It’s our own damn fault.
As usual, we have too many things going on. Mostly good, but too many. We know who is to blame for this. Meditation and tai chi helps.
The big immediate thing is our upcoming concerts with the Golden Gate Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Benicia Chapter. We are working on music written in WWII era Nazi concentration camps. Emotionally difficult, cathartic, heartbreakingly beautiful. Much of it has never been performed by an orchestra. I wrote an article about it for Benicia Magazine’s May issue. Our old friends Kate and Urs are collaborating with each other on this one. Kate is a co-founder of Citizen Film. She and her company are providing documentary media clips, providing historical context and enhancing the impact of the music. Urs has directed the GGSOC, and its precursors for many years. I started singing with them in the early 90’s, and Bodil joined shortly after she and I joined forces in the late 90’s. This concert is highly recommended ~ Benicia on June 2, and San Francisco on June 4.
The Arts and Culture section of Benicia Magazine features that and a few other things that we have been working on. There is a piece on our new friends at Benicia’s newest gallery, NY2CA, the Arsenal Open Studios, which we enjoyed, the Benicia Diversity Festival, which I volunteered for, and Thomas Wojack’s show at the Library’s Gallery ~ which Bodil helped facilitate as a member of the gallery committee. She has also been working on the next exhibition, being installed as I write this, a Jose Luis Varto solo show, May 23 - June 29, with a reception 2-5 pm, May 27, 2023. I saw it being installed ~ it’s a good show. Maybe we’ll see you at the reception.
Then there is the political stuff ~ not as much fun as the art stuff. Our local refinery has been showing us in many ways that they are not the “good neighbor” that they claim to be, trying to buy our local elections and polluting, as documented by the Benicia Independent. And of course there’s the whole global warming thing... A number of us are working to try to rein them in and keep us locals safe.
I’m re-engaging with what used to be the Estate of Jon Schueler, but is now the Jon Schueler Foundation. We’re working to place more key works in significant collections. If you or your institution is interested in acquiring a piece from this important painter, get in touch.
I’m especially excited about our work with NY2CA Gallery, right on Benicia’s First Street. I have a show scheduled for August into September, Bodil and I will show interactive sound sculpture there in February ~ probably reworking some of the pieces from Probability, and Bodil will (tentatively) show some of her work there in August of 2024. She’s a fiber artist, but that has expanded considerably ~ first to paper, then concrete, then copper, now bioplastics, and to my delight ~ to collaborating with me on sound sculpture, installation and performance.
We are also working (tentatively) on a Jon Schueler show there at some point. I’m hoping this will happen, and will keep you posted.
My opening reception at NY2CA is scheduled for August 13, 2023. I will finally get a chance to show my Timeline, a personal/political history from October 2020 through July 2021, really more drawing than painting. I’ll show some older paintings and drawings too, and smaller kinetic and sound sculptures as well. I’m using the show as an excuse to do some new painting and prismacolor color studies of calla lilies. I just finished a four-panel Nepal Series, based on photos I took on our trip there last October. You can always see work in progress on my Instagram page.
If you’re interested in vicariously enjoying our trip to Nepal, you’ll have to dig through our old Facebook posts. We traveled and trekked the month of October, 2022, then spent a couple of hours each day in November posting a day-by-day account of the October adventures ~ photos with commentary. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but posting on Facebook can be, and was, a serious art project for us.
While I’m painting, I like to have a live soundscape running, so while I was making the Nepal paintings, I redid my Studio Windharp. The previous one was a milkcrate on the roof with nylon strings running to the gutters, but this one actually looks like a harp.
We’ve been helping (a little as time permits) with the planning of another event at Benicia’s Clock Tower, 3pm on June 25 ~ Benicia our Home, celebrating our outgoing Poet Laureate, Mary Susan Gast and featuring California Poet Laureate Lee Herrick. The event is free. Mary Susan has been an amazing presence on the scene here, easing us through insurrections, mass shootings and COVID with compassion and insight.
And the last bit of busyness I’ll mention is teaching drawing for Joe Henderson Elementary’s STEAM program. I recently finished 15 weeks there, through Arts Benicia: 5 weeks, one hour a week with each of their 3 classes. I look at it as an intervention. Children at this age are ready for realism, but generally there is no one who can help them with that, so ~ they stop drawing, and stop thinking of themselves as capable of doing art. But given a few basic skills, like preliminary sketching, light logic (shading), perspective, facial proportions and close observation, many of them can make it to the next stepping stone. The bottom line is that these kids aren't getting enough art.
And where would we be without art?
Wishing you all, and ourselves, more balance.