Browse Category: Art

Visual and performance arts

Portrait of the Artist

Finished this Tuesday and it’s already gotten more than 4000 likes, a dozen good offers, and an offer to hang it at a gallery in Corrales.

Gouache and acrylic glaze on canvas; 36×54

I am stunned by the depth of colors and the freedom it ultimately revealed.

I don’t want to sell it but I do need the money. Need to pay a debt to someone in Taos County, get that off my back. Thinking about it.

I’m 100-days sober and free from the burdens of dope and nicotine. I’ve not been this long without nicotine since I was 14-yrs old.

We’re trying a brand new beta blocker for my heart but it’s making me pretty sick. It’s just taking my blood pressure down wayy too low – so I’m always dizzy, shaky, and too fatigued. My new Cardiology team at Presbyterian is excellent but we’re going to have to go all the way back through testing/experimenting with different meds. Every cardiologist has a slightly different protocol/opinion. The lead, though, is a great guy.

Heading back North next week and I can hardly wait! We have a good little crew going this time. My friend Desiree claims to be hell on trout with a flyrod, so we shall see. D and I like handline fishing.

What do the Russians think??

In the midst of all this mayhem over the Trump organization and their ties to the Russian government, it would be very beneficial for someone to make frank documentary about mainstream Russian life and what the average Russian citizen thinks of this whole ordeal. 

Meanwhile in Taos…

Kalya Scintilla played Saturday night at the Startribe music festival on Taos Mesa – and his show was excellent!  The whole Startribe experience was an ideal introduction, for me, to the local scene.  Playing music outdoors here is complicated by our infamous wind (especially out on the mesa!), but I thought the sound system was up to the task.  We were on our feet wigglin’ for nearly all of Scintilla’s set.

I was pleased to see so many splendid dancers live in the community, and thrilled by all the fire dancing and poi!

There was a cool mystic quality, too, in the full moon on all the surrounding snow-capped mountains and the fires & lights on the desert.  A strangely peaceful, surreal, and spiritual experience!

I have to be back in Bernalillo next week for a few days, namely to pick up a car, then will complete my move to the house here on the Rio Hondo.  Our weather is becoming much prettier, though we’re having little rain showers in the afternoons which remind me more of the weather we expect here in Fall; but the late mornings and midday hours have gotten warm & sunny.

Much to the chagrin of locals, we’ve been named the most scenic place in the state by online travel guides; and, sure enough, there’s been an increase in foreigner sightings.  I’m inspired to spend a lot of this Summer with the cameras and recorders to capture what I can of the place before more development occurs!

Like I said, it still gets cool in the afternoons and pretty darned cold at night; so I’ve not traded the axe for a fly rod just yet!  Still gotta keep enough wood cut to run the stove at night – though we’ve had a few nights without it these last two weeks.

The wonderful things I’m discovering about living in Taos are coming to constitute a rather long list!  I definitely like the music and dance scene, the peace-first attitude of all the local starchildren, the spiritual communities that converge so well in such a spectacular place, the availability of outstanding organic food at the local market, and the sheer magnificence of the wild surrounding country!  We’re only half an hour from access points to the Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area, ten miles from the peak itself, and very close to Red River and Eagle Nest.  We’ve made some good trips already – mainly out on the West mesa and in the Rio Grande Gorge itself around the John Dunn crossing – but we’re really itchin’ to pack up the camping gear and disappear into the hills!

Sheesh!  Between painting, taking photos, playing and recording music, fishing, camping, pokin’ around in the mountains, going to raves, and simply participating in a really cool community, I am going to have a busy Summer!



Texas Rising Doesn’t Rise

The only thing epic about Texas Rising, the new miniseries running on History Channel, is the degree to which it does NOT depict the Texas war for independence.

The Battle of Gonzalez on October 2, 1835 marked the start of the Texas revolt against Mexico. Texans had refused to relinquish a cannon to the Mexican army at Gonzalez. Instead, they raised a homemade flag bearing an image of the cannon and the words “Come And Take It”. It’s a critical part of the story of Texas independence, and critical to understanding the mindset of the Texans. 

They’d had enough, so they flagrantly challenged the Mexican army and Mexican authority.

But this is entirely missing from the Texas Rising story. Stephen F. Austin’s declaration of war against Mexico is also missing. In fact Stephen F. Austin himself is missing!

For a production of this magnitude with many hours available to tell the story, and with such a large cast of talented people, you’d think the Texas Rising story would depict more of the prominent events and true characters of the revolution. 

Most Americans are familiar with the story of the Alamo; so not focusing on that event is a good move. Regardless, the conflict at the Alamo deserved at least another 5 minutes of coverage in Texas Rising – merely to help establish the Texans’ growing hatred of Santa Anna.

Emily West and “Lorca” have prominent roles in Texas Rising but there is no historic documentation to support the legends and hearsay surrounding Emily West, and historic documents tend to refute the existence of the Lorca character.

Many events of the war are reasonably well told in Texas Rising, but there are significant omissions. The incredible tragedy of Goliad was poorly depicted and had errors of continuity. More than 400 Texans were killed on Palm Sunday, 1836 in a massacre staged along roads leading out of Goliad, but Texas Rising only shows a handful shot to death in a pit surrounded by Mexican soldiers.  In truth, Goliad was the worst massacre in US history. 

