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Everything posted by jfutral

  1. So I've been catching the Jazz series again on PBS, or whatever they call themselves these days. Everytime I see that series I am just struck by the centrality of a community, a place where artists push and inspire each other, this sense of a supersaturation of art and philosophy, the Five Spot where these great visual artists hung out and watched Ornette Coleman, or Paris where Miles and Sartre hung out. I think about a show I lit in Atlanta that was an original musical. I walked into rehearsals and the music director/composer was there, the director/choreographer, George Faison, was giving him notes telling him to change this, the composer questioning but then creating, handing it off to the performer who struggled and then made it sing. Creativity pushing creativity to be more creative. I can't remember when I've been as inspired since. Does such a world exist anymore? Or are we now only to find glimpses of it here and there such as I did on that one show? Sometimes I feel like the dance company I work for, Piloblus, catches that vibe, but these days it seems too far away still. Where can I be immersed, drowned in a culture of creativity? Joe
  2. I love the show. The only thing I hate is sometimes it seems if I miss the first 5 minutes there is no catching up for me. Joe
  3. Not really a museum per se, but they have a museum on site, too,--we were in PA not too long ago and spent some time in Gettysburg. That was quite the humbling experience. While the "electric map" was a bit of a snoozer technologically speaking, the content of the program was provoking. If you are even close, ddefinitely worth the visit. Joe
  4. jfutral


    Because of all the traveling I do (although not through time) I've only been able to watch about two episodes in "normal mode". I've purchased the whole season so far from iTunes. I tell you, watching this show sans commercials and being able to go back and see some parts over again, have made me sold on iTunes for this show. I think it helps immensely. I've kind of gotten to the point that I'd rather not watch it on Monday nights. You can also catch the most recent episode on NBC.com after it airs for free. I recommend trying that out for a while, too. I love the show and am hooked. Joe
  5. I've been trying hard to come up with something, but I just don't travel in those circles. One would think CIVA might have something, but they don't have a forum. IAM-NY has a board, but it may take a few weeks or months before someone answers your question. Not that we are doing all that much better. Although with their conference coming up in February there might start to be a little uptick in activity. Or not. I hang out some at theooze, but while there is a good bit of interest in the arts, there aren't many practicing artists. Joe
  6. Well, I'm trying to hit the biggies right now for my initial journey around here and there. I really liked the National Gallery of Art in DC. After hitting so many art museums that charge (although usually decent to almost too much) and beat me over the head if I try to take a picture of the work, I pretty much conceded defeat until about 3/4s of the way through the NGA I discovered I actually COULD take pictures! Here I was in the midst of all this Rothko work and all I had was my cell phone at 640x480. I was pretty well bummed about that, but I enjoyed the museum all the same. So NGA gets a big vote for being free and letting me take pictures of non-featured exhibits. Although the Van Gogh in Amsterdam gets my vote for the greatest religious experience. So far, but still in transit, Joe
  7. Well, I can't imagine much more interesting than the Duomo in Florence, Italy. But Nazareth College in Rochester must have _something_ interesting to look at. Or not. Joe
  8. Stereotype??? That's was supposed to be a stereotype? Doh! I missed that line! OK. Starting over. Joe
  9. Yeah, all that's well and good, but I'm really hunting for one thing while in South America... coffee! :-) Joe
  10. Hey! Welcome to A&F! Thanks for your thoughts. You did make me think I wasn't all that clear. In case I wasn't clear (and I usually not), I wasn't advocating judging the art by the artist. But I do think there is a depth to art that can be explored by also getting to know the artist. I also think the artist's work can tell us as much about the artist as studying his life. That so many broken people can and have created glorious works (from whatever perspective) I think shows hope and a divine influence beyond what the news headlines are willing to show. From the heart of Santiago, Chile! Joe
  11. [Taking break from work] From this point of view I don't even want to think of the potential implications of liking spaghetti. I would prefer to, like you, simply like the things I like. [Late to this conversation] Just to add to your post about "abstract", Rothko, apparently, did not consider his later work (the more known works of colour) as abstract. He considerd himself working with pure colour. Where as artists like Klee and Kandinsky both seem to consider some importance to abstracting from natural or recognizable forms. All three considered what they were doing to be working toward or inspired from what music achieves "without the help of representation" (to touch lightly on another thread). I don't know where any of this fits into or implications to this discussion, but what I've read here about abstract made me think of some of the things I've been reading lately and I thought I'd share. [/back to work] Joe
