Archive | March, 2010

Guy Klucevsek – AMAZING ACCORDION!!!

19 Mar

by Veronika Krausas

Last night I attended one of the best concerts I’ve been to in ages!

Guy Klucevsek – one of the world’s most amazing accordion players/composers—had a small performance at a very lovely little spot in Culver City called the Royal T (good food too!) But back to music … I’ve been listening to this man’s CDs for about 20 years now – introduced to me by my old friend in Montreal, Francois Landry (who also turned me on to the Art Bears, Fred Frith and Godspeed You! Black Emperor).

Everyone was smiling at the concert – Klucevsek plays the accordion like a storyteller, a virtuosic storyteller. At intermission I introduced myself and was one of those embarrassing, slobbering groupie fans! He was lovely and charming and inspiring. Thank goodness for the accordion and Klucevsek.

Klucevsek is in LA recording a soundtrack for John Williams and the new films about Tin Tin by Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg.

I can’t recommend Klucevsek’s music enough. I’m still smiling! Here’s his website & myspace info:

And here’s a picture from last night with Jeff Gauthier (organizer of the event and himself a super duper violinist and composer, head of Cryptogramophone Records), GUY KLUCEVSEK, and yours truly (smiling ‘cause the music was so great).


If sculptures could talk…

17 Mar

by Kim Ye

Recently, I took a trip up to Berkeley, California to install my work at the Alphonse Berber Gallery for the Works that Disturb the Moonlight group show. After 5 hours alone in a pick-up with no radio, and 72 hours of manual labor, the 7200 square foot gallery is now home to nearly the entire Autoerotic and Synapses Series. The show is up from February 11th until March 27th, so I guess technically it’s more of a sublet…

In any case, this is the largest number of my pieces that have been under one roof—an exponential increase in population density! For the reception, we had 7 performers modeling 5 worn latex pieces in 2 rooms.

One of the most interesting components of these performances is the interaction between audience and model. I view the reception as a site for observation and experimentation. What happens when art perceives you?

Interestingly, people were much more comfortable interacting with performers that were already coupled up. It seems that 2 already constitutes an environment—taking the pressure off the viewer. Take this guy for example:

If you watch or interact with a couple, or a group, you don’t feel as implicated. When you’re a voyeur of an individual, it’s a much more intimate relationship; you become responsible for the interaction, an equal partner. In their own words:

“The funniest thing about the audience, I thought, was that they would come up to me and poke me sometimes to see what I was made of…or to see if I was real? There was definitely a fusion between impersonal and personal interactions given I was the art that was on display.”—Anahid Modrek (Dress model)

“Some people wouldn’t even look in my direction, others would keep glancing, or if I stared at someone for a long time, they would often stare back. But all of these people would be reluctant to check me out (look me over completely). They would focus on my face. Only if I was looking in the mirrors, would they look at my tentacle boob-arms.” –Hanna Ashcraft (Shirtsleeves model)

“The audience was really respectful, but I was surprised how many people asked to touch my penis tumor. I was even more surprised how many people, after touching the penis tumor started touching me! I wasn’t sure how to react to that so I pretty much did what those Buckingham guardsmen do: stay completely still and emotionless.”—David Hubbard (Shorts model)

Post reception, all the worn pieces were displayed as skins—hung floating in space. At some point during this arduous process, I had a nice little exchange with Crystal Natsuko who blogs about it here.

Special thanks to Cameron Jackson and Jessica Cox, co-directors of Alphonse Berber. Also, thanks to performers Sarah MacLeod, Laine Foreman, Carly Helsaple, Steven Joseph Tritto, Anahid Modrek, Hanna Ashcraft, and David Hubbard.

Photos courtesy of Danielle Lee of AB Gallery.


15 Mar

by Veronika Krausas

One of the things that always fascinates me is comparing music to food! This weekend I lectured at Disney Hall for the LA Phil’s concert that included the delightfully poetic 5 Elements by contemporary composer Qigang Chen, Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto, and Richard Strauss’ symphonic poem Ein Heldenleben. It was a fantastic concert, conducted by Edo De Waart, the Dutch conductor who is currently Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and the Music Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

The reason I bring up the idea of comparing music with food or, more specifically, beverages, is that a few years ago I picked up an interesting book “A History of the World in 6 Glasses” by Tom Standage.

Since the LA Phil’s concert spanned three different musical stylistic periods I wonder if these works can somehow be explained in terms of Standage’s ‘liquid’ classification system?

In his book Standage traces the history of the world through beverages: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola. He starts with the rise of farming, when surplus grain was saved and sometimes fermented into beer. Then, was the time of the Greeks who took grapes and made wine. Next, Arabic scientists experimented with distillation and produced spirits, the ideal transportable drink for long voyages of exploration. The next liquid that spread from Arabia to Europe was coffee, for the Age of Reason. The British industrial revolution followed, with tea being in the foreground. And, finally, the rise of American capitalism is mirrored in the history of Coca-Cola, one of the 20th century’s most mass-produced global commodities!

