Friday, July 18, 2014

new mary lattimore with jeff zeigler album "slant of light" available for preorder

Earlier today I was happy to see a message from the Thrill Jockey records mailing list announcing the release of a new album by musicians Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler. I'm mostly familiar with Jeff's music in the form of his band Arc in Round, who released a truly amazing album and EP under the band's former name Relay. Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I was able to witness Relay open for The Lymbyc Systym and The Album Leaf, and never hearing or seeing the band before, I was instantly blown away. As Arc in Round, the band continues to impress, and on this latest project, you hear the more electronic, ambient production work that Zeigler's sound hinted at in Arc In Round/Relay.

Prior to today, I had unfortunately been ignorant to the brilliantly unique harp music coming from Mary Lattimore, and I had read in the T.J. newsletter (and later watched the clip from CBS Sunday Morning) that she had visited the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Tennessee, known for its spectacular summertime firefly display, to record a video for a song from the upcoming collaborative album. This is interesting, because earlier in the evening, I listened to the recording featured here while sitting outside on my back deck, when the woods began lighting up with fireflies - something I grew up with as a kid in Pennsylvania, and will never get tired of.  It was fascinating to me how perfectly Lattimore's sublime harp melodies and Zeigler's rich synthesizer chords and textures seemed to synchronize so well with the nocturnal visual delight unfolding throughout the air that surrounded me.

The duo only have a few concerts lined up currently, but there is word of more shows to come when the album drops soon. You can mark my word that I will do everything in my power to be present at a performance if they come to the DC area. In the meantime, the album (featuring some gorgeous cover art by Becky Suss) is available HERE from Thrill Jockey for preorder.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

new faces invade splotch monster island

Above is a sneak peek at the new series of Splotch Monsters I've been creating for my upcoming show at Off-Rhode Studio in Washington, DC this September. Not exactly the Brady Bunch, I know! While the tentative title for the show is New Mythologies, these are from a set of ten 9" x 12" pieces to be in the show, called Conversation Pieces, mainly because all of them are in some way, having a conversation with each other, in pairs. So, you're only getting a brief glimpse at four (of the ten pieces), which would include eight Splotch Monsters altogether, eventually ending with twenty, when  completed. As with all the works in this series, it's mostly up to the viewer what conversation it is they're having.  

Getting into the drawing portion of the pieces was the hardest part. I sometimes get so attached to the initial outcome of the more abstract-looking Splotch Forms (paint splotches) that it can be very difficult to move on to the next phase, which is adding faces, limbs, hair, etc. In one way, this subtracts from the initial subtlety of the forms, which is one reason why I like to scan them first, and have some visual record of them. On the other hand, adding these things and creating this more literal element is a great challenge, and I honestly don't mind them being more accessible for this very reason. Perhaps, so many years down the road from now these will evolve into something more abstract and sublime, something more subtle and cerebral, "spiritual" even. Or,  maybe they won't. Either route is fine, and I'm just focusing on what I feel is best for me to make right now. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

making friends with summertime

As a public school teacher, I look forward to summertime, especially towards the end of the school year. Summertime means sleeping in, relaxing, and doing the things I normally don't have much time and energy for during the school year. The reality is, I can get lazy, or at least lazier than I want to get, and I tend to feel bad about it. I feel like I could and should be doing more, but I'm too sluggish. Maybe that can be attributed to the heat, and so far the summer of 2014 has been a hot one, though I'm looking forward to the cool front they're calling for later this week. Maybe I simply need to be lazy and learn how to relax more. I guess I'm kind of a restless soul when it comes to doing the things I want to do - the things I wish I had more time for. I tried relaxing under a new umbrella we bought for our backyard porch, but after about five minutes of attempting to calmly sip my morning coffee (which I really shouldn't have to drink in the summer), I was up out of my seat and looking around at things. A fallen leaf on the porch had caught my eye, or at least the way some water droplets from last night's rainfall looked on the leaf. This prompted me to search for a tiny macro lens that Kris had purchased online (at no more rack) for about fifty dollars last year. The lens comes in a set of three and can simply clip onto your i-phone when you want to get a good close-up shot of something. So, after finding the lens, I managed to get a decent shot of that leaf with the water droplets (very bottom image), which got me up and looking for other things to shoot using the lens. Now, the macro lens won't get you an instant winning pic, especially if you're like me and your hands get shaky from the caffeine in your coffee. So, after about a dozen attempts, I got one that was decent. That brought me to our little organic vegetable garden, where we're somewhat successfully managing to grow some tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, eggplant and unintended (and probably inedible) mushrooms. With about 2% power left on my phone, I was able to grab a few nice shots from the garden using the macro lens. How great it is to live in a time where you can take amazing close-up images with a tiny, hand-held phone! Still, how great it would also be to be able to enjoy some time relaxing without an electronic device at hand. I managed to go without Facebook, or any other kind of social media for a week, last week, and I loved it. As much as I enjoy and appreciate social media, going without it for a week was like a mind-detox/refresher. Maybe I should try it more often, and learn to make friends with summertime again, minus the gadgets and gizmos, just like (not so) old times.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

portland, maine visit, june, 2014(1)

After visiting Portland, Maine for a week, as part of the annual Feed Your Soul program at the Maine College of Art (MECA), I'm still reeling from what a great town this is and time I had. I covered the FYS part mostly at my Splotch Monster blog, so I thought I'd show the rest of my photos here. I took a lot, and I could have taken more, but I tried to refrain from getting too carried away and simply enjoy my short stay in Portland. So, since I took a lot, I'm going to break my shots up into increments of eight, so that over the next six days, a new installment of eight pics from Portland, Maine will appear. I decided to keep the writing to a minimum, with the exception of this initial post, and treat it as a sort of series. The posts will automatically appear each day at midnight, after this one. I look forward to coming back to this wonderful city and program again soon. Enjoy!