During an errand run over the weekend to a local pharmacy, I couldn't help but notice the massive Valentine's Day greeting card and candy display.
I'm curious about these people who purchase Valentine Day cards in December. They must be an extremely punctual group of people.
All five of them...
Monday, December 30, 2013
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Somehow, the month of November slid past my blog radar like the Girl From Ipanema disinterestedly passing oglers on the beach. Alas.
But in the spirit of staying present moment aware, I'm going to jump back in as if I just returned from checking the mail box – preferably with a fistful of sparkly Christmas cards in my hand.
Just in case you've been living under a holly bush, the holidays are here! As a matter of fact, I'll be heading out the door later this morning to find the needed parts to create my own Boutonniere for a festive Christmas Party that I'll be attending later this evening.
My goal is to arrive at Michael’s Arts and Crafts early enough not have to stand in line with the speed-of-sloth moving parade of blue hairs and their BOGO glitter adorned faux silk poinsettias hand stitched in a Chinese sweat shop so that I can make the purchase of the roll of green floral tape (also from a Chinese sweat shop no doubt) a swift and painless ordeal.
In the spirit of all that is holiday fun, I now bring you my favorite holiday themed animated gif from what is, in my humble opinion, still - after lo these many years - the best holiday animated film of all time.
Enjoy in the present Zen moment of watching Charlie Brown and his best bud Linus contemplate existence while watching the snow quietly fall around them.
And Happy holidays to one and all!
Monday, October 21, 2013
New Work Alert – I’ve been a busy man since setting up my studio that I had constructed just over a month ago. I’m happy to report that the very first work to be completed in my new studio is now ready for to public viewing and purchase.
In general, it seem that the very first of anything tends it make it more significant in some way. At least, it feels like that to me when it comes to artwork. There are two guaranteed works that will ever come out of a productive artist’s studio – the first and the last. Both of which hold unique meaning. This is the first, and as it can only happen once, it does indeed seem “special” in my book.
This acrylic and mixed-media on canvas work is entitled "Le Souvenir Soudain"
"Le Souvenir Soudain" ©2013 Michael Sprouse All Rights Reserved
It measures 24" x 36" and it's stretched on 1.5" Gallery Wrap stretchers allowing the painting to continue on all sides which gives it a 3D effect and makes framing optional.
This is currently available at the price of $2500 - which - if you're familiar with the market value of my work, is a very good price indeed.
First come first serve for those interested in adding"Le Souvenir Soudain" to that spot on the wall crying out for something original, mysterious and compelling yet soulful and emotive. Email me at email@example.com if interested in purchase.
For more examples of my work, please feel free to visit www.SprouseArt.com and please like my Facebook Professional page.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
I’m not usually the kind of guy who goes agog over upcoming events, but when I discovered that I would be able to see the incomparable Davina and The Vagabonds live and in person on Friday, October 18th at Bethany Blues in Lewes, Delaware I became as giddy as kid with a sack full of Halloween candy – all rich, dark chocolate, deeply satisfying candy bars mind you…
Davina and The Vagabonds in Performance
A recent press release describes a performance of DATV as sounding “like a melding between New Orleans jazz and a bluesy Tom Waits - with a touch of Billie Holiday in the vocals of Davina Sowers - this powerhouse band consists of a highly energetic brass section, piano and upright bass. Vocalist Davina is one part vaudevillian entertainer and one part real-life singer-songwriter.”
Of course, anyone familiar with my visual art and my particularly strong affection for 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s jazz and blues would understand why I would gleefully shove children and elderly nuns out of my way to get tickets to this powerhouse Jazz performance. And frankly, you should be no less zealous.
I made the mistake of missing Davina and The Vagabonds the last time they made their way to Lewes, Delaware and quickly learned to regret it. I heard from more than one awed attendee that it was a “transformative” experience. OK, that may be my word, but you get the picture…
Let’s just say that these folks had become DATV devotees like happy music inspired zombies grooving to unmistakable talent. “Unmistakable” – now that’s a strong word. It’s strong because there’s no turning back from it. And it’s a recognition that happens instantaneously and instinctively from the gut. The talent of Davina and The Vagabonds is unmistakable.
