Pumpkinhead – Self Portrait By Jamie Wyeth

Pumpkinhead Self Portrait
Photo By Gail

Jamie Wyeth (son of artist Andrew Wyeth) began painting Pumpkinhead (1972) as a portrait of his friend, Jimmy Lynch, but eventually finished the painting himself, wearing the pumpkin as a mask.

Cropped at the ankles and and wearing a too-small military jacket, he stands alone in a hazy field strewn with dry autumn leaves. To the artist, the jack-o-lantern carries an eerie charm. “I always  loved the carved face just leering at you…” he admits.

Photographed By Gail at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

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If There Is To Be a Revolution, There Must Be a Party

Afronauts
Photo By Gail

This photo by Cristina De Middel was originally part of her series, The Afronauts, which tells the real, re-imagined story of the Zambian space program to conquer Mars. Here, it has been repurposed for her recent exhibit Seven Stories at Dillon Gallery in the Chelsea Gallery District.

X Japan at Madison Square Garden: Best Concert Ever!

X Japan Billboard
X Japan Billboard, Corner of 34th Street and 7th Avenue (All Photos By Gail)

Here in New York City, it is no secret that you can have a magical adventure if you are just willing to take a leap of faith into the unknown. This is what happened to me when I accepted an invitation to see Japan’s most famous heavy metal band X – known here in America as X Japan, owing to another band in Los Angeles that happens to also have that name. Prior to this past weekend’s concert at Madison Square Garden the only things I knew about X was that their drummer, Yoshiki had been immortalized in a comic book by Stan Lee, and one song, “Jade” – which, prior to Googling the lyrics, I thought was called “You Are Beautiful” due to its only discernible English lyrics.

X Japan Stage Logo
As You Can See, Their Stage had a Catwalk, Which Every Rock Stage Should Have.

Since I had no previous familiarity with X Japan’s music, this review will be based on my experience as someone who was seeing and hearing the band for the first time.  I would say that X Japan is going to appeal to your musical taste if you like any of the following:  Big Arena Rock, Heavy Metal, Glam Metal, Dream Theater, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and any 80s Metal Band. It’s probably due to my affinity for that latter, much maligned genre that X Japan resonated with me right away, and I would (probably) still rather listen to  the cheesiest ’80s Metal for 100 million billion years than to any charting modern band for 15 minutes.  Just being serious.

Please enjoy my pictures and commentary!

First, let’s meet the members of X Japan.

Toshi Lead Vocals

This is Toshi, lead singer and founding member. He and Yoshiki have known each other since they were four years old (45 years ago), and started their first band together when they were eleven.

Yoshiki on the Kit

This is Yoshiki, X Japan’s drummer, pianist, and resident Sex God.

Yoshiki Hair

When his hands aren’t busy playing an instrument, Yoshiki touches his hair 60 or 70 times a minute.

Pata Guitarist

Here we have Guitarist Pata, who has been with the band the longest next to Toshi and Yoshiki.

Heath Bassist

This is Heath, on Bass Guitar.

Sugizo Violin

Sugizo plays the Violin,

X Band on Stage

A female string quartet added to the atmosphere of their sometimes symphonic metal songs.

Besides the band sounding and playing great, there was a ton of visuals to keep your eyes entertained and your brain engaged, such as:

Skulls Stage Shot

Crazy Visual Projections!

Fire Background Stage Shot

X Red Fire wirh Prop

Giant Stage Props! In the above photo you can see the two halves of the letter “X” coming together from across the stage.

X Prop Stage shot

Here it is again!

X Japan Stage Prop Pink Fire

P1050663

Laser Lights and Fire Bombs!

Confetti Bazooka

Confetti Bazookas!

X Japan Wrist Band

When we first entered the arena, ushers gave everyone this wrist band thing. We wondered what it could be for, but a couple of fans told us it was probably something that was going to factor into the show, and that we should be sure to wear it. That was excellent advice because look what happened with those wrist bands about an hour into the nearly-three-hour show:

Lit Up Wrist Bands

Lit Up Wrist Bands

It was amazing!

