Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best Albums of 2012

My favorite listening experiences of the past year in no particular order. A great year for new music, although I spent a lot of the year digging back in time as well. Please support these artists and seek out these amazing albums!

 Carter Tutti Void "Transverse" (Mute)

 Andy Stott "Luxury Problems" (Modern Love)

 Bill Fay "Life is People" (Dead Oceans)

Catherine Christer Hennix & Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage "Live at The Grimm Museum" (Travelling Time) 

 Demdike Stare "Elemental" (Modern Love)

 Joshua Abrams "Represencing" (Eremite)

 John Zorn "Mount Analogue" (Tzadik)

 Myrninerest (David Tibet & James Blackshaw) "Jhonn, Uttered Babylon" (Coptic Cat)
 Trevor Jackson presents "Metal Dance" (Strut)

Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras & The Congos "Icon Give Thank" (RVNG Intl.)

Scott Walker "Bish Bosch" (4AD)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Incredible Spiritual Jazz Albums

I've been listening to a lot of jazz as of late,  and while I have immense appreciation for the range of jazz history from the hard bop and modal stylings of Art Blakey, Hank Mobley and Herbie Hancock to the outer fringes of free jazz ala Peter Brotzmann, Albert Ayler, William Parker, or, of course, Sun Ra, for me the most striking albums seem to be the ones touched with a sense of the eternal, ones that rejoice in the triumph of the spirit, and the wisdom of a higher power. Here's a small selection of some of my favorite albums on rotation at home:

Joe Henderson with Alice Coltrane "The Elements"

McCoy Tyner "Atlantis"

Horace Tapscott with the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra "Live at I.U.C.C.

John Zorn "A Vision in Blakelight"

The Awakening "Hear, Sense, and Feel"

Pharoah Sanders "Thembi"  

Doug Carn "Revelation"

Alice Coltrane "Ptah the El Daoud"

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Hallowe'en!

My wife and I as Adam & Barbara Maitland from Beetlejuice! Papier-mâché, wigs, felt, screen door material, tempera paint and lots of patience.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Animalier: The Animal in Contemporary Art

Just received the details on the the show "Animalier: The Animal in Contemporary Art". My piece Le Mystere Lycanthropique will be on display for the duration of the exhibition. If you're in the Alva, OK area, be sure to stop by the gallery for the opening reception and support what the gallery is doing, looks to be a pretty amazing show, as the artists chosen are all top notch! Details below:
Animalier: The Animal in Contemporary Art
An exhibition of art focusing on the animal form, sponsored by the Studio Art Program at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Curated by Brandice Guerra, Director of Studio Art at Northwestern. The show runs from November 2nd to December 2nd, 2012.

The exhibition will be held at the Graceful Arts Gallery and Studios, 523 Barnes Street, downtown Alva, Oklahoma. The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM and Saturday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

An opening reception is planned for November 2 from 6:00-8:00 PM. Light refreshments will be served. That evening, the Studio Art Program will also host a free screening of Jean-Jacques Annaud's 1988 French language film, The Bear, in the Graceful Arts rear studio (parental discretion is advised).

An informational lecture by the curator on the history and symbolism of animals in art is planned for November 14th at 5:30 PM in the Graceful Arts gallery.
Admission to the gallery, opening reception, film screening, and curator's lecture is free and open to the public.

69 artists from 12 countries and 19 US states submitted 127 works for consideration. The exhibition will contain 27 works from 21 artists in 6 countries and 7 US states.
Robin Arnold, New Paltz, New York
Larry Ege, Skokie, Illinois
Lemeh Fortytwo, Monterado, Italy
Kirsten Furlong, Boise, Idaho
Gabriel Garcia, Chicago, Illinois
Flore Gardner, Avignon, France
Donald Gialanella, Topanga, California
Ronald Gonzalez, Johnson City, New York
Suzanne Jensen, Montgomery, Alabama
Kristina Knowski, Joliet, Illinois
Kimberly Kwee, Little Rock, Arkansas
Nicolas Lamas, Lima, Peru
Maria Lux, Champaign, Illinois
Heather MacDonald, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Elizabeth McGhee, Laguna Beach, California
Johnny Miller, Chicago, Illinois
Meghan O'Connor, Nashville, Tennessee
I Made Arya Palguna, Jogjakarta, Indonesia
Elisabeth Pellathy, Montevallo, Alabama
Christopher Reiger, San Francisco, California
Andrew Yang, Chicago, Illinois

An art critic first used the term "Animalier" as a derisive title for the nineteenth century sculptor of animal bronzes, Antoine-Louis Barye. The epithet was in keeping with the use of animal names as terms of reproach. The term gradually lost its original contemptuous intention and is now used specifically to describe nineteenth century animal sculptors and broadly to describe any artist who chooses to focus on the animal form. The description of animals, whether symbolic or scientific, has been a concern of artists since the dawn of recorded history. This exhibition is intended to present a variety of approaches to the concepts concerning the representation of animals in contemporary artistic practice.