  12. I take it you didn't buy into "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"? Well, even though I don't _totally_ disagree with you, I can agree to disagree with this. I think we agree that ANY language used for communicating, universal or otherwise, is also dependant on what the listener brings. The best communicator in the world is still going to depend on the listener's desire or predisposition to hear ("for him who has ears to hear let him hear"), much less understand what is heard. I don't agree that someone finding something "pointless" and "dull" equates with "utterly incomprehensible". I do think you described three very different groups of people. I find a lot of opera dull, but that doesn't mean I find it incomprehensible. And I don't agree that just because a piece or genre of music doesn't affect everyone the same way this somehow negates the capability of music being a universal language. When has language ever been judged so? We are still arguing how to interpret the Bible. And supposedly we have the author to help our understanding! So even when we can speak with some degree of certainty of a language of an unambiguous nature we are not presented with universal comprehensibility. That music transcends culture, language, time, and class _at all_ and _regularly_ and to _millions_, IMO, speaks to its universal ability to, as quoted, "give expression without the help of representation". That people centuries later still find Bach's music of value, Or that people in Japan find worth in American Jazz or even, God forbid, country music, should blow ones mind. And not just a small group of people, but millions. Even if the examples were small in stature, when taken as a whole, that there are multitudes of these examples should account for something. If math were the defining attribute and we were only presented with a small community here or there of varying cultures or classes (which would still strike me as amazing), the numbers would be far more in your favour. But I think you touched on something, too. What is it communicating? But that's for another day. I have too much work to do before our next tour. I've enjoyed the conversation with everyone! Joe edited to add: did you get the irony with this "Given the math involved, it's hard for me to define that as a 'universal language.'"? Music and math? Hahahaha! :-)
  13. To clarify my position, I don't agree yet that music IS a universal language, but I do think the possibility warrants thought. And also understand I come from the position that with art, the appreciator of the work brings as much, if not more, to the table as the artist. That said, I don't see how it follows that a universal language should result in a similar, much less the same kind of, reaction in _everyone_. I see two ways to appraoch this. First by comparing this to a language that, while not universal, is understood by a large group of people. How someone responds to another person using english is affected by several things, things like how adept the person is at using the language, choice of words, choice of environment, even choice of audience. Even assuming a thorough understanding of the language and a high level of skill in its usuage on the part of the messenger, their are some politicians (for example) , no matter how clearly they speak and how much I understand what they are saying, I simply will not agree with them and I will not react to what they say the same way as someone who does agree with them. So another variable in someone's reaction is their position on the message. Take the gospel for instance. Not everyone who has heard the message of the gospel has responded the same way. Does this mean the message of the gospel is not universal? The perspective of the listener also has to take into account not just their ability to understand what is being conveyed or communicated, or how well it is being conveyed or communicated, but also the value they place on what is being conveyed or communicated as well as the value they place on who is doing the conveying. Taking the political season again as an example, a conservative isn't as likely to place as much value on the communication of a liberal even if the message is conservative. Not that this is you, but some peole place little, if any, value on a rock musician who plays classical music (such as Yngwie Malmsteen) than an accomplished violinist. Those are just some considerations I would think of regarding an understood language. Now the second perspective is to see how a universal language does across groups of people of varying languages. This is not hard either. Remember during or after WWII (I think that's when it was, I don't recall precisley, maybe you or someone else remembers more accurately) the President sent a group of jazz musicians throughout Europe as sort of ambassadors. To be sure, American pop music is _very_ popular in non-enlgish speaking countries, even when they don't undertsand the words (and as I discovered in Holland, this is how many Dutch have learned english!). The same can be said of Italian opera in an English speaking country. Classical music has shown its ability to transcend culture and language and people of varying backgrounds appreciate and respond similarly. In this regard music (as well as much art in general) _has_ shown itself at least to have some level or degree of consistent universality. There was an NPR program a couple years back about a cultural exchange program involving a bluegrass band and a folk group of musicians in a non-english speaking country. The only way they had to communicate was with music. I wish I could remember the details of the program, as the basis was concerning (IIRC) the universality of music as a language. The only thing I really remember is a profound statement by one of the american musicians when he said "Performing music is an act of faith". I love that line. It is so true of art generally and particulalry of the performing arts. To say if music is a universal langauge then ALL music (regardless of genre, craftsmenship of musician, sophistication of the music, content of message, etc.) will ALWAYS cause the SAME reaction from EVERYONE (regardless of personal nature and nurture) just seems ludicrous. To me a universal language does not automatically equate to consistent reaction or response, even if the message is clear and understood. I think it is best defined as I heard one person put it, where he says, "The power of music to give expression without the help of representation is its noblest possession." It is in this way that I think music can best be understood as a universal language. YMMV, Joe edited to hopefully make better sense!
