Since the previous post generated thoughtful feedback about coping with news of our troubled world, the time seems right to share a video that I’ve kept bookmarked for a while. Trinity Grace Church brings us two figurative artists, Joshua LaRock and Michael Klein, who discuss their chosen roles in the art community, the responsibility they feel to celebrate beauty, grace, and humanity, and push back against some of the unfortunate effects brought on by postmodernism. Though the men espouse a Christian worldview, I think the video can be easily appreciated by anyone who is spiritual, artistic, or simply disillusioned with current societal trends and demoralizing cultural attitudes and longs for richer expressions of the soul among the arts. I was profoundly moved by the sentiments communicated so eloquently by these artists, set to scenes of them painting from a lovely life model. I think many of my readers, regardless of orientation, will take away something of value from this video. Cultural renewal is possible. We can choose to reaffirm life’s glory, mend brokenness, and resurrect positive ideals. Hope you enjoy
It’s very fitting that today’s Music Monday comes to us from my friend Karla who lives in Boston and survived last week’s tense turmoil in characteristic tough-as-nails Bostonian fashion. It’s also fitting that this inspiring video is about defying adversity, in this case through resourcefulness, creativity, and the musical dreams of impoverished children who live in a Paraguayan slum. That slum, Cateura, sits atop a landfill. Thanks to the enterprising efforts of one musician and one trash collector, “The Recycled Orchestra” was born. Its members consist of the beautiful, extraordinary children of the village playing instruments made entirely of recycled garbage from the landfill: “ violins and cellos from oil drums, flutes from water pipes and spoons, guitars from packing crates.”.
The Landfill Harmonic is an ambitious project that will involve a film documentary, concert tour, and instrument drive among other things. To read more about this marvelous endeavor please visit the Landfill Harmonic Movie website. Great stuff there about the people involved and their biographies, photos of the instruments, fundraising goals, and updates. Landfill Harmonic can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. And thank you Karla!
Hey gang! A few months ago we dove into the world of flash mobs and now we’re going to do it again. Some of you have seen this already I’m sure as it’s been around the Internet for several days. A flash mob infiltrated a shopping mall in Breda, the Netherlands, and enthralled passersby with a theatrical recreation of Rembrandt’s famous 1642 painting The Night Watch. The event was held to commemorate the return of the painting to the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam’s world renowned art museum which has been undergoing renovations for ten years. The museum is back and the magnificent Night Watch is back with it. Actors in 17th century costume storm the mall by marching in on foot, on horseback, swinging on ropes, and conclude by posing in a perfect tableau of the painting’s scene replete with a giant frame. This is terrific rousing fun. I love these guys! Honestly, I think Rembrandt would love it too. And it’s glorious to see the Dutch celebrating with such pride and spirit one of their greatest native sons.
Rembrandt’s The Night Watch is noteworthy for its light and shadows, composition, and immense size (11 ft x 14 ft). Like many famous works of art, it has been subjected to acts of vandalism over the years; twice slashed with a knife, once sprayed with acid. The next time someone tries to harm the painting, I suspect the fabulous flash mob will storm in out of nowhere and deal with the bum.
“thou bleeding piece of earth” . . . “the ruins of the noblest man” . . . ”over thy wounds now do I prophesy” . . . “carrion men groaning for burial”
I would never suggest that we have no outstanding actors working today. We certainly do. The incredible Daniel Day-Lewis comes to mind. But the above phrases from William Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar” require a performance that communicates fury, intensity, and revenge, by someone who oozes magnetism and charisma, an actor who consistently nails it no matter what the role. In 1953 that actor was the one and only Marlon Brando.
Today is the Ides of March . . . beware! For this notorious day on the Roman calendar which marks the assassination of Julius Caesar, this is Brando as Mark Antony delivering the “Dogs of War” monologue, moments after Caesar was killed by conspirators. He is smoldering and ferocious, and gorgeous to boot
For a slideshow of political assassinations throughout history check out this page from TIME.
Hello friends. I just sat through a torturously long Oscars telecast – four hours of my life that I’ll never get back – and must get to bed for a long day of art modeling. But I’d like to present this Music Monday before I hit the sack. A couple of weeks ago, the jazz community lost one of their greats, trumpet player Donald Byrd. Trumpet players will always hod a special place in my heart because of my father. And Donald Byrd had some things in common with another man in my life who is very dear to me, my brother Chris. Both earned degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and both have been passionate advocates of music education, as was my father.
