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Misfits and Hooligans Interview: Veronika Krausas

26 Apr

The third in our series of interviews with artists leading up to the Misfits and Hooligans concert at Beyond Baroque on April 28, we talk to composer, producer, and Catalysis Projects Core Artist Veronika Krausas.

Can you tell us a bit about your work that’s being presented on the concert?

I’ve got two pieces on the program – one a little older and one a little newer.  Let’s say the older one is the hooligan work.  It’s my double bass trio called Gardens of Stone.    This piece was inspired by a poem by the Canadian writer André Alexis:

 out of silence, to another silence

 from sun and water, dry white salt.

time moves like that, crest to crest,

and our selves, yours and mine,

are what is left from sea …

 I had a series of works that used texts around stones by Alexis.  Some of them had the text read, some sung, and in this piece it’s simply the inspiration seed.  I wrote it after hearing the marvelous bassist Stefano Scodanibbio perform at Darmstadt.  I was enthralled with the range of sounds that he was able to achieve.   My work can be amplified but for Saturday’s concert it’ll be acoustic since it’s such a small space, the real estate is at a premium!

The second work – my misfit piece – is Jonas for solo harmonica.   The supreme master of the harmonica, Bill Barrett, asked me to write a solo work for him a few years ago.  It’s finally getting its première this weekend.  The structure of the piece is 8 phrases, each ending in exactly the same, definitive way.  Along with the piece is a great text and film by Quintan Ana Wikswo called The Anguillidae Eater.

The text is about the migration of eels to the Coronian Spit in Lithuania (which is one of my favorite places in the world) with a surreal twist.

Curonian spit - Lithuania

Here’s what Quintan says of the work:

The Anguilladae Eaters inhabits an obscure spot upon the earth – a tiny spit of land in the Baltic Sea where ancient and ferocious female deities are still known to roam. Over the centuries, their alchemical, cryptic seaside has been invaded by Vikings, Russians, Catholics, Nazis – each wanting to plunder, subdue and control this disconcertingly female ensorcelled slice of earth. Yet there are pilgrims, too – the Anguilladae eels journey ten long years from the Sargasso Sea in the Caribbean, just to mate in these icy, enchanted waters. And they’re not alone. All manner of travelers are drawn here, even today, where these deities remain with powers far stronger and more fierce with age. Travelers today find themselves unsettled: are the local women truly women? Or are they themselves the cryptic eel goddesses – immortals in mundane disguise? Were the eggs at breakfast enchanted? Taken not from chickens, but from the plundered nest of an eel queen, stalking high along the dunes?

The images in her film are of eggs and the sea and the sand and an eel rake!

eel rake

It goes perfectly with the harmonica music.  The piece is named after my grandfather Jonas, who loved harmonica and smoked eel and was Lithuanian.  He was probably more of a friendly hooligan that a misfit.  I still have his harmonica in my studio.

Do you consider yourself a hooligan or a misfit? Or both? Or neither?

 

I’m a misfit but really my goal is to be a hooligan … it’s one of those things that I’m working on.  The definition of hooligan really depends on which country you hail from because in the lands that enjoy soccer (aka as non-American football), a hooligan might have a slightly less savory connotation than a hooligan in my less aggressive-less violent-more mischievous-Edward Gorey-esque usage of the term.

 

Edward Gorey

Tell us about the most memorable oddball instrument you’ve ever encountered.

 

I’ve always been perplexed with the ondes martenot.  The effects of the instrument are fantastic in Messiaen’s music and in the hands of a great performer, like Cynthnia Millar, it’s exquisite, but the method of performing on it has always messed with my brain.

I remember once hearing a bagpipe in a closed room – that was memorable.

I remember once seeing and hearing someone play on an amplified toothbrush – that was oddball.

And of course, there are those moments where all of a sudden you forget how to spell was or for a split second something that is habitual becomes an unknown action.  Sometimes, very rarely actually, I’ll be sitting at the piano and I’ll see myself from the outside, as if an alien watching who has no idea what a piano is, and think, this is strange – sitting at a table and hitting it with my fingers!  I guess that’s more just oddball rather than an instrument really.

