Vinyl Revival, First Post in 2 years

Two years. It has been two years since I demoed the Cave, two years since my last big art project, and two years as the official Executive Director of Gallery 263. The gallery is still standing, and here I am participating in another residency.

This residency is quite different from the Cave. It is much shorter and there are four of us working on separate projects in the space. So far, I have spent the time prepping for a new body of work, a series of paintings of contemporary musicians. The premise of the series is the resurgence of vinyl. I find it really interesting and romantic that vinyl has come back into fashion. Back when it first came out, you had to be picked up by a record label to put out a full length album, at least for it to be a successful distribution and for most to afford it. Now I find that we have come full circle. People can and do produce full length albums on their own, but for the majority, artists won't put out a vinyl record without the backing of a label. In an age where the future looked to be a series of single downloads, I find it refreshing that a large population are buying and producing this product that propels against that. They are interested in sound quality, and experiencing or creating a record as a whole.

From there I found my scale: 12" x 12", two panel paintings (front and back), emulating a vinyl record cover. The front will be a portrait of the artist in his/her personal space. This is a private look into the performer as a person. I'm thinking bedrooms, studio spaces, living rooms--a space that is a reflection of the artist. The back side or second panel will be the same space, but without the artist. I'm interested in how spaces can be stand-ins for people and excited to demonstrate that with this series.

So far I have photographed 5 gentlemen.  Ladies are to come later this fall.  Below we have Dietrich Strause, Lyle Brewer, Mark Kilianski, Matthew Meyer and Zack Hickman.  I'm sharing some of my source material which I will use as reference for the paintings/drawings.  I will include a few notes about each man.

Dietrich is an awesome singer/songwriter in Boston.  He lives in JP as many artists do in this town.  I stopped by his place the week before the residency began.  He was making dinner when I got there, so we had a chance to catch up a bit first.  His kitchen is kind of amazing, so I took a few pictures while he cooked.  I especially love this one above.  I think the panel will be images from his room, but I plan to attempt a larger scale drawing set in the kitchen.  After dinner was cooked, we left it to cool and we went to his room.  Dietrich has this great minimalist aesthetic.  A bed, guitar, Rhodes keyboard, stack of albums and mounted deer head.  Amazing.

Lyle Brewer
Lyle is an extraordinary guitarist.  He lives in Arlington, just a few miles outside of Cambridge.  Until recently he was lead guitar in Ryan Montbleau's band.  He decided to step back to focus on his own music.  I went to his latest cd release last Monday at Passim.  The entire room sat captivated as Lyle played an hour of instrumental songs solo. Quiet while he played, and eruptive at the end of a song, not a small feat.  I went to Lyle's house 10 days ago.  Lyle is unique within this group because he is a father.  Lyle is married to another musician, Sarah Borges and their son Elliot is two years old.  The living room is very reflective of the family. The room over is the music room with a stack of instruments in the corner and walls decorated with album covers. Finally Lyle showed me the backyard which is where he said they all hangout.  It will be hard to decide which space to choose for Lyle's panels.

Mark Kilianski
Mark is a good friend of mine.  He's toward the beginning of a very promising future in music.  Also living in JP, I visited Mark and Dietrich the same night.  Mark co-founded a project called the Whiskey Boys with David Delaney at Berklee College of Music.  The band became their livelihoods post college in 2009/2010. A little under a year ago, Mark decided to withdraw from the project to go on a music quest to the south, and has since self-produced his first solo record with the help of kickstarter crowd funding.  Anyway, Mark was my second photo shoot of the project.  The wall where I am here with camera is slanted, and that was the farthest away from him I could get.  It was hilarious to shoot, as I balanced leaning as far into the corner as possible.  It took a little while for Mark to relax.  These images were toward the end of the session.

Matthew Meyer
Matty was my first photo shoot of the series.  He is an incredible drummer.  Matty plays full-time with Miss Tess and the Talk Backs, performing about 200 shows each year (about the same number of days as a high school teacher).  They hit the road hard, and in someways live more on the road than at home.  He also is part of a rock band side project called Madam Macadam which plays when the stars align.  This first picture was when he had started to relax.  It's not the best for source material, but I thought it was hilarious.  I shot Matty is his bedroom and in a space they call the jubilarium.  He saves tour posters, both from his bands, friends' bands etc., and puts them all up along this wall.  The layering and the peeling, the density of the collection I find captivating.  Nothing is sacred, everything gets posted over, even a screenprint of mine from the Gallery's folk fest.  :)  There's a beauty in the ephemeral/chronicle juxtaposition of the space.  It's a very specific history he is recording with this collection.  I think his bedroom will be the best fit for the project, but a larger drawing of the jubilarium is on my list for the residency.

Zack Hickman
After I left Lyle's place in Arlington, I swung over to Zack's in Medford.  He's known for playing the upright bass, his main commitments right now being the Josh Ritter Band, Ray LaMontagne, and Rose Cousins.  He also occasionally subs in with Miss Tess and the Talk Backs and the Sweet & Low Down, which is how I know him.  Oddly, despite the 20+ instruments in Zack's house, the bass didn't make it into any of the pictures.  From this first view, I am standing in the kitchen looking in on Zack through a doorway.  His bass is to my left, just inside that room leaning against the wall.  He felt like playing the guitar during the session, so that's what I have here.  We started in the music room, and then moved into Zack's living room. He said that he wanted at least one room in his apartment to be a normal person room.  I am torn between the two stark opposites. The one room is filled to the brim with his collection of instruments, and the other is very minimalistic, chic and contemporary.  The living room felt like a shoot for a home and garden magazine or something. Whichever is not chosen for the project will probably be another larger scale drawing/painting.


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