Here’s a video of DATV from a couple of years ago performing one of my favorite blues ballads “I’d Rather Go Blind” (made famous by the late, great Etta James)
So, as you can see, the Press Release was spot on. Rich, bluesy, vocals. Stand up bass. Kick-ass Brass. Beautiful…
If you plan on being in the area for the now famous Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, you should make a point of being at Bethany Blues in Lewes, Delaware on Friday, October 18th. Show times are 8:30pm and 10:30pm. Tickets are $25 and are valid for both shows.
This is all part of my dear friend (and nationally acclaimed jazz promoter and aficionada) Sydney Arzt and her Sydney's Music Revival and “The Melting Pot Of Sound” for Jazz Fest October 18-20 at Bethany Blues in Lewes.
To read more about this show and the other great artists ( The Patty Reese Band, Ron Holloway, The Joe Baione Quartet and The Reminders) that are part of the “Melting Pot of Sound” at Bethany Blues in Lewes, read the Press Release here. Oh, and if you see me there – and you will – make sure and say hello.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
In today’s New York Times, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has penned an article in an attempt to “speak directly to the American people and their political leaders” titled "What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria”.
While the article is well-worded and he does make what seem to be some valid points, there are two sentences in his article that I question. After reading them, my BS Alarm sounded loudly and clearly and my Inviso-Shield of distrust popped up serving as a call out for a deeper explanation in the meaning behind his statements.
I’m the first to say that I’ve been a bit our of the loop over the last seven days (to be exact) as I have been focusing on moving into a new home. I was without cable television or internet service for a good part of the time. The lapse in service wasn’t earth shattering as I was able to busy myself with unpacking, arranging, and dealing with a litany of contractors and last minute tweaks to the new abode.
Pre-occupied as I have been however, I was still able to follow with a modest degree of awareness the unfolding of the sticky events in connection to the potential American military strike in Syria. I watched Obama’s speech and I have been able to follow quite a bit of commentary when streaming a variety of NPR affiliates.
Which brings me to question #1…
In his communiqué, Putin states that “there is every reason to believe” that chemical weapons were “used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists.”
This is the first I have read or heard of this possibility. Did this somehow fall of my radar while I was busy with my relocation or does Putin simply need a tin foil hat to go with his straight jacket? Or, perhaps it could also be a complete fabrication. In any case, in my humble opinion, it seems highly questionable.
My second question - which is really more of a rhetorical questioning of his words – is sparked by Putin’s last sentence in the article which reads, “We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”
If he truly believes that we are all equal, why is he turning a completely blind eye to – or worse yet – enforcing and promoting the abuse of LGBT Russian citizens?
So, while I may admittedly be the potentially biased voice of a person whose early years occurred prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain, I ‘m just not certain if Putin’s words hold any deep truth in this situation.
And on that note, I’m back to my unpacking…
Monday, August 26, 2013
On a day when a large portion of the American population seems to be woefully and misguidedly obsessed with the off-key yet auto-tuned warblings and twerking of a soon to be forgotten pop star on the talent/trash heap of fleeting fame, it should be pointed out that today marks the 93rd Anniversary of women finally receiving the right to vote after a long, hard-fought battle.
That makes today Women’s Equality Day – now that’s a good reason to dance.
Equality and Empowerment baby – that’s what it’s all about…
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Did bugs Bunny love carrots? Absolutely.
Are carrots truly good for your vision? Truth be told, no. But they did help Allies defeat the Nazis.
You can read more at the link below, but rest assured that your Inner Bugs Bunny will be happy about anything related to carrots.
You've Been Lied to About Carrots Your Whole Life Because of Nazis
Thursday, August 08, 2013
About 5 years ago, I was fortunate enough to have spent close to a month in Italy. I fell in love with enchanting country the minute I got in the cab and began the wild, hair-raising drive through the streets of Rome to my hotel.
Like a thrilling roller-coaster ride through a cloud of beauty and history, I was enthralled and mesmerized by each turn.
“Venice Canal” ©2007 Michael Sprouse
A close friend of mine sent me this video called “10 Things We Love About Italy”. I have to agree that each of the 10 featured items are indeed easy to fall in love with.