  14. In retrospect that didn't sound as funny or witty as it did in my head while I was typing it. It was a bit of a play on music. Ah well. The best laid plans. As you said before...I see, but I don't see. It's been a "family weekend" so time is tight. But I do have some thoughts. I do agree with this statement. But I don't agree that a universal language should do this either. Anymore than the language we are using here on this board speaks in a consistent way. I think your point here has more to do with the result of (our response to) what has been said than what has been said or how it was said. People say things to us all the time that we may or may not agree with. That doesn't mean they didn't use a language we understand. I think being in the midst of a political season exemplifies this exactly. More later, Joe (edited for grammar)
  15. I'm not really sure how to respond to this. Phrased how you phrased it, I don't know anyone who would disagree, except maybe some ultrafundamentalist who thinks all art is of the devil anyway. All the same, and I mean this in the most respectful way possible, I don't recall anyone saying this. No one has said that a particular scale or note communicates anything specific. While I appreciate the need to exaggerate to make a point, this is not the point. And I think your above statement is also a far cry from: Which is what I really felt I was responding to. So I feel a bit played. (But artfully!) I don't see how art cannot reflect the person creating the work. Does that make the work any less valuable, beautiful, or glorious? I don't think so. Just as I would say modernism, while it may have failed or has serious flaws, still helped created some marvelous and beautiful art and I feel blessed and better for having encountered them. I think this idea is also reflected in the personalities related through scripture. Immoral acts were done by people God loved and called "after My own heart". And God did wonderous works by their hands and blessed the world all the same. However, "from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" and, as I heard Glenn Kaiser extrapolate, the writer writes, the painter paints, the musician plays his instrument, etc. While their personal _life_ may not have a bearing on the art, what it is that drives that personal life ("out of the abundance of the heart") does have a bearing on their art. Nardis' point about the artist, Miles in this instance, creating a whole personna to be digested with the music I think deserves consideration. Miles, as an artist, was not just creating music as his art. He was creating something of performance art to a large degree. You may be able to seperate the parts out, but that seems to miss the point the artist was trying to achieve. The image was as much a part of the vehicle for the music as his trumpet. Did I say that right? Maybe Miles was trying to do with jazz what David Bowie did with whatever it was he was doing musically. Rock? Pop? You pick. I definitely agree with the first above quoted statement of yours. That is part of that whole notion that "God only plays in major keys" or some other such nonsense. But when God plays music (I believe his instrument of choice is the shofar?) I can't imagine him playing something that will not tell us something about His glory, or his tenderness, or sovereignty, or some other attribute that is part of who God is. Well, there are a lot of artists who view music as a universal language. And there are visual artists who derived their particular styles/voices either from music or by working through an analogy with music, such as Klee or Kandinsky. Some would say that music is the purest or one of the purest art forms. Where does melody come from? Why does one note follow another? How does Will Smith go from music to acting? I would think music does not need to be laden with lyrics to derive either value or significance as conveyor of a message. I would go back to my first exposure to Mahler's work and the ballet Dark Elegies and how I discovered loss and sorrow before I knew anything about the works. Not that I think you have said music needs lyrics to communicate meaningfully, but I'm not sure how you can avoid coming to a siimilar conclusion by saying instrumental music (such as Phil Keaggy's) is only pretty. I'm sure I just don't understand (which is not unusual). (I have to admit I cannot put the names of PK's instrumental music with the work, much less actually remember the names regardless, with the exception of maybe two of his pieces, _Follow me up_ and _County Down_. And those only because I tried my best to learn them. And yet I find tremendous expression, meaning, and message in his works.) But I could be wrong. What do I know? I'm just some lighting geek. Joe
