Tag Archive | Musician

Must See Art: Mark Mothersbaugh, Myopia at Grey Gallery

Farewell Arches to Luxembourg City
All Photos By Gail

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Living in NYC Fucking Rocks! And if you’re looking for cool things to do in the City right now, why not let yourself experience the mind-blowing career retrospective of Mark Mothersbaugh: Lead singer of New Wave / Performance Art legends, DEVO, Composer, Artist and De-Evolutionary Genius. The exhibit is called Myopia, and you can see it at the Grey Gallery at NYU. Let’s a take look at all of the fun surprises that Myopia has in store for you!

Self Portrait with First Pair of Glasses
Self Portrait with First Pair of Glasses (2015)

In case you were unable to deduce by the exhibit’s title, the art of Mypoia has its roots in Mothersbaugh’s severe visual disability that he has suffered with since birth. The artist’s personal statement greets each visitor at the front of the exhibit, as follows.

“I grew up in Akron, Ohio and I had severe myopia that went undiagnosed until the second grade. My teacher would say things to me like, “Read what is says on the board,” and I’d ask, “What’s a board?” or I’d make a joke because I couldn’t see anything. My teacher disciplined me almost every day.

When my sight issues were finally diagnosed, I was in the car with my dad coming back from getting my first pair of glasses. We came over a hill, and I saw smoke coming out of chimneys. I saw the tops of trees. Before then, I had only known the bottom part – the part that I ran into. I saw the sun for the first time and I just went, “Holy crap!”

I showed up at school with glasses, and I started drawing pictures. My teacher said, “Hey, you draw better than me.’ It was the first time a teacher hadn’t either spanked me or put me in a corner. I knew then that I wanted to be an artist.”

Quite simply, Myopia is all about the truly unique world vision of Mark Motherbaugh. As the song says, it’s a beautiful world.

Farewell Arches to Luxembourg City
Farewell Arches to Luxembourg City (2014)

Kicking off the exhibit is a room-size, whimsical installation called Farewell Arches to Luxembourg City, which is a series of large scale, double-rumped sculptures inspired by My Little Pony toy figurines. The sculptures are part of Mothersbaugh’s Beautiful Mutants series (more about this to come), in which he uses mirrored imagery to critique distinctions between order and mutation. Here, the animal forms’ unnatural symmetry and smooth surfaces reveal their synthetic nature, which is underscored by the artificial grass and bright yellow backdrop.

4 DEAD IN O-H-I-O
4 DEAD IN O-H-I-O, Stamped Ink with Hand Drawn Additions (1977)

The exhibit then continues on to explore Mark’s formative days as an art student at Kent State University in Ohio.

Mark Mothersbaugh Vitrine of College Art
Vitrine Display of Mark Mothersbaugh’s College Art

Mark Mothersbaugh Student Journal
One of Mothersbaugh’s Art Student Journals

One thing you will come to understand later in the exhibit is that Mothersbaugh loves to journal!

Jocko Homo Pamphlet
Art Pamphlet Which Inspired the Title of the Song “Jocko Homo”

Circuit Bent Calculator
Circuit Bent Calculator (2014)

Mothersbaugh often manipulated exiting instruments as well as creating devices to generate novel sounds. He used this Calculator / instrument in several live performances with DEVO.  An amazing audio installation of his unique created sounds can be found in the Orchestrions Room, which further explores the composers relationship to technology.

Orchestrions Room Installation View
Orchestrions Room Installation View

Mothersbaugh has long been fascinated with machines, using them as a materiel to be manipulated in creating something new and personal. Working against technology’s tendency to generate predicable results, he alters mass-produced machines and assembles unexpected parts to form new, idiosyncratic hybrids. These unconventional, mutant machines embody his belief that originality arises from imperfection. As with his own myopia, he continually embraces flaws as a countermeasure to society’s tendency toward uniformity

Mothersbaugh’s music-making machines, or Orchestrions, feature discarded organ pipes and bird calls that he has been collecting for years. He first assembles the materials, the adapts his compositions to the quirks of the machine. The Orchestrions are a way to demonstrate his belief that flaws are the key to originality. According to the artist, “the limiting factor gives it something unique. It helps you to not fall into the cliche of twelve keys in a row. You’ve got five black ones and seven white ones that repeat all the way up the keyboard. But if you change something in that pattern, if you break one of those keys off the keyboard so that when you go for an F-sharp and it’s not there, it can force you to rethink how to say what you’re trying to say.”