The photograph in this video was taken by William Claxton, who shot some of the most iconic jazz pictures of all time. It’s Donald Byrd playing his horn on the A Train in New York City. The music is “Portrait of Jennie” and was recorded at the Half Note Club, a jazz venue that was located on Hudson Street in the 50s and 60s. This is superb trumpet playing so please listen and enjoy. It can only improve your day. See you all soon
Sunday night, as the Super Bowl played out on the TV with the sound on mute, my sweetheart and I entertained ourselves with some online trivia. We did history, movies, and sports and earned pretty respectable scores. When we got to music, we narrowed the field to 70s rock exclusively. I should mention that playing 70s rock trivia with my honey is like playing quantum physics trivia with Steven Hawking. You will be shellacked. Then, after trivia, my man had the idea to administer a “Name That Tune” test for me, in which he played the opening bars of songs from his iTunes library for me to identify. I was up to the challenge, or so I thought.
In one of my all-time favorite movies, Diner, the Eddie character, played by Steve Guttenberg, subjects his fiancee Elyse to a football test which consists of 140 questions on the history of the Baltimore Colts. Elyse’s passing or failing the quiz would decide whether the marriage was to take place. It’s funny as hell. Luckily, no such high stakes exist between me and my darling. However, at one point I found myself stammering for the song name and band of what turned out to be a very well-known 70s rock anthem. I knew it. I was sure I knew it! I had heard it a hundred times! But inexplicably I drew a blank. Don’t you hate it when that happens? Dammit.
So between my being stumped by a beloved rock classic, and getting the Allman Brothers and the Doobie Brothers mixed up, and performing a truly horrifying solo dance in the middle of the room to “Disco Inferno”, my girlfriend status is on thin ice, folks. Thin. Ice.
Of course I jest My girlfriend status is just fine. But I did fail to identify the song and the band. So I will present it now for Music Monday and hopefully redeem myself, alleviate my profound shame, and rebuild my classic rock cred. This is Grand Funk Railroad and “I’m Your Captain”. Rock on, peace out, and I’ll catch you all later.
When the whole “flash mob” craze started a few years ago I didn’t know what to make of it. Granted, I wasn’t paying all that much attention. I just formed a vague impression that it was little more than stupid hipster/hacker/Internet-fueled/self-indulgent “performance art”/attention-seeking silliness that disrupted the public square for no worthwhile purpose. Ok, so maybe I was a little dismissive But also, I’m generally wary of the word “mob” and its implications.
While I still believe the flash mob fad is just that – a fad – I have found that these spontaneous public outbursts can be pretty special when they involve music. Not rap. Not techno. I mean glorious music that stirs the soul. I spend half my life traveling around on New York City’s transit system and am very accustomed to public music performances, many of which I enjoy, others not so much. But I would absolutely welcome a flash mob appearing out of nowhere to perform, say, Beethoven, on one of my crazy commuting days. You all know how I feel about Beethoven, right? Obsession, folks. Obsession.
Our dear family friend Karla passed along a link to the Top 6 Orchestra Flashmobs Around the World. I was already familiar with one of them, a video that has been viewed on YouTube over 9 million times. It takes place in a public square in Sabadell, Spain, near Barcelona, when members of various professional orchestras and choirs gathered flash mob style to perform, at the end of the day, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. Obviously there was some degree of planning that went into this on the part of Banco Sabadell so I don’t know if it fully qualifies as a “flash mob”, but whatever. The children are truly the shining stars of this video. Well, after Beethoven of course Our Music Monday, friends. Enjoy!
Today is a special day. January 7th. That makes it a very special Music Monday here on Museworthy.
For my darling on his birthday, this is Native American flutist Mary Youngblood playing her beautiful touching song, “Beneath the Raven Moon”.
Happy Birthday baby, my raven protector. I love you with all my heart. Mary plays the melody, but the sweetness and tenderness are from me to you
your “little C”
So 21013 is almost here folks. Woo hoo!!!! 2012 was very good to me, and I have reason to believe 2013 will be even better
What can I say about Museworthy except that we had a terrific year of blogging. Art, music, modeling tales, stories, laughs, poetry. All the usual goodies. And it’s going to continue, you can count on that. The support and enthusiasm of my readers keeps me motivated and inspired. It truly is a privilege to blog for all of you.