Enjoy, but just don’t watch this if you’re currently dieting because your head may explode…
10 Things We Love About Italy from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.
Visual Artist Michael Sprouse at the Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy circa 2007
Sensation-wise, an artist in Italy is the equivalent of a kid in a candy store. At least, that was my experience. There I am in a photo take moments after tossing coins in the Trevi Fountain. And you know what that means.
So, Yes. I do intend to go back.
The coins were just insurance…
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
It seems that an American tourist in Italy has generated shock and outrage by snapping the finger off a 600-year-old statue at a museum in Florence. If there is a Shock and Outrage list floating about, I am happy to sign.
MAURIZIO DEGL' INNOCENTI / EPA
The damage of a statue of the Virgin by Florentine sculptor Giovanni d'Ambrogio, is under investigation by researchers after it was accidentally struck by a US tourist. The tourist reportedly apologized for damaging a finger of the statue but may still face charges.
This is the kind of imbecilic behavior that only strengthens the international mindset that most American tourists are selfish, bumbling, demanding and obnoxious halfwits. I have seen these kinds of Americans each time I have traveled internationally. Frankly – and sadly - they’re not hard to miss.
As someone who has been to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence and who has stood in front of this very work of art, it blows my mind that anyone would think it appropriate to touch the 600 year old statue or - most shocking if true – “high-five” the statute’s delicate and raised hand. What a shame that some kind of exalted artistic justice magic didn’t cause Giovanni d'Ambrogio’s Virgin Mary to come to life just long enough to smack the (pardon the pun) holy hell out of the mouth-breathing blockhead.
Florence was at the epicenter of the Renaissance. The Fiorentini are justifiably very protective and proud of their artistic treasures. They are taught from birth to respect art. For a person to somehow feel that they have the right to walk up and touch an ancient treasure is wildly disrespectful!
In my opinion – as an Arts Professional – this only underscores the importance of arts education in our country where generations of young people now think that the only definition of being an artist is warbling out some auto-tuned pop song in front of a panel of narcissists or being a member of a fantasy Glee club composed of 25 to 30 year old High School seniors with hidden addiction issues.
When I was a small child, my mother – and artist in her own right - would tell me about the time that she saw Michelangelo’s Pietà at the 1964 World’s Fair. She was so moved by the experience, that I remember her crying in 1972 when the glorious work was attacked with a hammer by the mentally disturbed geologist named Laszlo Toth.
Pietà by Michelangelo
She’s been gone for close to 25 years now. If she were alive today, I can’t help but wonder what she would think about our country’s current dwindling culture and respect for art.
Perhaps the next time she’s having a cup of tea with Michelangelo, they can discuss the issue.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
What better is there to do when the outside temperature is stuck on “eternal scorch” than to paint in the studio? I literally just put the final stroke of paint on this commissioned work about 15 minutes prior to this blog entry.
I’ve titled this work “Distant Jazz” because I wanted the back story of the painting to be about a young woman circa 1925ish who has just entered a club. As she is removing her coat, she hears the sound of distant jazz coming from some area where she will soon be headed and her mind is instantly filled with everything that made the Jazz era shine.
The acrylic on canvas work measures 30” x 30” and this was commissioned by the curator of a well known gallery that carries my work as an addition to the private collection of he and his partner. This is the sister painting to a male portrait in the same style that I completed earlier this year for the couple.
Click on the image below to see the work larger and in greater detail.
acrylic on canvas
30” x 30”
©2013 Michael Sprouse
To see more examples of my work, visit www.SprouseART.com
Friday, July 12, 2013
Terry Gross told Amy described the sketch "was a real girl thing" and that she "recognized" that behavior in women. Of course she wasn't referencing the actual material in the skit, but the point is that Terry and Amy agreed that women - for a variety of reasons - go into self-deprecation when complemented.
Their opinion was that men respond to compliments from other men, should they occur, differently than women in our culture. I tend to agree.
"Hey, dude. Nice shirt."
"Um, cool. Thanks."
"Got a beer?"
Amy - through comedy - highlights this issue brilliantly. Irony has longed served as the perfect delivery system for culturally important messages.
