Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spring Past


I found this drawing I made three springs ago at the Central Park's Bethesda Fountain and it made me smile. There's nothing quite like an early spring day in the park, when it's still cool but the sun is warm, and the people pour outside for their Saturday stroll. The air is filled with sounds of jazz, children's laughter and fresh leaves ruffling in the breeze... Hurry up, Spring!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Drawing Music :: Ecstatic Music Festival : Roomful of Teeth

 Choir Roomful of Teeth

Last night, my artist friend Audrey and I were in for a real treat at the Lincoln Center's Merkin Hall at Kaufman Center. The curator of an on-going Ecstatic Music Festival, composer Judd Greenstein, invited us to draw during the concert of "Roomful of Teeth". Great name for an impressive choir of 8 young masterful singers and their artistic director Brad Wells.


 Brad Wells, The Artistic Director and Conductor for Roomful of Teeth

The four women and four men comprising "Roomful of Teeth" are classically-trained vocalists who mesh both academia and folklore in their repertoire and techniques. The choir performed numerous pieces by young composer/performers Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs), William Brittelle & Caleb Burhans, who were also present.


   Conductor's Hands


For the second part of the concert, "Roomful of Teeth" collaborated with Merrill Garbus, a very interesting musician.

Merrill Garbus / Color of Rain

Merrill, among other things, studies vocal techniques from around the world. She's like the voice and song anthropologist, focusing particularity on Central African style. Last night she said she'd like to dedicate the performance to the women of Central Africa. Merrill had a red drum by her side. She'd record a quick loop at the beginning of each new piece that would become the rhythmic backdrop. As for the vocalizations that were produced - well, they were incredible. From yodeling to throat singing, interlaced with opera-like solos and harmonies to make one all goose-bumped, the vocal tapestries lingered in my head long after the show was over.

Merrill Garbus with a drum and ukulele, weaving a vocal tapestry

 Merrill Garbus with four women from Roomful of Teeth

What is it about the human voice that gets you from the inside like no other instrument? It must be the one sound we relate to alike, regardless of culture and upbringing. It's recognizable from the moment we are born. No, even before that, from the womb. The power of human voice rises above all other sounds. It's raw emotion.


 Blossoming voices

As I listened, I kept thinking of how to illustrate this vocal performance. It's not the actual singers, but their singing that I was drawing. A voice rather than the person. I couldn't help but draw leaves and flowers. It felt right. The voices blossomed and swooned into imaginary bouquets and floral arrangements, or grew like wild green masses.

 Caleb Burhans on electric violin

Big thanks to Judd, and also Joan from the Kaufman Center, for this opportunity. It was an unforgettable evening! I wish I could attend it all over again. And have a recording to listen to.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Cupid and Psyche: The Ultimate Love Story

In light of approaching Valentines Day...


Cupid and Psyche (after Antonio Canova's statue Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss)

There is an epic tale from antiquity of Cupid and Psyche. 


The story begins with Venus (aka Aphrodite) being so jealous of the beauty that mortal Psyche possesses, that she asks her son Cupid to pierce Psyche with a golden arrow to make her fall in love with some vile creature. Cupid (aka Eros & Amour) messes up his task and instead scratches himself with the arrow upon Psyche's awakening. He falls deeply in love with her. Venus, enraged, places a curse on Psyche that keeps her from meeting any suitable husband. Cupid, upset, takes revenge on his mother Venus: as long as the curse lasts, he won't shoot any arrows. People and all living creatures stop falling in love and mating, the Earth quickly grows old and Venus's temple falls, for no one is worshipping LOVE any longer. That shakes up Venus enough to cut a deal with Cupid: if he goes back to work of shooting his golden arrows, he could have Psyche. 


What happens next? A whole lot. The long tale is filled with treacherous relatives, jealousies, curses and revenges, a plunge into the Underworld. But... not without a happy ending! Cupid and Psyche get married and give birth to daughter Hedone, the goddess of "sensual pleasures" in Greek Mythology. Here's the full tale by Apuleius >


So, if you find your love life is difficult, just look at what the Greek Gods had to go through!  As William Shakespeare wrote, "A course of true love never did run smooth." 


Happy Love Day. It's worth celebrating. Any day, any time, anywhere...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Constant Exchange

Energy can change from one form to another but cannot be created or destroyed.  
Law of Conservation of Energy
 
When trying to keep balance, physically or otherwise, remember that you have to go down first in order to go up.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year in 2011, The Rabbit, also known as Lunisolar New Year and Spring Festival, is the "Chinese Year" 4709, 4708, or 4648. This is the time to wish everyone happiness, wealth & longevity.