 

CONCERT TO CHECK OUT: What’s Next? Ensemble

21 Nov

This Wednesday…
What’s Next? Ensemble
presents
Fighting Music
Wednesday November 23, 8pm
Royal-T Café $5 General Admission

Fighting Music
Wednesday November 23, 2011 8pm
Royal-T Café/Gallery/Art Space
8910 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

Our first concert of the season is finally here! This Wednesday come join as we play the wonderful music of our very own Southern California composers Don Crockett and Wojteck Blecharz, Rome Prize winner Sean Friar, and the grandfather of hard-edge minimalism Louis Andriessen. In a time of economic uncertainty and political upheaval relax by joining What’s Next? as we give thanks for the power of musical expression.

Just to whet your appetite, check out Nick Norton’s wonderful interview with WNE Artistic Director and conductor Vimbayi Kaziboni over at http://newclassicla.wordpress.com/

Program

Sean Friar Fighting Words for soprano and ensemble
Donald Crockett To Airy Thinness Beat concerto for viola and ensemble
Wojteck Blecharz Cartography for ensemble
Louis Andriessen Workers Union for ensemble

GREEN FESTIVAL in Los Angeles this weekend!

26 Oct

Here’s an event you might be interested in:

We are only four days away from the Green Festival in Los angeles this weekend! Dorka Keehn, author of ECO Amazons, will speaking on Saturday at 1pm along with Jessica Iclisoy, Founder, California Baby and Alexandra Spunt, co-author, No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics.

Dorka Keehn's "Eco Amazons"

To find out more go tohttp://www.greenfestivals.org/

GUEST BLOG: Renée Reynolds

17 Aug

Renée Reynolds grew up between Chicago and Los Angeles. She writes short fiction and paints long images while working as a freelance writer in Shanghai.  This piece appears courtesy of HAL publishing, a postpat colonist publishing house promoting China-based works by exceptional authors.  She is a long-time collaborator with CP composer Veronika Krausas. 

Fort Bringham’ere in Brief July 5, XXXX

Dear Mr. Just Wondering,

Thank you for your interest in the operations of Fort Bringham’ere. Do accept our apologies for requiring 13 months and a day to reply – foreign-correspondence clearance protocol sure can be a time consuming process! You will find all inquiries and concerns classified as non-confidential addressed in this notarized document. I thank you in advance for pardoning the necessary omissions.

Fort Bringham’ere (formerly Fort Gimme) Military Biosphere Reserve (FBMBR) is located in an undisclosed northern township. With a north-south length of 880 m, and an east-west width of 500 m, the FBMBR covers a total area of 440,000 square-meters (44 hectares).

Once known as one of the world’s largest city squares, second only to the Imam Reza Shrine in Old Iran, FBMBR includes the majority of the highest quality hiparian flats remaining in mainland China. Multiple species of hiparian-dependent life-forms, found in Fort Bringham’ere’s flats, are candidates for rare and special species listing at local and national levels, including the Dusty dead-vinehopper (Wuttanowe dustus), the Xi’s Peckerspot (Thatsanot livustus), and the extremely rare, Highway Blue Face (Cyaninan cryptivius).

As urban development, invasive species, real estate price-hikes, demolition and ground cover succession continue to efface the northern region’s hiparian flats, restoration and management are critical in providing enough suitable habitat for these and other important species to maintain viable populations.

Stewardship of rare and special species and natural habitats has a priority at Fort Bringham’ere. The proper entrapment, documentation, blog-posting, paper-mache and enticing display of such species are also mandated practices under strict Fort-implemented regulations as well as national and local law. The process of listing any hiparian specimen as ‘threatened’ or ‘endangered’ could have negative implications for the funding, training and ranking of Fort Bringham’ere’s personnel. Access to the means by which such an act can be performed is therefore monitored with an extensive CCTV network as well as armed guards trained in relevant disciplines such as Zoology and martial arts.

