Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Orpheus and Eurydice in the 21st Century: R.B. Kitaj, Rilke and Arcade Fire (Part 1)

by Gregg Chadwick

Last night the L.A. Louver Gallery held a rousing discussion: R.B. Kitaj's Life & Passion, with Tracy Bartley (director of the R.B. Kitaj studio), Derek Boshier (artist), David N. Myers (professor and chair of the UCLA History Department), and Paul Holdengräber (curator, instigator and Director/Founder of LIVE from the New York Public Library).

Orpheus and Eurydice
 15 9/16" x 20 7/8" oil on wood ca. 1508–12
Accademia Carrara, Bergamo

photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum, New York

As I listened to the conversation, I scanned the room full of many of Kitaj's last paintings and was struck by the realization that in these artworks Kitaj was attempting to bring his deceased wife Sandra  back from death - Kitaj as the poet/artist incarnation of the mythic Orpheus would bring Sandra (his Eurydice, taken too soon) back from the underworld. These vibrant paintings were not just a testament to their passion but instead an almost alchemical journey into the mystery and abyss of life, loss, and love. 

In the myth, Orpheus travels to the underworld to win back the life of Eurydice, who was bitten by a serpent (seen above in the left vignette of Titian's painting from the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, Italy) and died shortly after the two wed. Orpheus plays music of such beauty for Hades, master of the underworld, that he allows Eurydice to return to Earth with Orpheus.  But with the strict condition that Orpheus walk in front of Eurydice and never look back during their journey from the depths. Overcome by an anxious fear, Orpheus breaks his discipline and turns to look back at his reborn Eurydice only to cause her to vanish forever. 

Los Angeles No. 27 (Go Down)

 36" x 36" oil on canvas 2003–4
photo courtesy L.A. Louver Gallery

When I reached home, Reflektor - the new album from Arcade Fire, was already downloading onto my computer. The songs on this album also engage with the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. 

Auguste Rodin’s marble statue of Orpheus and Eurydice, from the Metropolitan Museum in New York, graces Reflektor's album cover.  This image portrays the essential kernel of the myth, the mytheme of not looking back, which is also reflected in the Biblical story of Lot's wife escaping from Sodom and the Grimms' folk tale Hansel and Gretel.

Gregg Chadwick
Mulholland Blue
24"x30" oil on linen 2013

(Currently curated by Director Rebecca Wilson on Saatchi Online into featured collection)

My new painting Mulholland Blue also engages with the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. In my work, an Orpheus-like character in the foreground vanishes as a green dressed Eurydice figure slips into the distance. The distant lights of the city glisten in the night air. Does she stand for a moment to view the world she will never return to? Or is our 21st century urbanity the underworld?

In upcoming posts I will consider these questions as well as diving much more deeply into R.B. Kitaj, Rilke, and Arcade Fire. Next up in Part 2: Rilke Releases Eurydice. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

New York City Man - Lou Reed

by Gregg Chadwick

"Lou Reed gave us the street and the landscape - and we peopled it."

 - David Bowie in the documentary "Rock 'n' Roll Heart - Lou Reed"

Well hey, man, that's just a lie
It's a lie she tells her friends
'Cause the real song, the real song
Where she won't even admit to herself
The beatin' in her heart
It's a song lots of people know
It's a painful song
A little sad truth
But life's full of sad songs
Penny for a wish
But wishin' won't make you a soldier.
With a pretty kiss for a pretty face
Can't have it's way

Y'know tramps like us, we were born to pay
 - From the beginning of the "Slipaway" section of Lou Reed's song Street Hassle.
    Uncredited spoken vocals by Bruce Springsteen.

Annie Leibovitz
Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson 
Coney Island, New York, 1995
Silver Print

When I found out about Lou Reed's death yesterday morning from Rolling Stone's twitter feed I turned to my Lou Reed playlist and put Reed's cover of Blind Lemon Jefferson's haunting blues number - See That My Grave is Kept Clean along with Antony and the Johnsons' song with Lou Reed - Fistful of Love, and Reed's elegiac urban hymn Berlin, on repeat. 

For many of us who came of age and under the influence of the New York City of the 1970's and 1980's, Lou Reed was New York. While at NYU working on my grad degree in art, Reed's music provided an aural map for my explorations across the city. Reed's staccato talk/singing proved to be a gruff yet tender guided tour through my artistic and lovelorn ventures. Often while on the A train, Marty Fogel's Junior Walker fueled sax riff on Reed's Shooting Star would blare in my walkman's headphones. And Walk on the Wild Side always seemed to accompany me across Washington Square. 

Gregg Chadwick
Ghosts of New Amsterdam
24"x36" oil on linen 2013

Reed's urban suite New York kept me close to the city I loved even as I moved west to California. On a trip back to Manhattan a few years later, a friend who had opened a restaurant in the Village told me that she thought that she had been given a sign that she would make it, because Lou Reed was becoming a regular at her joint. 

Not long after, Reed and his song Why Can't I be Good rumbled across the screen in Wim Wenders' cinematic sequel to Wings of Desire - Far Away So Close. Lou Reed's future wife, performance artist, composer and musician Laurie Anderson, also provided powerful music for the film. On a recent artistic excursion to Berlin, memories of these two films and Reed's album Berlin brought to light elements of the city that I had missed in the past. 