  16. I hope I didn't come across as saying otherwise or sounding like I was being confrontational. That was not intent. I was actually applauding your ability to look beyond the mask and focus on the art. I want to reiterate what I and others here have said, a bad or immoral person does not equal bad or immoral art. I can only speak philosphically and hypothetially regarding Miles in particular. I haven't listened to enough of his work, especially his later work, to really say. I've mostly been engaged in the "Kind of Blue" era and before that with Dizzy. How would that work? I don't think it is expressed in the "notes" but how he used them. Just like with Picasso, it isn't the paint, but what he does with the paint. I think of a dancer friend of mine who, when asked to explain what his recent piece of choreography meant he replied "If I could use words I would have used words and not dance". And I would also reiterate what I said earlier or elsewhere, one work will not a comprehensive worldview express. But it would work the same way any other art work would convey the artist's thoughts and ideas at any given time. I would think that abuse of a woman is not solely expressed as violence. There must be a great deal of seduction involved. I found this little quote from Pearl Cleage (since she was brought up earlier and was a residential "G" of my current home, Atlanta): "He became a permanent part of the seduction ritual. Chill the wine. Light the candles. Put on a little early Miles. Give the gentleman caller an immediate understanding of what kind of woman he was dealing with. . . . This was the woman I was learning to be, and I will confess that I spent many memorable evenings sending messages of great personal passion through the intricate improvisations of Kind of Blue." So he could have been expressing musically this need to seduce or the feeling of seduction. Or it could also be what I said earlier. How he performed his ballads could have been an expression of apology or reflect his sorrow or struggle for doing what he must have known was wrong. Or, maybe with a work like "So what" he expresses musically that he has no reason to apolgize. His carefree improvisation takes him where it will and he sees no need to do otherwise. Even if his music is only seeking to evoke emotion in the same way Rothko felt pure colour could do, is that not a point of view? Could abuse (of others or self) not be seen as equally provocative or evocative? Maybe what drives him musically is also what drives his actions in life? Or not. I'm just speculating about possibilities. But to simply say that instrumental music cannot evoke or express a point of view I think is to do many a musician and composer a disservice. I think Phil Keaggy is one musician who has done great work expressing a point of view with instrumental music. As well as Laurence Jubar. I also think John Cage, more explicitly than most musicians, captures his world view in his music. That's just some ideas and notions I have. Take 'em or leave 'em. I could be convinced otherwise. Joe
  17. These are just my hypotheses but I actually think the bland becomes even more prevelant when the general public becomes more separated from the experience of art making. If everyone had some experience in the arts they could at least have a better appreciation for great work. Right now we seem to be in a dichotomy of sorts. On the one hand, according to one school of thought, we are producing more "artists" than ever before. One person said something to the extent of (Futral's Paraphrase) one school produces more artist than existed in the whole Renaissance, or some other period. I wish I could find that quote. At the same time the idea that "art is for the rich" or other exclusionary groups is prevalent in the general public. Art is unapproachable to too many people. Our NEA Chair in his keynote speech at the IAM-NY conference last year said that artists can speak to other artists, but can't speak to anyone else. This continues to widen the divide. The artist's frustration expressed as "they just don't get it" should be met with "Why should they?" And while there are any number of possible answers, the one that should concern us most is "they don't get it because they have no reason to". I think the more people who can experience art, the less likely they are to accept the bland as art. And recognize and appreciate decoration, design, and craft for what it is. That's my hope anyway. Joe