The Orchestrions play a different composition, an example of which you can hear in the above video, every fifteen minutes or so. Very fun!

Rugs
Rugs During Wartime and Peacetime (2004 – 2007)

On the walls of the Orchestrions room, you will see a series of floor rugs created by Motherbaugh beginning in 1994.  The rug series started after the artist designed an entryway mat for his studio, based on one of his postcard-sized drawings. The versatility and functionality of his rugs demonstrates his interest in nontraditional art forms — especial those associated with consumer culture.

2 More Rugs

Always exploring new means of production, Motherbaugh has transferred his rug images into animations, which add elements of drama, spectacle and technology.

2 Rugs

Myopia Installation View
Gallery Installation View

If you are mostly interested in Mark’s work with DEVO, Myopia has no shortage of photos, videos, listening stations, props, ephemera and memorabilia on the band from its inception to present.

Myopia Installation View 2

In its original configuration as a quintet, DEVO included two sets of brothers, Mark and his younger sibling Bob Mothersbaugh, Gerald Casale and his younger brother Bob, who died in 2014, and Alan Myers, who passed away in 2013. RIP!

DEVO Press Photos
Collection of DEVO Press Photos

Devo as The Beatles
DEVO as The Beatles Press Photo

The Truth About De-Evolution

DEVO’s first home video release, The Truth About De-Evolution (1976) plays on an endless loop in the gallery. It includes the music videos for “Jocko Homo” and the band’s classic cover of “Secret Agent Man.”

Mongoloid 45 Release Lyric Sleeve
Jock Homo B/W Mongoloid 45 Release Sleeve with Song Lyrics

Stage Props
Stage and Video Props Left to Right: Booji Boy Mask, New Traditionalists Hairpiece, Energy Dome

DEVO Honda Scooter Ad
Still from DEVO Honda Commercial, 1982 – 84

Mirror Images and Mutants Entryway

Don’t forget to head downstairs to the basement where you will discover the wonder oftwo of Mothersbaugh’s fascinating series of visual artworks: Mirror Images and Beautiful Mutants!

Mirror Images
Mirror Images

DEVO Hostess Truck
DEVO in front of a Hostess Truck

Mothersbaugh first began to use mirror images in his journals of the early 1970s, and he continues to use symmetrical forms in his most recent work.

Beautiful Mutants Gallery Installation View

In 1990, he began work on his most prominent mirror-image pieces, the Beautiful Mutants series of photographs, where he transformed historical and traditional figures into mutants. His interest in mirrors is concurrent with his longtime interest in eyes, which was triggered early on by his own severe myopia.

Beautiful Mutants Baby

In a show that is so over-the-top mind blowing, the Beautiful Mutants gallery was my favorite part of the exhibit, and totally unexpected. Be sure to look for the hidden signage leading you downstairs, otherwise you will miss it, and that would be a huge bummer for you! Let’s check out more of these crazy creatures!

Two Beautiful Mutants

Beautiful Mutant

Beautiful Mutants Vitrine

Beautiful Mutant

Beautiful Mutant

Beautiful Mutants Trio

Beautiful Mutant

Beautiful Mutants Diptych

Postcard Diaries Installation View 2

Last but not least, be sure to spend some time in the room which holds Mark’s collection of over 30,000 postcard-sized drawings from his visual diaries.

Postcard Diaries

The artist draws on at least one postcard-sized piece of paper every day, a practice that he started decades ago, when DEVO was first out on tour in the 1970s. These small artworks inspire many of his larger projects across different media.

Postcard Diaries

Postcard Diaries

Postcard Diaries

These post cards are all individually filed in protective plastic sheets inside binders for your perusal.These works have never been seen in an exhibition until now.

Postcard Diaries Installation View

Mark Mothersbaugh Mypoia Will Be On Exhibit Through July 15, 2017, at the Grey Art Gallery, New York University, Located at 100 Washington Square East, (between Waverly Place and Washington Place, Facing Washington Square Park) NYC 10003. Suggested Admission is $5.00. For Hours and Other Information Visit This Link!

