Saturday, May 28, 2011
Opening Event tonight at LACMA for the Tim Burton exhibition. Jane's Addiction is slated to perform. Much more to follow...
Untitled (Edward Scissorhands)
1990, private collection
Edward Scissorhands © Twentieth Century Fox, © 2011 Tim Burton
Tim Burton at LACMA
Friday, May 27, 2011
The Wound Dresser - Walt Whitman - Washington DC 1865
30” X 24” oil on linen 2011
"The eyes transcend the medium."
-R.B. Morris (Songwriter, Performer, Poet, Playwright)
I have created an ongoing series of paintings that explores the history of nursing for National Nurses Week and the birthday of Florence Nightingale. Three of these paintings were exhibited at the recent UCLA symposium: The Image of Nursing. The artworks were then auctioned at a gala event (Nurse: 21) to help fund scholarships for UCLA School of Nursing students.
The paintings adopt a look as viewed through the lens of time similar to the art of a period film. In my artistic practice, I create dream like images with space for the viewer to imagine their own paths to meaning. At times these openings may be found in the doorway of a subject’s eyes.
Walt Whitman's poetry is a continual source of inspiration for me. Whitman's life as a nurse, helping wounded soldiers during the Civil War, is a story that needs to be told in all mediums.
The Wound Dresser
by Walt Whitman
An old man bending I come among new faces,
Years looking backward resuming in answer to children,
Come tell us old man, as from young men and maidens that love me,
(Arous’d and angry, I’d thought to beat the alarum, and urge relentless war,
But soon my fingers fail’d me, my face droop’d and I resign’d myself,
To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch the dead;)
Years hence of these scenes, of these furious passions, these chances,
Of unsurpass’d heroes (was one side so brave? the other was equally brave;)
Now be witness again, paint the mightiest armies of earth,
Of those armies so rapid so wondrous what saw you to tell us?
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,
Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what deepest remains?
O maidens and young men I love and that love me,
What you ask of my days those the strangest and sudden your talking recalls,
Soldier alert I arrive after a long march cover’d with sweat and dust,
In the nick of time I come, plunge in the fight, loudly shout in the rush of successful charge,
Enter the captur’d works—yet lo, like a swift-running river they fade,
Pass and are gone they fade—I dwell not on soldiers’ perils or soldiers’ joys
(Both I remember well—many the hardships, few the joys, yet I was content).
But in silence, in dreams’ projections,
While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes on,
So soon what is over forgotten, and waves wash the imprints off the sand,
With hinged knees returning I enter the doors (while for you up there,
Whoever you are, follow without noise and be of strong heart).
Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,
Straight and swift to my wounded I go,
Where they lie on the ground after the battle brought in,
Where their priceless blood reddens the grass, the ground,
Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the roof’d hospital,
To the long rows of cots up and down each side I return,
To each and all one after another I draw near, not one do I miss,
An attendant follows holding a tray, he carries a refuse pail,
Soon to be fill’d with clotted rags and blood, emptied, and fill’d again.
I onward go, I stop,
With hinged knees and steady hand to dress wounds,
I am firm with each, the pangs are sharp yet unavoidable,
One turns to me his appealing eyes—poor boy! I never knew you,
Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that would save you.
On, on I go, (open doors of time! open hospital doors!)
The crush’d head I dress (poor crazed hand tear not the bandage away),
The neck of the cavalry-man with the bullet through and through I examine,
Hard the breathing rattles, quite glazed already the eye, yet life struggles hard
(Come sweet death! be persuaded O beautiful death!
In mercy come quickly).
From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand,
I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the matter and blood,
Back on his pillow the soldier bends with curv’d neck and side-falling head,
His eyes are closed, his face is pale, he dares not look on the bloody stump,
And has not yet look’d on it.
I dress a wound in the side, deep, deep,
But a day or two more, for see the frame all wasted and sinking,
And the yellow-blue countenance see.
I dress the perforated shoulder, the foot with the bullet-wound,
Cleanse the one with a gnawing and putrid gangrene, so sickening, so offensive,
While the attendant stands behind aside me holding the tray and pail.
I am faithful, I do not give out,
The fractur’d thigh, the knee, the wound in the abdomen,
These and more I dress with impassive hand (yet deep in my breast a fire, a burning flame).
