All notes with the topic Miscellaneous | Notes on Looking

Adorable Dudamel, Fuck Your Encore, Love Alice

Her long, skin tone gown stays pressed to her body down to the tops of her knees; as she walks, the fabric and gemstones below the patella flail with the angular momentum and sweeping back and forth motion of a gondola ride at a carnival. She sits down at the piano, waits for silence, and begins to knead the keys as the rest of the orchestra softly strokes away at strings of various lengths, wound tightly, to masses of desperate proportions. Dudamel faces the orchestra and waves his hands faithfully, though his motions seem abbreviated from his signature moves, frozen in their triumphant candor and suspended from light poles throughout the city. The musicians’ eyes burn through their sheet music anyway; they have been fixated on her ever since the moment she appeared before them. Her sounds begin to escalate over the rest of the instruments, turning the entire symphony into background noise. She accelerates her motions even further. They pause and watch stoically; she keeps playing, faster and faster. His back remains turned to her; she sits in front of him, in front of all of us.  In between everyone, she is the center of the earth. The one who cannot face her is the one thought to be in charge. She talks through him, and demands, through accentuated notes, when the rest of the orchestra can play and, with the same sweeping inflection, when they should stop. Her hair is trimmed just above her closed eyes, sharply cut to their outer edges; sleek blackness jetting down extending out forward beyond her face, impenetrable blinkers, internalizing her visual...

I’m Gonna Be (500 Grand)

Most people in Los Angeles hate traffic. I don’t. I’m an outside sales consultant. I spend about forty percent of my waking hours on the road. Within the organization where I work, they call people who do what I do “Road Warriors.” It’s a laughable term and quite the aggrandizement. The reality of being on the road in LA traffic is far less glamorous, but I don’t mind it. It’s where I feel at home. “Outside” sales, as opposed to “inside” sales, means literally that my business negotiations take place outside of my office. Rather than making and closing deals “inside,” or on the phone, I am consistently driving to and from meetings at various organizations throughout my territory of East LA. In my role, there are few better feelings than exiting a parking lot with a stack of signed agreements indicating that I’ve achieved the end goal, and I’m now one step closer to reaching my target number for the year, which I’ve skeptically scribbled in lipstick on my bathroom mirror because I’ve been challenged by a co-worker to try it and see if his belief in the law of attraction will work for me too. But deep down I know I’ve never been motivated by any sort of quota. What motivates me is that moment of getting the “Yes.” Of having earned someone’s trust and desire to form a partnership. I’ve gotten to know myself quite well in my time spent alone in my car. It is where I experience many of my most private moments. In driving, we often forget about the collective experience, each floating around in our own private universe of...

Epitaph for Family: Text for Johanna Breiding’s essay film, Andrea, at Human Resources

Imagine there is a death. But there is no end. In 2007, my mother died: an unusual death, an untimely death, a freak accident. She choked on a piece of meat. The loss of my mother shifted me, pushed me off center, askew to a world faithfully oriented around the family; a purity of love embodied in the identity of a mother and mine was gone, forever. Death signifies an end. But the death of a loved one lives forever in a perpetual state of undead: we are desperate to keep them alive in memories, in hope, in sadness, in joy, in longing, in despair, in loneliness. In 1997, there was another death: the death of an assumed identity, a prescribed identity, a dominant identity that began to subjugate me. I felt the determination of identity forcing its way down my throat and I refused to swallow. It lodged itself in my throat and began to suffocate me, constrict my voice, asphyxiate my life, so I killed it and informed my family without any sorrow. This death also shifted me, pushed me off center, askew to a world faithfully oriented around the family; a purity of love determined and embodied in the identity of a heteronormative family disrupted, forever. The ghostly residue of the dead, it lingers. The death of a mother, the death of an identity, the death of a family; they all linger, waiting. Do they linger in wait for us to visit them again in moments of longing, to resurrect in the inebriation of memory, to suspend in a perpetual state of undead; a unifying space...