Exhibit Signage

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Don Cheadle Becomes Miles Davis in Miles Ahead

Miles Ahead Poster
Don Cheadle is Miles Davis in Miles Ahead (All Images Courtesy of Sony Classics)

Movies about Trumpet Playing Jazz Legends are a thing right now. Just last week, IFC released Born to Be Blue, a surreal art film based loosely on the life and career of Chet Baker. This week, Miles Ahead — actor, and first-time director Don Cheadle’s much-anticipated love letter to another groundbreaking jazz innovator, Miles Davis  — comes to the big screen after garnering all kinds of awards on last year’s festival circuit. It was worth the wait, because Miles Ahead is a fantastic film.

The thing to keep in mind about Miles Ahead going in is that, like Born to be Blue, it takes bit of artistic license with the facts in order to capture the essence of Davis‘ life and art. It is not disputed that Miles Davis changed music a bunch of times during his career. With Bitches Brew (an album that both fans and critics totally lose their minds over) he basically turned Jazz on its head as he added rock and funk to a style of music that previously never had any of those elements. And that was all inspired by his admiration for Jimi Hendrix! Davis was actually supposed to record with Hendrix, but the guitarist died that weekend! You can read these stories in the book Miles: The Autobiography, which is one of the craziest, most-engaging music biographies, ever.

Miles Davis Early

Miles Ahead basically takes place during a five-year period  in the late 1970s where Davis felt he had nothing left to say, so he became reclusive and descended into taking tons of drugs and sleeping with everything that moved. The way he describes it in the book is amazing; scary, but hilarious. One time, he was in an elevator and he was so high, he thought he was in his car, so he punched a lady who was in the elevator with him and he told her to get the fuck out of his car! There are a couple of similar moments in Miles Ahead, and they are just insane. But I digress.

Don Cheadle as Miles

As far as how wide a scope of the story of Miles Davis colorful life and considerable accomplishments are covered in this 100 minute film, let’s say that if Miles Ahead were a weekly TV series, then this would be one episode. Ewan McGregor co-stars as Dave Braden, a ballsy journalist who claims to be on assignment from Rolling Stone. Braden shows up on Davis’ doorstep (while the latter is most definitely wasted out of his mind) and tricks his way into the musician’s home under the guise of conducting an interview for a comeback story. Over the next couple of days, Braden alternately serves as either Davis’ perceived adversary or accidental sidekick, as the two men embark on a wild and sometimes harrowing adventure to recover a stolen tape of the musician’s latest compositions.

The story gains depth from many flashbacks, including those of Davis’ marriage to his first wife, Frances Taylor (played by Emayatzy Corinealdi), a dancer who gave up her career to marry him. Taylor was Davis’ muse during the period that he released several of his signature recordings, including the groundbreaking Sketches of Spain and Someday My Prince Will Come. To put it mildly, he was kind of a dick to her. Miles Davis also ruminates on other past triumphs and regrets, and the film’s jagged flashback style is an effective way to showcase his many inner demons.

Most importantly, Don Cheadle delivers an Oscar-caliber performance as Miles Davis, but he’s amazing in everything. From Boogie Nights to Hotel Rwanda to Showtime’s House of Lies; the man completely loses himself in every role. He’s a genius. Corinealdi is also excellent as Francis, and it’s always fun to see Ewan McGregor, though I believe his unique talents are mostly wasted in this role.

Maybe Miles Ahead isn’t the definitive Miles Davis life story, but when you’re feeling it, who gives a shit? You could make ten movies about Miles Davis and there would still be room for more. If you want a cradle-to-grave primer, read his book.

The Worley Gig Gives Miles Ahead Five out of Five Stars!

Miles Ahead Opens for a Limited Theatrical Release on April 1st, 2016. Consult Fandango Dot Com to find a theater where it is playing in your area.

Happy 65th Birthday, David Cassidy!

David Cassidy Young
Image Source

Musician and Actor David Cassidy was born on this day, April 12th in 1950, and we wish him a very Happy Birthday! As an aside, when I was 19 years old I had a boyfriend named Mark, who everyone called “Mark Popstar,” because he so closely resembled David Cassidy. That relationship, now decades in the past, was largely inconsequential, but it’s still a nice memory to know that I was once cute enough to get a boy as cute as David Cassidy.

Joseph Arthur’s Phone Calls From Leviathans at Amy Li Projects

Joseph Arthur Art
All Photos by Gail

A true multidisciplinary artist if ever one existed, Joseph Arthur is not only an astoundingly talented Musician and Painter, but one of the kindest and coolest individuals I’ve had the pleasure to meet. It is genuinely exciting to continue to cover Joseph’s career as he blows minds for a living here in New York City. Joseph has a new exhibit of original paintings up now called Phone Calls from Leviathans (such a great title) at Amy Li Projects, which is inside this Button Store:

Amy Li Projects Storefront

Fortunately, these paintings of Joe’s are also displayed in the window, to help catch your eye as you approach!