Yoshiki on Drums

At one point during the show, Yoshiki’s drum riser actually moved down the Cat Walk and then rose up into the air over the crowd!

Yoshiki Rising Drum Riser

It was just insane!

Yoshiki at Piano

Yoshiki steps away from his massive kit to play piano many, many times during X Japan’s set. He even played a bit of Swan Lake! Here, he prays for everyone to have fun at the show. Prayers answered!

X Japan have been together off and on for 30 years, Here are some photos of what they looked like back in the day:

X Japan Old School

X Japan Old School

Two former members (not necessarily pictured above) have passed on. RIP!

Lyrics to Hero

They did a new song called “Hero” with the lyrics projected on the screen so fans could sing along.

Lyrics to Hero

“Hero” managed to be both uplifting and sad simultaneously.

X Band on Stage with Banner

Finally, it was time to say goodbye, as the member of X Japan gathered at the edge of the Catwalk and pulled this banner from the a fan in the audience. Yoshiki proceeded to wrap himself in it. Cute!

X Band on Stage Farewell

Goodbye X Japan and thanks for the crazy fun show!

THE SET LIST

MIRACLE   (INTRO)

JADE

RUSTY  NAIL

SILENT  JEALOUSY

BENEATH  THE SKIN

PATA   +   HEATH  SOLO

DRAIN

SUGIZO  VIOLIN  SOLO

KURENAI

HERO

BORN TO  BE FREE
·∙

ENCORE 1

PIANO  SOLO

DRUM  SOLO

FOREVER  LOVE

I.V.

X
·∙

ENCORE  2

ENDLESS RAIN

ART OF LIFE  (PIANO)

Snarl By Nancy Grossman

Snarl By Nancy Grossman
All Photos By Gail

Geez, how creepy is this thing, amiright? How many of you are thinking about The Gimp scene in Pulp Fiction right now? But really, this isn’t your garden variety fetish hood, but rather a work of art by Nancy Grossman (b. 1940). Snarl is a strikingly realistic sculpture created from patent leather, wood, paint, epoxy and zippers. On exhibit at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Snarl By Nancy Grossman

Modern Art Monday Presents: Elad Lassry Nailpolish

Elad Lassry Nailpolish
Photo by Gail

Elad Lassry (born 1977, Tel Aviv, Israel) is an Israeli-American artist who lives and works in Los Angeles. His chromogenic color prints — still life compositions, photocollages and studio portraits of friends and celebrities — never exceed the dimensions of a magazine page or spread and are displayed in frames that derive their colors from the dominant hues in the photographs. I love how this photo looks so much like an ad, and thus succeeds on the same level as the work of Andy Warhol to elevate commercial images to the realm of fine artwork.

Nailpolish (2009) is a new acquisition to the photography collection of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Video Clip of The Week: Wray, “Relative”



I’ll tell you, what I like right away about this highly atmospheric video from Birmingham, Alabama’s Wray is the simple setting: just the band playing against a projection screening in a big, empty warehouse lit only by strobes and a few scattered light effects. I feel like I’m watching them perform at my own private rave!

The sound that this trio captures for the single “Relative” is the pure essence of ’80s arty post punk ala Wire Train and Bauhaus. I don’t think that there is higher praise to be given than that type of comparison at this time when mediocrity is feted and style is celebrated of substance every step of the way. Perhaps a bit of of the credit for Wray’s awesomeness is owed to engineer Daniel Farris (Man Or Astro-man?, St. Vincent, Polyphonic Spree, Verbena) but he certainly couldn’t add such a glorious sheen on top of a sound that wasn’t brilliant to begin with.

Catch Wray playing live during the CMJ Music Festival at New York City’s Lit Lounge on October 22nd! Enjoy!

Wray Band
Wray is David Brown, Blake Wimberly and David Swatzell