Monthly reports are compiled for historical record-keeping and internal reference only. Such reports use carefully selected segments of survey and informational testimonies on northern mainland China’s hiparian-dependent life-forms. Oral history, folklore (including ancestral superstitions) and supporting interviews of expert upright citizens with extensive experience in the region, as well as qualified family members, provide additional source material when necessary.

All reports aim to create a thorough yet entertaining picture of the rare, common and otherwise compromised populations existing on and around Fort Bringham’ere over time. While content generated thusly can be used to enhance tourism revenues in future, studies conducted on Fort Bringham’ere are currently closed to the public as well as non-briefed personnel.

Aspects of high-quality hiparian habitat such as low pu-pu fecal cover, abundant alcoholic and diverse nectar sources, and high-rise dormant VIP colonies can be correlated with all regional species’ diversity and abundance. In the absence of such opportunities to propagate, many of the rare and special species will undoubtedly achieve extinction before the year of the Dragon, a decidedly important passing of amorphous energies that dictate the deepest of all meaning to all living creatures in all known economically viable locations.

Thus, all men of high-ranking cloth at Fort Bringham’ere endorse the passing of the mandate RU4-DiRoll and the doubling of munitions used in Q1 and Q2 in our on-going efforts to protect surrounding Technology Parks, as well as nearby residential and commercial development zones from any species known and unknown to pose a threat to the protocol we all work so diligently to uphold.

Your support is appreciated!

Yours Truly,

Lt. Colonel August Finis, Operating Commander

Fort Bringham’ere Military Biosphere Reserve

REVIEW: 50 Fingers & 88 Keys

28 Jul

REVIEW by CP composer Veronika Krausas

50 Fingers & 88 Keys (…actually 60 fingers and 176 keys)

I just attended one of the most delightful events of the year. Yes, I did just use the word ‘delightful’. I was at a lovely Sunday afternoon garden party organized by Jacaranda Music that included a delicious lunch and a wonderful piano recital, hence the title with lots of fingers and keys! It was at the Music & Art Atelier: David Anderson Pianos and Tanya Ragir Studios.

The pianists were a line-up of excellence: Aron Kallay, Danny Holt, Steven Vanhauwaert, Yana Reznik and the duo Joanne Pearce Martin and Gavin Martin. All will be featured in Jacaranda’s upcoming season.  The repertoire ranged from Mozart, Granados, Rachmoninoff, and Ravel to 21st Century composers David Lang and Nico Muhly.

pianists: Steven Vanhaueaert & Danny Holt

During a sublime performance of the quiet and delicate Etudes by Muhly, sirens and ambulances started up down the street and then disappeared. Not missing a beat or a finger (one of the 60) pianist Aron Kallay smiled slightly and kept on serenely playing.

pianist: Aron Kallay

It was a magical afternoon:  as the music wafted through the garden, the shadows of the rustling leaves in the trees danced on the white table cloths.

If this event is a prelude to their next season we can all be very excited!  Jacaranda 

Patrick Scott - Artistic Director Jacaranda Music

DEBORAH MARTIN: Notes From the Studio

23 Jul

 

This NOTES FROM THE STUDIO column features CP Core Artist Deborah Martin,  a contemporary realist painter, fine art photographer and curator. Visit her work online here.


Deborah Martin Pillows, 2011 Oil on Canvas 36 x 36″

I am still deeply immersed in the final stages of producing  NARROW LANDS a collaborative project with CP Core Artist Quintan Ana Wikswo. The exhibit opens at the Patty DeLuca Gallery August 5, – 23rd, 2011 in Provincetown, MA. Reception August 5- [6-10pm.]  I will be present for the opening. If you are in town, I hope you will get a chance to see this exhibit.

The Narrow Lands exhibition will move onto The School House Gallery opening Labor Day weekend September 2-21st. This Exhibit will feature additional new paintings including the Fine Art Book- NARROW LANDS  Deborah Martin [Paintings]  Quintan Ana Wikswo [Prose Poems] which will be avialable in both soft and hard cover.