Part 2- A Lateral Wind

Étude means ‘study’ in French.  Merriam-Webster tells me that the word refers to 1. a piece of music for the practice of a point of technique, and 2. a composition built on technical motive but played for its artistic value.  My approach to the Piano Spheres event, Amour D’Etudes, featuring the hugely talented pianist Steven Vanhauwaert, was quite different than the last.  I guzzled a beer at the bar before grabbing a program on my way into the theater, and sat down with a conspicuous case of the burps in the front row, where I was on the receiving end of the open Yamaha.  The piano was perpendicular to the audience this time, placing the player in true profile.  The stage felt less atmospheric; the lighting was simple and elegant, just four bare, elongated bulbs hung on wires above the piano, giving off soft, tame light that did not change throughout the performance.  Two directional mics with cables loosely draped and pooled at their bases were aimed inside the open piano body.  Those cables looked oddly sad to me.  Casual and indifferent, like a super long and lean person slumped over the back of a low chair, arms dangling carelessly.  My own mood was somewhat dangling that evening, as well. Vanhauwaert emerged from the wings with a practiced gait and sat down on the bench ceremoniously after bowing once, his hand on the front corner of the piano.  I took few notes and followed the program closely, which was wise since Vanhauwaert played études by fifteen different composers.  Each was over in a flash.  I jotted short descriptions here...

Part 1-Contemplating the Cosmos

The first of the two Piano Spheres performances that I attended at REDCAT was Ces Espaces Infinis, a collection of short solo piano pieces curated and performed by Nic Gerpe, a genuinely charming LA-based concerto soloist, chamber musician and proponent of new music.  One critic has referred to Gerpe as “appropriately spacey and far-out” and I concur, insofar as his apparent taste in music goes. I was in the younger third of the audience at REDCAT, a small theater where, previously, I had only been for film screenings.  The audience was sparse.  I sat in the middle near the front.  A spotlight treated with a laid scrim threw dramatic, lattice-textured light onto the grand Yamaha on the stage, its lid open and its guts reflected precisely in a mirror-like, high-lacquer finish.  Black and gold and white.  Sinews and muscle.  An eye into the belly of the beast. Two young, male music students sat behind me.  Another joined, apparently familiar with one of the others, and the three of them made awkward, impassioned conversation about their instruments, their music, and the music we were about to hear.  The third boy and the one less familiar to him forged a palpable connection during the brief moments when it was safe to talk, and I imagined the planting of a seed of triangulation among this trio; the two who sat down first had a rapport that smacked of romance. “Also, I really want a harpsichord.” “Dude, just get a harpsichord.” “I think I will.” My technical knowledge of music is limited, to say the least.  I am a writer/filmmaker and an artist...

Property Value

Amongst her large bags, under a small umbrella, a lady braids hair on the corner; she doesn’t look up, no matter the sound.  Cameras down at their bellies, a class of eager students surrounds her, clandestinely snapping; she pays them no mind. Later, with her on the wall, they discuss balance and light, considering better angles for next time. Luckily for them, their subject is not going anywhere anytime soon; they can return when the light reflects more brightly off her situation. It’s getting better, it’s getting better around here, and the war drums from down the street are fading without a permit. You can’t do that here. You have to go. This was my sight line and what I had asked for, but it didn’t sit right to be deprived of my own view. Was I not allowed to look out my own window?  After all, they lined up in such a way that a level bridge could connect us over the street, uniting our floors; just a few steps and we would be in the same room. We often shut off our lights at the same hour, when night grazes the morning. Was this a one-way street, me watching her? Why did I feel like a performer in my own home, did she notice me trying not to notice her? I’d seen her working out late at night with liters of milk at one a.m. or maybe two. I was her mirror, unwavering. I had seen her in bed with men, a few men, they always ended up in the bathroom, she’d go in first; on her...

