Monday, January 21, 2008

Arthur Imitating Life Imitating Arthur

Artists often unleash expression across the spectrum . . . and with varying degrees of success.  For every gallery with a Joni Mitchell photography/painting exhibit, there is also a playlist with Keanu Reeves thumbing his bass in Dogstar.  As fans and art consumers, we get to taste the good with the bad— many of Mitchell’s visual works are lovely, but in the name of all that is good and holy, have you ever seen Reeves try to act?

A couple of years ago, I foolishly skipped a Joseph Arthur show at Birdy’s in Indianapolis.   I can’t for the life of me recall the conflict that I thought warranted the pass— Arthur’s Our Shadows Will Remain was one of my favorite releases of 2004, and I’d never seen him live— but I have regretted it ever since.  Friends who attended excitedly told of a very unique performance--  Arthur regaled the audience with both creation of an onstage mural and a concert of original music . . . at the same time.  Without missing a literal or figurative beat, Arthur played and sang an entire set, all while painting a mural along the back of the stage.   I’ve since chased down video of his live shows on several occasions, but even the best do not make up for the lapse in judgment that caused me to skip that show.

I heard today of a gallery that opened in New York City to show Arthur’s visual works: The Museum of Modern Arthur (  The gallery includes a section of "live stage paintings."  Among the gallery's missions: MOMAR seeks to broaden the parameters of the fine art world by fostering a multi-disciplinary interation among innovators in painting, music, poetry, performance, and the visual arts.

If one could truly write about the essence of music, we would no longer need music.  With music, an artist expresses the otherwise inexpressible. When Joseph Arthur paints, I assume only that he is trying to say something another way . . . I might not always love it, but I am paying attention.  

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some 30 Odd Foot of Grunts to listen to.

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