If you have questions about Animalier: The Animal in Contemporary Art or its supplemental programs, please contact Brandice Guerra at
If you have questions about the Graceful Arts Gallery and Studios, please contact Kay Decker, Gallery Director, at

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Friday, October 5, 2012

Animalier: The Animal in Contemporary Art

Also, just got word that my piece "Le Mystère Lycanthropique" has been accepted into a show entitled Animalier: The Animal in Contemporary Art at Northwest Oklahoma State University. The piece deals with the shamanic aspects of bestial transformation and atavistic wisdom transmitted via our animal brethren. Aha!

Interested in reading this new book on the subject as well, Arcanus Bestiarum: Of the Subtil and Occult Virtues of Divers Beasts

Demdike Stare

Had the pleasure of spending some time chatting with Miles and Sean from Demdike Stare last night when they played at the Empty Bottle hosted WIRE: Adventurers in Modern Music Festival. Got some great insight into their process for music making, life in England, what the new album may (or may not) sound like, and the serious record digger's hunger for that one album no one has heard in 30 years. 

Oddly, their sound, which is always visionary and forward thinking, is completely dependent on the past for source material and inspiration (everything from ultra-obscure sound library records from France and Italy to a far-out 60's oud and modular synth duo from Turkey). To me, this is what makes their music so interesting amidst the vast plain of emerging electronic musicians, this reverence for the past. It's the new face of folk music. Compositions of crackling voodoo trance rhythms, earthy primal bass thuds and passages of adder-like tape hiss, all seem to be passed down and utilized in the folk tradition. They handle their found sounds with the veneration Cecil Sharp or Alan Lomax would have given one of their rural singers, or perhaps more aptly, considering their influences, the way a witch might apply the incantations in a magical Grimoire.

The hair-raising and erotic occult horror imagery spliced together in their live video projection is a sort of mask the duo wears as an homage to the witchy ritual nature of their music and aesthetic, but underneath the oh-so-alluring darkness, I was happy to find two very friendly fellows who were just excited to be traveling the world and hexing concert goers with their hoodoo rhythms.

If you haven't heard them, check out their music here.    

Thanks to seijinlee for posting the videos

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Planetary Unfolding

Very excited to have been turned on to the excellent electronic soundscapes of Michael Stearns, an American composer whose brilliant work has unfortunately slipped into the gluttonous aether of 80's obscure self released "New Age" recordings (much of which is haplessly disposable). 

Basically, the dude was like the Bob Ross of synthesizer music, blending a cosmic tonality and expansive approach similar to Klaus Schulze or Roedelius with an uncanny melodic underscore and pleasantly graceful atmosphere. Take for example Stearns' 1985 LP Planetary Unfolding. Like Ross' gentle commentary and lackadaisical painterly handiwork on his famed public access show, Stearns makes the music as simple to listen to as it seemingly would be to play, never mind the complex network of patch cables and ensemble of keyboards it took to create it. Stearns enables the listener simply to drift off into the astral plane with the closing of ones eyes. He even kinda looked like Bob Ross!

Thanks to Bryan Lear for pointing this one out to me!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More New Work from Meng Yang

This illustration, by my buddy Meng, was based around the idea that during the Black Death, beer was actually safer to drink than water!

More of Yang's work here.

More Recent Artists On My Mind: Odilon Redon

 "Apocalypse de Saint-Jean Et le lia pour mille ans" lithograph


"Germination" lithograph

Monday, September 24, 2012

Artists of Recent Interest

A selection of some of the most fascinating painters and draughtsman I've had the pleasure of discovering in the recent months.

