Listener and the local art community

I was fortunate enough to go to Area 15 and experience Listener first hand. When I first found them, I was blown away by not only the presentation of Dan Smith and Chris Nelson, but also the words. Words are severely important to me, so if you have a song that doesn’t have much to say, chances are I’m not going to dig it. Listener is like heavy poetry with instruments. The timing of the instruments really adds to the overall effect of the song and the experience for us, the listeners. The very first song I heard, “Wooden Heart” would be the perfect example of this. In this version, Dan is speaking at the beginning, not accompanied by anything but his energy. Toward the middle Chris starts to play light, individual guitar notes, held long that slither through Dan’s words and create a thick feeling. Like they’re letting you know you’re going to hear something important, so pay attention. And from that point on, everything that is said, accompanied by the guitar, is heavy. Very heavy. The timing of the guitar and the words that follow made my heart race, and do so every time I listen. I can’t help but, nearing the end of the song, allow the lump in my throat some give and open up the floodgates. Every time. I think that is a song that I could listen to every day for the rest of my life and still end up crying at the end. The imagery is outstanding and I can’t think of a single person, good or bad, that wouldn’t be able to relate to it in some way.

So, when the chance came for me to see them on Saturday, I took it. Because I don’t leave my apartment that often (checking the mail is a feat, at times) and haven’t really been out in almost a year, I was very nervous. I was nervous about the drive into NoDa and nervous about being there. The “what ifs” swarmed around in my brain and my heart felt like it was going to give out several times. Enter Valium. That helped. What also helped was Jeremy. Jer enjoys picking on me because of my taste in…everything. Music, movies, etc… We’re opposites with most things. I wanted so badly to share Listener with him, but I was worried that it would be yet another thing he would pick on me about. I chose to link him to “Ozark Empire, or a snakeoil salesman comes to your town” because the meaning of the song is something I knew he could relate to, plus it was a video so it didn’t nearly show Dan’s energy that some find off-putting. Win-win. He listened to it and hasn’t stopped since. He was 100% in for everything – really into Listener, wanting to go with me to see them and be in a community that he always thought he would feel uncomfortable in. Brilliant. Everything was brilliant. He was so into the people and the group that he melted into the community that he was worried about fitting in with. It was beautiful.

I attempted to talk to Dan and Chris, but I didn’t do very well. I’m known for writing well and speaking like shit. That’s what happened. There were so many things that I wanted to tell them and I couldn’t get any of it out. I didn’t want to gush or proclaim my love for them or anything. Really, I just wanted to thank them for doing what they do and how they do it. There’s a lot of love there, in the words and everything. I can’t call it a performance, because that word makes me think of something that’s put on, feigned – nothing like what Dan and Chris offer. They’re both very down to earth and friendly and…genuine. Dan’s handshake is firm and he has a very intense fire behind his eyes. Intimidating, but not for the purpose of being so. Chris has an childlike smile and seems to be softer and lighter, with a handshake to match. To help us, mainly me, remember everything about that night, we have a photo. Jeremy is standing between Chris and Dan, all three looking as though they hang out all the time, and Jeremy’s face is lit up more than I’ve ever seen. It’s great to see his light. I’m looking forward to the next time we get to experience Listener. Perhaps then I won’t mumble and stutter.

Dan, Jeremy, and Chris

Finally the writing is fin…

I finished writing in my Fiction Project book last night. The last story is completed and now I just need to illustrate it and send it. I contacted the staff at Art House Coop to make sure they would still accept my project even though I am really, really late. I know that it won’t go on tour, but that’s okay because the whole point of me doing it was to actually complete something. As usual, I’m running behind, but that disappointment is balanced out by the weird sense of accomplishment I get every time I get closer to sending it. Oh, and they will still accept it.

I will be signing up for the Sketchbook Project today (or tomorrow). That isn’t due until January 2012, so I’m pretty sure I have time. I only had a bit over a month to do the Fiction Project because I didn’t know about it until 3 days before registration ended. I got the book sometime in April.

So, yeah. For the past week, while working on the FP, I take breaks more often just to do quick drawings that aren’t related to the project at all. They’re not anything but ways of relaxing and exercising my hand. As always, the “meaningless doodles” are potentially vulgar and sensorially offensive.

I missed the boat!!

On Saturday I realized that the Fiction Project had to be there by May 16th, not just postmarked. I’m so disappointed in myself, however I will still be sending it. It won’t go on tour, but that’s okay…it is important for me to finish it and send it. To actually complete something!

I was looking through my sketchbook (unrelated to The Sketchbook Project, which I have yet to register for) and have really been in the mood to take some of the ideas and put them on “good” paper with “good” supplies. Either watercolors or colored pencil…not sure which, yet, but I’m looking forward to being completely finished with the Fiction Project so I can work on some drawings.

Going back to the Fiction Project, I wrote 4 short stories on Friday night that I still need to copy into the book (avec illustrations). By the middle of the 4th story I was so exhausted that I was hitting the backspace key more than any other one. When I read through them on Saturday, I realized that I must have started getting tired during the 2nd story because anything past the first one was total shit! I rewrote the second and read it to JD twice. He didn’t get it the first time ’round, but really enjoyed it the second time (I think it’s because I have a nasty habit of stopping to explain something, and I didn’t do that the second time).

JD is terrific in so many ways, but I will admit that one of the things I appreciate most about him is that he has such a fantastic imagination and he’s deeply creative. Any time I want something read over, he’s the first person I go to because of these abilities. Some of the stories in my Fiction Project I’ve gone over with him before I entered them in the book…I’m excited to put these 4 in there today.

Whew! Hopefully I will be done today and can have JD mail it out tomorrow or, since he has Wednesday off, I may mail it out then.

Taking a break/refresher…

Either works. I just got back from the dentist and while preparing to go back to working on the Fiction Project, I realized that I don’t have ANYTHING in my head right now. Nada. Anything worthwhile to use, anyway.

I have had a large canvas on my easel for a few-several months. I started the painting in January and worked on it for a few weeks, then stopped. So it just sits there. I didn’t take it off the easel when I rearranged my “studio”, so when I moved it, I hurt my back because of the weight and awkwardness…maybe I’m angry with it. Anyway, I thought posting photos of what progress I did make on it would be motivational for me.

This is what it started out as:

Then it turned into this:

I don’t know if you noticed, but they’re two different paintings. I started out in one direction, then decided to Thelma & Louise that idea, and covered it up with this. This is not unusual…I think well over 3/4 of all my paintings have at least 1 completely different painting under them. I have lots of canvases that have several paintings on them. I don’t know why I do it…I just do.

This is what it looks like right now:

Slight progress…enough progress that I’m able to remember where I was heading and I want to keep that direction.

Maybe I’ll write about it! Probably not. *sigh* Off to attempt to make something worthwhile!

The Fiction Project may end up being just that…

A fictional project! Next Monday, May 16th, is when the book must be postmarked. And I’m still.not.done.

I was able to spill a few things on the pages, but I have a long way to go and not much in my head. At least not anything suitable.

I need some inspiration or…something. I need to just do it (as Nike frequently suggests).