Because of that, Amy Schumer has - in my opinion - raised the bar here from simple comic schtick to some degree of high art. In fact, if you view this with a slightly different mind set, it could pass for a Video Installation work or even to some degree documented Performance Art.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
As a person who lives in a coastal region greatly affected by last year's devastating Hurricane Sandy, I was dismayed and appalled by the stringent and blatant partisan efforts of some members of congress to not only slash the much needed disaster relief to the victims of the same storm - but who have also opposed increased funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers federal disaster relief.
As is often the ironic after-effect of bad behavior (AKA karmic), it's clearly documented that two of the senators, both – sans surprise –Republicans, who voted against the relief and FEMA are indeed from Oklahoma - Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn (out of the 180 votes against the relief funds for Sandy, only one was cast by a Democrat by Congressman Jim Cooper.)
Do I believe that federal disaster relief funding should be withheld from the good people of Oklahoma now struggling with this life-shattering storm? Of course not. That is what FEMA is for - to help our fellow citizens when ruinous events take place.
Do I think that Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn should be called out publically by the people and the press for their obvious hypocrisy which stems from their flagrant, partisan and obstructionist actions by attempting to deny help to innocent victims placed in peril as the result of surviving a wildly monstrous act of nature?
Yes - absolutely.
Don’t lose track of the fact that the majority of the area devastated by Hurricane Sandy also served as home to voters who overwhelmingly supported President Obama during the last presidential election. In my opinion, it doesn't seem far fetched that the 179 GOP senators who voted against assistance for the victims of Sandy were potentially doing so not only as some kind of warped punishment for their actions at the voting booth, but also as a purposeful way to damage Obama’s presidency – no matter how well they may try to convince the public (and themselves) that they did not.
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Or, more appropriately in this case, the lack of it.
Though unlikely, I hope their faces burn with shame when asked to explain why the situation in their state is somehow different than that of those who lost everything in Hurricane Sandy.
I also hope that come re-election time, that the voters of Oklahoma will understand what a bad idea it is to elect people like Inhofe and Coburn and it is my sincerest wish that they never hold public office again.
The shamefully small percentage of the population of this country that actually votes needs to fully understand that when they do so that there is often much more at stake than the upholding of a few tenants of a political party.
I can't imagine that the wise people of Oklahoma - especially as citizens of a state well accustomed to the devastation that comes with violent weather - would say "yes" if asked if they would knowingly vote to elect a person who would refuse assistance to a family left homeless, with nothing but the clothes on their back, without power or transportation, potable water, food to eat and clean sanitation because they happened to be the innocent victims of a catastrophic storm.
Yet - that is exactly what some Oklahomans who voted Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn did when they elected them to office.
My hope is that they will never do so again.
Here is a good list of ways to help the victims of the May 19th, 2013 Oklahoma tornadoes -
For more information on this situation - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/20/oklahoma-senators-disaster-relief_n_3309234.html
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
I have never been a fan of any of the “become a star” talent shows that so many people adore in our country and certain parts of Europe.
In fact, as a visual artist who has also spent a great deal of time on stage and back stage as a performing artist as well as a production manager, I find the whole performing arts geared “reality show” genre an absolute anathema to the true artistic creative process.
The producers behind the scenes prey upon the gullible, the desperate and the unenlightened in our society by first creating - and then force feeding - this poisoned Kool-Aid that they disguise as entertainment on the masses. Unfortunately, for those some people that love it – unwittingly blind to the realities of what it means and what it takes to be true and genuine to your art - it works.
I could spend a great deal of time here discussing why these shows are so damaging on so many levels, but I won’t. Why should I when musician Dave Grohl has already done so so succinctly?
Thank you Dave. You Rock. Seriously.
Saturday, May 04, 2013
Thursday, May 02, 2013
Yes – this would work perfectly on the wall of your kitchen café, diner or eatery. Or, for that matter, picture it enhancing the empty wall of your contemporary living room.
Seriously, it would rock on your wall…
Available in a variety of sizes and formats, both framed and unframed, ranging from 16” x 5” to 48” x 16”.
To see all the fantastic options available: “Three Yolks”
“Three Yolks” ©2013 Michael Sprouse
For More of Sprouse’s Recent Digital Imagery : http://Sprouseart.imagekind.com/.
Friday, April 05, 2013
My partner and I, for a variety of good reasons, decided to give up red meat about three months ago.
We’re also slowly moving away from poultry and I can sense that the world of Vegetarianism is probably just around the corner.