A New Year’s Nocturne, New York, 1892, Childe Hassam.
And I haven’t forgotten that today is Monday. So the last day of 2012 brings the last Music Monday of the year. What song is more fitting than the classic “Auld Lang Syne”? Here is a memorable version of it
A happy, happy New Year to everyone! Be safe. Be joyous. Enjoy your evening. I’ll see you on the other side.
I wasn’t going to let a Music Monday pass without honoring the late Dave Brubeck, the jazz legend, pianist, and composer who died last Wednesday, one day short of his 92nd birthday. The California-born son of a cattle rancher enjoyed a tremendous career in music that spanned seven decades, and was very much beloved and appreciated by the public, if not always the critics. Since his death, an abundance of Brubeck articles and tributes can be found on the web, chock full of his extensive jazz contributions and biographical information. I for one had no idea that he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1980. In the New York Times obituary of Dave Brubeck, one paragraph really stood out for me:
Mr. Brubeck once explained succinctly what jazz meant to him. “One of the reasons I believe in jazz,” he said, “is that the oneness of man can come through the rhythm of your heart. It’s the same anyplace in the world, that heartbeat. It’s the first thing you hear when you’re born — or before you’re born — and it’s the last thing you hear.”
Some terrific jazz to get our week started, this is the Dave Brubeck Quartet performing “St. Louis Blues” in Belgium, 1964. Brubeck on piano, Joe Morello on drums, Paul Desmond on alto sax, and Eugene Wright on bass. Wright, by the way, is now the only surviving member of the original Brubeck quartet. Enjoy!
If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing one the coolest, ballsiest, most astonishing feats ever. Yesterday Felix Baumgartner made history when he successfully completed a supersonic skydive through the earth’s stratosphere, breaking the sound barrier in a thrilling freefall from 24 miles up in space. Wearing a pressurized spacesuit, he jumped from his capsule and reached a speed of 833 mph. A few minutes later, like the consummate professional that he is, he released his parachute and landed on his feet in Roswell, New Mexico. So badass.
Millions of people around the world watched Felix Baumgartner’s space jump live, and 24 hours later he’s still a trending topic on Twitter. This amazing photo of Felix standing in the open door of his capsule seconds before his jump is one for the books:
This Music Monday is dedicated to Felix Baumgartner and his record-breaking space jump. Remember these guys?
Hey gang! I’d like to broadcast some new art exhibitions taking place in the New York City and Long Island areas. The first one is Bernini: Sculpting in Clay at the Metropolitan Museum. The NY Times review described it as “not a blockbuster of a show” but one that is surely a must-see for sculpture aficionados and those who are curious about the process Bernini employed to achieve his signature style of twisting, dramatic movement.
The Guggenheim has just unveiled Picasso Black and White , an exploration of the “colorless” works of an artist whose creative periods are often identified by colors – Rose period, Blue Period, etc. Always challenging himself, Picasso tested his skills and imagination with a limited palette of monochromatic black and grey tones. Again from the NY Times review, I found this excerpt quite illuminating:
Inevitably “Picasso Black and White” is also a judgment on Picasso the colorist, repackaging a long-held criticism — that he was indifferent to or indiscriminate with color — as a virtue. “The fact that in one of my paintings there is a certain spot of red isn’t the essential part of the painting,” Picasso himself once said to Françoise Gilot. “You could take the red away, and there would always be the painting.”
And last but not least is an artist I model for regularly at his outstanding school, the Long Island Academy of Fine Art. Robert Armetta’s solo show can be seen at Farmingdale State College’s Memorial Gallery and will be on view through October 21st. Check out this video of Robert’s elegant work:
There’s a great story about the multitalented American pianist, composer, and actor Oscar Levant. After being pulled over for speeding on a California highway, he reportedly confessed to the police officer that “you can’t possibly to listen to the last movement of Beethoven’s Seventh and drive slow”. Whether that quote is accurate or just a bit of lore, it’s still an awesome line.
Tomorrow the 29th is my brother Chris’ 48th birthday. Throughout our lives, Chris and I have always had each other’s backs. And because I love my brother so much, and because he is a gifted, trained composer in his own right, I’d like to dedicate this Museworthy post to him. A tremendous admirer of Beethoven, Chris has often expressed his fondness for the Seventh Symphony. I am a Ninth person myself, but Chris opened my eyes – I should say ears! – to the Seventh Symphony years ago, and how right he was about its brilliance and gusto.
