Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Adam's The Gospel According to the Other Mary

The Gospel According to the Other Mary (Madelaine) has enjoyed rave reviews - in comparison to the ugly demonstrations at the Met's production of "THE Death of Klinghofer". Perhaps Christians are more tolerant of depictions of their religion than the Jewish. This production is more oratorio with dance than opera - but no less dramatic. See and hear Adam's on thoughts on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ0ahdo0c3g.

The Gospel According to the Other Mary opera review: John Adams' triumphant update of the Passion of the Christ

 English National Opera, London

 Jessica Duchen
 Saturday 22 November 2014

John Adams received a rapturous response for the world premiere staging at ENO of his Passion oratorio, The Gospel According to the Other Mary – and well he might. Bursting with fury, compassion and inspiration, this elemental score seems to carry the composer to a whole new level of expression.

With his long-time collaborator and stage director Peter Sellars, Adams has updated the Passion of Christ to the present; the action zips between ancient Bethany and, for example, 20th-century Mexico. Time, as Lazarus tells us in Primo Levi’s Passover poem, “reverses its course”.
The many texts include words from the Bible and poems by writers ranging from Hildegard of Bingen to Rosario Castellanos, Louise Erdrich and more, often highlighting the women’s point of view; this enhances, but is not solely responsible for, the piece’s overwhelming sense of empathy. Mary Magdalene and her sister Martha run a hostel for homeless women; Jesus – never seen, but is portrayed variously by the three Seraphim (counter-tenors functioning together) and the dancers who complement the singers throughout – seems as human as he is divine.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic and its conductor Gustavo Dudamel performed the oratorio in semi-staged concert at the Barbican last year. But now Sellars has given it the works. The result bears familiar hallmarks such as exaggerated miming gestures for the chorus; yet in this context it seems unusually organic. George Tsypin sets the fluid drama in a striking, simple stage: barbed wire fences, draped gauzes projected with giant drawn images, and cardboard boxes to serve as Lazarus’s tomb, dinner table and angel’s plinth. James F Ingalls’s lighting is warm and immersive, its gorgeous colours often rooted in the text – “blazing ochre, blazing rust”.
As for Adams, you might not guess that this composer had ever been branded a “minimalist”. The jagged accents, sustained melodies, keening strings, intense woodwind dissonances, and the orchestration tattooed with cimbalom, plentiful percussion and three tam-tams, all feel closer than he has moved before to the European avant-garde. The expression travels from burning meditative reflection to a radiant spring dawn, laced with the sound of frogs. Dramatically the pace sometimes feels extended, but the long build-ups fuel terrifying climaxes in the crucifixion and the earthquake.
Patricia Bardon as Mary Magdalene presents a character whose fragility and introversion is balanced by a state of sensual grace, her voice traversing a range to match; Meredith Arwady’s powerful contralto packs a punch as Martha; and the American tenor Russell Thomas as Lazarus is charismatic in both presence and tone. The countertenors Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings and Nathan Medley as the Seraphim strike a good balance between togetherness and individuality.
Black mark, though, to the ENO programme for not providing biographies (ie, adequate credit) for the dancers - especially the flex dancer Banks who, as the Angel Gabriel, presented physical power and eloquence that was more than the equal of the singing.
The Other Mary is ultimately a choral piece more than an opera, and the ENO chorus and orchestra carry the bulk of it, their vastly demanding parts shouldered with huge aplomb. The Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro is at the helm of the entire tour de force, pulling together this magnificent and suitably impassioned creation.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thoughts on life after death....

   Redemption of the Just - Isaiah 57

Acrylic and digital print on panel. 24" x 60" - 2010

  This subject came up while reading a news article on Christians increasing choosing cremation over burial. I've often assumed that's not really a bad idea considering the cost of burial. I really don't like business' that have a solid grip on your finances - right to the end.

This posting may seem morbid, at times funny. I decided to search the web to see if there were comments on what Mormon's officially teach on the subject - there were plenty. Apparently the only official statement (and it's not doctrine) is that the Church discourages the practice of cremation; but doesn't forbid it.  That's an interesting statement, to me it says "Everyone I know wants to be buried, but there is nothing really wrong with cremation from a doctrinal point of view. From a doctrinal point of view it comes down to the question of the resurrection. According to The Book of Mormon, another Testament of Christ: 

The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame. Alma 40:23

Throughout my life I've been led to believe that this scripture indicates that our mortal, our physical body will be reconstructed to their perfect form. That has always suited me as I think I could use a more perfect form. Having to restore every mortal particle? I wouldn't say that's beyond God's ability, but it does seem very impractical.

On the serious side this brings to question the fate of those who's bodies have been destroyed by one horrible means or another - all the way back to Adam. That's a lot of people who had no choice in the matter. God, being a loving God, has has provided the resurrection, or eternal life, to all men. From the Bible, KJV;

  • John 5:29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

    Therefore my conclusion - the gospel of Lloyd, so take it for what it is: The resurrection is more of a recreation of the mortal form in its "proper and perfect frame".  After all, the Lord knows well how this is done - and it would be a lot less, well - messy.

