Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rehearsals for L5 Underway.

Rehearsal set-up in my studio

In the end of June 2010, the world debut of L5 will take place during the Zwart Festival in Zwolle, The Netherlands. It is the newest multi-media, multi-disciplined show that Tali Farchi, Benno Hübner (the makers of Mo(ve)ment) and myself are writing and producing.

At this point since we are working from our individual studios in Michigan and Zwolle, we have no choice other than to work via Skype. The above photo is a snapshot of the set-up I am using to send my live painting images to the Netherlands where they are mixed and projected during our rehearsals.

The story of this show is about finding inspiration, and as we are going to be taking a journey to the land of muses, we are finding many new ways of telling the story as we are working with a new theater language that we are really making up as we go along. But the basic premise is that we will be creating the backgrounds and scenery live on stage. So, the back stage is brought on to the stage as well as most of the pre-production. Like Mo(ve)ment and our Live Painting with Live Music performances, L5 is very much about being in the moment.

It has been interesting to be developing this one long distance the way we are. I will tell more the more we do... Here is a portrait I did of Benno that was a painting I did in Michigan as he posed in The Netherlands and then I beamed it back to Tali's computer that in turn mixed my portrait with a painting she was doing at the same time and projected the composite image on the wall. 

Too Cool.

Live Painting with Live Music in the USA

Montage of images from the March '10 tour

I have been busy the last little while and here is a report on what I was up to in March. Painter, Tali Farchi ( and bassist, Wilbert de Joode came from the Netherlands to join me in a little tour of Live Painting with Live Music. It was a real adventure and we found that there was at every turn a very good cultural and social exchange that happened due to the art.

We had four shows that were all very different in venue and scope. Each of our performances had the same core members that consisted of Wilbert de Joode - bass and painters, Tali Farchi and myself, Royce Deans. As was the plan, we added a different musician or group of musicians to our improvisational ensemble each show.

March 9th - Sugar Maple - Milwaukee. In Milwaukee we were joined by bassist Joshua Abrams. We played a full 50 minute set that was very energetic. This performance was interesting to us particularly because it was the first time that we were all going to meet in this way. We were more than pleasantly surprised at the results. At this show we met, Barbara Faro from Strathmore as well as Nora Hackenberg from Milwaukee. We had a very nice visit after the show.

March 10th - SPACE - Evanston. This evening was unique in that Tali and I actually did two sets. The first set we played with a group from Chicago's Fulcrum Point New Music Project lead by artistic director Stephen Burns. They played two scored pieces that were most wonderful and unique. As painters we wanted to do something different than we usually do by working on our table, so we constructed large canvases that were 1 x 1.5 meters and placed it on an easel. The audience could see the painting develop on the canvas as well as the screen since we had cameras pointed at the painting. One large painting was done for each of the musical pieces they played.

The second set Wilbert came out to play, and the members of FPNMP joined him in improvising for the rest of the evening. Tali and I turned the cameras back to the art table and we were able to communicate with the musicians and connect with the music in the special way that we have developed.

This show was very well attended, we suspect there were well over 150 people in attendance.

March 11th - WNUR Studio - Evanston. Thanks to Eric Ricks, WNUR and staff we were able to do a live radio broadcast and also send a live video image of our performance out over the internet. This is something that none of us had done before. It was very exciting to get feedback from people that were watching in many parts of the globe. We know that we had people watching in the Netherlands, many parts of the US, Canada, France and Australia. 

For this radio performance we were joined by trombonist, Jeb Bishop, and this was a very strong presentation with Wilbert's bass playing.

March 12th - Heaven Gallery - Chicago. The final show was again very energetic, as our ensemble included Dave Rempis, saxophone and Michael Reed, drums. Because of the good reaction we had to the video Internet broadcast the day before we chose to broadcast this show as well. The video broadcast had not been in the plans so starting early in the morning, many emails and facebook announcements went out, and by evening we could see that again we had viewers from many many places other than the audience in Heaven Gallery.

At each show we made sure to not only mention but truly thank Strathmore Paper Company, the International Live Painting with Music Society and the office of the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Chicago for the generous support. 