Thus in silence in dreams’ projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals,
The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all the dark night, some are so young,
Some suffer so much, I recall the experience sweet and sad,
(Many a soldier’s loving arms about this neck have cross’d and rested,
Many a soldier’s kiss dwells on these bearded lips).
Accounts on aftermath of the Battle of Antietam.
Diary kept during the Civil War, 1862.
Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
In December 1862 Walt Whitman saw the name of his brother George, a Union soldier in the 51st New York Infantry, listed among the wounded from the battle of Fredericksburg. Whitman rushed from Brooklyn to the Washington D.C. area to search the hospitals and encampments for his brother. During this time Walt Whitman gave witness to the wounds of warfare by listening gently to the injured soldiers as they told their tales of battle.
Below is a rich description from Walt Whitman's Diaries that captures his experience as a nurse:
DURING those three years in hospital, camp or field, I made over six hundred visits or tours, and went, as I estimate, counting all, among from eighty thousand to a hundred thousand of the wounded and sick, as sustainer of spirit and body in some degree, in time of need. These visits varied from an hour or two, to all day or night; for with dear or critical cases I generally watch’d all night. Sometimes I took up my quarters in the hospital, and slept or watch’d there several nights in succession. Those three years I consider the greatest privilege and satisfaction, (with all their feverish excitements and physical deprivations and lamentable sights) and, of course, the most profound lesson of my life. I can say that in my ministerings I comprehended all, whoever came in my way, northern or southern, and slighted none. It arous’d and brought out and decided undream’d-of depths of emotion. It has given me my most fervent views of the true ensemble and extent of the States. While I was with wounded and sick in thousands of cases from the New England States, and from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and from Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and all the Western States, I was with more or less from all the States, North and South, without exception. I was with many from the border States, especially from Maryland and Virginia, and found, during those lurid years 1862–63, far more Union southerners, especially Tennesseans, than is supposed. I was with many rebel officers and men among our wounded, and gave them always what I had, and tried to cheer them the same as any. I was among the army teamsters considerably, and, indeed, always found myself drawn to them. Among the black soldiers, wounded or sick, and in the contraband camps, I also took my way whenever in their neighborhood, and did what I could for them.
More on Walt Whitman during the Civil War at:
Whitman's Drum Taps and
Washington's Civil War Hospitals
More on RB Morris at:
Monday, May 23, 2011
Nemesis-Ai Weiwei: The Elusiveness of Being. By Geandy Pavon
"The concept of the project is to impose the face of the victim on buildings walls that house government offices … The light on the wall is a symbol of revelation."
Provocative work by Cuban-American artist Geandy Pavon as he projects a billboard sized portrait of Ai Weiwei onto the Chinese consulate in New York City.
Geandy Pavon Website
Video: Imprisoned Artist Ai Weiwei's Face Projected On Chinese Consulate
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Study for Kamakura
14"x11" oil on linen 2011
"The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty."
- Kenko, from Essays in Idleness (Tsurezuregusa), circa 1330
I am always honored to support the Venice Family Clinic with my art. My donation this year reflects my interests in Southern California and Japan with Study for Kamakura. Kamakura is both a beach town and a center of Japanese culture. In my painting, grey beach haze seems to mask the distance between east and west.
Kamakura is home to the great statue of Buddha, the Daibutsu, pictured on countless postcards and books on Japan. Two years ago, I finally made my pilgimage to Kamakura and stood in awe beneath the great statue. A great wave washed away the building housing the Daibutsu in the 15th century. Since that time the statue has been seated in meditation beneath the sun and the stars. After surviving great tsunamis and political upheavals, the Daibutsu provides perspective on humanity's rush for wealth and power. Beneath the ancient bronze statue, I felt the past speaking to me. If we stop and listen, we can hear our long gone friends speaking to us through words, colors, and forms.
The 14th Century Japanese poet and monk, Kenko, wrote, "The pleasantest of all diversions is to sit alone under the lamp, a book spread out before you, and to make friends with people of a distant past you have never known." Lance Morrow's essay in the June 2011 issue of Smithsonian magazine considers Kenko's thoughts. Morrow explains "In a time of traumatic change, some writers or artists or composers may withdraw from the world in order to compose their own universe—Prospero’s island." When artists withdraw into their studios to create, they are not alone. With them, breathing soundless encouragement, are the voices of the past.