To date, frankly, we’ve not missed red meat. In fact, I rarely seem to think about it. Besides the obvious health benefits that come with giving up red meat, sometimes it’s nice to just to shake up your food routine a bit and try something different once in a while.
While the following dish may not classify as a food routine “shake up”, it is incredibly easy, wildly tasty and quite good for you.
It’s something that my partner threw together one night and it has quickly become one of my favorite vegetarian dishes. It’s also one of those divine dishes that only gets better when eaten the next afternoon for lunch.
I’ve even stuffed it into the middle of a cheese omelet on occasion. It transformed it from a pretty good cheese omelet to something that upon one taste makes you want to thrown a crown atop your head, march down your street and toss glitter into the air from your frying pan.
Though, it’s probably best that you don’t lest you end up in a padded cell somewhere.
George (my beloved partner and excellent cook) simply chopped up a mixture of our favorite vegetables (in this case, small red potatoes, fresh red bell pepper, mushrooms, a can of drained and rinsed black beans, fresh broccoli, baby carrots, and frozen corn), tossed them about with some olive oil, salt and pepper and placed them into a cast iron Dutch oven.
Place the lid on the Dutch oven and pop it into a 350 degree oven for about an hour.
We served ours on top of some brown rice which was generously sprinkled with Louisiana Hot Sauce.
As I mentioned earlier, the leftovers – should they exist – are even better the next day. Here’s an actual photo of the feast that I called lunch today.
I added a side of toasted whole grain bread smeared with roasted red pepper humus – and before you ask – no, I was not wearing a tied dyed t-shirt and shaking a tambourine while indulging in the deliciousness. Though, I have done that before and enjoyed the experience.
So, there it is. Easy, healthy, hearty and affordable.
Now, go eat your vegetables!
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
I just came across this sentence being used to describe a product from very popular website geared towards digital design professionals - "All components was created on a 12-grid system, they like fit together like puzzles".
I’m including this actual screen capture of the sentence so you can be equally gobsmacked by its appearance.
The very fact that this sentence was not only constructed by a paid employee, but also - presumably - made it past an editor's gaze, given the OK, and then published on a very public (and heretofore professional) website shows that this is what now passes for professionalism in our culture.
That ominous deep ringing sound that you are now hearing is the death knell of competency. Get used to it. Make friends with it. You’ll be hearing it more and more frequently as the weeks pass.
I’m not exactly sure how we have arrived at this point, but I have my theories.
I believe that there are several paths that have led us to the big Dumbapoloza complacency party. Complete reliance upon digital ink and the need to crank out snippets of copy at the speed of light in order to attract viewers, our crumbling public school system and the ocean of garbage that revels in ignorance while passing for entertainment are all factors in the dumbing down of America.
Make no mistake here, I’m not overreacting at the sight of one small, poorly written sentence, I’m responding to the clues that are becoming more and more prevalent with each passing day in this country. The public appearance of this one simple sentence (though you could pick from a plethora of others) shows you that the door to complacency and ignorance is now open and serving as a portal to it’s becoming an accepted way of life in this country.
You can see it reflected in American media, in entertainment, and perhaps most disturbing of all – at the voting booth. There are members of Congress that say absolutely moronic things. Smart people don’t vote for morons unless they have a plan to use them for some kind of purpose.
In that context, visualize the offending sentence as one of those loose threads that is pulled off of a suit in a slap-stick comedy routine. The thread is quickly pulled and the next thing you know, off comes the sleeve. Insert the comic slide whistle sound here.
Of course, my kvetching won't change the ever devolving professional standard. I am simply here to shine the light of awareness on this situation. It is my hope that others will do the same – though I realize that each time I turn on my proverbial flashlight, I am moving deeper and deeper into the forgotten land of “old school”.
But so be it, eventually the pendulum will swing back into enlightenment. It always does. But I’m afraid there will be a very long – and dark – path to tread before it does.
Friday, March 29, 2013
I came across an article on CNN this morning that reeks of sensationalistic yellow journalism.
While I don’t like to spend my time - or fill the digital pages of my blog – with posts of a negative nature in general, some rationalizing part of my psyche suggested that by calling the article out, some person somewhere may recognize it as what it is and, in turn, they may be more wary of such schlock in the future – or better still – make someone else aware of the practice.
