A big thanks to contributor David Munford for the use of his holiday-themed animated .gif that we had in the header during the last week of 2012. Dave honed his art chops in Colorado and Boston before migrating to upstate New York, where he continues to paint, draw and do cartoons. His most recent project was a gallery exhibit showing of some of his plein air paintings in November and December of 2012. We’ll have more of Mr. Munford’s stuff featured here in 2013.
In the process of re-sizing his holiday .gif to fit into the dimensions of our site’s header, we became aware of the animation ‘clogging up’ on Safari browsers (although it worked okay in Firefox and Chrome), so we decided to just publish a still from the animation. We’re going to pull down the header still frame on January 2, but thought you might enjoy the animation if you didn’t get to see it working earlier. Here’s the file with its original dimensions:
The Vibrato. The Quiet One. The Kid. The non-flashy one. And now, thirty-eight years after leaving the Rolling Stones and thirty-one since they last played live with him (2003’s guest appearance was scuttled while he waited backstage with his guitar), the unassuming guitarist who took them to musical heights not seen since stepped out on the darkened blue stage and completed the journey. He had so much pep in his step, it looked like it was impossible for him to relax into a slow blues or even assume his traditional standing-still stage demeanor of yore.
He spun around, he lurched, he prowled the front of the stage (has he ever done this even once in his entire career?), he gravitated between hanging out with the guitarists in front of Charlie Watts’ drums and heading out to play off of the other Mick who was busy blowing harp and exhorting the audience. It was a little messy, and surely a little disorienting to be playing on a giant stage again after years decades away from the limelight. Was he sending a message to Jagger and the others? Something along the lines of “I can still play this shit and I can even walk around and entertain if you need an extra guitarist for the 2013 tour”. The Vibrato has become the Big Gazelle. Was it the shoes?
Perfect time of the year for a little fantastical. Give your self a break from the holidays, politics, the cold weather, sundown before 5:00. Dive into the whimsical “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore”, a wonderful ode to storytelling, books, writers and readers.
William Joyce’s creative and touching tale brings together animation, the literary arts, silent movie aesthetics and music into a satisfying tale of a solitaire writer whose town is swept up into a giant tornado ala Dorothy to Oz. Fortunately, the book that he is in the midst of writing lands next to him, although most of the words and letters within it have been blown away by the storm. He gets to his feet, collects himself and sets out on a walk where he encounters a small flock of flying books.
Joyce and co-director Brandon Oldenburg, in concert with the animation team and John Hinter’s musical score, have made a warm and simple short movie. One which upholds the importance of the creative arts as its plot, and whisks your imagination away (or is that to…?). A fantastical fifteen minutes.
Peter Gabriel has been challenging and rewarding listeners for forty-five years now. In his earliest days, as Genesis’ co-founder and front-person (1967-1975), he combined elements of theater, performance art, story-telling and the bizarre into his live shows. He has been just as wide-ranging, cutting-edge and surprising since then in his over three decades-long solo career. Through studio releases, world music projects, film soundtracks, music videos, causes and benefit concerts, he has been one of the most respected and influential artists of our time.
In the dizzying and ever-churning realm of disposable pop culture though, much of what the public-at-large knows of Peter Gabriel begins and ends with his 1986 cd “So”, which produced the songs In Your Eyes, Don’t Give Up and, of course, the “Sledgehammer” single and music video. But 1986 was also the year that he began his long-standing public association with Amnesty International.
To those that would dig deeper, Gabriel offers a wealth of varied music projects and public works to explore. He has contributed to the existence of W.O.M.A.D., the Witness project, the ‘gated’ drum sound and the early fusion of electronic synthesis with tribal rhythms on his benchmark third solo album, the revolutionizing of the music video, several notable soundtracks (“Birdy” and “The Last Temptation of Christ”), the fashionable ‘reverse mohawk’ of the 1973 tour and more; while also being the recipient of several international humanitarian awards over the years. And to think that the man behind all that started his music career as a frustrated drummer, handling the vocal chores for an unknown British art rock quintet while wearing a fox head mask and a dress.
After spending much of 2010-2012 touring with an orchestra-and-voices ensemble, which saw him re-inventing his classics in an acoustic format alongside several cover songs from the New Blood cd, he still found time to regroup and launch an entirely different tour before the year’s end.
“No Robots” is a touching animation short by YungHan Chang (Taiwan). He and Kimberly Knoll (USA) directed the student film, made at San Jose State University. No Robots was his first animation project. It’s a mostly silent film, so don’t despair if you don’t understand the newscaster at the beginning; it’s quite easy to follow. I’ve always liked the warmth of ‘classic’ line drawn animation and colorization (even if it’s primitively drawn) over the often artificial 3-D computer-generated kind. It’s just easier on the eyes and more folksy. Add in an old city landscape setting and some futuristic themes (anti-robot demonstrations, robots that care) and I’m good to go. Nice job, guys.
Some observations about creativity before we jump into the excellent John Cleese video below:
When you come up with creative ideas, it’s imperative that you have a way to ‘capture’ them, even if it’s just the seedling of a new idea. You make a sketch or take a picture; you jot down notes or make an audio recording. The point is to make a clear enough representation of your idea while it’s still fresh so that tomorrow (or next month) when you revisit it, it still conveys the properties that made it such a good idea in the first place. Nobody likes waking up from the previous night’s ‘awesome brainstorming session’ and finding three illegible paragraphs and a vague sketch that leave you puzzled as to what all the fuss was about.
Experimental artist Laurie Anderson has broken and blurred all sorts of boundaries, ‘rules’ and perceptions of what music, art, technology, narrative, performer and audience are. Almost forty years after her groundbreaking entry into, for lack of a better term, multimedia performance art and storytelling, she continues to explore and evoke and create. And communicate.
In late May 2012, she gave the commencement address to the (lucky) graduating students of The School of Visual Arts at Radio City Music Hall. Here are a few of her thoughts from that commencement ceremony address.
“I think there should be an artist-in-residence in Congress, an artist-in-residence in the White House, an artist-in-residence in the Supreme Court. Artists have a unique point of view, and why isn’t that a part of the bigger picture in our country?”
She added, “Meanwhile, here’s something to keep in mind. No one will ever ask you to do the thing you really want to do. You’ve got to take my word on this; do not, do not wait for this to happen. It will never happen.”