If all goes well, Quintan will be arriving from NYC and I will be arriving from LA to attend the opening, and perhaps we will be holding a reading , book signing and Q & A at The School House Gallery over Labor Day weekend….more on this TBA.

Lately I have had to abandon Polaroid. My last batch of film was dreadfully pink-which started to translate into my paintings. Regardless of what I tell myself… my eye picks up exactly what I see. Pink is not the tone I am looking to recreate. Never mind the expired film  [which is a total crap shoot] the price for it is beyond ridiculous.

If you are a Polaroid  fanatic like myself and have not been following The Impossible Project check them out. They are coming out with all kinds of alternative film…in the mean time I am reduced to my iphone hipstomatic app and whatever color correction I attempt to make to steer away from the dreaded red tones. Until I have time to experiment with The Impossible Projects new film options….gone are the days of wandering around the United States with my cheap plastic Polaroid 600. For now…let it RIP I am moving on.

Deborah Martin, Study for Two Chairs

As I run up against the deadline to ship out Narrow Lands…my mind is slowly turning to the next series WONDER VALLEY which opens October 8th, 2011 at the Red Arrow Gallery in Joshua Tree. For this exhibit I am pleased to announce that I will be teaming up again with CP Core Artist Quintan Ana Wikswo who will be creating a unique installation of prose poems inspired by this new series of paintings based on Wonder Valley.

Below is a preview of the review:

Poised in an arid netherworld between strip malls and car lots, WONDER VALLEY lies just beyond the vacant, shuttered stare of the American Dream. Commercialism gnaws at the edges of this desert mountain wilderness – its embattled landscape of ragged palms, mountains, and eroding homestead cabins provides austere refuge to semi-nomadic enclaves of fringe-toed lizards, kangaroo rats, idiosyncratic visionaries and anachronistic loners.

In WONDER VALLEY, Martin immortalizes a 21st century desert struggle against destruction, and her lamentation for the disappearing landscape is also a praise song to the improbable power of endurance, tenacity, and longing.

Painter Deborah Martin has established a compelling dominion as portraitist of an archaic America – ravaged sites and forgotten wastelands that nonetheless resist destruction. Her luminous paintings and photographs reveal the beauty in the bleak, and speak to the tenuous balance between home, depravation, isolation, community and hope.

–Quintan Ana Wikswo

 

If you plan to be in Joshua Tree the exhibit opens October 8th and runs through November 6th. The exhibit coincides with the HWY 62 Art Tours which are the last two weekends in October. More on the tours in an upcoming  Blog Post…

-Deborah


Rules are Stupid (An homage to Zarathustra):

22 Jul
Jeffrey Holmes: Blog for CATALYSIS PROJECTS, July, 2011.
The actions of being an artist are those of the exception to the norm, not the norm that the majority is engulfed within.  The only rules we are to follow are those of nature.  It is mankind’s instinct to try to govern and document those aspects of nature, all without mandate.  It is our hangover from a monotheistic aeon.  Prior to the spread of monotheism, mankind lived amongst nature and “worshipped” natural gods that provided explanations for natural occurrences that could not be explained by reason.  As monotheism encroached upon society, there became an irrational desire to separate from nature and dominate it.  The early Judeo-Christian liturgans chopped down trees to build wooden churches to demonstrate their dominance over nature, while the pagans lived amongst the forests in collaboration with natural elements.  This need for dominance all springs from a fear of the power nature had over their lives and their desire to control it, in order to ensure their own survival.  In our current aeon, we are generally unthreatened by nature in that same way.  Of course, we can be killed by earthquakes or the by the sea, or large storms, but we understand this scientifically and are comforted by the control we gain from that knowledge.  But most people are unlikely to get killed by a bear or wolf or band of marauders or something wild as they walk from their secure home to their secure vehicle (weather a car, train, etc.), to their secure job or through their secure life.  So some of us, the majority, are clinging to a divinity that dominates nature, but without the spiritual rationality of a reason for doing so.  This always leads to criticism of the minority, by the majority.  Criticism often leads to bias, and then to conflict and finally, attempts at extermination.  It is our political and legal doctrine in our post-modern era.