Ariane Vielmetter: Blue Violets

  The German expression for coded, indirect communication is to speak durch die blume, or “through the flower.” Conversely, to state something bluntly is to say it unverblümt, or to “de-flower” one’s speech. The term most likely originated from the Victorian practice of floriography, which assigned symbolic meanings to hundreds of flower species. Bouquets and floral arrangements became a way to articulate complex sentiments, and to communicate implicit or even socially unacceptable messages. “Nosegays” and “tussy-mussies” were exchanged between lovers and friends, and the small bouquets were worn as fashionable accessories close to the body. Mrs. Mary Delany was an 18th century English woman of minor noble rank who was married when she was still a teenager to a member of parliament more than four decades her senior, a contract that was supposed to elevate her family’s slipping socioeconomic standing. In her unhappy marriage, she devoted herself to her journal, her letters of correspondence with friends, and to the crafts that were considered appropriate for a woman in her position. She was a keen observer of details and a skillful practitioner of many art forms including shell work, embroidery, needlework, silhouettes, gardening, drawing, and writing. Her talents compelled her to make acquaintances with the musicians, poets, and botanists supported by the court. When her first husband finally passed away, she was able to use her deft social skills and her expertise in the domestic arts to engage with the literary and scientific community, all without actually breaching any social boundaries.  In her late life, she pioneered the art of the “paper mosaic,” a technique that combined elaborate painting, cutting, and...

Classical Music for Artists

Notes on Looking is undertaking a new endeavor in its mission to explore and support the creative communities of Los Angeles. In July 2010, David and I began the Parkfield Project, a series of retreats for artists in the small, Central California town of Parkfield. Colloquially, this project has been called Outward Bound for Artists; and to date the project has hosted some 150 artists for long weekends in the country. Additionally, three artist books have been published which contain individual responses to the experience. These publications have been collected by the Getty Research Institute and by every artist who has attended.    For this new endeavor, or perhaps it is an adventure, which is titled Classical Music for Artists, David and I are offering up to twenty artists a season ticket each to one of five concert series focusing on contemporary classical music: Piano Spheres (at Zipper Hall and at Red Cat), Monday Evening Concerts, Jacaranda Music, and the Green Umbrella series of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.   David and I believe that music, like visual art, is best appreciated and understood through a sustained experience. I know that it was my own continued attendance of concerts that allowed me to finally relax and recognize patterns in the pieces I was hearing, and to hear and understand the differences and similarities among the compositions and among interpretations of the performances of the same composition. (I wonder if that old saying, “Music tames the wild beast” refers not to any calming effect of music, because much that is music is not calming, but rather to the fact that the...

Palm Springs and the Movies – Paul Pescador

I drive into Palm Springs, it’s early January and I’m down to see a friend from high school, someone I haven’t seen in years. I’m also there to see family, as my previous trip home, a quickie which only lasted 48 hours, didn’t go over well with my mother. On my way into the city, I pass by the Cabazon dinosaurs; these large sculptures, a 100 ton Tyrannosaurus rex and a 150 ton Apatosaurus. These structures have been used as backdrops in many films, including Paris, Texas (1984) and The Wizard (1993). I drive by hundreds of windmills alongside the mountains. I used to go hiking up those mountains. The last time I was in middle school and went with my father. We got separated from our hiking troop and were lost for hours. We were eventually found by a park ranger, after a minor search party had been sent out for us. I continue my drive and pass by Toucans, a tropical-themed gay bar, and a California Pizza Kitchen, you know what that is, and I meet my friend on the downtown strip. She insists that we go crystal shopping, so we go. She buys a clear one, which is suppose to help her with anxiety and will cleanse her chakras; and I buy a purple one, because I think it’s pretty. We walk by Forever Marilyn, a statue by Seward Johnson of the actress Marilyn Monroe. Originally installed in Chicago, Seward’s Marilyn and was moved to Palm Springs in 2012. The 26-foot tall Marilyn stands in the center of downtown in her iconic white dress from the...

jaywalk: Heidrun Holzfeind, Michael Hieslmair, Christian Mayer, Deniz Sözen, Johannes Zotter

jaywalk Heidrun Holzfeind, Michael Hieslmair, Christian Mayer, Deniz Sözen, Johannes Zotter MAK Center Artists and Architects-in-Residence Opening: Thursday, March 13, 2014, 7-9 PM Exhibition: March 14-16, 2014, 11 AM-6 PM Mackey Apartments and Garage Top 1137 South Cochran Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90019 Please join us as Group XXXVII of MAK Center Residents present the results of their six-month stay in Los...