Thursday, April 8, 2010

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.

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