I know it’s a large order - but if the majority of people called out the many instances of yellow journalism/sensationalism/infotainment that the news media tries to pass off as news, then perhaps they will stop doing it.
Here’s a screen capture of the article on CNN that I came across this morning.
I actually saw this article “evolve” to its current state. Just yesterday morning , the article on CNN.com had a title that read something like “Rare Kennedy family photos released” and a sub-header mentioning that they were taken at Camp David.
They were very nice and innocuous photos of JFK, Jacquelyn and the children. Some were of Carolyn on horseback, other were of the couple and the children visiting with family and friends and a couple of them showed a young JFK Jr. in the cockpit of Air Force one.
And it is those two photos that some web news producer - desperate to raise the hit count on the article - rebranded the very next morning as “Eerie JFK Jr. photos released”.
As you can see from the screen cap above, they even used one of the two so called “eerie” photos to highlight the article. Ironically, you’ll find no mention of the word “eerie” in the actual article. In fact, it’s the exact same article as yesterday which consists of a slide show of about eight photographs with some short captions.
It’s total bullshit.
In this context, every photo of every person ever taken in a car that later went on to perish in a car accident can now be considered eerie. Or, perhaps any photo of a person ever seated at a table of food must now be known as eerie should that same person sadly choke to death years later.
My partner George said it best in my opinion when he stated that because of this 24 hour news cycle/circus that has been created, new media is desperate for stories to fill every second of the space that will capture viewers attention first. And that is what throws the doors open to the shellacked garbage that is now passing for news.
The trick is to be aware. Be circumspect. Be not so ready to swallow everything that comes across the screen as valid. Be ready to pass on the paper cup filled with Kool-Aid until you’ve read the ingredients.
The rebranding of the Kennedy Camp David photo story by CNN is the perfect example. There is nothing eerie about a photograph of a little boy excited to be sitting in the cockpit of a plane. Most kids would leap at the chance. Even if that same boy eventually died in a plane crash years later as an adult, it only make the photo a coincidence. What you have in that circumstance is the opinion of an editor being disguised as real news for purely sensationalistic purposes.
It’s an editor looking to lure viewers - the same way a Venus Fly Trap lures its prey.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
While the FDA and most researches in the field have deemed GMOs as safe, the well written article (linked to below) does a good job of clarifying the controversy, with these three lines, "Growing resistance among weeds is forcing farmers to use larger quantities of herbicides and pesticides. A recent study published in Environmental Sciences Europe estimates that GMO crops have resulted in an additional 404 million pounds of toxic pesticides form 1996-2011, a 7% increase. This suggests that GMOs are not effectively reducing the need for pesticides, for which they are bred to do."
To learn more about the GMO debate and how it may affect your food purchases : Questioning the Necessity of GM Labeling — The International
Thursday, March 14, 2013
If anything, the selection of Argentinian Pope Francis was a very shrewd political move with worldwide consequences.
Though I was raised a devout Catholic (but wisely left the church over 20 years ago), I find the fact that he will be revered around the world by people who actually consider him to be some fast track conduit to God a sad and frankly, pathetic, plight in my humble opinion. Any person who "'Staunchly Opposes Abortion, Contraception' and 'Believes Gay Adoption Is 'Discrimination Against Children'" is just another moron in my book only this time with a silly hat.
That’s actually a Dorito, but you get the visual pun don’t you?
The pontification of this man will not only ensure continued discrimination against LGBT people around the world, it will increase it. And, please pardon the pun, God only knows what else may be up the Vatican’s big, puffy oversized sleeve.
I know that I have friends and family that will find my words here offensive, but no more so offensive/terrifying than having a group of about ten drunken rednecks chasing you on foot around a few blocks screaming faggot fully prepared to beat you to death should they catch you - an experience that I have had by the way.
Some folks have praised this new Pope's crusade for the poor. As an artist who has toured the inside of the Vatican, I can tell you that there are literally countless and priceless works of art in every nook and corner that could easily feed a village of hungry people for a few years.
It was the first time that I have ever been turned off by a wildly impressive art collection because the hypocrisy behind it was so crushing.
