal, so I may do another version of this piece in future trying those techniques.
I found this series of wooden frames that I liked when framing a print of …Wandering Aengus and on an impulse decided to use the frame and it’s glass as part of the art for Eli Eli, though I think the glass is perhaps too smooth and too close to the sand to be representing water. The idea is that the sand (glued in layers to the canvas) is under the water. The hemp strings of the staff are like fishing nets under the water digging lines in the sand. The pebbles here are floating on the water, which I like because it’s fanciful.
All in all, I really like the way this turned out though the photographs don’t really show the depth very well.
Theme and Variations
“In music, variation is a formal technique where material is altered during repetition: reiteration with changes. The changes may involve harmony, melody, counterpoint, rhythm, timbre or orchestration.” – wikipedia
We have a theme. You may recall, For Just a Moment:
Now we have variations. Here are variations 1 though 4 (clockwise).
For Just a Moment, Variations 1 – 4 will be on display at The artdc Gallery from December 6, 2009, to January 3, 2010 as part of the Patron Members’ Exhibition. 5710 Baltimore Ave., Hyattsville, Maryland 20781
I created this piece for the Zip Code Show. It’s a group show and I’m happy to be showing with a bunch of lovely and talented artists, many of whom I met through Artomatic. Details are below. Opening night is next Saturday the 29th. I discovered I don’t really have a good photo of the piece from the front. Unlike the other pieces in the Score series, this one is vertical and the staff lines are not parallel (for those who can read music, it’s bottom to top, and, I believe, in the key of Bflat).
August 29th – September 5th
Halstead Gallery: 1028 South Walter Reed Drive in Arlington, VA 22204
Opening reception, Sat Aug 29, 5-midnight;
Gallery hours: Tue – Fri, 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm; Sat Sept 5, 5-10 pm
In the early 1990’s, kids drove their cars up to the top of Kenter at night to drink beer, smoke cigarettes, and make out to the music on their car sterios. The view from the top of Kenter is pretty stellar; the lights of the long boulevards sparkle and glitter, stretching miles to the ocean in the distance, and often you could hear the calling of the coyotes. I spent many nights up there with friends in my early 20’s.
A new addition to my continuing series, “The Score is a Work of Art”
Visual interpretations, conveying the spirit of music—inspired by its moods, emotions, genres and instrumentations.
Title “Hotel California (North Kenter Ave, Los Angeles 90049)”
22″ x 40″
texture paint, acrylic, sand, wire, cigarettes, glass