Although the Age of Reason started in the 17th century, its spirit of rational inquiry spread into the mainstream of Western thought over the next two centuries, culminating in the movement called the Enlightenment. It was at this time that coffee houses had established themselves as the political, social, and philosophical hubs of society. Standage called the coffee houses “the internet cafes” of their time – not only centers for commerce but intellectual thought! Coffee, as we all very much appreciate, gives sharpness and clarity of thought. Versus drinking wine or beer, which was common at that time, because it was safer than the often unsanitary water. This is the time of Beethoven, a known daily coffee drinker. Could we look at Beethoven as the COFFEE composer? Someone whose great sharpness and clarity forged new ideas from old?

While Beethoven’s piano concerto formally stays within a very classical tradition, he has some very careful and sneaky harmonic interconnections with the key areas in his piece that certainly required great clarity of thought. Also, his position was avant-garde for his time in that he deliberately wrote difficult music, requiring greater intellect and sharpness on the part of both performers and listeners.

Strauss would be associated with tea. At first this seems a little strange, he was from Germany after all and who in Germany (land of beer and Jägermeister) drinks tea? But if we think about the idea of expansion it may make a little more sense. From the mid 18th century, England was expanding its sphere and colonization was the norm. Tea, initially imported from China, spread throughout England and the world and became the most widely consumed beverage on Earth after water. Standage writes that the “story of tea is the story of imperialism, industrialization, and world domination.” So, in this arena of imperialism and world domination we have Strauss – both he and his music are HUGE – huge personality, huge pieces, huge forces, and huge orchestrations. Ein Heldenleben is epic, a 50-minute tone poem. It’s like a big pot of black tea that gets steeped for 50 minutes to really let all the tannins and flavors get everywhere. Also, when we consider this work autobiographic, then Strauss, the hero, is the imperial power, striving for musical domination! After all, he was not only a composer but also a conductor. So I’ll make him the TEA Composer.

This brings us the 20th century’s beverage that had its beginning in Leeds in 1767. Joseph Priestly, an English clergyman and scientist, became fascinated with the carbon dioxide gas that bubbled from the fermentation vats. At that time it was called “FIXED AIR”. This was the birth of our carbonated drinks. The rise of Coke or sodas corresponds with the huge industrialization, commercialization, and globalization of the 20th century. Sometimes a little pessimistically, we associate mediocrity with art or music that has those kinds of terms attached.

However, this globalization phenomena is the cross-fertilization of cultures and aesthetics to a degree that hasn’t existed in history before. The upside is that our ‘soda’ generation has allowed for the wonderful possibility of stylistic plurality (a term I’m borrowing from Leonard Meyer, the music theorist). The perfect example is 5 Elements by Chen! I realize he’s Chinese and you may ask why not make him the TEA guy, but his work so beautifully combines Chinese aesthetics and sounds with a Western musical harmonic world. His music is about stylistic plurality (a term I’m borrowing from musical theorist Leonard Meyer). We hear an eastern-sounding melody, Messiaen-like chords, washes of sound that evoke Debussy, gestures of notes that remind us of Ligeti, swelling ‘western orchestral strings, at times very traditional harmonies and, at other times, it’s something that’s much more adventurous even delightfully crunchy.

I’d like to use that lovely 18th-century term for carbonated water – FIXED AIR – and say that Chen’s 20th-century piece is the FIXED AIR, the soda that bubbles through our ears, while Beethoven’s concerto is a good strong cup of coffee, and Strauss’s tone poem is the finishing tea, perhaps Earl Grey (is that the most royal tea and domineering tea)? Next I’ll figure out the beer, wine and spirits!


PS:  I just ordered Standage’s new book from 2009, “Edible History of Humanity” … can’t wait to start comparing music and food!!!!

Rockin’ Out with DOUBLE BASS and MANDOLIN

10 Mar

I just heard an amazing piece of music!  Edgar Meyer (double bass extraordinaire) and Chris Thile (MANDOLIN!)  It’s called Fence Post in the Front Yard.  Such virtuosos, and it’s a wonderful instrumental combination. They’re both such beautiful instruments – the bass is majestic and Thile’s mandolin, one I always associate with Greek music (and then there’s the bouzouki – a similar instruments), has a very elegant curly-cue!  Pretty styling!

Here’s a YouTube video of this piece:

I loved this piece so much I went to iTunes and downloaded the album.  Great song titles too:  Ham and Cheese, This is Not the Pig, This is the Pig etc.  Chris Thile is born in California and started playing the mandolin as a kid and never stopped.  Edgar Meyer is a superb classically trained bass player who plays EVERYTHING.  These guys are inspiring and make you want to write music.



6 Mar

On Exhibit Through Saturday March 6th, 2010

We are honored by and grateful for the tremendous acclaim and positive response that has greeted this gallery’s current exhibition: HOME ON THE STRANGE: IN SEARCH OF THE SALTON SEA. The show features nine new paintings by Deborah Martin, companion texts by Amy Sather Smith, and a remarkable video installation by Juli Vizza.

We are pleased to announce that CATALYSIS PROJECTS will be publishing a full-color, limited-edition art book catalog from the show, featuring polaroids and paintings by Deborah Martin, and text by writer Amy Sather Smith.

If you have not had a chance to see HOME ON THE STRANGE – or place your order for an advance copy of the book – we will be open through Saturday 1-6pm. The exhibit will be closing on Saturday March 6th.

For more information visit: Deborah Martin Gallery