Maybe when the Pope begins listing ancient works of art via Sothebys with 100% of the proceeds going to the poor, I'll sing a different tune. But, I'm not going to hold my breath...
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
acrylic on canvas
48” x 48”
Today’s Art Flashback Wednesday is “The Delivery” (acrylic on canvas, circa 2001, 48” x 48”.)
This has long been one of my favorite works. I think it’s because of the unmistakable intrigue and mystery that he work evokes both as a painting and in real time.
The “real time” mystery surrounding the work arises from the fact that, save for photographs of the painting, the work has simply disappeared off of my radar. Due to an unfortunate computer crash several years ago, I don’t know who purchased the work and where it has found a home since its purchase.
Truth be told, I can’t correctly remember what year I painted the work, though I have a nagging feeling that it was around 2001. I do know that it sold to a private collector, but as of now – as it is sometimes known to occur with art of a particularly compelling nature - it could be in anyone’s collection in any part of the world.
The only thing that I can remember about this work was that it was inspired from a face that I noticed in a crowd shot from the 1920’s taken in Berlin. In my recollection, the crowd was composed of merrymakers in some swinging Jazz spot. She was standing halfway in shadow slightly further behind the main figures in the photo.
Her slightly askew body language and expression implied that she didn’t want her photo taken at all and that she had failed to escape the scope of the photographer’s lens. Not for reasons of vanity per se, but it seemed that she didn’t want to be visually captured at that particular time, in that particular place with those particular people.
Maybe she held some kind of dislike for the photographer – or maybe – it was love, or even lust. Whatever the reason, when I noticed her face, the rest of the crowd vanished leaving only her and her penetrating and eternal gaze.
When I began the work, I really wanted to focus on that sensation of being part of something yet not wanting to be part of something and the way it might register on one’s face. Once the work was completed however, I felt that the entire backstory had changed.
I suddenly saw her as someone who has just received a mysterious package. It’s not addressed to her. It’s addressed to someone in her life, perhaps her lover or mate. The package may have even be delivered by the ex of the special person in her life, or even one of her own lovers from the past.
Whatever the reason, she is all at once intrigued, anxious, compelled and mistrustful at the same time. She has just opened the door to “The Delivery.”
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Recently, an old friend of mine and a brilliant artist (George Vitorovich) turned me onto an amazing visual find that he came across on slate.com
It’s clip from a very early, full-color Kodachrome film made by Kodak in 1922 to test new film stock and color processing.
Not only is it mesmerizing to view a color film from ninety-one years ago, but the gesturing of the actresses themselves are equally compelling.
A studio actress mugs for the camera 91 years ago
I feel that I can trace this current in my work to my experiences as a young child be absolutely captivated by the imagery from the silent films that were shown on the local PBS affiliate.
In the early days of film, actors had a completely different way of interacting with the camera than we are used to experiencing today. Every movement and facial gesture held meaning.
Whether this way of gesturing and posturing before the camera arose organically from the stage or whether it came forth via instruction being shouted through a directors megaphone, I can’t say.
But, it’s undeniably there captured on film.
One can’t help but be pulled into the performances by the actresses. The line between a color test and a surreal voiceless yet visual message from the past becomes blurred when watching the clip.
These performers seem to be reaching into your psyche and tapping you on the shoulder with a soft celluloid touch. In essence, these women with their fluttering eyes, fragile smiles and vamping longing are colorized ghosts from a distant cinematic past beckoning to connect to your emotional essence.
Perhaps, the non-vocalized emotions are buried yet even still deep within our being. There must be some connection as it is easy to identify what the characters are emoting in the clip even without scripted words. That recognition arises from internal knowing. This clip is emotionally akin to blowing off the dust from the cover of an old book found on the back of a forgotten shelf.
The pages may be dull and yellowed, but the words are still crisp in your mind as you read them. The only difference here - there are no words to read…
View the clip here and you’ll experience the odd, surreal and potentially magical sensation for yourself…
While the first “talkie” film appeared in 1927 and the majority of studio films followed suit by the middle of 1929, the manner of interacting via exaggerated before the camera continued for several years until actors began to reevaluate to the new technology and their relationship to it.
