Friday, March 28, 2008

painting update + Figge article in Reader

first off, there's an article about/featuring the new Figge Art Museum director in the new River Cities Reader here, with some commentary about what the nature of the collection/exhibition plan should be. i didn't quite see some posters' points of view, so i chimed in a couple times.

i finished up work on the revamped version of "Sandburg: Baltic Fog Notes." i like the work better, but i'm still not convinced it's a great piece. ah well though. it's kind of rough and shoddy; the grass blades feel clumsy and overall it's not very cleanly crafted. it's not really how i originally saw this, but maybe i should embrace that with this one. we'll see how my feelings go.

here's the new image. as always, click on the pic for a larger view. if you are interested in seeing the original version, skip down a few posts.

matt pulford
sandburg: baltic fog notes
latex paint, enamel paint, and polycrlic on routed canvas

Carl Sandburg
Baltic Fog Notes
from Smoke and Steel, 1922

(Bergen) SEVEN days all fog, all mist, and the turbines pounding through high seas.
I was a plaything, a rat’s neck in the teeth of a scuffling mastiff.
Fog and fog and no stars, sun, moon.
Then an afternoon in fjords, low-lying lands scrawled in granite languages on a gray sky,
A night harbor, blue dusk mountain shoulders against a night sky,
And a circle of lights blinking: Ninety thousand people here.
Among the Wednesday night thousands in goloshes and coats slickered for rain,
I learned how hungry I was for streets and people.

I would rather be water than anything else.
I saw a drive of salt fog and mist in the North Atlantic and an iceberg dusky as a cloud in the gray of morning.
And I saw the dream pools of fjords in Norway … and the scarf of dancing water on the rocks and over the edges of
mountain shelves.
Bury me in a mountain graveyard in Norway.
Three tongues of water sing around it with snow from the mountains.

Bury me in the North Atlantic.
A fog there from Iceland will be a murmur in gray over me and a long deep wind sob always.

Bury me in an Illinois cornfield.
The blizzards loosen their pipe organ voluntaries in winter stubble and the spring rains and the fall rains bring letters
from the sea.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

"Freedom River"

Freedom River
by Warren H Schmidt, Ph.D.
(Narrated by Orson Welles)

as i've said before, talking and writing about politics is usually somewhat difficult for me. issues that people debate about on television, at the workplace, or even within a circle of friends always seem to be far more complex to me than commonly made out to be. but there is something that's been traversing in and out of my thoughts over the last few years, most often as i read up on a couple religious discussion boards i frequent. i suppose it somewhat relates to the video above — the political issues of xenophobia, greed, etcetera — but i think it's more apt to say it's something more stripped down, pertaining to communication and respect, something more about.. well... "personality," i suppose.

allow me to take a sidestep tangent here for a bit... my wife and I are not church-goers in any sense of the word. i'm an atheist with no belief in an afterlife, and she's someone who is neither here nor there - someone who dislikes the idea of organized religion, but believes in the idea of a creator of everything (that's about as commonly theistic or religious as her mindset gets; it might suffice to say she believes in "The Force," for lack of a better explanation). so... think about us, and about how we will raise our future children. what do you think we'll do? do you think I'll teach them there is no god? think we'll answer questions like "what happens when grandma dies?" with stone-cold answers not fit for a child? conversely, think about a religious couple you know, also in their early 30s. a friend you have that "loves jesus," and is actively involved in his or her church. how do you think they'll raise their children? my guess is that most people would think both my wife and i as well as this other hypothetical couple will both raise their children ardently according to their beliefs, or lack thereof — me, raising my children by telling them belief in god is illogical, and they, raising their children by telling them god created them and everything around them.

and that is where i think most people are mistaken.