JA Pyramids

They remind me of the cover of Dark Side of the Moon! Probably not an accident! Inside the store/ gallery, you will find all kinds of excellent paintings like these:

Joseph Arthur Art

I love them!

Joseph Arthur Art

I think this is the best work Joe has done. I love the bright colors he uses and the energy he infuses onto the canvas.

Joseph Arthur Art
Number 4 (The Light That Breaks Me Down)

This one reminds me of a bird: a Peacock, to be specific.

Joseph Arthur Art

Find out what is up with the tiny Buddhist Shrine seen in this photo, at This Link.

Joseph Arthur Art

You can see more paintings from the show, and other works by Joseph Arthur, at Joseph Arthur Art Dot Com, but do make it down to Chinatown to see this exhibit in person while it is up!

Joseph Arthur Art

Joseph Arthur’s Phone Calls From Leviathans will be on Exhibit Through May 3rd, 2015 at Amy Li Projects (Inside He Zehn Snap Button Co.) Located at 166 Mott Street (Between Broome and Grand), Chinatown, NYC.

Amy Li Projects Signage

Movie Review: My Way

My Way Movie Poster

Reminiscent of inspiring music documentaries such as The Punk Singer: A Film About Kathleen Hanna (which provided the Riot Grrrl movement founder with the substantial props she deserved), and Anvil, the Story of Anvil (a film that completely resurrected an unsung band’s entire career), My Way, focusing on singer/songwriter guitarist Rebekah Snyder-Starr, showcases one musician’s quest to find success in the music business while doing things on her own terms.

Directed by Dominique Mollee and Vinny Sisson, My Way centers on an engaging cross-country road trip taken by Starr and her close friend Annika, one of two tambourine players/back up singers in the all-femme Rebekah Starr Band, based in Starr’s home town of Kittanning, Pennsylvania.  Unsatisfied in her marriage to her childhood sweetheart, and having recently been fired from her own family’s corporate business, Rebekah is clearly a woman whose dreams have outgrown her small town environment. With little to lose, and no one else in the band able to leave their day jobs or family obligations, Rebekah and Annika map out their adventure from PA to LA, where their goal is to play a gig on the Sunset Strip, and, ultimately, to shoot a video for the titular song, which is Rebekah’s personal “My way or the highway” mantra which keeps her focused on getting what she wants. It does not hurt that she is completely adorable and has actual musical talent.

During the journey (which took place in 2010), the girls play impromptu acoustic gigs in whatever local roadside bar will have them, earn gas money and promote the band by selling their CDs to everyone they meet, reunite with old friends, and make lots of new ones, while working through challenges that arise in their friendship. The storyline is advanced by the appearance of various music industry insiders such as Poison drummer Rikki Rocket (also a Pennsylvania native) who keenly illuminates both what it really means to struggle as an unknown band, as well as the type of relentless effort involved in eventually making it professionally. Enuff Z’Nuff  songwriter/bassist Chip Z’nuff (who has written original material with Rebekah) and former Guns ‘n’ Roses drummer Steven Adler also add their insight, as does veteran Porn Star Ron Jeremy, who appears as comic relief in one of Rebekah’s music videos (available on the DVD as an extra).

Even if you have not heard the Rebekah Starr Band prior to seeing this film, you will become familiar with many of their songs due to the music’s near-ubiquitous presence on the soundtrack, playing like a car radio under almost every scene in the film, adding a kind of biographical narrative enhancement. Comparable to girl bands such as pre-fame Bangles (when the band was know as The Bangs) or Luscious Jackson, Rebekah has an appealing voice, knows how to write a catchy, pop-punk tune and is an accomplished guitarist. The music has both artistic and commercial appeal, and while she certainly cares about looking her best, Rebekah never tries to “get by” on her looks or exploit her sex appeal. Any woman with an ambition to be a rock musician or any genre of artist would take inspiration from Rebekah‘s story while being entertained and also hearing some good music along the way.

My Way opens at NYC’s Quad Cinema, located at 34 West 13th Street, New York, New York 10011 on Friday, February 27th. Run Time: 93 minutes. This film is Not Rated but is (probably) fine for ages 13 and up..