    Perhaps I should stop reading the news. It gets distracting.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thought of the week:

A quote and a photo from two fine contemporary artists:

Is Art really an extravagance, something 'extra' ? 17,000 years earlier, I'm not sure the 'cave painters', knew or experienced, any extravagance, or 'extras'. When we consider 'Necessity', and the human spirit, perhaps G . Richter was right, again... 'Art remains our highest form, expression, of hope'.
Randy Sabatelli

Photo: Fiedorosicz - In the spirit of abstraction

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How do we portray Christ?

When I paint an image of Christ, I look at a resurrected being - not the one who lived and served on the earth; but the one who is perfected and working on our behalf now. Not always happy with us - then again, I'm not always happy with myself

Monday, August 5, 2013

Art: Talent or Price - Who wins?

American artist Eric Fischl was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, then discussed further by Katheryn Tully in Forbes magazine, that "belief that money, rather than artistic merit, has recently become the universal definition of worth in the art world."

This obviously creates problems not only for the artists but for the collector or investor. As Fischl put it in the interview, regarding the financial bubble in the computer/internet industry in the 80's:

"It was almost like a perfect storm. There was a tremendous amount of money being made by people who were very young, were not broadly educated but were more mono-focused educated. They didn't have a broad sense of history, of culture. Then all of a sudden there's this infusion of money into the art world, where they're looking for things that are not deeply understood but are entertaining, and the lifestyle of it is entertaining. They're hedging their bets, so they're buying lots of different young artists. And it's getting younger and younger. In the '90s, collectors started to buy work directly out of studios in graduate schools by artists who hadn't even become professional artists, let alone mature.

And the impact that has on artists is enormous, because if you start selling work as a student, it's very hard to change, very hard to let go and progress and find your own true voice. So you see a lot of younger artists who've been selling work since they got out of school but have yet to do their second show, so to speak. They started speaking, not in art terms, but in business terms."

The bottom line here is that it's not about talent, and the buyers weren't knowledgeable about art. 

Tully: "There are obviously numerous reasons why the value of an artist, or an art work, should not just be defined by price. The majority of amazing art in the world does not sell for millions at auction or fit the neat parameters of what sells well at an art fair. It’s not a consistent or useful marker for collectors..."

This becomes scary for artist - do I create for the market or create for expression, beauty, essence...? 
Contemporary art today is more diverse than it's ever been. It is so diverse, in fact, that it is becoming difficult for gallerist, or websites (which many feel are driving out a lot of galleries) to describe to a potential buyer what "kind" of art this is. 

In my humble opinion there is no "ism" today. Sure, some artist still work in ism's of the past - even impressionism for goodness sake! After all, it looks good on a wall and, more importantly, it sales. But, is it ART? There's the conundrum. If an artist wants to be true to themselves, their vision and creativity - it may well drive them off the market. In Monet's time communication amongst the art world was close to nil - today it is rampant. On FaceBook alone I have 65 "friends" who are artists and cover every continent! It's fascinating, the myriad collection of varied art I receive each day. Some of them have their market - some are still looking for it, and may never really find it. 

Art (in any form) is just too precious to be viewed only for it's monetary value. Perhaps it is those who buy art just because they like it, because it enhances their lives that will determine the future of art. That, I'm afraid will be some time coming. I guess I can't really complain. I don't sell a lot, almost none in originals - more in prints - but I can say that I'm being true to myself and I'm still growing (that said at my age hopefully means senility has yet to set in). That can't be said of artist who find a niche where they find some popularity and then hammer out more of it because it sells. I do get exhibited, published, given awards, and I've been asked to do solo shows. For now, that provides fulfillment.

Structure 1 - Digital work in progress

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Life's too easy - really!

Today I go to Sherwin Williams to buy my paint - yes, I use commercial grade acrylics - not too unusual today. And for the way I paint I buy it by the quart and gallon. Some of my works get their textures and color cast by pouring about 1/8" of paint on a panel with the edges taped. Colors and texture materials are worked into the wet paint and as it dries, more texture is added. When dry I have the base for the painting. 

Years ago and in centuries past you made your own paint. One reason that early artists didn't have large catalogs of work. Following is a recipe by Frieda Kahlo. Here is a rather contemporary Mexican artist who still follows homemade recipes:

Distemper together 4 equal parts of egg yolks raw linseed oil
egg yolk = raw linseed oil = compound of damar gum blended in turpentine = water
damar gum dissolved in turpentine and distilled water. with disinfectant take = concentrated aldehyde alcohol. ½ gram. to a liter of water.
crushed damar inside of lemon [suspended in] turpentine for 8 to 10 days.
remove all the white from the yolk.
  1. Make an emulsion of the ingredients
  2. Grind the colors into the emulsion
  3. If a glossy texture is desired, increase the amount of damar, up to two parts.
  4. If an overall matte finish is desired increase the water up to three parts
Personally, I'll stick with the quarts and appreciate how easy my life is............