  18. I think this is the crux of where you are coming from. I was reading something recently (I can't recall which book as I've been reading a lot lately, maybe Rothko's or maybe it was Gablik's _Has Modernism Failed_?) talking about where art moved from craft to whatever it is considered today. Art moved along side philosophy and artist along side philosophers. So now art is not just something you do and are skilled at. But I would hazard to guess this happend a bit before the Romantic period. Maybe shortly after Francis Bacon hit the scene? Well, that's where I would at least put the transition _beginning_. From what little I've read (and obviously not to the extent artists are faced with today) as skilled as Bach was, he was still concerned with making a living with his art and had to deal with all the pressures that were more culturally relevant to his time, but present none-the-less. While maybe not a "_G_enius" period of art yet, it at least seemed in the making. But I could be wrong. There are people here who would know more of Bach and that period than I. Maybe they would chime in. But this idea of the Genius artist and the resulting personality cults, pro or con individual artists, seems to have reached a crescendo today, seeming to have been building since post-impressionism. If Andy HAS been able to avoid all that, then certainly he has crossed over to post-modernism or maybe retrograded to pre-modernism! Congrats to him if so! People like me are still wallowing in modernism. But I am trying to break free! (read my post in the "Genius Grants" thread.) I will grant Wynton in that his controversy seems more centered around his views of his art, not his life outside like Miles. But I would reiterate that there are those who say Miles' obsession with image _did_ result in a change in his art. Or maybe the other way around. Either way it seems impossible to seperate the two. So I think whatever worldview he had to allow him to abuse women (I am unfamiliar with those stories, though) more than likely did overflow into his art, just as people would say of Picasso's or Degas' views of women and thier resulting art. It may just be a little more difficult to pin down since we don't have "visual aids" or word pictures. Or maybe his art reflected his battle with such behaviour, thus making his music more than likely his place of escape from his behaviour. Or maybe modernism's obsession with the indivdual's point of view in his art is where we should have been all along. Rothko seems to think it was always there, even when an artist/art was supposed to serve society. Maybe we just need to focus less on individuals held as elitist specialists, and more broadly incorporat art to/for all humans. Or something like that. I don't think I said what I meant. But that isn't anything new. grrr. Joe
  19. Got it. Finally. I don't think anyone, well certainly not I, was suggesting because a person is bad or immoral then their art is immoral or bad as well. But I do admit that being turned off by Gauguin's personality has given me less reason than before to admire his work. And I wasn't all that enamoured before I learned about him, anyway. It is difficult for me to tell if this is not unrelated. By the same token, I think it would be difficult for an honest artist to remove the art as a reflection of some part of who they are. Or as I mentioned earlier, while an artist is not their art, it should certainly come from who they are. But Miles was certainly taken to task by some critics for changing his art to fit his image in those later days, and many feel his art suffered because of it. So Nardis is not so far off as one might think. And I would beg to differ that instrumental music cannot communicate a worldview. Well, maybe not comprehensively, but certainly give one a glimpse. An extreme or hyperbolic(?) example might be John Cage. Now there is a bucket of worms I personally prefer to avoid right now. I still have lots of issues I am trying to work through regarding "Christian" music, the industry, and the musicians. Joe
  20. I don't know how this could not be in some way related to the topic and I tend to be open to/prefer an organic nature of conversation. Certainly seems to me to pertain to the question about separating an artist from his work. If it means anything, I've heard Wynton Marsalis speak similarly to nardis about Miles. But Wynton also seemed to think, IIRC, that Miles did eventually come around full circle. Or maybe he was talking about John Coltrane, I don't remember exactly. It was a long conversation. Maybe both. What might be interesting is seeing if there IS a correlation of his art to his life. Wynton seemed to think so. I wish I could remember everything he said. Wynton Marsalis is very much into the spiritual nature of music, particulalry jazz. I think he would validate the notion of attaching an artist to an understanding of his work while at the same time still explore the universal truths the music communicates. But this is based on what I remember him saying and is poorly second hand at that. But is this really possible? Would art by its nature need to rely on the person creating the work in order to even be valid as art--their point of view, their understanding of truth, their nature, etc.? Is the artist not always reflected in their work to some degree? Joe