Eventually, the ever evolving relationship between the actor and the camera has taken us to where we are today. Though hard to believe, eventually, our current cinema will inevitably fade into the past and prove to be the fascinating fodder for distant generations.
Until then, we can feast upon this treasure of a clip which indeed truly is “bewitching”.
The full length article on salon.com can be found here:
This 1922 Kodachrome Test Footage is Strangely Bewitching
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Man (with gusto and gesturing) : "Surely there must be more important news items in the world for CNN to cover as their lead headlines on their website other than the suicide of a troubled, faded country music artist with a one-hit-wonder ribbon from twenty years ago and a South African Olympian now on trial for murder.
In my humble opinion, this once worthwhile news source has gleefully skipped over the line into “infotainment” and tossed rose petals in the air while doing so.
It's a small wonder that so many citizens here in the states are so uninformed and care so little about truly serious issues. They are lulled into complacency by an American Idol mentality that has tinted almost every major news source in this country. To deny this is to shove one's head deep in the sand."
I don’t know how to fix this massive problem in our culture, but I do know of a good way to start. Stop giving in to the yellow journalism that has been re-branded as news.
Stop being a deer in the headlights of every bright, flashing, rainbow colored unicorn bearing, candy-coated news item that taps you on the shoulder.
The next time you find yourself drawn into the beam of blissful ignorance and complacency – channel your inner-Cher and try a little of this action on yourself.
What you will eventually start to realize is that there is a much bigger world around you that needs your true attention – and not only that, you’ll feel better not taking on the energy of those stories.”
Man steps off soapbox.
Exit stage right.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Today’s featured work “Espy” -
"Espy", acrylic on canvas, 42" x 42", circa 2005 was one of those works that began as one thing and then evolved into something else.
Initially, this was to be one of my traditional portrait paintings and not a work with text, large planes of color or drips. While I was applying an initial color glaze to the work, I accidentally used too much purple.
acrylic on canvas
42” x 42”
© 2005 Michael Sprouse All Rights Reserved
The result was garish and very difficult to remove from the work (anyone who has worked with purple pigment can attest to its staying power). While contemplating the now very purple addition to the work and how to take care of it, I suddenly had the concept of rain running down a window pane. Like falling dominoes, my thoughts went back to a wonderful old brownstone in DC that I lived in many years ago that had spectacular and original stained glass from the 1890's. When it would rain, the patterns and the colors that would form on the walls during the process were quite impressive.
It was then that I decided to work the painting with a backstory of a young woman staring through a stained glass pane of a doorway during a rainstorm. She is intently watching someone or something and she is lost in a flood of memories which are represented by the journal entries that have been superimposed over the portrait. The dripping is symbolic not only of the rain, but of the passing of time and the mutable nature of memory.
This work was sold to a private collector out of The Arts Company in Nashville, Tennessee.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
This sobering news item gives new meaning to the phrase “eat your heart out” with a side of hand hewn, seasoned irony fries to boot.
Apparently, A regular patron and unofficial spokesman for the Heart Attack Grill has died of an apparent heart attack, the restaurant's owner said on Monday.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Flashback Wednesday : I've decided that each Wednesday morning, I'll feature and earlier work of mine in a post along with a few lines about the artwork's back story.
First up - "Airwave"
“Airwave” circa 2000 - 2005. Acrylic On Canvas, 36" x 36", Private Collector. ©Michael Sprouse All Rights Reserved
I've always had a soft spot for this work because it marked the start of a point in my painting process where I began to incorporate the title of the work as important element of the work itself. Prior to this, I titled most works rather organically based on whatever popped into my head after the work was completed.
The face in this painting was loosely modeled after a still from a WWII era film staring Sylvia Sidney. I can't recall the film, but I was taken with her expression in the still. I recall pondering over what I thought her character may have been doing in the photo.
And that's when suddenly I had a mental image of this woman listening to a broadcast from some underground German resistance radio station.
Just like a scene from one of those great WWII era films about resistance groups, I envisioned her and her team standing in an old battle bruised shed, gathered around a glowing radio intently listening to the crackling broadcast for the latest information and instructions.
I wanted to create an expression on her face of excitement and expectation as if she were listening to the words she had been waiting for. I added the distressed elements of the work to emphasize the underground, clandestine aspects of it all.
And that's how "Airwave" came into being.
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