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Evolution of a New Collection

July 30th, 2011 No comments

Wire #8425b

Wall #8806

Paint #8366

Wall #7981

Here are a few images from a collection I am working on. For now, the working title of this collection is called “Alleys” since many of the images are coming from walks down urban alleys and streets.

I am wondering how other artists develop new collections… I don’t seem to be conscious of a change until I am almost through it and on to the next. The first sign of change is boredom with what I am doing. This is very subtle and I often don’t even realize I am bored until I find myself stopped. I wonder what is wrong. I stop work for awhile. I don’t feel like “playing”.I’ve tried pushing through it and the result is boring. I have to accept that it is time to think about something else for awhile.

I truly believe that unless I allow myself to have that down time, the creative spirit within me can’t be restored. Then after the pause — sometimes instantly, sometimes very gradually — I am rejuvenated. Wonder floods back into my soul. I am back in love with what I am doing and seeing. I am operating at a very intuitive level again. Playing, experimenting, breaking my own rules, breaking everybody else’s rules. Wahoo!!!

Slowly I start to see a method to my madness, a pattern or a process or a theme. The process of refining that new direction, and zeroing in on what it IS that fascinates or attracts me, requires me to become more conscious of it. That is where I am right now with my Alleys (and Streets) theme.

It is really interesting now that I think about it… I see a parallel with how I change and how musical styles (or artistic styles) change.  My own artistic efforts follow the same lifecycle as an artistic movement on a much smaller scale.
Artistic Style Lifecycle (music as an example)
  • Bach thinks of a new way of structuring or expressing music. He breaks or bends the existing musical “rules” in a new and liberating way. Others start breaking the same rules and extending the new vision. Then gradually the rate of change slows down a little, those new “rules” and style get codified into the status quo.
  • Mozart comes along. He focuses on taking the now newly established “rules” to their logical conclusion. He continues adding more depth and refinement of those “rules” to the point of taking that vision to its highest realization. And other musicians build success on that style that is a culmination of a set of “rules” or aesthetic sensibilities.
  • Beethoven takes the status quo and warps, bends, and breaks it as Bach did… another rule-breaker composer who ushers in a new movement of musical expression.

Ok, they didn’t explain it exactly that way in music school, but you get my drift.

Anyway, I see a similar (albeit smaller) pattern in my own development of style and collections within my work. And the best part is that I get to be Bach, Beethoven AND Mozart for my own artistic journey!!

I am now standing at the midpoint of a new collection’s development. I can see it shaping up and I will do some more writing and sharing about it to help clarify and refine that new vision. I will also be continuing to add images to it as I distill my interest in this next body of work.

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How Opera Won Me Over

October 10th, 2010 3 comments

I don’t know about you, but I always had an attitude about opera. Give me some chamber music, a piano concerto or a symphony and I’m happy to submerge myself into an hour or two of focused listening and experiencing of classical music. But I was very snotty about singers and opera in particular. Most of my fellow woodwind players and I barely considered singers to be “musicians”. I think it was fostered by the attitude that we woodwind players had about everybody else in school. The jocks were the brass players. And the string players were the cattle (there are so many of them in an orchestra). Moo. The percussionists were a fascinating enigma to me, I dated several. The pianists and the guitarists were lone wolves. And then there were the woodwind players. They were the real musicians. They were the ones I felt the intimate connection with when we played together. I married one of those (not my current husband).

It took several experiences for me to change my opinion about singers and later about opera.

First, I had the experience of playing flute in the pit orchestra for some Puccini operas. The music was so heartbreakingly beautiful that I allowed myself to fall in love with it in spite of the singing.

Then a close girlfriend married an opera conductor. When she came to California to visit me, with him in tow, we spent the whole night listening to opera. I tried to have an open mind for her sake, and largely succeeded at least for the night (aided by continuous drinking of cheap French wine and the smoking of cigars while discussing the merits of obscure – to me – opera performances).

Then many years later, as I introduced my current husband, David, to Puccini’s La Boheme, little did I know that it was the beginning of an obsession for him. I, being the musician in the family, had to save face and nod wisely when he exclaimed over a new find.  “I knew that.” “Really.” I came home from work to encounter booming voices and bombastic music ringing throughout the house. He started collecting recordings of Puccini operas. Then it was Mozart. Then it was Verdi, Delibes, and Rossini. When he started playing Wagner’s operas, I knew I had created a monster.  As far as I was concerned, Wagner belonged in the genre of cartoon music composers. His operas were blow-your-brains-out* loud music that lasted an eternity and had a wildly unbelievable storyline.

My attitude about opera (not Wagner – stay with me here) was reversed, finally, when I went to the San Francisco Opera for a live performance. The sets, the orchestra, the costumes, and the soaring rich resonant voices produced a revelatory experience.  I got it. I understood what was so special about opera. It is an encompassing experience that isn’t represented nearly as well in an audio recording as it is at the live “happening” event. From then on, I was in harmony with my husband about going to the opera. Every year we bought tickets for a few operas locally and in San Francisco. But I still didn’t feel  “the love” for Wagner. I really had no patience to listen to any of his music.

Today (ahh, you waited), when David and I attended the performance of Wagner’s Das Rheingold streamed LIVE from the New York Metropolitan Opera to a theater  in Sacramento, I lost my aversion to Wagner. To put it in modern terms, it was like the real, the ORIGINAL Lord of the Rings Trilogy for classical music buffs. I completely bought the ludicrous storyline when I thought of it as a fantasy/science fiction story. The sets were magic and the close-ups of the singers made me really buy the emotional content of what they were singing about. I cared. I was completely engaged in a magical story that had music so expressively woven into it (and performed so fabulously) that the music was the setting, the music WAS the story. Wagner made something more than music + costumes + sets + story. The sum of these parts was in a new dimension for me. It was jaw-dropping and utterly absorbing.  The music was loud when it was perfect for it to be loud. The long conversations of the Gods were packed with emotional content and a sense of building suspense.  Art provokes an emotional response, and the new Robert Lepage production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold completely meets that criteria in the most pleasurable way. It has opened up a new world for me to explore. I can’t wait for the next installment in the series! Bravo!!!!

*blow-your-brains-out, this is a flute-player’s jaded perception of orchestral music tutti sections

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Categories: Music, Opera