  21. I think I understand what you are saying. Kind of two sides to the same coin to a certain degree. But is it really that you understand the why to suffering, or is it more that you can relate? Or maybe philosophers are asking the wrong question. Not "Why is there suffering?" or theologians' attempts to answer "Why does a good God allow suffering?" but "Why should there be joy instead of suffering?" Joe
  22. There is probably more a central theme than a central question. I would say (and not to constrict the discussion at all) the theme is something along the lines of how we each are affected by art. My wife pointed the referenced article out to me, which I found most interesting. That there was actually a "syndrome" for reacting strongly emotionally to art struck me odd, but made me ask myself several questions all at once. So I thought I would pass some of those questions on and see what other people thought. The article's author did discuss knowing an artist's (Hannah Wilke) personal circumstances and how it affected her viewing of her work. But the overall gist of the article is why art can seemingly without apparent cause trigger a strong emotional response. In myself, I was questioning why I become so drawn to know more about an artist after viewing much of their work and then the further deepening of my appreciation of the work as a result. Why does it seem so necessary or such a logical result to me? Shouldn't being moved by the work be enough? And would I have reacted so strongly to seeing those portraits of Van Gogh had I not been so interested in him as a person, too? A friend mentioned (not sure if it is true, but sounded interesting) that there are some cultures that will refuse to listen to what someone has to say until they know more about the person's history and family. As for joy in art. Tears can be the result of experiencing joy and beauty, too. But that aside, Kandinsky always brings a bit of joy to my life. The dance company I work for, Pilobolus, much of their work strikes me as filled with joy, which is one reason why I think they are so popular. Paul Klee's _Twittering Machine_ always makes me laugh. And Al Jarreau's vocals always seem to be able to lift me out or carry me through dark times. But I think people remember the meloncholy or sorrow that art provokes more than the joy because joy often seems more ephemeral in our lives. Yet the sadness seems to always be close by. Even in Christianity, there is the philosophy that there is no resurrection without death. And I think this is also driven by the need to understand the existance of suffering. Joy makes sense, but suffering? Sort of "Joy and delight, I can understand how that is good, but the suffering...I struggle with that." Just some thoughts, Joe
  23. I know this feeling, too. When I was working at Ohio Ballet we mounted Anthony Tudor's Dark Elegies. I never could figure out why I always felt so depressed or filled with despair while watching. Then I learned the music is Mahler's Kindertotenlieder and the ballet reflects the story of the grieving parents after the death of all the children in the village. I have no doubt that the piece is performed with a baritone singing on stage had an impact as well. To this day this is one of my all time favourite ballets, and works of art in general. Joe
  24. Yes, we should instead re-enforce the idea that artists are all retards. That's funny! So the only alternative to enforcing an elitist class is enforcing the idea that all artists are retards. In her book _Has Modernism Failed?_ Suzi Gabik tells of an artist in Ohio that has taken on full time work as a social worker. "In the course of his social work he has discovered that many of these people with disabilities make wonderful art. ...he has chosen to reach out and help people who are usually shut out of the conversation about art and culture. 'I am not sacrificing anything,' he says, 'and I am gaining everything.'" Where is his Genius Grant? Is what he does not equally important, if not more so? I like the idea of re-enforing the importance of art, but is handing out $4,000,000.00 to eight people really the best way? The general public already feels that it is not possible for them to be artists and that art is exclusive. And education cuts in arts programs are already creating a generation of people who have little or no first hand connection to art making. Doesn't this kind of reward simply exacerbate the divide? And from the artist side, how does this help enforce the idea that art is more important than financial gain? How does this help the artist understand they have a responsibility to the community as much if not more so than the community has in providing them a living? It is a difficult balance to work out. As someone who makes his living in art, one I think about daily. Art is important and should be encouraged. But what does the Genius Grant _really_ re-enforce and encourage? Individual materialism and entitlement or community? Or something else? Just some thoughts and questions, Joe
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