1. Rules are Stupid:

Historically we privilege the exceptions, and are bored with the norm.  My hero is Beethoven.  His value that we now derive from his actions is that of a progressive one.  This is why we separate him from his now generally considered “lesser” contemporaries like Dittersdorf, Vanal, Gottschalk, etc., all of whom followed conventions of their day.  Beethoven, however, is praised for breaking the rules and defying the norm, and that is why he is taught and studied…his exceptions, not his submissions.  In fact, in our current society, he would probably be ostracized for his adherence to his believes and unflinching integrity and his obstinate, brash personality.  Even late in his own life he was ostracized…having children throw rotten fruit at him on the street, being arrested for vagrancy, and his for his increasing social isolation due to his stubborn and offensive attitude.  It is no surprise that his main source of inspiration was always nature.  Even though his works do not reveal this on the surface through their titles, his journals reveal that his daily walks in the forest was where and when he conjured his ideas.

2. Rules are Stupid:

This brings me around to the point of sharing my thoughts.  I have been told by everyone around me, that I am bound by my employment, bound geographically.  Even if that has caged me into less of a fulfilled life than I demand for myself.  I have recently broken these rules and moved away, far away…to the top of a mountain.  When I was a lost and searching 12 year-old, I was permanently inspired and shaped by Fredrick Nietzsche’s Thus Sparch Zarathustra.  This fictional tale describes a thinker/poet who was not a part of the norm of society.  He chose to live in on a mountain-top, away from society, to regain spiritual and personal clarity.  When he returns to society ten years later, his impressions are profound.  It is no coincidence that Nietzsche’s selected name for this character “Zarathustra” is a pun on the word “Zoroastrian”, which is the name of the first mono-theistic sect in recorded history (that either Nietzsche or myself are aware of), and is an obvious illumination of the conflict between mono-theistic divinity and the natural order of our world.  So I have finally rejoined my 12 year-old self.  I have become Zarathustra, and have claimed my mountain-top.

3. Rules are Stupid:

As I embark upon a collaboration with fellow Catalysis Projects artist Quintain Ana Wikswo, I am reminded of the natural element in art.   We are creating a work that from my end is to be titled “Pastoral”, which is the evocation of nature.  This is not a literal depiction of natural images, that feat is only for God or Satan.  Instead, this is a symbolist portrayal of my internal feelings that arise when submerged in, or deprived of, nature.  From here upon my Zarathustrian mountain-top, my Beethovian artistic sensibility is free to roam.  Quintain is similarly progressing into nature.  She is creating her part of this work from the Catskill mountain range in New York.  Our two works are to collide into a third work, either unifying peacefully, or as Beethoven said “lying back to back, like two grizzly bears in a cave, unwilling to fight or to merge but somehow coexisting and informing one another”.

Like Zarathustra and Beethoven, we are adults and artists, we are exceptions to society, we do not need rules.

Exploring in Novels and Music

8 Jul
 NOTES FROM THE STUDIO:  Catalysis Projects’ Core Composer Veronika Krausas muses about the similarities of traveling and exploring in novels, on land, and in musical composition.

Space… the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before…

The reason I bring up Star Trek, not because I’m a trekkie, although I loved the new movie with the cameo by Leonard Nimoy (always a hero – logical and mathematical) and did watch the series as a kid (Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scottie and the gang always kicked ass, just like Batman and Robin except in space), it’s the quote from the beginning of the show/film etc. that pertains to my blog this month.  …to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations…

Right now I’m in the middle of two things:  I’m reading Embassytown, the newest work by one of my favorite authors, China Miéville and I’m writing a new piece.  Interestingly they both have something  in common – the process of acclimatization.

Miéville’s novel is set in the future and humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak.