The melodies of Beethoven’s Symphonies are easily recognizable. For those of you who saw the movie “The King’s Speech”, you probably recall the dramatic, gradual buildup music that played as Colin Firth recited King George’s somber speech to the nation as Great Britain entered World War II. That music was the second movement of Beethoven’s Seventh.
Enjoy this video of the last movement. It is performed in the tempo “allegro con brio” which means, appropriately, fast with vigor. It’s the buoyant, spirited section with its lively rhythms that caused Oscar Levant to hit his gas pedal hard and drive well beyond the speed limit. Under the conducting of the legendary Bernard Haitink, this is the Netherlands’ Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Happy birthday bro! Love you
“Art demands of us that we do not stand still”
A few days ago I tweeted an article from the Daily Mail that I thought my followers would find interesting. Sure enough it prompted a lot of responses and retweets. It seems that a campaign is afoot to bring the Mona Lisa back “home” to Italy, specifically the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. I reacted to the story with amusement, mainly because I can’t imagine the Louvre would ever in a million years hand over its most prized and popular possession. The Italians can gather as many signatures as they want (150,000 so far) but they must know that they’re dealing with the French government which rightfully owns the painting. According to art historians Leonardo da Vinci began working on the painting in Florence but left it unfinished for years. He then brought the painting with him when he moved to France in 1516 and continued working on it. After Leonardo’s death, the Mona Lisa was acquired by the French Royal family. My guess is that Mona is staying put.
The Mona Lisa has also endured more than her share of theft and vandalism over the years. During the famous theft of the painting in 1911, one of those wrongfully accused of stealing Mona was Pablo Picasso. I have to confess I get a kick out of that But the guilty culprit turned out to be a Louvre employee named Vincenzo Peruggia whose alleged motivation for the crime was that he believed the painting belonged back in her “homeland” of Italy. Though he served six months in jail, Peruggia was still hailed as a true Italian patriot for his actions. The ghost of Peruggia is probably applauding today’s renewed efforts to bring Mona back. His “cause” refuses to die!
Hasn’t the Mona Lisa been through enough? This whole thing reminds of that crazy kid who posted the YouTube video abut Britney Spears. I say “Leave Mona Alone!!!!”
Even though I don’t think Mona is going anywhere, this story does open up a can of worms in the field of art provenance. Should every country start demanding its works back from museums in other countries? Should the United States reclaim all its Whistlers, Hoppers, and Pollocks? Should Spain demand every single Picasso from every museum around the world? Should the Netherlands retrieve all the Rembrandts and Van Goghs? When does it end?
Since I missed Music Monday two days ago (believe it or not I was still under the weather with my stomach ailment), let’s have one now, a Music Wednesday if you will. Take it away Nat King Cole!
Hey friends. I’d like to share a few goodies from around the web that I’ve stumbled upon in the past few days. We have an awesome mixed-bag here, so pick your pleasure! First, a thoroughly delightful article on “How to Be a Plein-Air Painter” by Flora Armetta. Flora is a wonderful writer and the wife of Robert Armetta, an artist and teacher whose classes I have been modeling for regularly at both the New York Academy of Art and Robert’s own school, the Long Island Academy of Fine Art in Glen Cove. Next is a sensational gallery of artwork by the 18th century English poet William Blake. Unconventional and iconoclastic, Blake’s paintings have a strange, enigmatic power. The new issue of Glasschord Magazine is out. This volume’s theme is “Dynamics”, with eclectic offerings in art, prose, poetry, interviews, and music. Organic gardening, photography, and emotionally honest writing come together on AmericanCountryGirl’s Blog. She is a formidable communicator through both her hard work and authentic voice. From Bob Dylan to The Who to Bo Diddley, I loved this slideshow compilation of iconic rock album covers and the New York City locations where they were taken. And, in the wake of the Aurora shooting rampage, Br. Gabriel Torretta presents a contemplative, eloquent examination of “evil” in a blog post for Dominicana. A must-read in my opinion.
And finally, a marvelous find courtesy of Andrew Cahner who retweeted it onto his Twitter page. Rare footage of the great Auguste Rodin, one of my all time favorite artistic figures and giant of modern sculpture. I will never forget my visit to the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia two years ago. How I loved that place. The video appears on Open Culture with accompanying text, and I have embedded the video below. Have fun gang! See you soon