36"x48" oil on linen 2010
Private Collection, Los Angeles
“Leaving something incomplete makes it interesting and gives one the feeling that there is room for growth.”
- Kenko, from Essays in Idleness (Tsurezuregusa), circa 1330
Portrait of Kenko, Buddhist monk and poet,
by Kikuchi Yosai（菊池容斎）
Details on the Venice Art Walk Below:
Now in its 32nd year, the Venice Art Walk & Auctions has raised millions of dollars for Venice Family Clinic – largely through the Silent Art Auction, which offers great deals on original and limited-edition works by the biggest names in the Southern California art scene.
Hope to see you at Westminster School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, for the Studio Tour, the Silent Art Auction, the Select Auction, the Art Within Reach pop-up store, the Artful Living auction, the Food Fair, live music, and the separately ticketed Art & Architecture Tour of Water and Tree-Lined Streets of Venice. Don’t forget there’s free parking and shuttle service from two nearby lots.
By the way, online sales are now closed, but you can purchase tickets at the event.
Thank you very much for supporting Venice Family Clinic and its mission of providing free, quality health care to people in need. It’s going to be a great day.
Map to the Venice Art Walk:
Venice Art Walk
The Timeless Wisdom of Kenko
Venice Art Walk 2011
Great Buddha at Kamakura
photo by Gregg Chadwick
Saturday, May 21, 2011
72"x96" oil on linen 1996
And the dust clears and we are still here. How then shall we live?
Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Make My Bed? But You Say the World’s Ending
Friday, May 13, 2011
The First Grader, a new film directed by Justin Chadwick and produced by Richard Harding and Sam Feuer, opens today May 13, 2011 in Los Angeles and New York.
Since I wrote the following review in March, I have seen the film again and attended a marvelous question and answer session with Justin Chadwick, Naomie Harris, Richard Harding and Sam Feuer. I met Justin at that event and he mentioned that people were asking him if his brother had written a review of the film. Justin and I are not knowingly related but I am sure if you follow the genetic path you will find that there is a connection somewhere in the distant past. In honor of my artistic brothers and sisters and their beautiful film, The First Grader, I am posting my thoughts on the film below.
I recently attended a pre-release screening of this poignant and numinous movie set in the Rift Valley in the mountains of Kenya. The First Grader, like Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, seamlessly combines story and place to create an illuminating beacon for our time.
The First Grader portrays the story of Kimani Maruge, an 84 year old Mau Mau veteran who helped liberate Kenya from the British. After the Kenyan government announced in 2003 that free schooling would be offered for all, Maruge, played marvelously by Kenyan actor Oliver Litondo, arrives at a primary school to finally get his chance at an education - long denied under oppressive colonial rule and unavailable to him since independence.
The First Grader, based on a true story, uses a school full of actual Kenyan pupils playing themselves. Oliver Litondo (Maruge) explains that high up in the Rift Valley "education is coming in as a new thing." The youngsters were not surprised to see an older student, there was already a fifteen year old in a class of six year olds, so the students accepted Maruge as one of them - just another student seeking an education like they were. Shared goals and shared experiences create a bond between the young students and Maruge.
There are also important shadow elements in the story written by screenwriter Ann Peacock. The First Grader deftly covers the post World War II history of Kenya: moving back and forth from Maruge's struggle against British rule to his struggle against tribal prejudice and mistrust of his motives in 21st century Kenya. By combining traditional Kenyan music with his own compositions, composer Alex Heffes creates a rich sonic landscape.
The film, compellingly crafted by cinematographer Rob Hardy, opens with a gaggle of school children running through mist shrouded trees to their isolated but beckoning new school. On this first day of the new term hundreds of children and their parents jostle to find a place. The exuberance of youth contrasts with the dogged strength of Kimani Maruge and the desperate drive of parents struggling to gain a coveted spot at school for their child.
Naomie Harris plays teacher Jane Obinchu who grows to support Maruge's fierce drive to learn. The joy of learning and the bond between teacher and students is so evident in The First Grader that while watching the film, I felt as if the audience was compelled to grab a sharpened pencil and join the class.
The First Grader is a transcendent human story about confronting injustice and achieving redemption. The film spreads balm for old wounds and lifts the spirit with hope for the future. The First Grader is highly recommended.