Diving into this novel is like arriving in a new city or starting a new piece.  There is little or no familiarity with things:  understanding the syntax of new words and ideas, the new streets and buildings, or the harmonic language of a new composition.  Your legs feel wobbly; your brain is in overtime to make connections and link concepts, ideas, notes, street names!

As the story progresses with these unknown words and concepts—that are slowly revealed or you have to work out for yourself—there’s a level of comfort reached when the comparisons turn to understanding. It’s like learning a new language – constantly translating words to English until they attain the status of becoming their own entity without being a comparison or needing a definition anymore.

I think about explorers first encountering a new culture and new language and new everything!   There was movie called the 13th Warrior a few years back and what I remember about this movie is one brilliant scene when the hero (I think Antonio Banderas) was thrown into a group of Vikings (or some bearded types) and didn’t speak their language.  It showed his progression of recognizing and understanding individual words and over time grouping them into sentences, and then into meaning.  I loved the way that the writers didn’t just assume everyone spoke English in Medieval Europe.  So it’s a process of acclimatization.

With writing novels (I’m assuming) or music (which I know) it’s the creation of a new universe and even in that creation there’s the period of acclimatization for your own internal understanding.  This is a tough period and often very elusive – nothing makes sense in your brain and very unrelated and strange things achieve great importance (such as the sudden need to clean behind the fridge).

Getting over that hump is a great relief and then links are made more easily and naturally (and who cares what’s behind the fridge … you can’t see it anyway!)

Eco Amazons by DORKA KEEHN

2 Jun

Recommended Reading by

CP composer Veronika Krausas

I have just received a new book – it’s an absolutely beautiful hardcover by the San Francisco writer, documentary film maker and activist Dorka Keehn, who is definitely her own force of nature.  I highly recommend it!

Eco Amazons brings together for the first time the women leading the charge to ensure a healthy environment for all life on earth. Through intimate interviews conducted by journalist and activist Dorka Keehn and arresting images by award winning photographer Colin Finlay, Eco Amazons calls attention to this century’s critical environmental challenges by focusing on the remarkable women developing solutions and guiding us towards a sustainable future. Their efforts demonstrate how individual concern gives rise to passion, how passion leads to action, and how action effects meaningful change—efforts that can be emulated by each and every one of us.
If you’d like to order one, they’re  on Amazon OR at a 30% discount is available on http://www.ecoamazons.com if purchased by June 5, World Environment Day (WED).
If you are in the Bay Area and would like to meet Dorka, please join us at Gump’s, 135 Post St, SF CA on June 16 5:30-7:30 PM. Rsvp: specialevents@gumps.com
Through decades of WED celebrations, hundreds of thousands of people from countries all over the world have been galvanized for individual and organized environmental action. For more information and activities, please visit www.unep.org/wed

Dorka Keehn

Dorka’s been a guest blogger for CP and here’s more information:
Dorka Keehn is a journalist and social entrepreneur. She is currently working on ECO AMAZONS, the first book on American women environmental leaders to be released on Earth Day, 2011, with images by Colin Finlay, one of the foremost documentary photographers in the world. She completed in November 2008,Language of the Birds, a large-scale solar powered permanent site specific sculpture for a new plaza in Northbeach, commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission, that was voted one of the best public artworks in the United States by Americans for the Arts. As a filmmaker, she has produced several films for television including the two-time Emmy award winning documentary, OF CIVIL WRONGS & RIGHTS: The Fred Korematsu Story (PBS POV 2001.) She is a founder of EMERGE AMERICA, the premier training program for Democratic women who plan to run for political office, and has been a leader in the women’s movement for over fifteen years. Mayor Willie Brown appointed her twice and Mayor Gavin Newsom re-appointed her to the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. Dorka was also the West Coast Director of Gloria Steinem’s Voters For Choice, the largest non-partisan, independent pro-choice political action committee in the U.S. And she has served on innumerable Boards of Directors of women’s, environmental, media and educational organizations.

a little late but still sort of funny …

31 May

Calgary Canada

photo by Veronika Krausas (May 21, 2011)

I’m up in Canada for a few weeks and Doomsday came and went …  roll on!