Much like an author will write about an event or a place to learn what they feel, I will create a series of artworks to understand what I have seen. I pushed my interaction with Berlin into a recent ongoing series of monotypes fueled partly by the visions of Lou Reed, Wim Wenders, Bertolt Brecht, and David Bowie

Gregg Chadwick
Brecht's Song
30"x22" monotype on paper 2011

As Gavin Edwards wrote in Rolling Stone,"While many musicians have made Berlin albums, Lou Reed's Berlin (1973) is the wrist-slashing standard against which they're all judged. When the record concluded with the epic ballad Sad Song, it felt like the whole world was shutting down." Berlin forces us to wrestle with the dead as we walk through its haunted and enchanted streets. After the fall of the wall, Berlin has come to embody the future while at the same time carrying the scars of the past. In the city of Berlin, the political and the personal merge, as evidenced in Lou Reed's Berlin album and David Bowie's recent song Where Are We Now?. In Berlin we are left with existential questions and are reminded that bodies age and die, marriages end, friendships dissolve and memories fade. 

Gregg Chadwick
Rauch Licht (Smoke Light)
30"x22" monotype on paper 2011

During the last years of his life, Lou Reed continued to work with and inspire younger musicians and artists. One of the most fruitful of these mentorship/collaborations was his work with Antony, of Antony and the Johnsons. John Hodgman in the New York Times recounts how the cover image of Antony's EP, I Fell in Love With a Dead Boy "caught the attention of the producer Hal Willner, who bought the EP and played it for Lou Reed, with whom he was working at the time:

'I said, 'Who is that?' Reed recalled. 'So we set out to find him, and he was a few blocks away as it turns out.' ''

Lou Reed invited Antony to tour with him throughout 2003, and every night Antony would sing Candy Says, Reed's haunting tribute to Candy Darling. Caught in the video below, Lou Reed, one of the most influential musicians of the rock era, looks across towards Antony with an expression of pride and wonder. Lou seems mesmerized by what he described as Antony's double tracking and unusual harmonies. Reed had said that he could listen to Antony sing all day. In this video we witness a legend passing on his wisdom and inspiration to another.

Antony and Lou Reed Perform Candy Says

More Videos Below:

Lou Reed & David Bowie Discuss Reed's Album Transformer

 in the documentary "Rock 'n' Roll Heart - Lou Reed"

In an interview with Rolling Stone in 1989, Lou Reed explained that he and Bruce Springsteen were both recording albums at the Record Plant in New York City when an engineer suggested inviting Bruce over to record the "Slipaway" vocals on Reed's song Street Hassle. The last line was Reed's, written with Springsteen's Born to Run in mind:

Y'know tramps like us, we were born to pay

More at:

Lou Reed: The Rolling Stone Interview
Antony Finds His Voice

Lou Reed greets Chuck Close in front of Close's 2012 tapestry Lou 
    published by Magnolia Editions; photo by Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

August 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Today - 9th Anniversary of Santa Monica Art Studios Continues!


Gregg Chadwick
48"x36" oil on linen 2013

Please join me today for the 9th Anniversary of the Santa Monica Art Studios!

  Sunday, October 13, 1-5 pm

My new painting, Revolutions, was also inspired by the amazing closing party held by Social Media Week-LA on Friday, September 27th at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.
Deep House legend Marques Wyatt kept the party going all night. Caught up in the whirl of light and music, I knew I had to get it down on canvas. Come by my studio today and see the result. 

Also all of the painters, printmakers, photographers, sculptors and mixed media artists who call Santa Monica Art Studios home will open their working spaces for the event.

Santa Monica Art Studios
3026 Airport Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405
ph:  310.397.7449
fax: 310.397.7459 



Saturday, October 12, 2013

Please join me tonight for the 9th Anniversary of Santa Monica Art Studios!

Gregg Chadwick
28"x28" oil on panel 2013
Please join me tonight for the 9th Anniversary of the Santa Monica Art Studios!

 Saturday, October 12, 6-9 pm and Sunday, October 13, 1-5 pm.

My new painting, Superstition, was inspired by the amazing closing party of Social Media Week-LA which was held on Friday, September 27th at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.
More paintings will be unveiled tonight and I would love to see you!

Also all of the painters, printmakers, photographers, sculptors and mixed media artists who call Santa Monica Art Studios home will open their working spaces for the event.

Santa Monica Art Studios
3026 Airport Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405
ph:  310.397.7449
fax: 310.397.7459 


Friday, October 11, 2013

Springsteen Releases A Poignant Thank You

by Gregg Chadwick

Bruce Springsteen released a beautiful new video as a thank you to fans that sets highlights from the just completed Wrecking Ball tour to a new recording of  “Dream Baby Dream.”

Video edited by Thom Zimny, shot by Chris Hilson. 
Audio produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen, mixed by Bob Clearmountain.

Read Bruce's personal thank you to fans:

Monday, October 07, 2013

9th Anniversary of Santa Monica Art Studios on Saturday, October 12, 6-9 pm

Gregg Chadwick
Mulholland Blue 
24"x30" oil on linen 2013

Please join me for the 9th Anniversary of Santa Monica Art Studios on Saturday, October 12, 6-9 pm and Sunday, October 13, 1-5 pm.
I will be giving a sneak peek of my new artwork and would love to see you!

Also all of the painters, printmakers, photographers, sculptors and mixed media artists who call Santa Monica Art Studios home will open their working spaces for the event.
Hope to see you soon.

Gregg Chadwick
Vanishing Point
30"x40" oil on canvas 2013

Santa Monica Art Studios
3026 Airport Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405
ph:  310.397.7449
fax: 310.397.7459