you see, the more i learn about the religious right i happen to be around in my daily life at work and at play (and in family circles), the more i realize they have a very peculiar view of our nation, and in turn, how they live their lives — their personalities. it's not very apt to call anyone "close-minded" anymore. it's a phrase that has almost lost its meaning; it's often anymore just a simple, sophomoric retort from a teenager to a parent, because mom or dad don't like pink hair. but these people are completely shut-in, close-minded to the core. the idea that a gay or lesbian teacher is involved in educating their child frightens them. the idea of a mexican-american family speaking spanish in a grocery store infuriates them. the idea that their faith doesn't have a monopoly in our collective lives causes them much grief. somehow, this all relates to this 6 minute animation from 1971.

in short, these people actively denounce the very freedoms this nation stands for. they have also turned a blind eye to the compassion, love, and grace that their religion has told them to embrace. the "go back to russia, you commie lib!" comments you hear from the most ridiculous of this mindset are completely laughable, but are also quite worrying. what is their ideal america? it's a very frightening question to ponder.

they can go ahead and fill their children's minds with black-and-white dogma, passing on their close-mindedness. we on the opposite side of the aisle will continue to let our children make up their own minds about spirituality, politics, and personality.

Friday, March 21, 2008

a minor update

spring is here, folks, and obviously posting here has slowed down a bit. for those few of you who read this, i might not be writing as often, at least for a little while.

over the last month or so, i've heard from a few old friends whose art i'll be posting sometime soon. Namely, Marilee Salvator and her new paintings & drawings, and Angela Mobley and something really interesting called her "Truth card" public/guerilla art project. Word on the street is Tim Roby gets his MFA from the University of Minnesota this spring, and I should have photos of that show soon.

I've also been busy fixing a recent piece of my own (Sandburg: Baltic Fog Notes), and I'll throw an update with some photos soon.

there you have it. go outside and smell the flowers.

Monday, March 10, 2008

interesting new music

went to see a show last night. The Crinn headlined, from St Paul, MN. i was really impressed by the guitarist and bassist, and liked that out of all 6 of the bands that played that night, their drummer had the most stripped down kit, yet knew how to play it tenfold over the other bands' drummers. the sound? really technical "neo-prog metal" (labels...) that had metalcore / screamo vocals. the guys had two CDs sold together for five bucks total, so i got both. there is quite a difference between the two; it seems that a different vocalist (and possibly drummer) were involved with one recording, and i don't care for it. it's far too different vocally - i don't care to try to explain how. just isn't my thing. but the latest stuff, with the newer vocalist... man... i've listened to it 3 times all the way through in 24 hours and i'm very impressed. the shit makes me realize just how mediocre of a guitar player i am. i get the same feeling listening to it as i do when i go watch the bmx'ers that are 15 years younger than me at the downtown skatepark. envy.

anyways, nothing online by them is terribly new, but there is some footage of the band practicing. give this a shot - it seems to be "Slaughter, War, and Guillotine" (of course, without any vocals). check out the doom breakdown at about an even 2:00 in. nice... very nice. and hey - if you do happen to click on the similar videos that follow after this one runs completely through, beware the live one - it's of the previous singer i do not care for.

band web site is on myspace here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Kristen Quinn at Catich Gallery

i hopped over to Saint Ambrose University's Catich Gallery last friday after work to check out the opening of Kristen Quinn's sabbatical showing of new paintings. here's the info for all interesting in attending:

"Between Sea and Sky"
Feb. 19 - Mar 21
Catich Gallery
Galvin Fine Arts Center Tuesday - Friday, 1–5 p.m.
(Free and open to the public)

perhaps you've already seen the hybrid conversation-review by pal Steve Banks and someone who i inadvertently, "sort of" called old and too set-in-his-ways, Bruce Carter (i still apologize, Bruce; i hope you understand it was a polite disagreement about the purpose of graduate school). If not, their review is in the River Cities Reader here, so check it out.

first off, this happened to be my first time inside the Catich Gallery. i really enjoyed the space a lot and i plan on submitting some show ideas to the gallery curator throughout the next few years. the classic "white box" model always works quite well for 2D pieces, and heck... that large wall you see upon entering, with the halo of natural light from behind? that's some handsome stuff.

now then, on to the work. Kristen makes moderately large (usually 60 x 72, or so) oil paintings on canvas, and the show has about 10 works on view.

these large, colorful abstractions are quite layered, and thus invite a longer observance time than, say, minimal abstraction. scattered amongst vibrant sections of paint were snippets of recognizable information — quasi fleur de lis shapes, hints of masts of ships, and silhouettes of tree branches. you get the sense that the artist was reading epic poems of travel and/or loss, and that she spent a lot of time outdoors, watching otherworldly sunsets that you get on nights where the dust in the air is just right, and decided to take a natural representation of such colorations and "turn it up to eleven" (forgive me).

and that — the artist's use of color — might be where my slight dislike to this body of work began.

i'm not going to sit and say i personally think Quinn's work is bad, because i don't. it's just that it is simply not my thing. as purposeful as her intent may be, i have a problem with juiced-up color that comes right out of the tube and is placed on the canvas, and that happens to be what i saw in her acidic pinks, chartreuses, and violets — steroid paint, right out of the tube.

i also was unsure about the manner in which she pushes paint. many of the silhouetted shapes seemed to be painted in an unsure manner. i noticed this most on a piece that had a section of roses coming up from the bottom of the composition—her silhouetted "shape-making" looked shaky and a bit clumsy. i would probably have liked the paintings better if the execution was one of a looser, more fluid style. again—i've been there myself, as i make my own work, but... i don't know... these just didn't work in such a pristine place.

one last thing i found out of my personal liking - not bad, but just not my thing - was the silkscreen-ish layering of paint, the "add a layer of a color; let dry; add another layer of another color; let dry, etcetera." i wanted to see colors flow into each other more, on layers that were pushed back in space (you know - literally painted first). i saw it in a few pieces, and they actually ended up being the pieces i liked most. take a look at this painting - note the light area a little off of bottom left. see the blending of color? i liked these types of pieces more because of the mixing and blending of paint as she worked.

all in all i had a good time. these things i am bringing up are quite trite, really. i'm a recent re-transpant to the quad cities, and i hope the established artists i've lost touch with or never met over the last ten years can respect both my positive and negative "reviews" on this site as simple "here's my two cents" pieces with absolutely no ill will at all. our locale needs more support for and buzz about its fine arts community. we're all in this together.

if you happen to go to Kristens show and enjoy it, here are a couple other artists you may enjoy - first, google Philip Taaffe:

and also old chicago chum Molly Briggs:


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

more Thoughts of Ionesco

this may be my first double for a band i've posted yet this far on this blog. the first time i mentioned Thoughts of Ionesco was here.

sean, nathan, and brian. i've never seen an audience as frightened as when at Thoughts of Ionesco shows. i think i saw them three times during their years together - once in davenport, next in iowa city, and once more in chicago. the chicago show was at the fireside. sean ran full speed, head-first, into the wall stage right. evidently, that's nothing; there were usually broken bottles and blood added into the chaos. i got to know sean and nathan a slight bit, because i have done three of their album covers for them:

very smart gentleman, but always a hint of madness. i think the guys got sick of the "pure unleashed emotion" type of reviews, but how else can you describe them? enjoy.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Black Star (Mos Def & Talib Kweli)

-February crawled by with ice upon ice upon ice; March isn't showing much of a difference yet...
-Work is characteristically filled with a bunch of par-for-the-course nonsense, general stupidity, and stress...
-Iowa state House Minority Leader Rep. Rants gets all preachy and tries to pass a ban of same-sex marriage (thankfully it fails again)...
-$300 online furniture purchases from Target show up at our house in 20 shambled pieces instead of the unbroken 10 pieces things were supposed to be shipped as...
-People on my side of the political aisle actually still think Hillary Clinton is worth voting for...

...and so on and so forth.
I need some positive vibes to keep me going.

Black Star.
Mos Def and Talib Kweli.

One, two, three
Mos Def and Talib Kweli
We came to rock it on to the tip-top
Too much violence in hip-hop, whyyyyy-ooohhhhh

if you're like me, you get a kick out of the joke Mos makes in the middle interlude involving the police officer. I loves me some Mos Def.