Vija Celmins "Untitled Web 2" mezzotint

Michael Borremans "Untitled" oil on canvas

Michael Borremans "Automat (I)" oil on canvas

Denis Forkas "Manifestation of Azrael" acrylic on paper

Denis Forkas "Utech Sabbath" ink, salt, tea on paper

Meng Yang's Genghis Khan

A beautiful illustration of a young Genghis Khan and his wolf mother. In response to a proposed idea about a local semimonthly drawing club group, I recently got this image emailed to me from my good friend Meng Yang a brilliant designer and print maker, who operates a very cool online poster store, Know Your Flag. Be sure to drop by and check out some of his work. Beautiful craftsmanship, design and a wealth of Chicago historical knowledge!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Progress on "Self Portrait With Death Playing Fiddle"

Still working on this piece. Ugh! It's giving me troubles, and it's so difficult to try and paint in adverse lighting conditions. It almost looks like a totally different painting when I move it into each room of the house, our lame-ass digital camera also makes it difficult to capture the warmth and depth of the image. Be posting more later as it progresses...

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Art of Francesco Parisi

Text and images reposted from one of my favorite publishers of esoterica, Fulgur Limited. Many Thanks!

Francesco Parisi was born in Rome in 1972. He studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti where he first encountered the works of William Blake and Francesco Mazzola. His first one man exhibition was during 1995, at the Gallery Guy in Paris. Later he returned to Italy and deepened his study of wood-engraving technique. In his paintings and engravings between 1998 and 2002 we see an exploration of the themes and subjects relating to Dionysus. In 2002 Emanuel Bardazzi curated an exhibition of Parisi’s prints at the Gabinetto delle Stampe of the Galleria Comunale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Cagliari. In the same year he gained a grant for engraving at the Kultur-Institute Villa Romana Florenz in Florence – once the studio home of the German engraver Max Klinger. Between 2001 and 2004 personal exhibitions followed in Italy and abroad.

In 2005 a catalogue raisonné of Francesco’s engraved work was published, edited by Arianna Mercanti and with a preface by Maria Teresa Benedetti. In 2006 the artist moved to New York for one year where he taught wood-engraving technique at the Centre for the Book Arts, while preparing for an exhibition at the Caelum Gallery.

Francesco writes regularly and is the author of essays and articles in specialised magazines and catalogues on Italian and European graphic art of the early nineteenth century. He has curated national exhibitions and written accompanying publications for museums and private art galleries in the Italy. His prints may be found in the collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Département des estampes et de la photographie, Paris; the Royal Museum of Fine Art, Antwerp; and the British Museum, Departments of Prints and Drawings, London. He is currently Professor of Printmaking at the University of Fine Arts, Rome and at Accademia di Belle Arti di Foggia.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pharoah Sanders at South Shore Cultural Center

Photo by Candace Corner Miller

I was very happy to experience a very special live performance from one of my favorite jazz artists of all time this past Sunday night, Pharoah Sanders! It was a perfect evening for such an outdoor event with the weather cooling down to a very comfortable (finally) mid 70's, the smell of smoke mingling with the sound of the rushing waves on the beach outside of Chicago's South Shore Cultural Center. A very fitting atmosphere for one of Jazz music's most spiritually uplifting players.

Glad to see he's still getting around after 50+ years performing (he began playing alongside John Coltrane in the 60's and was given his nickname "Pharoah" by Sun Ra!). He even did some amazing little dance shuffles and a vocal performance on my favorite piece "The Creator Has A Master Plan". My wife and I had a great time relaxing on our blanket and soaking up those vibes. Unbelievable energy!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Tuesday Night Dinner at SHoP

Just completed the flyer for this months Tuesday Night Dinner event, an underground dining club operating at various venues throughout the city of Chicago. Tomorrow's event with be at the Southside Hub of Production or SHoP for short. My wife and I attended the last one at Bang Bang Pie Shop in Logan Square, which was based around the theme of a southern summer crab boil. Strawberry shortbread biscuits topped with brûléed sugar by the fine folks at Bang Bang were the finale to the delicious meal provided by the Tuesday Night Dinner chefs. 

I'd like to thank my pal Liz Wolferman who does social media for Tuesday Night Dinner for asking me to help out with the art for this months event. More info on their Facebook page.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Self Portrait WIth Death Playing Fiddle

Recently completed the under-painting for my homage to Swiss symbolist painter Arnold Böcklin's piece of the same name. Hoping for this to be the first in a series based on classic motifs in art concerning the symbolism of death, mythology, and the western esoteric tradition.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

New Drawings

 Smiling Sorcerer chalk pastel

 The Aeon of Likos graphite and white charcoal accents

The Dreamer (Lure of the Poppy) graphite