Texas Rising relies on dramatic fiction to convey Texans’ motivation to drive the Mexican army back across the Rio Bravo – when simply telling the truth would have worked better!

The biggest annoyance of Texas Rising, though, is the radical misportrayal of Texas geography and landscape. It’s really hard to endure images of mountains, pine trees and deserts in what’s supposed to be Southeast Texas (at least 300 miles from the nearest mountains and further from any deserts). I wouldn’t be surprised, either, if many Texans are downright offended to learn the production was shot in Mexico! Don’t get me wrong. That region in Mexico is spectacular and it stars in many many American westerns; but I suspect most Texans would agree that if you’re going to make a film about Texas, then shoot it in Texas.

Using make-believe characters, omitting or misrepresenting significant people and events of the war, and a painful misrepresentation of what the Texas landscape looked like, all establish that Texas Rising is a work of fiction. In fact, it’s so far from the truth you can hardly call it historic fiction. It’s nothing more than an expensive production that could easily have told the remarkable story of Texas independence, but chose not to. 

Texas Rising compromises truth to increase entertainment value – when both could easily have been attained.

Excision Makes the Albuquerque Night Shine!

At least Adrian Gomez and the Albuquerque Journal acknowledge that EDM exists. Crystal Method is certainly a legend of the genre – and I’m sure the show at Santa Ana Casino was good – but Albuquerque draws plenty of older acts who are legends of their respective genres. Gomez also covered the appearance of RL Grime who, at the other end of the historic spectrum, has only released a handful of recordings and barely begun having an impact on bass music and EDM.

Like nearly every act in the genre, though, these guys are basically DJs still working out of the coffin doing the same things all good DJs do. Great dance music for sure! But how can Gomez and the Journal claim to be “art savvy” and miss covering an event so extraordinary as the Excision show at the El Rey Theater on Tuesday night?

Ok. So I might be Jeff Abel’s biggest fan. I’ve seen at least one show in each of his US tours and I’ve followed his rise to genuine stardom, along with that of those “other two boys from Kelowna”, with a sense of awe and tremendous respect. Like the Shambhala festival he so masterfully respresents, which has (IMHO) replaced Burning Man in cultural and artistic significance, Jeff’s work is wayyy more than just another DJ playing great dance music.

Abel is everything an art lover could possible want in the way of prodigy and creative genius. From designing his own props and audio systems to creating video graphics, lighting, and incredibly tight bass music – all on the fly – it’s hard to see an Excision show and not come away humbled by the artist’s energy, passion and intense creativity. Remember, this is a kid who’s out on the road playing shows every night and simultaneously writing/recording new music and video in his (what?) spare time!

His newest album, released only a week before the ABQ show, and its accompanying video presentations are evidence enough – the guy must constantly practice, write & re-write, and refine, in order to present such polished and outstanding live performances. Night Shine and Robo Kitty, both tracks from the new record, were beautifully executed!

Abel seemed genuinely thrilled, too, to be playing in Albuquerque. Not only did he play a longer set than some I’ve seen in the past, it was obvious he was excited to be in such a small intimate setting with fresh new victims! The El Rey is not a big room. It was wonderful to be in the smaller space watching the reactions of those who’d not yet experienced an Excision show! There’s nothing quite like it!

So the El Rey is a typical movie-theater-rehab, the house sound system is probably icky, and it’s basically a dump. One of those places where you try not to think about being burned alive if something goes wrong. Excision seemed to scale down nicely, though, to the size of the room and poor acoustics; and with that much dazzle in front of your eyes and ears, it’s hard to think about anything else.

The El Rey prepends the word “historic” to its name but, in this case, I think it just means old.

With a show like we saw Tuesday night, though, who cares about the venue after the lights go down?? I’d rather see him here than in some fancy venue where the additional $20-30 in ticket price only means fewer people get critical exposure to true artistic talent. This might not be the best place to see a more typical act working out of a conventional coffin over the house PA, but it was more than adequate for Jeff’s excellent show.

I’ve read some online complaints about service levels at the El Rey; but I was impressed with the venue’s attentive and helpful staff, and the focus on security and crowd control. I’ve been to plenty of these things where alcohol or drugs were a problem; but I didn’t see anyone coming out of the show looking severely impaired or unable to drive. My hat’s off to the El Rey staff!

If you’ve not seen an Excision performance (and it really is, unlike alot of EDM, a submersive and engaging LIVE PERFORMANCE) then you certainly missed a golden opportunity on Tuesday! There are rumors the artist might retire or stop performing but that’s very doubtful. He’s young, passionate, energetic, and fiercely creative – clearly a mind that never turns off and is just getting started!

I would not be surprised at all, though, to see him back away for a spell to regroup, revitalize, work on new projects, explore, and resurface down range with the next big thing. After all. “The Next Big Thing” seems to be the arena where Excision plays better than anyone else in the business.

Here’s my iphone dump from the Feb 10 Excision performance at Albuquerque’s El Rey Theater:



Codename X

Codename X


How awesome is this?!?!  Six days before the ABQ show he’s dropped a fantastic new record!  I hope he plays the whole album tomorrow night!

Yayy!  Yayy!  and more Yayy!

Listen to the new album here!