GRADE: B+

Herb Alpert: Totems & Deities at ACA Galleries

Herb Alpert Bronze Totem Red Background
All Photos By Gail

Do you like Herb Alpert? I sure do, My parents had his records with the Tijuana Brass playing all the time in our house, so I have loved his music since I was about five years old.  Just being serious.

But did you know that Herb also makes art? This I did not know this until Geoffrey and I stumbled upon one of his art shows that opened Thursday January 16th at ACA Galleries in Chelsea. The show is called Totems & Deities: The Sculpture of Herb Alpert and Anita HuffingtonHuffington being a fellow artist who is a successful dancer.

Herb Alpert Black Totem Red Background

The exhibition features a large selection of Alpert’s abstract bronze sculptures, which (according to the exhibit’s Press Release) “can be compared to the freedom and spontaneity of his improvisational work as a jazz musician.” The fluidity and random free-form shapes of Herb’s gorgeous sculptures reminded me of the “Lost Wax” casting method that was a very popular technique in jewelry making back in the 70s.

Herb Alpert Black Totem White BackgroundHerb Alpert Bronze Totem Red Background

Alpert began working on the Spirit Totem series, as they are called, in 2000, originally taking inspiration from the totem poles of the indigenous tribes of the Pacific Northwest. In conjunction with this exhibition, three monumental 16’ bronze Spirit Totem sculptures will be on public view in Dante Park, New York City from January 25th through April 15, 2014.

Herb Alpert Small Totems

These sculptures shown in the photos above and below are in the range of 12-inches high and under.

Herb Alpert Small Totems

Herb and Gail at ACA Gallery
Me (still all bundled up from being out in the cold) with Herb

Herb was at present at the reception and it was fun to have the chance to meet such a music industry legend. He was very nice.

Sculptures by Herb Alpert, part of the exhibit Totems & Deities in conjunction with sculptress Anita Huffington, will be on Exhibit through March 1st, 2014 at ACA Galleries, Located at 529 West 20th Street, 5th Floor, NYC.

Herb Alpert Black Totem Red Background

Joseph Arthur Solo Exhibition at Able Fine Art

Joseph Arthur with Art
Artist/Musician Joseph Arthur with his Art (All Photos By Gail)

I first heard the name Joseph Arthur over 13 years ago, when he was recording for Peter Gabriel’s Real World label (then distributed by Virgin). What I discovered closely in tandem with his music is Joseph’s distinctive, almost primitive Picasso-esque style of abstract drawing, which you could see adorning his album covers and T Shirts.

Joseph Arthur Art Exhibit5

Although he is not quite a household name, both Arthur’s music and art careers have continued to thrive worldwide and I was lucky to attend the opening of a new exhibit of his artwork last night in Chelsea.

Joseph Arthur Art Exhibit6

Entitled simply, Solo Exhibition, this collection of vibrant and engagingly abstract portraits are mostly rendered in ink and oil pastel on paper or spray paint on paper. I’ve been following Joe’s art for years and it’s so exciting to see his considerable body of work progress and develop while staying recognizably in his unique style.

Joseph Arthur Art Exhibit Painted Instruments

Around the gallery you will also see a few guitars and musical instruments (such as a child’s toy drumset) as well as the lower half of a mannequin, all of which Joe has hand painted. It’s almost as if he just can’t stop being creative.

Joseph Arthur Art Exhibit4

Joseph Arthur Painted Guitar

With a little memory jogging, Joseph remembered me from an interview we did at the Virgin Records Offices in 2000 for the release of his critically lauded sophomore album, Come to Where I’m From — a really fun conversation which he admitted he “Think[s] of often,” which was flattering to hear.

Joseph Arthur Performing in Art Gallery

Once the gallery started to fill up with fans and admirers, Joseph sat down to play his guitar, accompanied by his trademark recorded loops and effects, which are truly mesmerizing. What a talented guy!

Joseph Arthur Art Exhibit1

If you enjoy colorful, thought provoking abstract art or are a fan of the spontaneity inherent in the street art movement, you will dig the creative force of Joseph Arthur.

Joseph Arthur’s Solo Exhibition will be on View through April 16th, 2013 at Able Fine Art, Located at 511 West 25th Street, Suite 507, in Chelsea, New York. Gallery Hours are Tuesday – Saturday from 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM.

Joseph Arthur Art Exhibit2