We felt as artists that we had really accomplished a lot artistically. The atmosphere was always very comfortable and inviting so that every one that was participating was able to express his or herself in the best way for the situation, we pushed the edges whenever and where ever we could. Along with the accomplishments that we made with the art, we also made really amazing connections with those we worked with as performers and promoters, and the many many people that came to see the shows spoke with us about the things they got out of the performance. This was incredibly satisfying and we think is a really important function of art; to bring people together so that they can have a dialog.

As Tali, Wilbert and I spent sometime together after all the shows were finished, we couldn't help but dream and talk about the next time that we would be able to get together and do something like this again. We all realize what a unique and wonderful experience this was. And as we look to the future we were encouraged by invitations to return by more than one of the places we were. 

In June we also will be working together again, but this time we will be meeting in Zwolle, the Netherlands. It is really great to be building relationships that cross oceans and borders.

Again, thanks so much to those that did really play an important part in this worthwhile project.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Live Painting with Live Music

Sunday January 3rd, 2010  Live action painter, Tali Farchi met improvisational bassist Wilbert de Joode, and guitarist Cor Fuhler at Kunstenaarsvereniging Palet in Zwolle, The Netherlands. 

Tali Farchi has been painting her entire life and has spent her career as a animator, graphic designer and painter, as well as the co-developer of her own multi-media / multi-disciplined show Mo(ve)ment which has been performed throughout The Netherlands and abroad for the last six years.

Wilbert de Joode and Cor Fuhler are improvisational musicians both of which are founders of the Dutch Impro Academy in Rotterdam, as well as members of the dOeK Foundation based in Amsterdam.

Wilbert de Joode, a self-taught bassist is the most active bassist in the Dutch improv scene. He plays with the Ab Baars Trio, Ig Henneman (string quartet), Eric Boeren 4tet (with Han Bennink and Michael Moore),  Michiel Braam (Bik Bent Braam, Trio with Michael Vatcher, Bentje Braam), Trio Fuhler/Bennink/DeJoode, the Chris Abelen Quintet, among others.

Cor Fuhler has been playing piano and organ since he was six years old. Fuhler completed his musical studies at the Sweelinck Conservatorium.  In 1995 he formed the trio Fuhler/Bennink/de Joode, in which he plays piano, organ, melodica, celesta and keyolin.

I was unable to attend this unique gathering of creative individuals in person, but about 36 lucky people in Zwolle were able to brave the elements and be in Palet that night. I was however, fortuate enough to be able to see video that was shot of the performance. You will get no arguement from me that to the casual observer as an artform this amalgamation of live action painting, ala Jackson Pollack and music that is instantly composed can be quite challenging. You might even say it requires an aquired taste.

That said, I contend it is well worth taking the time to reconsider this sort of live performance if you have troubles with it.  Let go of all of your preconceived  notions of scored traditional music and painting.  If you can do that, you will be in for a great treat. The maestro, John Russel of the Winsdor Symphony Orchestra in Winsdor, Ontario said of a similar performance that Farchi was a part of, "It is like being able to see with your ears and hear with your eyes."

This show was everything that a completely improvisational performance should be. De Joode started it all off with his signature thump on his bass, and from there the trio was off and running. Immediately Farchi's crayons and brushes filled with paint came to life. Fuhler was playing a guitar for his show which he plucked and strummed in an almost traditional manner. Well, at least he held the instrument like you would expect most guitar players would do, except when he played it with a bow in the same position as de Joode and his bass.

The set went non-stop for nearly 50 minutes. Farchi, de Joode and Fuhler were each lost in their own worlds of sight and sound while at the same time remaining totally aware of each other and all of the molecules and vibrations of sound and light that were in that room.

The sounds that come from de Joode's bass are truly amazing and the contortions he goes through to create them is as marvelous to watch as it is to hear. Fuhler's guitar was strummed and plinked and twanged. Stripped down to it's raw stringy sound, if nothing else, it was pure, and the hollow body also served as the percussionists drum. The trio was rounded out by Farchi's intensity that is focused on expressive response and the passion of being in the moment. Her marks which were all projected on a large screen for all to see, and even if it were not the case, she has so much energy that it usually takes at least two musicians to equal her chutzpa.

Those that were there last Sunday should count themselves lucky. There are at least three more performances like this one planned for the remainder of 2010. The locations have yet to be announced, so I would suggest getting on Tali's mailing list ( so that you can find out where the next happening will be.

This sort of unbridled creativity and expression is a beautiful and rare thing.