The First Grader Website
Review of The First Grader by Ted Ott
Naomie Harris and Justin Chadwick Talk The First Grader
"The real challenge is now—getting people into the cinema as the film has been so warmly received and supported around the world winning many audience awards. It is important that alongside the blockbusters there are stories that can inspire and audiences can experience together in the cinema. We don’‘t a huge machine on this film so I hope that people talk and tell their friends"
- Justin Chadwick (Interview w/indieWIRE.
Monday, May 09, 2011
Roman Ruins at Leptis Magna, Libya
As the fighting continues to rage in Libya, the gaze of the West seems to have turned to Abbottabad. The dedication of artists like Sam Brookes turns our heads back to this story of pain, heroism and ultimately triumph.
The Music of Sam Brookes.
Sunday, May 08, 2011
Saturday, May 07, 2011
The full length UNION TOWN EP will be released digitally
May 17th with all proceeds going towards pro-union struggles.
For days I had been following the exciting events in Cairo and across the Middle East. But when I turned on the television and saw 100,000 people marching through the streets of MADISON, WISCONSIN to protest an anti-union bill put forward by some schmuck named Governor Walker it caught my attention. I turned to my wife and said, "Honey, our boys are gonna grow up to be union men." She sighed and replied, "The Nightwatchman is needed. You should go."
And so The Nightwatchman went.
A nice lady at the airport looked at my guitar and politely asked, "Why are you going to Madison, young man?" I replied, "Because they're making history in Madison, ma'am. And I don't want to miss it."
48" x 36" oil on canvas 2011
The America Votes Labor Unity Fund supports the unified efforts of a broad coalition of national labor organizations to defend workers and their unions against state legislation, ballot measures and executive orders that will undermine or destroy their rights. The America Votes Labor Unity Fund accepts donations from labor organizations and individuals who donate on their own behalf. Please visit www.saveworkers.org for more details and to make a donation.
The studio recording consists of 8 pro-union songs featuring three Tom Morello originals, as well as the Woody Guthrie classic “This Land Is Your Land” (including the more radical, often censored verses).
Tom Morello : The Nightwatchman Union Town Track Listing:
1. Union Town
2. Solidarity Forever
3. Which Side Are You On?
4. A Wall Against The Wind
5. 16 Tons
6. This Land Is Your Land
7. I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night
8. Union Song (Live - Capitol Square, Madison, Wisconsin Feb. 21st, 2011)
Sunday, May 01, 2011
A Berlin Museum Calls for China to Free Ai Weiwei
Last week, Salman Rushdie in the New York Times, wrote an important piece on the plight of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Excerpts below:
"The great Turbine Hall at London’s Tate Modern, a former power station, is a notoriously difficult space for an artist to fill with authority. Its immensity can dwarf the imaginations of all but a select tribe of modern artists who understand the mysteries of scale, of how to say something interesting when you also have to say something really big. Louise Bourgeois’s giant spider once stood menacingly in this hall; Anish Kapoor’s “Marsyas,” a huge, hollow trumpet-like shape made of a stretched substance that hinted at flayed skin, triumphed over it majestically."
Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei at the Tate Modern in London - October 2010
"Last October the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei covered the floor with his “Sunflower Seeds”: 100 million tiny porcelain objects, each handmade by a master craftsman, no two identical. The installation was a carpet of life, multitudinous, inexplicable and, in the best Surrealist sense, strange. The seeds were intended to be walked on, but further strangeness followed. It was discovered that when trampled they gave off a fine dust that could damage the lungs. These symbolic representations of life could, it appeared, be dangerous to the living. The exhibition was cordoned off and visitors had to walk carefully around the perimeter."
"Art can be dangerous. Very often artistic fame has proved dangerous to artists themselves. Mr. Ai’s work is not polemical — it tends towards the mysterious. But his immense prominence as an artist (he was a design consultant on the “bird’s nest” stadium for the Beijing Olympics and was recently ranked No. 13 in Art Review magazine’s list of the 100 most powerful figures in art) has allowed him to take up human rights cases and to draw attention to China’s often inadequate responses to disasters (like the plight of the child victims of the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province or those afflicted by deadly apartment fires in Shanghai last November). The authorities have embarrassed and harassed him before, but now they have gone on a dangerous new offensive.On April 4, Mr. Ai was arrested by the Chinese authorities as he tried to board a plane to Hong Kong. His studio was raided and computers and other items were removed."
-Salman Rushdie in the New York Times.
Continue reading the entire piece at: